Football Fandemonium

By Lucy Morris  |  Photography by Lanewood Studio and Rich Smith

There are fans, and there are SUPERFANS – the enthusiasts who eat, sleep, and breathe college football each season. They know the players, the stats, and how to throw one incredible tailgate. Devoted and dedicated with stories to back it up, the following fanatics have more than just your average school spirit. Read on to learn what keeps them cheering year after year.

Kim & Joe Dan White 

UTC Mocs

 


CS: What’s your favorite part about supporting the Mocs?

KW: The best part about supporting UTC is that we’re supporting our community. The university is truly the front door to our community and really gives the city a lot of recognition.

CS: What’s your favorite UTC tradition?

KW: I love the Moc Walk. It’s great to see all the players come down with the train and the chancellor leading the way! We are always there early so we can see the players come off the bus.

CS: What does a typical game day look like for you?

KW: We have a pretty big group of alumni who all get together and tailgate at the pavilion. If it’s an afternoon game, we get there around 10 a.m., and we’re usually one of the first tables set up. For each game we send out a themed menu depending on who we’re playing, and we even have a chili cookoff each year. I’m amazed at how much the group has grown. It started with just a few of us chipping in and bringing food and drinks, and now we have 20-30 people who show up. We didn’t know each other to begin with, but it’s been great to get to know everyone since we all have a love for the school.

CS: Do you have any game day superstitions or good luck charms?

KW: Just important to wear your blue and gold and fill those seats!

CS: What’s your outlook for the 2017 season?

KW: We have a great coaching staff in general, from basketball to football. I was shocked to see we were picked fourth in the Southern Conference. I have no doubt we could be first! Sometimes it’s good to be the underdog. With all of the new and returning players, I know we’ll do better than fourth. I’m also really excited about Coach Arth. I heard him speak and he got me so pumped up, he practically convinced me I could go out and play!


Superfan Stats

– Have had season tickets since moving back to Chattanooga in 2003

– Kim is a past president of the UTC Alumni Board and the Chancellor’s Roundtable

– Kim currently serves as the chair of the UC Foundation

– Avid supporters of all UTC programs

C. Mark Warren 

Tennessee Vols

 


CS: When did you become a Vols fan?

CMW: When I was 12 years old. My dad used to drop me off at Neyland Stadium where my job was to sell 50 programs each game. After I finished selling them, I would buy a hotdog and a coke with my earnings and watch the game.

CS: Do you have any game superstitions or any pregame rituals?

CMW: The Tennessee tradition I enjoy the most is that I always kiss my wife after every Vols touchdown. As far as being superstitious, I have to be inside the stadium early to get my karma right. I also need enough time to go down and yell at the opposing players until the coaching staff calls security. My goal is to be escorted out of every SEC stadium at some point.

CS: What’s the craziest thing you’ve done as a fan?

CMW: I purchase an air banner to fly around the stadium for each Alabama/Tennessee home game. One year it said, “Go Vols, Beat Kiffin.” Last year I purchased one that said “Kiffin Has Small Hands” with our company website on it. It got so much traction it crashed the entire site!

CS: What sets the Vols apart from all other teams?

CMW: Honestly, it’s the Pride of the Southland Band. We have the tradition and the heritage. I’ve been to a lot of games at a lot of other schools, but our band really sets us apart. When they march to form that Power T and you see the football team run out onto the field – you don’t see that at any other stadium. Others are jealous of that tradition. It’s so unique.

CS: What’s your outlook for the 2017 season?

CMW: 15-0.


Superfan Stats

– Has had season tickets for over 40 years

– Has two Blue Tick Coonhounds, named Rocky and Neyland, who come from Smokey’s direct lineage

– Purchased the lot he built his home on from Peyton Manning

– Has attended more than 400 home football games, and 50-60 away games

Dr. Chris Haddock

Georgia Bulldogs

Pictured with wife Rachelle and sons Grady (8) and Landon (6)


 


CS: When did you become a UGA fan?

CH: My mom pulled for Bama, and my father remains a big Tennessee fan. As a young child, I was looking to find my own team to root for. The older kid that lived next door and his dad were big UGA fans, so I paid attention to the Dawgs. Along came Herschel Walker and a National Championship season, and I was hooked. Five years later, that neighbor and his son took me to my first UGA game. I’ve been going ever since. 

CS: What’s the most memorable Georgia game you’ve been to?

CH: The Georgia/Florida game in 1997. UGA hadn’t beaten Florida in seven years. We were a 20+ point underdog, but some magic happened that night and the Dawgs beat Spurrier and the Gators 31-17. I have an autographed copy of the front page of Red & Black [UGA Student Paper] from the Monday after the game. It was a gift from Rachelle, and it proudly hangs in our home. Other games stick out, like UGA beating UT in 2000 for the first time in 12 years, but nothing quite compares to that night in Jacksonville.   

CS: You once traveled all the way to Tempe, AZ for a game – tell me about that!

CH: My wife was five months pregnant with our first child. They estimated 40,000 Georgia fans made the trip. It was one big Georgia takeover of the restaurants and bars in Tempe. I remember our runningback Knowshon Moreno hurdled a player and it was the play of the year in college football.

CS: What does a typical tailgate look like for you?

CH: After graduating, I continued to host a tailgate with my closest friends on the historic North Campus for 15 years. We usually fed 50-75 people. Now our tailgate spot has moved to a camper we keep in Bulldog RV park in Athens. We head to town for every home football game as well as the occasional gymnastics, basketball, and baseball weekends.

CS: What’s your favorite UGA tradition?

CH: We have a thing called “Seven Notes” where a lone trumpeter from the band plays the opening of our “Glory Glory to Old Georgia” from the upper deck in Sanford Stadium just before kickoff.


Superfan Stats

– Was once featured on the Turner South show “Blue Ribbon” for an episode about tailgates

– Takes a beach vacation each year to attend the GA/FL midseason bowl game in Jacksonville

– Twice rented a houseboat to invade the Vol Navy for a GA/TN game

– Has attended more than 200 home and
away games

Clare Gruber

Alabama Crimson Tide

Pictured with sons Ricky Johnson and Jay Gruber


 


CS: When did you become an Alabama fan?

CG: I was originally planning to attend UGA for college, but one weekend my senior year of high school, I went to visit Bama with a friend and fell in love with it!

CS: Do you have any football season traditions?

CG: I always hang a huge Alabama flag outside our house. It goes up at the end of August before the season starts, and it stays up as long as Alabama plays. I have people ask me throughout the year, ‘When’s that flag going up?!’ Another tradition, if Bama’s at an away game, we’ll watch the game on TV but turn up Eli Gold [radio voice for the Crimson Tide]. It’s like having your very own sports announcer. If we’re in Tuscaloosa for a game, we always have breakfast at Rama Jama right before the game. It’s been there forever!

CS: I’ve heard you have a whole room dedicated to Alabama in your house. Tell me about that!

CG: Everybody says it’s like my shrine!
I have collected things over the years – I’ve got a picture of the stadium on one wall, Alabama lamps, a houndstooth chair, an elephant lamp, you name it. One of my sons gave me signed pictures from some of the players one year and got them framed. And of course I have a big screen TV to watch the games. It’s fun to watch the game in there if you can’t be there in person.

CS: What sets Alabama apart from other football programs?

CG: Coach Saban. I call him Saint Nick since he seems to always bring us presents. He holds not only the players and the coaches to a high standard, but the fans too!

CS: What are you expecting from the team this year?

CG: They’ve been voted #1! But I’m just going to ride the bus as far as it’ll go and just keep shakin’ my shaker.


Superfan Stats

– Has attended games with her sorority big sister for nearly four decades

– Traveled to Dallas twice for the season opener

– Texts “Roll Tide!” to all friends and family on the morning of each game

– Hosts tailgates at her house for any home or away game she doesn’t attend

Bill & Jakie Dudley

Auburn Tigers

 


CS: When did you become an Auburn fan?

BD: I’ve been an Auburn fan all my life. I was born and raised in Opelika, a town just adjacent to Auburn, so I’ve been going to Auburn football games my entire life.

CS: What’s the most memorable Auburn game you’ve been to?

BD: The first Auburn/Alabama game played at Auburn. Auburn beat Bama and it was the delight of my life and a celebration that went long into the night! My sister and her family were all there with my family. We’ve had tickets together since we graduated from Auburn.

CS: What’s your favorite part about attending a game?

BD: The highlight of the weekend is going to the stadium early enough to get to our seats for the band’s presentation, but the flying of the war eagle is just incredible. Even on the days you lose the game, you still have that wonderful experience of seeing the eagle fly around and swoop down to the field.

CS: What does a typical home game weekend include?

BD: We go down on Thursday before the game, and we have dinner with a group of high school and college friends that have been getting together for years. On Friday, we tailgate on the library lawn in the same spot we’ve had for about 28 years. Saturdays we really go all out, decorating the table with flowers and toilet paper wrapped in blue or orange paper that we save to go roll Toomer’s Corner after every win.

CS: What’s your favorite gameday tradition?

BD: When we’re in Auburn, we always walk downtown on Saturday morning before the game and go to Toomer’s Drugstore for our lemonade!


Superfan Stats

– Stay in the same hotel for every game, and were awarded a certificate by their hotel for the longest continuous stay streak – more than 25 years!

– Have tailgated with the same group for many years

– Vary the tailgate menu according to the opponent

– Have had season tickets since graduation and have sat with the same people for “umpteen years”