Column: College Football Hall of Fame CEO search takes unexpected turn

By Maria Saporta
As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on February 5, 2016

John Christie, interim CEO of the College Football Hall of Fame who was considered to have the inside track to the permanent job, has taken his name out of the running.

Christie has been the longest-serving executive at the Hall, starting with the project five-and-a-half years ago. He was the Hall’s chief operating officer when John Stephenson Jr. was the CEO. When Stephenson joined Chick-fil-A, Christie was a natural candidate for the top job.

But then Christie had an epiphany in mid-December, and he realized that he didn’t have as much passion running the hall day-to-day as he did during the challenging five years it took to develop and open the Hall.

Auburn chaplain’s ‘broken road’ to BCS title game

At the start of the 2013 college football season, Chette Williams, chaplain of the Auburn University Tigers, said he told a reporter, “I hope our football team scores a lot of touchdowns for Jesus.”

Williams had no idea what miracles were coming, the preternatural last-second shifts of fortune that enabled Auburn to beat huge rivals—Georgia and No. 1-ranked Alabama—and end up squaring off against Florida State University tonight in the NCAA college football championship.

Williams documented his experiences in the 2013 book, “The Broken Road: Finding God’s Strength and Grace on a Journey of Faith” (Looking Glass Books). It chronicles the three-year spiritual climb by the Auburn players and coaches to their previous national championship at the end of the 2010 season.


Fran Tarkenton ran onto the field in his first college game, launched a long drive and a legendary career

The Georgia Bulldogs were losing 7-0 in the fourth quarter in their season opener in Austin, Texas, when they fielded a punt on the five yard line. The University of Texas, then the #11 team in the country, seemingly had the game well in hand on that humid Saturday night, September 20, 1958. Eighteen-year-old Sophomore Fran Tarkenton was not only a third-string quarterback on the Bulldogs, his coach was planning to frustrate the ambitious athlete further by postponing his football career another year by designating him a “red-shirt” player.

As the offensive players ran onto the field, Fran looked over and saw his team’s star quarterback sitting on the bench. In a move that today would no doubt be played over and over on ESPN Sports Center highlights, Fran strapped on his helmet and ran onto the field and knelt down in the huddle and called the next play.