Bobby Pope

College Football Hall a good visit

You can check the Taj Mahal off my bucket list. Not the one in India, but the one in Atlanta better known as the College Football Hall of Fame.

I can’t imagine the one in India being more majestic.

I had the opportunity to go through the new $68.5-million, 94,000-square foot facility last week and was truly in awe. If you love college football as much as I do, I can assure you a visit to the shrine will be more than worth your time.

As you enter the Hall of Fame, you are greeted by the helmet wall, featuring headgear worn by all 768 football playing schools in the nation, and the display is an eye-catcher.

Also on the first floor of the three-story building is a 45-yard artificial turf field where you can take part in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl Skill Zone. Try your luck at kicking field goals, the quarterback challenge or the obstacle course.

The second floor is a fan’s paradise. In addition to seeing trophies from virtually every major college football game, including the new national championship playoff, as well as other artifacts, you can really get personally involved.

There is karaoke where you can sing your school’s fight song. If you are a fan of ESPN’s College Gameday, you can make the Lee Corso game-of-the-week pick on the set with Chris Myers and Desmond Howard and get adorned with the mascot head of the team you choose.

You can broadcast one of your school’s favorite football highlights or you can get into face painting.

When your day is complete, you can take a smart-phone video copy of your activities with you.

Also on this floor are displays featuring caricatures and quotes from hall of fame coaches, college’s football’s biggest rivalries, the evolution of football equipment, the impact HBCU schools have had on the game and one that highlights the services academies football teams, to mention a few.

Floor three is solely dedicated to the 1,139 Hall of Fame members, and every member, with his accomplishments, can be accessed through technology that is state of the art. The technology is so good throughout the building I can’t even begin to describe it. It’s one of those “You have got to see it to believe it” experiences.

On the top floor, it was a enjoyable to search out the Hall of Fame members with local ties.

I found Jim Parker, who grew up in Macon before moving on to Ohio where he became an All-American at Ohio State. Some consider him the greatest lineman to ever play the game.

Three other members of the Hall have ties to Mercer. Josh Cody, who went into the Hall as a player at Vanderbilt, got his first coaching job with the Bears back in 1920, spending three years as head coach and athletics director. Wally Butts, who played at Mercer, went in as a coach after an illustrious career at Georgia where he is credited with two national titles. Bernie Moore got his first coaching job at Mercer in 1926, and three seasons later went to LSU and then became commissioner of the SEC.

Georgia and Georgia Tech both have 12 player representatives while four former Bulldogs head coaches are enshrined along with three former Georgia Tech head coaches.

Bobby Dodd, who was at the Yellow Jackets helm from 1945-1966, is one of only three individuals in the Hall as both a coach and player, joining Amos “Alonzo” Stagg and Bowden Wyatt.

Dodd entered in 1959 for his accomplishments as a player at Tennessee and then went in as Georgia Tech’s head coach in 1993.

Georgia Southern’s Tracy Ham is the Eagles’ only representative, being inducted in 1995.

Notre Dame has 44 inductees in the College Hall of Fame, which is 13 more than runner-up Southern Cal.

Hall of Fame officials project first year attendance at 500,000 with estimated income of $12 million.

Make sure you are one of those half million people.

I can assure you the $19.99 admission price is well worth it.

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