Ivan's been (nearly) everywhere, man
Ivan Maisel [ARCHIVE]
ESPN.com
November 14, 2013
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For years, my colleague Gene Wojciechowski and I had a running argument about which of us had covered a story at the most FBS schools. Finally, after years of ribbing, we added them up. Let's just say I not only won, but I covered the spread.

By my most recent count, which I made before I began to type this, I have reported a story or covered a game at 93 FBS schools. Among the Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern Conferences, I have worked a story at all but two schools: Washington State and Vanderbilt. Nothing personal, Cougars and Commodores. I covered a Washington State home game earlier this season. However, the Cougars played Stanford in Seattle. Doesn't count.

I may be a jack of all conferences and a master of none, but traveling across the country to cover college football has been a blast. That's why I'm excited that this weekend, 10 of our conference reporters are stepping out of their leagues to see how other parts of the country celebrate their Saturdays. It's anthropology, with shoulder pads.

To whet their appetites, and maybe yours, what follows is a thumbnail description of some of the games I've covered and the places I've covered them. I discovered I don't remember my thumbnails as well as I used to. But with a little help from Google, I have blown the dust off my mental scrapbook and peeked inside.

ACC

Doak Campbell Stadium, Florida State

First Game I Saw: (1991) Florida State 46, Syracuse 14

Best Game I Saw: (1991) Miami 17, Florida State 16

The original Wide Right (collect them all). In the first seven weeks of that season, that team was as good as any of Bobby Bowden's powerhouse teams. Injuries, and poor kicking, did it in.

The Thing About Doak: I feel certain that it's the only $100 million-plus edifice where you can buy boiled peanuts.

Memorial Stadium, Clemson

First Game I Saw (1981) Clemson 45, Wofford 10

Best Game I Saw (1988) Florida State 24, Clemson 21

The Puntrooskie, the One and Only. Who calls a fake punt in a tie game on his own 20 with two minutes to play? Seminoles head coach Bobby Bowden, that's who.

The Thing About Death Valley: There's so much to like about Clemson. The Esso Club, a gas station/bar. The Smokin' Pig's incredible barbecue is right down the road. And, of course, Howard's Rock, one of the coolest pregame rituals in the sport.

Carter-Finley Stadium, North Carolina State

First Game I Saw: I wrote a story about first-year head coach Dick Sheridan for Sports Illustrated two weeks into the 1986 season, in which the Wolfpack went from 3-8 to 8-3-1. And I remember covering a night game at Carter-Finley. And I covered a few basketball games in Reynolds Coliseum. But you got me as to when.

The Thing About Carter-Finley: I never liked that it's not smack on campus. But it does share a parking lot with the Hurricanes' arena. There's that.

BB&T Field, Wake Forest

First Game I Saw (2006): Wake Forest 21, Boston College 14

The 7-1 Demon Deacons proved themselves as viable contenders for the ACC title they would win by defeating the No. 16 Eagles. They lost the Orange Bowl to Louisville 24-13.

Best Game I Saw: Same

The Thing About BB&T: It is the smallest (capacity 31,500) stadium among the five major conferences. There's a fine line between coziness and minor league. I think BB&T Field has the goods. 

Byrd Stadium, Maryland

First Game I Saw: (2000? 2002?) Night game against Florida State. The Seminoles embarrassed the Terps the way that Bobby Bowden's best teams embarrassed every team in the ACC.

Best Game I Saw: Actually, on campus, it was in Cole Field House during the 1991 NCAA tournament. No. 15 seed Richmond upset No. 2 seed Syracuse 73-69.

The Thing About Byrd: Love the turtle statue. Who cares if Maryland copped the idea from Howard's Rock?

Alumni Stadium, Boston College

First Game I Saw: (1996) Notre Dame 48, Boston College 21

The game was secondary, and not just because of the score. This was the Eagles' first home game after the university suspended 13 players in a betting scandal.

Best Game I Saw: Same

The Thing About Alumni: The Eagles' "indoor facility" is a bubble that goes over the turf in the winter. It may not keep up with the Joneses but it is one of a kind.

Carrier Dome, Syracuse

First Game I Saw: (1987) Syracuse 48, Penn State 21

Syracuse hadn't beaten JoePa since 1970. On the first play from scrimmage, Don McPherson threw an 80-yard touchdown to Rob Moore. I think the Dome levitated.

Best Game I Saw: (1998) Syracuse 66, Miami 13

In quarterback Donovan McNabb's last home game, the Orange tormented their Big East tormentors. Midway through the fourth quarter, Syracuse head coach Paul Pasqualoni sent in a sub and gave McNabb a curtain call. I think the Dome levitated again.

The Thing About the Dome: Syracuse fans complain -- a lot -- but when they're winning, there's no tougher place to play. For 50,000 seats, it's a small building, and there's nowhere for the sound to go. And unlike in basketball, every seat is good.

Kenan Memorial Stadium, North Carolina

First Game I Saw (1981): Clemson 10, North Carolina 8

A top-10 matchup and Clemson's toughest homestretch game en route to the national championship.

Best Game I Saw: Same

The Thing About Kenan: With the way the trees peek over the top of the stadium, there are few prettier settings for college football.

Wallace Wade Stadium, Duke

First Game I Saw: (1981) Clemson 38, Duke 10

I may have been there in 1981 for Clemson's 38-10 victory. I know was at Cameron Indoor Stadium for North Carolina's epic 102-100 double overtime win over Duke in 1995. That one's a keeper.

Best Game I Saw: Same

The Thing About Wallace Wade: That they held the 1942 Rose Bowl there, of course!

Lane Stadium, Virginia Tech

First Game I Saw: (1999) Virginia Tech 43, Miami 10

Redshirt freshman Michael Vick. Enough said.

Best Game I Saw: (2003) Virginia Tech 35, Texas A&M 19

The Hurricane Isabel game, played on ESPN on Thursday night. I had a sideline job that night, and Isabel brought wind, rain and not much warm air. I didn't pack right. I stopped in the Blacksburg Wal-Mart. Long underwear? Nope. Leggings? Nope. So I took a deep breath, went into women's lingerie and bought some plus-size -- O.K., maybe plus-plus size -- pantyhose. My legs stayed warm. And I have to tell you, I looked damned good.

The Thing About Lane: The roasted turkey legs -- the Hokies used to be known as the Gobblers -- put Lane on the medal stand for college stadium food.

Sun Life Stadium, Miami

First Game I...
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