Long Time Road Dawg’s Streak Finally Comes to an End


There’s a MSU fan some of you may know who is as true maroon as they get. He’s been to 162 consecutive Mississippi State football games. Home, away, it doesn’t matter – he’s been there every week. His name is Rob Hataway. After 13+ seasons of impeccable attendance he will end the streak this weekend, foregoing a trip to Columbia, South Carolina. His long time traveling partner, Andy Atkinson, will also be ending his streak at 58 games. I was curious about this streak so I asked Rob some questions which he was kind enough to answer…

Which game started your streak?

"Game #1, ironically, was at South Carolina in 2000, the game where Carolina QB Phil Petty got knocked out of the game with under five minutes to go, and the walk-on backup QB, Eric Kimrey, on his first play, with no warmup, on fourth down, threw a touchdown on a beautiful fade down the left sideline past MSU cornerback Kendall Roberson, whose eyes were anywhere except on the ball.  The TD of course sealed the win for the Gamecocks.  That game still comes on College Flash Classics from time to time and keeps me up at night.  WHAT WERE YOU LOOKING AT KENDALL ROBERSON?!?"

What inspired you to faithfully attend all Bulldog games home or away?

"It’s not really something that happened intentionally at first.  Started out with me and some friends in 2000 looking at a manageable road schedule with games at South Carolina, LSU, and Ole Miss, and deciding “What the heck, let’s go to Kentucky too.”  Next season, in 2001, there were only four road games, so we went to all of them again, and at that point the snowball started rolling for me, and here we are now."

Was there ever a game in which you just didn’t want to go?

"Yes, this week, actually.  Have had it marked on the calendar for quite some time.  Previous to that, the last trip to South Carolina in 2007.  After six years of Sherrill and Croom three-win seasons, I went into the 2007 season saying I’m not going to South Carolina unless the team is at least 2-2 and didn’t look like punks*.  After the Auburn road win, after four games, the team was 3-1, and so I managed to get a ticket and made the trip.  I remember nothing of that game other than it being a JP morning kickoff.  It was a totally unremarkable loss.*Michael Henig obviously looked like a punk after that LSU six-INT game, but I didn’t feel the whole team looked like punks that day."

With a streak this long you obviously attended every SEC stadium. What are the best and worst stadiums in the conference?

"I have trouble separating the trip from the stadium, to me it’s all one experience.  That said, the best stadium is Georgia.  It’s just a beautiful stadium.  To me it looks like an NFL stadium.  I’d love to go to a night game there sometime.  Plus when you get done with the game, you’re in Athens, which is awesome.  (PRO TIP: Next time Georgia is on the MSU road schedule, book your hotel in Athens as early as possible. You’re wasting your time if you stay in Atlanta.)Worst stadium, to me, is Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia.  It’s huge, but it’s just not that great to me, plus they play that awful rooster noise when they score.  The fact that it’s 600 miles away from home doesn’t help it at all.  I hear Columbia is fun, but when you get there late on Friday, and then the game is over by 3:00 PM, you’re just wanting to go ahead and head home, so it’s just not a fun trip.Honorable mentions: Kentucky and Florida.  I love going to Kentucky.  It’s beautiful country up there, and there’s some good food to be had in Lexington.  Also, I’m 5-2 there.  If this weekend’s game was in Kentucky, I’d be going.  And Florida, there’s just something about going to the Swamp.  It’s such a unique stadium.  And I will never ever pass up a chance to grab some Satchel’s Pizza in Gainesville.Dishonorable mention: War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.  Place is just a dump.  Why oh why can we not play Arkansas in Fayetteville ever?  That’s actually a nice stadium, even if it is populated largely by Arkansas fans.  This is not hyperbole: Veterans Stadium in Jackson is a nicer stadium than War Memorial."

If you had to pick out one game as the highlight of your streak, what would it be?

"I’m going to limit myself to road wins on this one, because everybody’s been to the home games.  That said, I think I’d have to go with the Florida win in 2010.  It was just a great day.  Started with the aforementioned Satchel’s Pizza, then it was a beautiful afternoon on the Florida campus, followed by a game that was just a slow burn from start to the point where victory was assured on the missed Florida FG.  I got a tremendous hug after that missed kick from a complete stranger next to me which lasted at least five seconds too long.  It was total jubilation.  Then the ride home the next day where State entered the rankings for the first time since 2001.  That was a good trip.If we count bowl wins, then I’m taking the Gator Bowl after the 2010 season.  Most complete offensive and defensive game I think I’ve ever seen MSU put together, against the winningest team in college football history.  “Hail To The Victors” is one of the great college fight songs, and I don’t think I heard it once after that game started."

You are ending your streak this week against South Carolina. What made you choose this week to end it? Are you worried about having regrets?

"Honestly, when the 2013 schedule came out with road trips to South Carolina and Texas A&M in back-to-back weeks, the Carolina game stood out as a trip we might decide not to make, so it’s been in the back of my mind for a while.  Now that it’s here, I struggled with the decision to go or not go, and Wednesday I had my finger on the button to buy a ticket, but at the end of the day, I just don’t want to spend the money for a trip to somewhere I know I don’t like.  I have a daughter at home who will be three years old in a couple of weeks, and the greatest wife ever (if that’s not already obvious), so I’ve known the clock was ticking for some time, and I’m happy going out on my own terms.  Plus, the San Francisco Giants and MLB was my first love 25 years ago, and I like the idea of cutting it after 162 games, a full major league season. Will I regret not going?  I’m sure I’ll always wish that I went, just like I wish I’d gone to that BYU game 13 years ago, or the Arkansas game in 1999 before it, and so on, but chances are that Friday night, I’ll be happy to be home with my girls, and at 3:00 on Saturday, I’ll be happy to have a ten-minute drive home rather than a nine-hour one."

How weird is it going to be to watch the South Carolina game on TV?

"I’m sure it will be very weird.  How weird, I can’t really say.  I’m expecting anything from “This is a little weird” to “Am I having an out-of-body experience here?”  Funny thing, I used to have bad dreams that I’d forgotten to go to a game and missed one, but that hasn’t happened in a really long time.  That might mean it’s time also, I don’t know."

With all your experience traveling to road games, is there any advice you have for fellow Bulldogs hitting the road?

"Tips for going to South Carolina:  1.) It’s in the Eastern Time Zone.  Don’t forget about this.  2.)  You probably have to go through Atlanta (NOTE: also in the Eastern Time Zone) to get there, so you don’t want to hit Atlanta between 4-6 PM, so plan for that as well.  3.) The easiest approach to the stadium is from the south, off I-77 at Bluff Road.  Be prepared to pay to park.  4.)  Historically, South Carolina is one of two places in the SEC (the other being Kentucky) that just don’t care if you have a cowbell.  If you’re so inclined, smuggle it in, but Standard Road Game Rules apply: Hide it and ring only when it’s clear nobody cares.  5.) When sitting at Williams-Brice Stadium, don’t fail to recognize that you’re also sitting at the home stadium of the Eastern State University Timberwolves from the 1993 football movie The Program.  If you squint, you might can make out Heisman candidate Joe Kane carving up the MSU defense.  Or maybe that’s Connor Shaw.  Hard to distinguish.Also, that damned rooster noise.  It’s coming.  Be prepared."

Thanks again to Rob for taking the time to answer these questions. Be sure to keep up with him on twitter @vhdawg.