The Fall of Football

Ok, the title is misleading. I don’t figuratively mean that football is in a decline and I will not get political about all the issues currently surrounding the game. I literally mean that this post will cover an incredible Fall season of Football and one that I will not forget anytime soon. Working in sports has been a journey that has lead me to a lot of places.

Each time I look back to reflect on my career, “What would 12/15/18/22 year old Ben think?” pretty much determines whether I should keep plugging away or pack it in. Well, those different variations of Ben would have been pretty excited at the idea of going to 12 College Football games in 14 weeks. This post is the story and recap of that experience.

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High atop the Coliseum

Saturday, August 30th – Fresno State @ USC – Neither Nikki or I had every been to a game at The Coliseum and it was a sight to be seen. Thankfully our good friends Mike and Megan Miller (and Mike’s dad) were able to show us the ropes and get us into a pretty awesome USC VIP tailgate (fresh with some New Belgium Beer, which I took as a good sign…). Turns out that was a BAD sign as USC put a complete hurting on Fresno State 52-13 in a game that wasn’t even that close. Tradition, or Pageantry to those in the know, is always something played up in college football and being a part of a USC home game did not disappoint. The players marching through the crowd to the field to Traveler (the mascot) and the lighting of the Olympic torch made a hot day with bad seats and a blowout much more palpable.

Saturday, September 6th – BYE Week – oh wait, Fresno played Utah…or did they? I’ve since repressed. (note – did not attend)

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Nebraska Game

Saturday, September 13th – Fresno State vs. Nebraska – Another week, another blowout. What else was new the first couple weeks of the season? Answer: a visit from the Walters Family (sans Krista). Outside of the usual happy moments (kids, marriage, etc.) standing on the Nebraska sideline for part of the game probable ranks pretty high up there. Nebraska put the finishing touches on a 55-19 trouncing of the Bulldogs but spirits remained high and many light beers were drank.

Saturday, September 20th – Fresno State vs. Southern Utah – yawn…Fresno State won 56-16, but hey, we did get to see fireworks after the game. Can’t overlook the first win of the season.

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Yep…that’s a bed on a football field.

Friday, September 26th – Fresno State @ New Mexico – Lets go 1-0 this week Dogs! After a slow start to the game the Bulldogs came out swinging in the 2nd half and charged to a 35-24 victory. Highlights of the trip included a successful night with our clients at the Sandia Casino, some excellent/authentic New Mexican food, a little golf, seeing a bed on a football field and getting home on Saturday morning instead of Sunday morning. Travelling with the team is fun for a lot of reasons but it generally puts a strain on your energy level (getting home at 2-3am). I can’t even begin to say how much more awesome Friday night games are than Saturday night games.

Friday, October 3rd – Fresno State vs. San Diego State – SDSU was on their third string QB and IMG_0098it showed. The Dogs eeked out a 24-13 victory to win their third straight game and push their record to 3-3 on the year. Optimism was returning to the valley! Games for me are a blur. Suite, field, seats, meeting clients, on-field promotions, suite, field, etc. Certain things stand out each game and my opportunity to run the Hero of the Game promotion at every game was one of those. Getting to know each of our Heroes (Servicemen or Women) each week was an honor but seeing the crowd reaction and the faces of our Heroes and their families was the true reward. We honored Bob McLaughlin at the SDSU game and our friend Derek Carr was nice enough to pay a special visit.IMG_0104

Friday, October 10th – Fresno State @ UNLV – we lost…that’s all I have to say about the game. Outside of the game we had a great time in Vegas with our clients. Meeting Jerry Tarkanian (former UNLV and Fresno State men’s basketball coach), a wayward cab ride and a little roulette all made the loss a little bit easier to stomach (and getting back Saturday morning).

Friday, October 17th – Fresno State @ Boise State – I get it…Fresno AND Boise are not States…moving on. Boise is a great city and college town wrapped into one. They have a great downtown, great trails, great beer culture and some excellent restaurants. Boise State won 37-27 but I was honored to bring Valley First Credit Union and the ValleyIMG_0148 First Flyaway contest winners. My guests had an excellent time and the whole experience created “wow” moments for everyone all weekend. Truly a trip to remember.

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Magical city of Fort Collins

Saturday, October 25th – Colorado State vs. Wyoming – our annual trip home for a Rams football game happened to work perfectly for 30-40 of our friends also and a memorable tailgate party was had by all. Fort Collins is a magical town that provide us with FREE beer tastings at Odell’s, fun and fellowship at Old Chicago’s (and my first legal beer with my sister) and a late-night chance meeting with Rashard ‘Hollywood’ Higgins. The Rams also dominated the poor little Cowboys so that was neat.

Saturday, November 1st – Fresno State vs. Wyoming – I can confirm that I was at this game and that it did, in fact, happen. After a 45-17 loss things can really only go up right?

Saturday, November 8th – Fresno State vs. San Jose State – Last year SJSU embarrassed us in San Jose and ruined our chances of a BCS bowl game and an undefeated season. Revenge is a dish best served cold and thrown in the other’s face with a 38-24 butt-kicking. Fresno moved to 4-6 and within a punchers chance of still winning the West Division and playing for a Mountain West Championship.

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Packed house in Reno

Saturday, November 22nd – Fresno State vs. Nevada – Road Trips always seem to mark something special and this one held the distinction of being Andrew Wieder’s first trip with the team and the first time I’ve ever been on a plane where the pilot missed his landing and had to pull a Top Gun style “touch and go” and lay on the throttle about 500 feet above ground. IT was awesome in a kind of “Holy crap, what is happening…” reaction in the moment and a pretty cool story to tell after the fact. Our colleagues at Wolf Pack Sports Properties hosted us and showed us a good time in Reno that night followed by a 40-20 beatdown of the Wolf Pack by our Dogs the next day. Just like that we are 5-6 and a win vs. Hawaii the next week would put us into the Mountain West Championship game.

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The calm before the storm

Saturday, November 29th – The Lucas family descended upon Fresno for our regular season finale against Hawaii. Somehow we were able to recover from the Thanksgiving coma and make it out of the house on Saturday. It was mom and dad’s first game at Bulldog Stadium and they got to experience some tailgating, our suite and the cold metal bleachers of section 26. One of my clients was the game sponsor so my game day experience was cut and pasted into a random but memorable collage…all in a days work.

12 Games in 14 weeks…I need a beer and a nap but there is no rest for the weary…Fresno State vs. Cal Poly men’s basketball game tips off at 7pm! See you there.

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