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#CardinalConnect: The Staff Behind the Rose Bowl

March 3, 2016
Rose Bowl Celebration

January 1, 2016. Nearly 95,000 amped fans pack the Rose Bowl Stadium as the Pac-12 Champion Stanford Cardinal take on Big Ten runner-up, the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Four quarters and hundreds of yards later, Stanford trumps Iowa in a blowout win, earning the title of 2016 Rose Bowl Champions.

This article is the first in a series that will spotlight Stanford Staff members and provide an inside look at the many unique roles across campus. If you would like to be featured in a future article or would like to nominate a colleague to be featured, please email

Hours later as the stadium fanfare has quieted and the lights begin to dim, Stanford staff members Matt Doyle and Callie Seidman are among the last people to exit as night falls over Pasadena. These staffers, along with their colleague Tommy Gray, are just three of many people that come together to make the Rose Bowl Game an event to remember.

We had the privilege to talk with these three dedicated staff members and get a behind-the scenes look at the work that goes into ticketing operations and coordination of an eight day Rose Bowl trip for 250+ football players, staff and family members.                   

Matt, Senior Associate Athletic Director and Director of Football Operations, is the lead in managing the day-to-day operations of the football program while serving as a liaison to various groups within the athletic department and university. In addition to his normal responsibilities at Stanford, Matt also serves on the Rose Bowl Game Advisory Committee that helps plan and organize Rose Bowl game operations.

Callie works with Matt on the operations side in her job as Assistant Director of Football Operations. Her role is to assist with team travel, bowl game coordination, community outreach, game management and summer camps. She's also the assistant to Coach Shaw, handling his calendar among other responsibilities.

Tommy, Assistant Athletics Director of Business Strategy and Ticket Operations, is responsible for managing all aspects of ticketing for every Stanford athletic event. He also manages business strategy, using data and analytics to drive marketing and sales for Stanford Athletics.

So Much to Do, So Little Time

One of the biggest challenges in coordinating the Rose Bowl Game logistics is the disproportionate amount of work that needs to be done and the small amount of time there is to do it. The bulk of planning and preparation cannot begin until the team knows they’ll actually be going to the Rose Bowl, which doesn't happen until the first week in December. This leaves only a few weeks for Matt, Callie, Tommy and their respective teams to organize the ticketing logistics and coordination of team travel, dining, accommodations, practices and more before the team departs for Pasadena.

“It’s incredible,” Callie said, “once we are bowl eligible, there is a large group of us within athletics and the university that meet weekly. The operation of it all is a huge undertaking and none of us could do it without the collaboration that goes into it. Our goal is to keep everyone organized, informed and in constant communication so  our team and coaches can focus on winning a football game."

Operations and ticketing are just two pieces of a large pie that’s involved in the Rose Bowl Game logistics. In addition to their efforts, other staff groups in the Department of Athletics, Physical Education & Recreation (DAPER) work diligently on external relations, marketing, customer service, finance and more. This all comes together to make the best possible experience for the student-athletes, coaches, staff, fans, donors and alumni.

“Everybody pulls their weight in a different way and everyone has a constituency to take care of. It’s an exciting time that we are all fortunate enough to be a part of,” said Matt.

The Road to the Rose Bowl

Once the team knows they’ll be going to the Rose Bowl, the  first step  for the operations team is to travel to Pasadena to get a feel for the Rose Bowl site and talk with representatives there about hotel accommodations, practice venues, dinner locations and more.

Tommy Gray and his teammates in front of Rose Bowl StadiumTommy Gray and his team in front of Rose Bowl Stadium, wearing patches in memory of their former colleague, the late Gary Ekman. From left to right: Cheryl Hammitt, Bob Wilmot, Caroline Spangler, Tommy Gray and Rich Muschell.

During the third week in December, Rose Bowl staff members travel to Stanford to meet with the team and coaches, take photos, conduct meetings and more. Matt is in continuous contact with members of the bowl staff throughout the entire month of December.

Then, in late December when the rest of us are away from work, enjoying Winter Closure with our family and friends, the team is still hard at work. In fact, Callie flies down to Pasadena on Christmas Day to make sure everything at the hotel is in order for the team's arrival on the 26th.

“There is a lot more that goes into being in the Rose Bowl than just a game," she said. We have a very full itinerary beginning with the team arrival on December 26th through departure on January 2nd. There are daily practices, lifts, football meetings, mandatory team events, community outreach, media obligations and a lot of meals. From the time we arrive, we have daily meetings with our entire football auxiliary staff, Rose Bowl Game staff, bus drivers, hotel management, team liaisons, security, banquet chiefs and more to make sure everyone is on the same page."

On the ticketing side, Tommy's team is responsible for communicating and negotiating with Rose Bowl staff about Stanford's allotment of tickets (30,000), marketing and putting the tickets up for sale, and then physically mailing them out to ticket holders.

This is a unique challenge for Tommy's team, in that electronic tickets are not issued for the Rose Bowl Game. Therefore, every single one of the 30,000 tickets must be hand sorted, put in envelopes and mailed to ticket holders in just over one week's time. The goal is to ensure that fans receive them prior to the Christmas holiday.

In addition to managing a busy schedule and packing so much work into such a short amount of time, another challenge is delivering a great experience for everyone involved. For Callie and Matt, it’s about finding balance in ensuring that the student-athletes and staff are having an enjoyable time, while also trying to eliminate distractions leading up to the game.

Along those same lines, Tommy and his team are focused on keeping Stanford’s fans happy. The amount of dedicated fans is so vast that there are not enough tickets and tailgate spaces to go around, though every effort is made to accommodate all ticket holders and faithful alumni.

A Rewarding Experience

While these challenges are a certainly a reality, the rewards of the experience are immeasurable.

"Ticketing is not a glamorous business and there's not a lot of credit for it, but it's incredibly rewarding to be there in the stadium on game day -- at the biggest gathering of alumni, fans and university supporters -- and be able to see that everyone has a seat and is enjoying themselves," said Tommy.

Matt, Callie and their colleaguesMatt Doyle and Callie Seidman pose with Ryan Devlin and Garrett Wolfe and the Rose Bowl trophy.      

For Matt and Callie, one of the most rewarding parts is seeing the faces of the incredibly hard working student-athletes and coaches standing on the stage after the game with the trophy in hand.

“We have the best football staff and roster in the nation," Callie said. "Coach Shaw and our entire staff make every part of my job enjoyable. Our players are incredible and it’s so rewarding to be surrounded by passionate, smart and hardworking young men who go on to do amazing things outside of football (and in the NFL)."

Matt also mentions the reward of celebrating with family as well, because of their ongoing support and sacrifice throughout the entire football season. 

So there you have it. Victorious student-athletes, satisfied coaches, proud families and fans. And the staff members who are behind it all.

Along with the trophies that line the shelves back on The Farm, the hard work of Matt, Callie, Tommy and all of their colleagues in DAPER is “tangible evidence of a job well done.”