What's in a name?
Well, it's easy in this case in that it's pretty much a guarantee that a season of college football is indeed One Great Season. And that's exactly what it was in 2009 for me as I traveled the country for an entire season in support of this then newly launched website.
I left my Brooklyn apartment in late August 2009 and except for a quick, 36-hour drop-in before Thanksgiving, didn't return until the second week of December. In between, I spent five or six or seven days in a different city each week, interviewing coaches and players, writing stories, meeting the locals, sampling the restaurants, and of course, covering college football games.
In all, I hit 15 college games, and at most of them I had sideline access to shoot still photos. Not surprisingly, my Hot Girls of College Football gallery got the most looks, but college football is about more than pretty girls. And once I returned to Brooklyn, I covered the college basketball season from my living room, then went back out on the road for some Kentucky Derby coverage in the spring. Nine writers helped OGS bring unique World Cup coverage to our soccer readers, and now we're in the second year of the project, excited about where we've been, and optimistic about where we're headed.
Sure, baseball has its home runs and 100 mile-an-hour fastballs, and college basketball certainly has a fun tournament every year, but there is nothing like college football. From campus to campus, there are just as many colorful traditions off the field as there are exciting and memorable moments on it.
Few things are better than an October Saturday, at the stadium or in the living room, spending an afternoon with friends and a few cold beers -- maybe even a bowl of My Mom's Chili -- watching your squad march down the field for that late touchdown to beat the hated arch rival.
Maybe there's one thing better than that -- being on the road to watch it the entire time.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John P. Wise is a Murrow and SPJ award-winning journalist and voting member of the Football Writers Association of America. He's been in the news business for more than 15 years, having spent much of that time writing about college football (visit the archives). Wise grew up in Ohio, where it's required to bleed scarlet and gray every autumn. And sorry, Skip Bayless, but that was indeed interference on Miami in the Fiesta Bowl some years back.
After living in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Louisville, Ky., Wise accepted a job in New York in 2006. He worked the national desk for Fox Interactive Media until shortly after he was among the journalists who got arrested (watch the video) while covering the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., in 2008. He took a job with WNBC (more archives) later that year that ended in mid-2009, allowing him to prepare for the project he'd first envisioned before he graduated from the University of Cincinnati.
Back in June 1994, Wise compiled a list of what he thought were going to be the biggest games of the upcoming college football season and sent letters to the athletic departments of all the host schools requesting media access. He said if he didn't get a job before his mid-summer birthday, he'd set out to drive around the country and write a book about America's greatest sport. Not knowing what his address would be after his sublet ended on Aug. 1, the gutsy graduate directed the athletic departments to mail all correspondence to his mother's address in Cleveland.
Wise got a job before his birthday, but schools were still sending media guides -- and credentials -- to mom's house. And it was two days after Kordell Stewart's incredible Hail Mary pass (watch the video) to Michael Westbrook on the game's final play that lifted Colorado to a stunning upset win at Michigan that John's mom called to say he could have had two all-access passes to that game.