Sep 2, 2013
Kevin Massimino, left, Jared Powell, Justin Shiver and friends enjoy tailgating at Auburn
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — It was something, Kevin Massimino said, he just conjured up.
Take a road trip. Watch a football game. Meet new people.
Drive from one corner of the country to another on a trip of something like 6,000 miles?
That's what Massimino and fellow Washington State students Jared Powell and Justin Shiver are doing in a 2004 Ford Escape, now in the final stages of driving from Pullman, Wash., to Auburn, and back again.
"One of the most ridiculous ideas I've ever heard," Powell joked on a fund-raising video.
The trip was to watch last Saturday's game in Jordan-Hare Stadium. They did, and although their team lost to Auburn 31-24, the Washington State fans said they were impressed by the experience.
"It was incredible," Massimino said Monday. "We were fortunate enough to have some Auburn fans reach out to us before we got there. We were expecting Southern hospitality, but it just blew away all our expectations. I can't tell you how many times we were told around tailgating, 'Welcome to Auburn.' I think it says a lot about our two fan bases that we just love college football and we like to do things right, and, regardless of the outcome of the game, we like to have a good time. It was awesome experience."
Massimino said he saw "the tradition... the statues...Tiger Walk."
"We'll never forget walking up the tunnel and seeing field for the first time. Seeing the eagle fly that was so impressive."
They detailed their trip on Twitter and Facebook and found fans on both sides along the way.
One of their tweets: "Dear Auburn, we love you. You do it right! #GoCougs."
"We had an upwards of a dozen invites to our email for tailgating," Massimino said. "We tried to hit all the hot spots."
Massimino said he got the idea for the long trip in January or February. The students created a website to raise money for the trip. They hoped for $3,000, but raised more than that, taking pledges of $15 or $20, up to $250. They posed for photos at the signs that welcome drivers to each state, and they met Washington State alums along the way.
The way? Maybe they didn't take the most direct route. They took a detour to New Orleans on the way down, drove to Atlanta first to meet with Washington State fans.
"Every city we stopped in we met with Cougar alumni," Massimino said.
A Monday call found them in Omaha. They planned to spend the night in Billings, Mont. Their goal is to be back in Pullman on Tuesday. They left Pullman the Tuesday before.
"Our plan is to get back tomorrow evening and be in class Wednesday morning," Massimino said.
He said his original thought rang true. "This," he had determined, "will be a pretty cool thing to do."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: