My name is Jacob Thigpen, the newest redshirt on the Walk-On team. Growing up in the great state of Georgia meant there was a 99% chance that I would become a Dawg fan no matter who my parents pulled for. Well, my parents happened to be Georgia football season ticket holders so it was a 100% chance I’d pull for UGA. I presumably began cheering for the Georgia Bulldogs before I was born. No, seriously. My mother was five months pregnant with me when she and my dad went to the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party (if you don’t know what this is, are you a college football fan?). I went to the game again the next season, this time as an eating, breathing, and pooping six-month-old. But this visor-wearing head coach often called The Ol’ Ball Coach was in his first season at Florida. The next 12 years at the Cocktail Party weren’t much fun for my Bulldogs and me. Fun Fact: Georgia’s own visor-wearing, national champion head coach, started at safety for UGA in its only victory over Steve Spurrier’s Gators in 1997.
Mom and Dad set the stage for my Georgia football fandom, but it was a particular video game that opened my heart to everything about the greatest sport we all love and obsess over, no matter how much it changes. I was 12 when my dad bought me NCAA Football 03. At the time, I didn’t really care much about other teams – only the one in Athens. But playing virtual games at The Big House, Neyland Stadium, and Touchdown Jesus; signing 5-Star recruits at Vanderbilt in Dynasty Mode; and hearing catchy fight songs helped grow my interest in college football to full-blown love for the sport.
The moment I realized college football breeds the most passionate fans in American sports was at the 2003 SEC Championship Game. My dad – forever the biggest UGA football fan I know – got permission from mom to take me to Atlanta and find tickets off the street for LSU vs. UGA. This sweet, older couple pulling for the Bayou Bengals sold my dad two tickets in the LSU section for under face value. LSU was on its way to winning Nick Saban’s first of seven national championships. They pummeled the Dawgs from start to finish. LSU scores a meaningless 4th quarter touchdown when the game is well in hand. A man wearing purple and gold, who looked to be in his 60s, turns around and tells me that my team is getting its “f**king ass beat down.” I was 13.
Thankfully, I got to experience the indescribable feeling of watching my favorite team literally before birth win a national championship…then it happened back-to-back. I’m spoiled. I know it and I don’t care. But bleeding red and black doesn’t mean I won’t take off the bulldog goggles and write objectively about your favorite SEC team.
A quick bio of my writing experience: Contributed sports stories for my college newspaper (graduated from Augusta State in Georgia); wrote for a sports blog covering the American Athletic Conference from 2014-15; interviewed former Navy head coaches Paul Johnson and Ken Niumatalolo for a story on the Midshipmen before they joined the AAC; and I covered the 2015 Georgia spring game in the media press box.
I watched games at Georgia, Georgia Tech, Auburn, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, and at the Cocktail Party in Jacksonville eight times. One of many bucket list games I hope to see in person is the Iron Bowl in Tuscaloosa when both Alabama and Auburn are highly ranked. Who knows, maybe writing is my golden ticket to seeing that game someday.
I hope y’all enjoyed learning a little about my journey as a college football fan. Can’t wait to bring you stories about SEC football from a unique perspective or angle. My goal is to write content that is different from other services writing about the conference. Please, feel open to reaching out with story ideas.
How about I end this bio the right way? Repeat after me: “SEC, SEC, SEC, SEC…”