(Yeah, that’s me giving Morningside QB Joel Nixon advice after their first round win)
It’s been roughly 18 months since I last wrote anything that had any real sense of my opinion on NAIA football. Weird to think that each week for about 10 years it was my job during the season to write something, anything, about NAIA football and help keep the conversation going.
If there is one opinion of mine that hasn’t changed in 18 months or really ever since there was a move in venues, it is that Rome, Ga. is a fantastic place to watch the NAIA national championship game and a great community to support the fan interest in the game.
Earlier this fall, I had all but succumbed to the idea that last year’s title game between Saint Xavier and Carroll College was going to be my last for a while. But as the game has gotten closer, and the semifinals produced two teams to square off for the title there was one thought that kept banging around my head:
I cannot stay away.
My first in person NAIA football championship game was in 2004 when Carroll College played the University of Saint Francis (Ind.), however the previous two games I watched live on TV and still own the VHS tapes I recorded them on. The first year when Carroll College defeated Georgetown College I think I was one of 200 people who actually got the “Empire Sports Network” and watched the entire game with a squiggly black line through the middle of the broadcast.
The dilemma I have is whether or not to brag about this next tidbit of information: I think I have the current streak for most consecutive NAIA football championships attended with this year being my ninth.
I thought about it the other day as to who has been to more in a row recently? With the change from Savannah to Rome as a host site, we lost all of the regulars from Tennessee that had been coming. Then I thought of the NAIA office staffers that were coming and every 3-4 years there had been a different person in charge of the championship taking away any consecutive attendance from the national office. If anyone else has a longer consecutive streak in tact, shoot me an email.
So being the seasonal Rome resident that I am here is my abbreviated guide of “stuff I like to do in Rome.”
· At some point you have to hit Jefferson’s downtown. Either have some oysters, crawfish or whatever they have for a special. Bring an extra dollar bill, decorate it and leave your mark on Rome. Then step outside and read the marker on the corner about the mom who saved football in Georgia.
· Spend some time downtown, walk in and out of some of the shops. The downtown is a throwback to what business districts in towns like Rome all over the country used to be.
· Need a little exercise? Jog the levee and over to the football field. Again, a great little view of downtown, a good workout and a way see what’s all happening in Rome.
So with that said, I look forward to seeing the many, many fans of Morningside College and Marian University in Georgia next week for the championship game! It should be a great experience for the student athletes and I hope all the fans get to enjoy it too!
For anyone heading to the game, feel free to track me down via email or twitter @jdannelly