The views of the author are not necessarily the views of AllOnGeorgia.
It won’t be long until college football occupies my time on Saturdays.
But just last Saturday, I spent my time enjoying the game, its traditions and its history at the College Football Hall of Fame in downtown Atlanta.
I was in the big city for a little getaway trip that very much had a sports-oriented focus. The night before I attended my first Braves game at the new SunTrust Park, which was the main reason I went to Atlanta for a few days in the first place.
But my plan all along was also to go downtown and visit the college hall which is right across the street from Centennial Olympic Park and just a short walk to either Phillips Arena, home of the Atlanta Hawks, or Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home of the Atlanta Falcons and of course several college football games including the SEC Championship.
I was there just two days before the start of the SEC Media Days at the hall of fame and they were busy setting up for the fanfest event Sunday that kicked off the week in downtown Altanta for the conference.
Actually, Laura Rutledge from ESPN and the SEC Network was standing outside the entrance to the hall of fame talking shop with fellow reporters as we stood in line to get our tickets.
ESPN, and its College Game Day crew, is very involved in the hall as its broadcasters narrate a short film and also a lot of the interactive displays throughout the three stories of the expansive building dedicated to preserving the history of this game we all love.
So is Chic-fil-A, which of course is a popular restaurant chain that is headquartered in Atlanta.
In fact, there is a full-menu establishment right next to the hall building. It’s where I ordered a Coca-Cola, which obviously also calls Georgia home, to whet my whistle after working up a thirst roaming through the hall and taking in the many exhibits inside.
If you love college football – and I know many of you do – you have to visit the hall of fame if you haven’t already. It’s well-worth the $21.99 ticket price.
I thought I’d mow through there in an hour, maybe two hours tops. After all, my buddies and I once saw all we wanted at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., in about that same amount of time on a high-school field trip.
Well, I walked through the doors at the hall a little after 2 in the afternoon, and I walked out of the gift shop with a T-shirt in hand just before the 6 p.m. closing hour.
Oh yeah, I took it all in.
You know the saying “like a kid in a candy store?”
Well, I was that kid as I joined Rees Davis and Desmond Howard on the Game Day set to pick the Georgia-Georgia Tech game. You can see my Lee Corso head-gear moment here.
I was also that kid when I sat in the broadcast booth, strapped on the headset, and called some of the most famous plays in college football history.
I did Larry Munson’s “Run Lindsey!” when Georgia beat Florida in 1980 at the old Gator Bowl in Jacksonville. You can hear that right here.
I also did the Doug Flutie Hail Mary pass, the Colorado touchdown bomb in the Big House to stun Michigan, and also the missed field-goal runback as Auburn beat Alabama in the Iron Bowl a few years back.
Those fan-participation chances can be found on the second floor.
And really, the second floor is where it’s happening at the hall.
You’re greeted there by some cool memorabilia including trophies of some of the game’s biggest bowl games. The huge one for the Orange Bowl, which is complete with the oranges that sit in the large bowl that tops this precious piece of hardware, is the one that really caught my eye.
The exhibits on the second floor include other cool items like the mascot uniforms for Uga and Smokey; the uniform worn by Ohio State band members; cheerleading outfits such as the famous sweater and skirts worn by the USC gals; and also the houndstooth fedora worn by Bear Bryant.
I could go on and on about what’d you find on the hall’s second floor, but this is where I spent most of my time just so you know.
The third floor is where you find the “real” hall of fame, I guess. You can circle the room and see all the names of those who have been inducted as they are listed year by year around the circular structure dedicated to the hall membership.
Also in the center of the room stands several large video boards where you can search for any inductee, read their bios and watch video tributes on each one.
Me, I could have probably stood there all day, but had to make myself move on after some time looking up the likes of Herschel Walker, Vince Dooley, Kevin Butler, Bo Jackson, Bobby Bowden and Lloyd Carr, who led my brother-in-law’s Michigan Wolverines to a national title during his tenure in Ann Arbor.
When you walk into the building, the huge helmet display which includes a helmet from every college team in the country – and I mean every one including the NAIA and also all the NCAA divisions – is the first thing you see.
I was like that’s pretty cool, let’s do this.
And, we did.
And all the while, I lost track of time.
That’s when you know you’re having fun.
Clearly, I did.