College Football Hall of Fame set to open Saturday in Atlanta


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Entering the College Football Hall of Fame, your first sight is a collection of 768 football helmets from programs across the country in all divisions of college football, each with a light underneath.

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At a media day event on Wednesday prior to the Hall's opening on Saturday, we got a look at the state of the art facility and all of the great activities and exhibits on display.

To the left of the wall of helmets are registration tables, where fans can register their $20 all-access pass -- complete with an RFID tag -- to include their favorite school. Once registered, the light underneath that fan's school's helmet will be illuminated.

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To the right of the helmet wall is the Chick-fil-a Fan Experience. Entering the Fan Experience you walk through a tunnel featuring some of college football's most iconic entrance traditions.

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Inside the Fan Experience is a 45-yard long turf field on which visitors can participate in a quarterback challenge, blocking drills, a rope-ladder run, and attempt to kick a field goal.

The second floor of the Hall of Fame houses the majority of the Hall's exhibits. The first exhibit features trophies from all of the bowls involved in the new College Football Playoff, a collection of individual awards, the new national championship trophy, and the Heisman trophy.

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Behind that exhibit is an interactive touch-screen wall that features information, images, and videos from all programs in college football. If the visitor has registered their pass it will read the RFID tag on their badge and automatically pull up their school when they walk up to the wall.

The right side the second floor features many other interactive experiences from a College Gameday set to a fight song karaoke booth. At each of these stations throughout the Hall fans can have the videos of them participating downloaded to their all-access pass and they can access and download those videos when they get home.

Along with the hands-on activities, the second floor features exhibits on the evolution of college football equipment, the best rivalries, and -- my favorite -- influential coaches in the game's history.

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Along with the mural of caricatures, the exhibit has some terrific artifacts including a playbook from Francis Schmidt (head coach of Ohio State in the 1930s), a play-calling sheet from Lou Holtz's last game at Notre Dame in 1996, and iconic hats and clothing of some of the game's greatest coaches.

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On the left side of the second floor are more fan activities including a station where fans can record their own radio call of some of college football's greatest plays -- the demo we saw was of Tommie Frazier's run for Nebraska against Florida in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl.

The third floor houses the Hall of Fame itself and, fitting with the theme of the rest of the Hall, features interactive screens in the middle of the room (see below) that fans can use to find Hall of Famers to look at information, images, and videos. Around the side of the room are panels with inscriptions of the names in each year's Hall of Fame class.

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The Hall does a terrific job of blending 520-plus artifacts with images, video packages, interactive screens, and activities. The goal of the Hall's directors and curators was to create an experience that is inclusive to fans of all teams and offered fans the opportunity to go deeper into information on who and what they were interested in to make each experience as unique as possible. The new College Football Hall of Fame executes this vision exceptionally well and will be a great destination for football fans when it opens its doors to the public on Saturday.