The newly renovated Varsity Club played host to Monday’s Selection Committee meeting at Camping World Stadium, setting a spectacular backdrop for Florida Citrus Sports members as they enjoyed breakfast and recapped a full slate of road trips made by our representatives during Week 6.
Of the nearly three dozen committee members to attend a game this week, few left with a more favorable report than Jeff Swartz, who watched Virginia Tech play Boston College in Chestnut Hill on Saturday. A New England native, Swartz was impressed by the way Hokies fans traveled, and said Virginia Tech representatives indicated that the team had a great experience when it came to Orlando last December.
“They spoke very warmly about the organization and last year’s ACC Championship Game — everything from the hotels to the staff to the game, itself,” Swartz said. “On a scale of 1-10, they were pretty much a 100, as far as the way they felt they were treated.”
Elsewhere, Chuck Ingram and Kurt Langschwager made the trip to Tallahassee for Florida State’s loss to Miami, while Ben Hankins took in two games during his trip to The Triangle this weekend, watching North Carolina State-Louisville in Raleigh on Thursday before checking out Notre Dame-North Carolina in Chapel Hill on Saturday.
However, some of the best action this weekend came in the Big 12, where Duane and Mona Atkinson were on hand for Iowa State’s stunning upset of Oklahoma in Norman.
“It was the first time I’ve ever been in a stadium with 86,000 people where at the end of the game you could hear a pin drop,” Mona Atkinson said during their address to the committee.
In Fort Worth, meanwhile, Steve Caplan and Gary Schneider were not only treated to a great game, but also a great experience when the pair saw TCU hold off West Virginia. Caplan said his trip started on the right foot by running into the Atkinsons on his flight to Dallas, and only got better after arriving at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
“I can’t speak for the rest of the Big 12, but TCU was really a great time,” Caplan said. “They kept on wanting to feed us barbecue, so bring your appetite if you go there.”
More importantly, Caplan said TCU’s fans seemed eager to play a bowl game in Orlando, despite being atop the Big 12 following Saturday’s 31-24 win over the Mountaineers.
“TCU is undefeated, and depending on what happens, they could end up in a College Football Playoff spot,” Caplan said. “But they are in no way, shape or form talking about it or thinking about it, it didn’t seem. One of the fans asked me, ‘What do we need to do to come to Orlando, to your bowl game?’ So it was a different attitude. The people there are very friendly and very down to earth.”
In the Big Ten, representatives took in five different games, including an eye-opening experience in Lincoln for Jon Wiese and Mike DiMauro, who saw Nebraska fall to Wisconsin at Memorial Stadium.
“I hadn’t been to Nebraska before, and I wasn’t particularly thrilled about it, but I would recommend it to anybody who has the chance,” DiMauro said. “This place was amazing and had top-notch, top-shelf everything.”
Evan Shear and Dale Crossley also had a similar experience at the Big House, where some ugly weather and an upset loss to Michigan State couldn’t stop the Michigan faithful from having fun.
“Their school spirit is just amazing,” Shear said of the Wolverines fans. “I don’t know what it showed on TV, but the rain was pretty nasty, going all different directions, and they were all singing and yelling and chanting, and it was incredible. It was cracking everybody up.
“I think that, as usual, if they came to Florida again, they would be a great addition.”
Of course, the most memorable song of the weekend may have come in Gainesville, where Brian Murphy and Mike Buell were on hand for Florida-LSU and a passionate, stadium-wide tribute to hometown hero Tom Petty, who passed away last week.
“They did a lot of smaller tributes throughout the game to Tom Petty but the big one was in between the third quarter and fourth quarter when they played ‘I Won’t Back Down’ over the speakers,” Murphy recalled. “And hearing 80,248 people sing that in unison was chilling. It was really, really, really cool to be there an experience that. It was fascinating, and the fans were fantastic.”
The next Team Selection Committee meeting is scheduled for next Monday, Oct. 16, in the Varsity Club. The Team Selection Committee is an all-volunteer community that represents Florida Citrus Sports at games across the Big Ten, SEC, ACC and Big 12, and participation is open to all active members. To learn more about membership options, visit our information page.