Inside what goes into planning Auburn’s trip to Atlanta for the Peach Bowl |

Here’s a great look at what is required to put together a road trip — even if it is just 110 miles away — to a big college football bowl game. Add to it the uncertainty of a location up front and a timeline (a great motivator, of course!), and you’ve got some adrenaline-producing activities on your plate (not to mention some upcoming night of less than optimal sleep).

Last Wednesday, an envoy of 12 Auburn officials made the 110-mile trip up I-85 to Atlanta. They spent eight hours there that day, sitting through meetings, going over details and touring different facilities.

Auburn had only found out three days earlier that it would be playing in the Jan. 1 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl against UCF, and the team was still nearly three full weeks from reporting to Atlanta for the game.

But for that group of 12, the planning for that trip had already begun in earnest.

In fact, it started during the weeks prior. Once the Tigers secured their bid to the SEC Championship game, their bowl future began to come into focus. Beat Georgia in Atlanta, and they would be headed to a College Football Playoff semifinal at either the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans or the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

Lose that game to the Bulldogs — which they did, 28-7 — and Auburn would more than likely be headed to one of the other four New Years Six bowl games: The Cotton Bowl in Dallas, the Orange Bowl in Miami, the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., or the Peach Bowl in Atlanta.

Jeremy Roberts, Auburn’s associate athletics director of operations, had preliminary blueprints prepared for all those possibilities.

“We had plans based on whether or not we won on Saturday or lost. If we lost, which we did, we had an idea of, OK, this is where it’s all going to fall,” he told the Opelika-Auburn News. “We were able to jump right into it Sunday afternoon and get ready to go back to Atlanta.”

A trip back to Atlanta does make life a little bit easier for Roberts and the rest of that group of 12, which also included assistant athletics director for tickets Stephen Naughton, director of football operations Brett Whiteside, equipment manager Dana Marquez, head football trainer Robbie Stewart, director of sports nutrition Lauren Silvio, video coordinator Bo Larkin, representatives from the Alumni Association and Alumni Affairs, and three coordinators from president Steven Leath’s office.

The ticket allocation, where the band and cheerleaders sit, and the locker room the football team will use at Mercedes-Benz Stadium is all the same as it was for the Dec. 2 SEC Championship game. It likely will be again when Auburn plays Washington there in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game on Sept. 1 to open the 2018 season.

But planning the trip to the Peach Bowl is a far bigger undertaking than planning a trip to either of those games, or any other regular-season road game, for that matter. For most road games, Auburn arrives Friday, spends one night in a hotel and departs immediately after the game on Saturday. For the SEC Championship, Auburn arrived Thursday.

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