We briefly introduced Chad Gibbs in a previous article. He’s not a former SEC player, but he is a big fan and is also an author. Last year, he attended a home football game at every SEC school and wrote a book about his expereinces. Here is a conversation I had with him:
Chad, as SEC fans, we’re all jealous of your trips last year and all the games you saw. Can you briefly mention some of the highlights of where you went?
Chad Gibbs: We all know the many great traditions around the SEC, and seeing them all in three months is something I’ll never forget. From rolling Toomer’s Corner, to the LSU student section, to tailgating in The Grove, it was an unbelievable fall. I also attended an incredible slate of games. I was in Gainesville for the thriller with Arkansas, Tuscaloosa for the last second field goal block against Tennessee, and Oxford for Les Miles’ clock management debacle.
Ok, so you saw a game at every school in one season. Shoot us straight, how did you decide which order and which games to attend?
Chad Gibbs: Well I’m an Auburn alum, so naturally I wanted to see as many Auburn games as possible. Problem was, if I saw Auburn too many times, I’d do a disservice to other schools. For example, were I to have watched Auburn play at LSU, I would have been stuck watching Florida play Charleston Southern. So in the end I tried to make sure I was at every school for an SEC game at least. The only exceptions were West Virginia at Auburn, and Western Carolina at Vanderbilt.
What was your favorite game day atmosphere of all the SEC schools last season?
Chad Gibbs: Taking Auburn and my bias out of play, I’d have to say Baton Rouge. I was there for the night game vs. then #1 Florida, and I was in the student section. Game day at any SEC school is great, but there is just something special about a Saturday night in Tiger Stadium.
One of our writers tends to pick on Starkville, MS. Can you tell us your opinion on the town and the game you saw there last season?
Chad Gibbs: I was in Starkvegas for the Egg Bowl last season and had a wonderful time. With the game being played a few days after Thanksgiving I’m not sure I got the full game day experience, but crowd was rowdy, and after State ran the Rebels out of the stadium, the tailgate parties went long into the night. I’m going back to Starkville this Thursday for the Auburn game and can’t wait.
Outside of the football games, what are two other experiences that helped form the basis for your book?
Chad Gibbs: The book deals with how Christians, specifically me, balance the two passions in their life: God and football. So obviously my Christian faith is a large part of the book. The book also deals with family, specifically how growing up in the south watching and attending games with our parents, grandparents, siblings, and cousins is a common bond we all share.
Tell us a little more about your book. What do you hope it will communicate to your readers?
Chad Gibbs: A friend of mine summed it up pretty well when he said, “Football is a great hobby, but a terrible God.” Going forward, I hope I will stop looking to football, or anything else for that matter, to fill the void in my life I believe only Christ can fill. This is the lesson of the book.
Outside of the Bible, what are three other influential books that had an impact on what you decided to write?
Chad Gibbs: Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz had a great impact on me, and not for the reason it impacted many others. It was the first Christian book I read that I thought was truly funny, and it let me know that my humor could work in a spiritual book. I love Nick Hornby, and certainly pull from is great book on fandom, Fever Pitch. I also enjoy reading AJ Jacobs experiment memoirs, like the hilarious Year of Living Biblically, and tried to throw myself into the project with Jacobs’ passion.
For any of our readers that are interested in learning more about Christianity and truly living the Christian faith in our culture, what books/chapters of the Bible would you direct them to and why?
Chad Gibbs: I’d say start with the Book of Mark. It’s short, and gives you a clear presentation of the Gospel. There are many great translations out there, and many Bible’s have helpful commentaries.
If we were to only remember one thing about your experiences, what would it be?
Chad Gibbs: I want to remember the phones numbers of all the folks I spent time with at the other 11 SEC schools, so when Auburn comes to town, I’ll have a place to stay. The rest is recorded in my book, so I don’t have to worry about remembering it :-)
Chad’s website is: www.ChadGibbs.com
Follow Chad on Twitter: @Chad_Gibbs
Link to purchase Chad’s book: God & Football: Faith and Fanaticism in the SEC