By Brandon Cavanaugh
Matt Repchak is one of the Capital One Bowl’s star offensive linemen as the Assistant Director of Marketing Communications and Digital Media. The less you hear about him, the better he’s doing his job as he’s behind the scenes doing everything he can to make sure things go off without a hitch.
Nebraska’s tilt with South Carolina’s nearly a week old, but planning for the event’s 2013 edition is about to get underway as Repchak reports for conditioning on Monday.
That’s when he and his colleagues begin shuffling through surveys sent back from the universities and representatives in regards to whether or not he and the other staffers paved the way for success. They’ll then take every note and criticism into consideration as they look to the future.
Since joining Florida Citrus Sports, the organization that oversees the Capital One and Champs Sports Bowls in 2005, he’s been astounded by how the event has evolved. “The bowl game that we just put on compared to the one we put on in my first year, it’s unrecognizable.”
The Capital One Bowl has implemented large “fanfests”, started having teams unload at one end of the stadium before walking into it, offering VIP climate-controlled tent next to the stadium and a $200 ticket for those who want to experience the game in field-level suite surroundings. The luncheon events are one thing that have expanded the most and introduced perhaps one of the most enjoyed pre-game events - The Capital One Minute Challenge.
“The thing that made it awesome for me was when we did Rock Band last year with Michigan State and Alabama, it was one player that people knew and then two or three were backups or guys that just didn’t get much time. The main players stayed in the front row and laughed it off. Nebraska sent their captains up to play these games. South Carolina sent up Kenny Miles and Melvin Ingram, an All-American. Both teams clearly bought into it and were having fun.”
During this event, members of both Nebraska and South Carolina faced off in events such as cup stacking and Oreo sliding/eating. The Cornhuskers took this year’s competition and Yoshi Hardrick proudly wore the trophy – a Flavor Flav-style clock necklace.
As he dashed around one of the events specifically set up for kids, Repchak was yanked aside by a co-worker to go on one of the rides. It was here that he had his only interaction with a Cornhusker player. He admits he’s rather embarrassed with how it went down.
“I was waiting in line and I was chatting a little bit with a Nebraska player in front of me. He was asking me questions about their Best Buy gift card and one of the events, just regular small talk. Eight hours later, I’m sitting at my computer doing something totally unrelated and it hit me I was talking to Taylor Martinez the whole time,” he said.
The day of the game, Repchak isn't afforded much time to watch the entire game. That went double this year as he’s the friendly face behind the Capital One Bowl’s Twitter account that thousands have been interacting with before, during and after the game. He did get to hear about the highlights, one of those being the infamous Jeffery-Dennard ejection.
When asked if this sort of behavior has a negative effect, Repchak pointed out that his organization was more concerned with how everything looked, operated and if the fans were having a good time. What about the fight? “What’s actually happening on the field is actually entertainment for us and that point,” he said with a laugh. “That’s the furthest cry from anything we need to be concerned about. It’s such an isolated incident. It’s two players, so it’s hard to look poorly on either team.”
The idea of an escalated event didn’t seem to faze him much, either. “Say they got into some bare-knuckle brawl out on the middle of the field. We could set up an octagon and let them fight it out. It still doesn’t reflect poorly on the team because it’s two players that’ll be gone,” he said referencing Jeffery’s entry into the NFL and Dennard’s end of eligibility as a player. Repchak also pointed out that the two players going at it were perhaps the duo that would least likely be picked to do so pre-game.
He received a tweet from a South Carolina fan commenting on how Jeffery’s one of the few people on his Twitter timeline that quotes Bible verses. Dennard’s well-known for ending several evenings by dipping into the same book before counting sheep. “It’s just one heated moment in a game, they both got a little carried away, it is what it is.”
A few Cornhusker fans had the opportunity to chat with Repchak and a distinct impression stuck. “I had a couple of brief interactions with some Nebraska fans before, during or right after events. They were awesome. Press box side was the Nebraska sideline and it was loud. They lived up to their reputation of being Nebraska fans, being passionate, great people and appreciative of the whole experience.”
For now, it’s back to the grind for Repchak. He’ll eventually be part of making sure 100-150 members of the Capital One Bowl’s committee are properly trained before their road trips and will still be tweeting away. You can never start too early. After all, there’s only roughly 360 days until next year’s bowl.
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