We’ve seen the ugly side of extreme fandom recently with jury selection under way in the trial of Harvey Updyke, the Bama fan accused of poisoning the trees at Auburn’s Toomer’s Corner, and the photo circulating online of a particularly graphic “roadkill” version of UGA’s mascot apparently served up as the tasteless groom’s cake at the wedding of a couple of fans of some other school.
Football rivalries sometimes even result in violence, as has happened with fans fatally shooting each other over the outcome of Clemson-South Carolina and Alabama-LSU games.
But college football’s superfans are more likely to be hosting elaborate and expensive tailgate feasts before a game or hitting the road for weeks at a time in a Winnebago festooned in school colors to catch all their team’s games, home and away, wracking up years of perfect attendance.
Many other fans emblazon their cars or trucks with elaborate portraits of their team mascot. There’s even a company in Macon that will sell you a coffin sporting your team logo!
Others show their dedication to their team in more unorthodox, eye-opening ways. And like the anti-UGA cake, there’s something about weddings that seems to bring out the extreme fan. My wife works with a guy from South Carolina who told her about a Clemson fan’s wedding where the groomsmen wore white suits … with orange vests. And my son attended a wedding at a very upscale home in Columbus where the décor showed the owner’s devotion to the Auburn Tigers. The hallway to his son’s bedroom featured tiger-striped carpet and a tiger on the wall. And the totally Auburn-decorated bedroom itself had Trooper Taylor’s autograph on the wall. Literally. It wasn’t just something hanging on the wall that the AU assistant had autographed. Taylor literally had signed the wall of the kid’s bedroom! Now, that’s a fan with pull.
And then there are those superfans like my old Athens High classmate Mike “Big Dawg” Woods, who make themselves a walking billboard for their favorite school. The network TV cameras always find Mike’s bald head painted with the Georgia bulldog, but he’s not alone. It seems every team has one of them, from Washington’s Captain Husky to Ohio State’s Buck-I-Guy to Alabama’s Nathan Davis, whose entire body is decorated with Crimson Tide tattoos, including a mural featuring Bear Bryant that covers his entire back.
Some superfans show great creativity in displaying their fandom. It’s one thing to paint the Georgia “G” on your lawn a la Sanford Stadium, but when my son roomed in D.C. with Rusty and Ross, a couple of other recent UGA grads, they did something a bit more difficult, meticulously mowing the Georgia “G” into the backyard grass. Rusty also has a table featuring a mosaic of the Georgia “G” design made out of the caps of many bottles of beer consumed while cheering on the Dawgs.
And you’ve got to tip your official college logo cap to Tom Pounds, the Washington State fan who has made sure a Cougars flag is waved in the background on ESPN’s “College GameDay” every week since 2003, mailing the flag to a network of volunteer operatives across the country.
Do you know any fans of the Bulldogs or any other team that have gone to unusual or colorful extremes? Share their story in the comments below.
Or if you’ve got a photo showing their extreme fandom, send it to me, along with some details, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And don’t forget, if there’s something else you want to discuss concerning UGA athletics or you have a question for the Junkyard Blawg, email that as well.
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg