UPDATE: Phenix City family rolling into Vegas during drive to Pasadena

chwilliams@ledger-enquirer.comDecember 30, 2013 

Thursday's update: The Corley family road trip is about to roll into the city of high rollers — Las Vegas. When we left Phenix City banker Chip Corley, his father, Tom, mother Harriett, and his wife, Trish, they were about to leave Russell County for the cross-country journey to Pasadena and the BCS championship game. Thursday morning they were at the Grand Canyon with plans to visit Hoover Dam before arriving in Las Vegas later today. Chip said all is going well. They have had overnight stays at Oklahoma City and Albuquerque, N.M., en route. They expect to be in the Los Angeles area sometime Saturday, plenty of time before the big game. Chip said his parents have not decided if they are going to the game. His father, Tom, is an FSU graduate,

Original story: What started as big talk and a bold idea has turned into a cross-country family road trip.

Welcome to the 2014 BCS national championship game — Corley style.

The talk began several months ago as Auburn was making its unlikely run to Pasadena, Calif.; and Florida State was pounding team after team.

Chip Corley and his father, Tom, were talking about the possibility of going to the title game, set to be played Jan. 6 in the Rose Bowl. Chip is a life-long Auburn fan, who attended the university before graduating from then-Columbus College. Tom holds a 1962 business administration degree from Florida State.

They both wear their colors proudly.

“We were sitting around talking about it up at Chip’s house — they were having an Auburn party,” Tom said. “I don’t even remember the game.”

There were a few drinks involved and the seed was planted, Chip said.

“It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

As Auburn kept winning and getting the needed help to squeeze into the title picture, it became more than talk.

Now, it is a reality. Chip, 50, and his wife, Trish, and his parents, Tom and Harriett, left Phenix City Monday morning for the more than 2,100-mile drive to Pasadena.

And they will take their time, going the scenic route.

The Corleys have mapped out visits to Albuquerque, N.M., the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Yosemite National Park and Big Sur before returning to Alabama in 12 days.

Road trips are old hat for the Corleys, who have visited all 50 states and traveled extensively in an RV. But this time they are riding in Harriett’s Nissan Quest, complete with Auburn and Florida State magnets.

And there will be plenty of time for trash talking because they don’t plan to get to Pasadena until late Saturday or early Sunday.

“I never knew we were Florida State fans,” Chip said, explaining how he became an Auburn follower. “When I was younger, Florida State wasn’t very good. All I knew about Florida State was Burt Reynolds went there. Then (Bobby) Bowden came in and I realized Florida State had a football team. A lot of garnet and gold began to come out at our house.”

Those who travel Lakewood Drive in Phenix City can’t miss Tom and Harriett’s home, it is the one with the Seminole flag and FSU grown into the yard in winter rye grass.

Tom will be outnumbered because Harriett and Trish are Auburn fans, and all of them were wearing the appropriate fan attire on Monday’s first day of the journey. Everybody was getting along, but the game is still a week away.

“After next Monday night, we may not,” said Tom, 75.

Chip is hoping for the best, but prepared for the worst.

“It may be a better trip going out than coming back,” Chip said.

And this is not the first time, the family has gone to an Auburn-Florida State bowl game. They were in New Orleans in 1988 when FSU beat the Tigers in the Sugar Bowl. Chip has been thinking about that trip, not so much for the outcome as the change in circumstance.

“When we did that, my wife and I were babies,” Chip said. “Now, we are about the same age my parents were when we went to New Orleans.”

Make no mistake, the highlight of the trip is the Jan. 6 national championship game that has split the family in the best possible way.

There is little doubt it is a car divided. They have two tickets in hand and a plan to get two more if everyone wants to attend the game.

They have hundreds of miles to talk about who is going to win.

When asked before they pulled out, Tom was quick to respond: “Who is ranked No. 1?” Chip’s comeback didn’t take long: “Who was ranked No. 1 when we beat Alabama?”

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