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A QUEST AND AN OBSESSION: TWO FRIENDS HIT THE ROAD FOR HAPPY VALLEY
Trip Is Part of TheirMissionto See a Game at Every College Football Stadium in the Country
Since 2008, Jarrett Singer and Al Botta have been on a rather unorthodox quest: to watch a college football game in every Division I-A football stadium in the country. They’ve started the website CollegeFootballQuest.com to keep fans updated on their progress, and this year one of their stops will beHappyValley, to watch the Nittany Lions take on the Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday, September 10. This time, they’re bringing a Winnebago and, Botta says slyly, “that could change everything.”
Though their quest didn’t officially get underway until a few years ago, Singer says the seed of the idea was planted even earlier, in his senior year at the Universityof Floridawhen he enrolled in a course called Coaching Football. “It was not the easy ‘A’ that it sounds like,” Singer says. “You had to do a lot of work building a playbook and scouting an opponent. I learned a lot and as a result my ideal seat in the stadium is the first row of the upper deck in the middle of the endzone, where I can better see critical plays develop.”
Since then, they’ve had an opportunity to see a lot of those critical plays develop. In the first year of their quest, at a game inDeKalb,Illinois, between the Central Michigan Chippewas and the Northern Illinois Huskies, Singer and Botta watched asNorthern Illinoisbattled back from a twenty-four point deficit to force overtime, only to throw an interception and lose. “Exciting games like that keep us on the Quest,” Botta says.
The local food doesn’t hurt, either. In each city, Singer and Botta seek out the eateries that students and fans flock to, especially those that give their diners food challenges. “The competitive spirit takes over,” Singer says to explain the weight they inevitably pick up on game weekends. When it comes to the best local restaurant they’ve found, though, there isn’t any competition. Both agree that Cagle Steaks inLubbock,Texas, stands head and shoulders above the rest. “Once we own a private plane, we’ll probably go back toLubbockfor dinner often,” Botta says with a grin.
And even their sports experiences are not always limited to college football. When they visited Yager Stadium inOxford,Ohio, to watch Miami of Ohio play the Ohio Bobcats, they also found time to stop in atGogginIceCenterto watch the Redhawks take on the Northern Michigan Wildcats. Singer cites that hockey game as one of his most interesting experiences during the Quest. “I had never before been to a game at the college level, despite my love for the sport,” he says.
The Quest has given them an opportunity see a lot of things aboutAmerica’s college towns they might have otherwise missed. They cite touring West Point, being inAustin,Texas, on game day, and tailgating with Hawkeye fans inIowa Cityas just some of the highlights of their journey thus far.
And what do their families think of the Quest? Botta doesn’t hesitate. “My wife is very, very supportive. She thinks I’m crazy, but she’s supportive,” he says. “She’s probably right,” Singer chimes in.
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If you’d like more information about College Football Quest, or to schedule an interview with Jarrett Singer or Al Botta, please call Zachary Martin at 850/264-9614 or email Zach at email@example.com.