Running a site that is so intertwined with my personal interests and passions, it's sometimes hard to tell where 80 Minutes of Regulation ends and Curtis begins. Still, when I conceptualized the trip to Atlanta for the College Football Playoff National Championship festivities, it was an 80 Minutes trip. I'd document it. I'd gather "content". I even paid for it with some of the tens of dollars I've made running this place. With that idea in mind, I was on my way.
I'll note that when I updated the tagline to "The Cadence of Gameday," it was to more accurately reflect the site's offerings. Still, I know and embrace the fact that marching bands both began as and remain my wheelhouse. The trouble? There were no bands to be had.
It was a combination of the plans I made and the assumptions I made with them. When I booked the trip nearly a year ago, I intended to be there through the night of the championship itself (though attending was never an option). I'd embed myself in the championship weekend experience, checking out all that it had to offer, but most of all the bands. A four night stay was trimmed to two, but surely they'd make a weekend of it, and there would be plenty of chance, right? Nah.
My closest analog was getting to sneak a peek at SEC's fan central a month prior, also in Atlanta. That event featured pep rallies for both teams on Saturday. However, Saturday for that event was also gameday. The big pep rallies for tonight's national championship were this afternoon, not over the weekend. So while there were plenty of activities planned for the weekend, the marching bands were not among them.
It's a huge oversight, in my opinion. If I may quote myself from an earlier piece where I suggested that any championship bid worth its salt would include a parade in the plans:
The national championship festivities should be a culmination and celebration of all that is college football, and that includes marching bands. Without them, all you have is a minor league Super Bowl.With all that exposition, you may think I had a less-than-great trip. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Solid Verbal. While I've spoken about them before, they're one of my favorite pieces of college football media. The live show didn't disappoint, and in addition to everything both hosts bring, their guests included ESPN's Adam Amin, Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples, and SB Nation's Spencer Hall and Jason Kirk, all of whom I've come to appreciate individually and in association with the show. Ty recognized me by name as a long time listener (and occasional writer-inner); my only regret is that at the postshow at the bar, I ended up down on the far end (and perhaps more engrossed in the Falcons game than I have been in the NFL all season) and managed to completely miss hanging out. Next time, I suppose. That said, I did manage to experience and enjoy perhaps the most on-brand beer for me: Cadence, a Belgian dubbel by Georgia's own Reformation Brewery.
Elsewhere in the Cadence of Gameday, I got to check out the Tailgate Plaza outside of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, featuring various brand activations, not the least of which being the Nissan Heisman House. Media Day gave the opportunity at a fly-on-the-wall peek in at some of the media interviews of Alabama and Georgia players and staff, and Fan Central featured more activities in an inside venue. I even got to hoof and Über my way around Atlanta some, including revisiting the Flying Biscuit Cafe that I had enjoyed years ago, and catching Waffle House on my way out of town.
It'll likely be quite some time before I make it down for a championship weekend again - though I wouldn't rule out a Peach Bowl trip, with or without a playoff - but I had a great time this year, and hope to do it again.