Wednesday, July 23, 2014
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Hampton Hotels and Tony Dorsett's Tips

Former NFL player and Heisman winner, Tony Dorsett, knows all about traveling for games, both as an athlete and now as an alum and fan himself.  Here are his tips and favorite college football towns to help you create memories worthy of a Heisman Trophy.  Visit SB Nation throughout the month of November for some fun college town itineraries!

Tony Dorsett and Hampton Hotels' Home and Away Travel Tips

1. Go for two!

The joy and satisfaction of playing with the University of Pittsburgh was an experience in itself, but I'm also fortunate that my career gave me the opportunity to see some amazing places across the U.S.  If you're cheering your team on at away games this season, make sure you build time to explore the local area as well.  I've enjoyed taking in the rich history of Boston, or spending the day exploring beautiful Baton Rouge, my wife's favorite.  When you're in Baton Rouge for a game, I personally recommend the gator sausage, crab cakes and mirliton at Ruffinos.

2. Don't get called out for unsportsmanlike conduct.

College football, and every sport for that matter, is all about building sportsmanship. Don't let your rivals get the best of you - whether you're on the home or visiting side. Break down some of those barriers and respect the traditions and fan spirit of your opposing team.  I have to admit...sometimes it's hard to be a good sport but do it for your team.

3. Take a time out to enjoy some laughs.

What would college football be without the reminiscing? When I get together with my old teammates, our favorite memories are always the funniest, like the time we played West Virginia and I lost my temper. I threw the ball at one of their defenders and it hit him on the helmet and bounced straight up. I thought it was pretty funny-but he didn't. Point is, the game can definitely get heated at times, so don't forget to enjoy a good laugh as well - those are the things you'll remember (in addition to your kicker's awesome field goal as time expired). 

4. Map out your road trip.

Road tripping is one of the most popular ways to enjoy game day weekend.  One of my favorite memories was road tripping to New Orleans in 1982 to watch my former team Pitt win the Sugar Bowl.  If you're an avid traveler during football season, turn your team loyalty into travel loyalty as well.  Rack up some of those points by staying at dedicated hotels like Hampton, which has more than 1,900 locations all over the world.  Maybe you'll even rack up enough points for a free stay at the big bowl game!

5. Find some unexpected delight.

So you thought your team had it, but then the unexpected happened in the fourth quarter and alas, no win this game.  But it's ok - find some delight in the unexpected like heading to the Original Pancake House for a late night breakfast. 

6. Don't be afraid to call an audible.

Nothing is more fun than a spontaneous weekend trip. Just like on the field, unexpected last minute moments are the memories that will last a lifetime. So next time you're thinking of watching the game at home, why not watch it in person? Hampton has hotels all over the country so you can be ready to visit your favorite college town no matter how last minute, like the time my wife and I headed to Baton Rouge to see her alma mater play in the big game (BAMA).

7. It's all about team work.

Player or fan, getting ready for the big game can be a lot of work. Back in my playing days I leaned on my teammates and coaches to get prepared, but now it's on my family and friends to make sure we're game-time ready. There's no better gumbo, sweet potato pies, fried chicken and anything Cajun on a Saturday at my house.

Tony Dorsett's Must See College Football Towns

Dallas:

When it comes to football, does it get bigger than Dallas? Dallas is home to both a pro team and also plays host to big college bowl games like the Cotton Bowl.  I played 10 fantastic seasons as a pro athlete in this city. If you're in the big D, you have to be sure to get some BBQ and enjoy Nate's Seafood in Addison.

Stanford:

There's so much to enjoy there in addition to the great football.  Its proximity to wine country and San Francisco allow you to get football and relaxation all in one weekend.

Pittsburgh:

Of course my list of favorite football towns could not be complete without Pittsburgh. The beautiful architecture, the delicious food and last but certainly not least, the unmatched fans. If you're in town for a game, take a stroll down Tony Dorsett Drive and enjoy Christopher's restaurant in Pittsburgh.

Tony's Favorite College Football Traditions

  • You can get pumped for the game in Baton Rouge by watching the Tigers as they take the "Walk Down Victory Hill". Join the fans lining North Stadium Drive as they enter Tiger Stadium. You might even catch the team's real Bengal-Siberian tiger, Mike VI, roll by in his cage!
  • "Rubbing Howard's Rock" before the players run down the hill at Clemson as they release over 20,000 orange balloons is another popular tradition. Being an athlete, I love feeling and hearing the energy from fans preparing for the big game. It really gets the team fired up!

  • At the end of the day, college football is all about celebrating team sportsmanship and camaraderie. The "12th Man" in College Station is a great example of that - the whole student body stays standing throughout the entire game to symbolize they are ready to play if needed.

This article originally appeared on SBNation.

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