By Lucy Morris
Photography by Rich Smith

There are fans, and there are SUPERFANS– the enthusiasts who eat, sleep, and breathe college football each season. They know the players, the stats, and how to throw one incredible tailgate. Devoted and dedicated with stories to back it up, the following fanatics have more than just your average school spirit.

Football Superfans

Ron and Bea Wade

Chattanooga Mocs

CS: Why do the two of you love UTC?

RW: The school – University of Chattanooga back then – did so much for us. It gave us an education, gave us forever friends. We met there and fell in love. I tell people when I graduated, I left with my diploma in one hand and my queen in the other. I played football under the legendary Scrappy Moore, and she was the head cheerleader and homecoming queen.

BW: He didn’t vote for me, by the way. I found that out after I agreed to go on a date with him [laughs].

CS: What makes the two of you superfans?

BW: We have a real sense of pride for the university. We’ve been fortunate to see it grow and prosper into what it is today.

RW: For us, being superfans is more than just going to football games. It’s focusing on how you can play a part in helping to better the school year after year. I was President of the Alumni Council in ’94, and that’s a family affair – it took both of us to work that position. It brought many additional committees and activities, as well as a position on the National Tennessee Council.

CS: We’ve heard you have a pretty legendary tailgate. Tell us about it!

RW: We’re in our 10th year – it’s called the Mocs & Docs tailgate. We have a steadfast founding group, and then many other people attend week to week. We have a big sign up that says who we are, so you can always count on the Chancellor stopping by, the AD, development and alumni groups.

BW: We’ll have players’ parents come by too. It’s great for them to have a place. They’ll even thank us when their student is graduating.

CS: What’s your outlook for the 2018 season?

RW: This is a tough league, but I look for them to be much improved over last season. We have a great coach on board, a great athletic director, and a great group of athletes – kids want to come here now.

BW: We went to school with 3,000 people – look at it now!

CS: What word would you use to describe your passion for the Mocs?

BW: Awesome. It’s awesome that we can still support them and enjoy them like we do. A lot of people don’t have that feeling for their university.

RW: Everything. Everything good that happened to us came from there. Because of our time there, we were able to team up as a pair throughout this life journey.

Trey & Laurel Powell

Auburn Tigers

Pictured with sons Preston (7), Miller (5), and Meade (4 months)

CS: When did you all become Auburn fans?

TP: It’s been since birth for me. I’m a third-generation Auburn alumni. I grew up going to games with my parents.

LP: I went to Auburn for architecture school and became a fast fan. Trey and I have been going to games together since 2004.

CS: What’s unique about your fandom?

LP: We keep our Airstream in Auburn for football season and always go down the night before the game so we can enjoy fun game day activities like the Tiger Walk. Airstreaming is a fun family thing for us – it was my grandad’s, and he gave it to me when I graduated from Auburn; so we’ve been taking it down there for 9 years.

CS: How many members of your extended family have attended Auburn?

TP: My mom’s dad – my grandad – graduated from Auburn so long ago it was still called Alabama Polytechnic Institute. My mom and dad met there. Two of my sisters and my brother-in-law all went to Auburn as well.

LP: I’m first-generation Auburn! The kids are superfans as well, so I wouldn’t doubt if they want to carry on the tradition as well.

CS: What does a typical game day look like for you? Do you tailgate? Have any specific traditions?

LP: We wake up in our Airstream, tailgate, then head to the game. After the game, we usually come back to our tailgate and it’s more of a party.

TP: Our tailgate we have with our college friends has evolved over the years, but its nickname is still the Boom Boom Room.

CS: What’s your favorite Auburn tradition?

LP: When we’re down there, we like to get Toomer’s lemonade, Guthrie’s chicken, Mama Goldberg’s …

TP: And we have to make it to the stadium before kickoff to see the eagle fly.

CS: What do you all love most about Auburn?

LP: The Auburn family, the community, it’s a really fun environment, and it’s fun to raise kids to enjoy that tradition too.

TP: It’s like a big family reunion each time.

Dr. Brian Songer

Georgia Bulldogs

pictured with wife, Natalie; daughter, Kaitlyn (17); and sons, Cole (22) and Kye (15)

CS: Do you remember your first Georgia game?

BS: It was the Georgia/Clemson game in 1984. Kevin Butler kicked a 60-yard field goal late in the game to bury the Tigers. It was a huge game in Athens – just a defining moment that lit a spark and showed ‘This is what Saturdays are about.’

CS: What’s the most exciting Georgia game you’ve been to or remember?

BS: Last year’s Georgia/Oklahoma Rose Bowl. The atmosphere, the fanfare, the whole week leading up to it … It’s beyond words. The ups and downs, highs and lows. The overall excitement for the game itself, but then to win in double overtime. To be where we were at the beginning of the year to where we finished, nobody would’ve dreamed we could’ve done that.

CS: What’s your favorite Georgia tradition?

BS: The Battle Hymn of the Republic is basically the Georgia fight song. The trumpet soloist plays it right before the game. It’s just that tradition … everything is quiet and all you hear is that trumpet. It just gives you chill bumps. The crowd just explodes at the end – there’ll be 93,000 people going crazy.

CS: What’s the craziest story you have from a game?

BS: A few years back, I dislocated my elbow at Clemson and had to go to the hospital. They reset it, and my wife, Natalie, and I had to hitchhike back to the game. We literally walked across the street from the hospital to a Burger King and found someone to take us to the pharmacy to fill my prescription. Then we found a professor who was headed back that way, and he dropped us at the stadium. We made it back right before halftime.

CS: What sets Georgia apart from other teams?

BS: I believe Georgia is very determined with recruiting and development and putting the right people in the right place. With the current coaches and their play schemes, there’s an attitude of winning and aggressiveness. That idea of bend, don’t break. You’re going to get 110% from the team.

Photo by Terry Henson

Kevin Raper

Tennessee Volunteers

pictured with wife, Lori

CS: When did you become a Vols fan?

KR: At birth. It was basically designated. My dad began taking me at an early age, and I’ve been going ever since.

CS: Do you have any game day superstitions or good luck charms?

KR: I used to have specific clothing I would wear each week, but we’ve done so poorly the last few years, all my superstitions have gone out the window [laughs]. Sometimes we’ll switch up which interstate exit we get off on, depending on how they played the time before.

CS: What are you expecting from Coach Pruitt’s first year?

KR: He’s already showing that he can recruit well, and that’s the lifeblood of college football. I think we’ll be fundamentally much more sound, much more competitive. I think he may be our guy. I hope everyone is supportive. In a few years, he’ll have his program established, and then we’ll see results.

CS: What’s your favorite Tennessee tradition?

KR: The pregame and the band, that’s my favorite. The football team finishes warm-ups with about 20 minutes to go before the game. Then the band comes out and marches up and down the field. It’s all very traditional – everything stems from something in the past. Then they’ll end up coming down to the end of the field where we sit, and they form the ‘T’ and the players come rushing out, which has been a longstanding tradition. It’s just really cool to see.

CS: What’s your outlook for the 2018 season?

KR: If you were asking me to put money on it, I’d probably say 5-7, but I’m hopeful.

CS: What does Tennessee football mean to you?

KR: I’m an emotional person – I cry much more than my wife does. Every season when different events are happening at the stadium, I get emotional. If I fail to be emotional, I need to quit going. I compare it to going to church. If I fail to be emotional, there’s something wrong. I am that passionate about going to see Tennessee play. I am so proud of being an alumnus of Tennessee.

Jeff Baugh

Alabama Crimson Tide

pictured with wife, Amanda, and daughter, Aubrey (12)

CS: When did you become an Alabama fan?

JB: I became a Bama fan during the ’92 season. When they beat Miami in the Sugar Bowl, I was in for life.

CS: What makes you a superfan?

JB: I think it just comes down to a good sense of humor. I bought an ambulance – or I guess I should say “Bamalance.” Strangers think it’s crazy, but people that know me say it’s typical Jeff. I got the idea in 2012 when we went on a cruise. We met some Texas A&M fans on the boat, and we were joking around with each other the whole time, giving each other grief. We ended up exchanging numbers, and in 2015, we went to a game at A&M, and they took care of us. That’s where I saw the 12th Manbulance, and that’s where the idea of the Bamalance was born. It holds seven, has an oven, three grills, TVs, and a dance floor on top.

CS: What’s a typical game day look like for you?

JB: It’s all about the tailgate. My wife and daughter come with me to almost all the games – my daughter went to every one last year – so it’s a real family affair. It’s great to be able to take friends, family, and clients to games and know they’re taken care of. I can’t control the outcome of the game, but I can control the tailgate.

CS: What’s the craziest thing that’s happened since you’ve had the Bamalance?

JB: At the National Championship last year we were greeted by the Secret Service at 6 a.m. because they needed to check out what we had going on, since the president was coming to town. We’ve also met all kinds of people because of the Bamalance. Met Lee Corso, Tom Renaldi – all the ESPN people. Once I got a text from an unknown number, someone that wanted to meet us and see it. So he sent his address, and we showed up to what turned out to be Reggie Ragland’s house. He thought it was awesome.

CS: What makes Bama such a good team year after year?

JB: It comes down to the process: buying in, having a good work ethic, trusting the system, and knowing you have good players who want to win.

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