How two fans found the field of some of college football's best stadiums
It's every college football fan's dream to travel the country and visit some of the most historic venues the sport has to offer. But for Utah State graduate Scott Needham, that dream became a reality, and just in the span of a few days.
Traveling back to Utah from Tennessee with his friend Greg Cox, Needham decided that if they were going to make the trip, why not make it interesting? The pair of college football fanatics used the trip as an opportunity to visit eight college football stadiums in just three days.
"(We were) very efficient to fit everything in," Needham said of the trip.
Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State, Georgia Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Arkansas and Ole Miss were all visits—or victims—of Needham and Cox's stadium tour. While some may think that these stadiums are well-guarded and hard to get into, Needham would plead otherwise.
"Half the time, they always leave one door open. I'm not sure why, but it seemed like a few of them would leave a door open," Needham said.
If it wasn't as simple as walking into an open door, the traveling duo would go by all means possible to get into these venues. They had a system: Needham and Cox would simply just walk around the perimeter of each stadium to check for any open doors or gates. This method proved to be successful most of the time.
The easiest entrance into the stadium came when the two visited Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium. They didn't arrive at the venue until it was dark, and Cox was confident they wouldn't get in. But to the surprise of both Cox and Needham, the first door they checked at the stadium, the lock was conveniently off.
When the two visited Auburn, there were about 20 reporters on the field at Jordan-Hare Stadium talking to an assistant coach for the Tigers. Because Needham wasn't satisfied with just being in the stadium and wanted to get on to the field, he made a game-time decision, whipped out his iPhone and pretended to be a reporter.
"Once you get in there for a second, you feel comfortable and then you can do what you want," Needham said.
But not all of them were that easy. The famed Bryant-Denny Stadium in Alabama is considered one of the meccas of college football. The chances of the friends getting in to the stadium were slim, and got even slimmer after walking around the perimeter without finding a way in.
But in a last-ditch effort, Needham and Cox noticed that a restaurant inside the stadium was still open. The employees of said restaurant would use the trash cans outside of the stadium for their garbage, and conveniently enough, left the door that led to the trash from the stadium open. This opened a window of opportunity for the duo, and they took advantage. But after getting in, it almost didn't feel right for Needham.
"The eeriest stadium where it just felt a little odd to be there was Alabama's stadium," Needham said. "It's the biggest one and it's just so nice, the field is pristine. We're the only ones there, and I'm just waiting at any moment to get kicked out."
But they never did, so the friends decided to have a little bit of fun on the famed field before. One tradition that Needham and Cox developed on this trip was at each stadium, they would kick a few field goals.
But for some reason inside the confines of Bryant-Denny, the duo could just make one combined kick between the two of them in six attempts. Given neither is a collegiate or professional kicker, but the coincidence was apparent.
Courtesy of Scott Needham
"(In the video) we show how we miss a lot of field goals in the Alabama stadium," Needham said. "In the comments (section), someone said, 'yeah 1-for-6 at Bryant-Denny, seems accurate.' That was just funny because that was the stadium we couldn't seem to kick anything right."
Whether someone in the Alabama athletics department figured out Needham and Cox were there or if it was an omen towards their poor field-goal kicking, the sprinklers to the field turned on soon after to cause the only disturbance in their three-day tour.
And to say that was the only disturbance of the trip is not an exaggeration. Needham said one of the biggest surprises from the trip was that they were able to roam around so freely without interruption.
The traveling experiment by Needham and Cox can potentially lead to one of two things—either increased security at college football stadiums or more crazy fans making these trips. One thing that can be definitively counted on, however, is another tour for Needham and whoever else wants to join him.
"The next idea would be find a different loop of stadiums. Maybe do something probably in the Midwest, like Michigan and Ohio," he said.
Griffin Adams is SI's campus correspondent for the University of Utah. Follow him on Twitter.