For the love of the Mean Green

Ian Campbell (Photo by Michael Clements)Ian Campbell loves Mean Green football -- so much so that he's attended every home game since he was born.

When he was born in 1996, his father Scott Campbell, a 1982 graduate, continued his tradition of attending every home UNT game, and he began bringing Ian along. They estimate Ian, now 17, has seen 96 consecutive games. And he's looking forward to attending the Heart of Dallas Bowl -- UNT's first bowl game since 2004 -- in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 1.

"It just seems like college football is more lively," says Ian Campbell, a senior at Marcus High School in Flower Mound who plans to attend UNT next fall.  "A lot can happen at the games and I've always loved the atmosphere -- the traditions, the chants, the cannon. It's always what I wanted to do on my Saturday nights."

His enthusiasm stems from his father, who attended home games as a student at UNT. As a member of the Talons, Scott Campbell shot Boomer the cannon, built bonfires and participated in other school spirit events.

As an alumnus, Scott Campbell, a medical device regional manager who lives in Flower Mound, has taken his family to every home game and they try to see two or three road games each season.

Ian Campbell and his sister Emma, 14, were allowed to bring a friend -- sometimes more -- to the games. The family, including Scott's wife Gay, a Baylor graduate who studied art at UNT, often will have a group of 20 people with them. Their gameday traditions also include tailgating before the games, with one yearly barbecue bringing in about 60 to 80 people.

"It's just part of our family," Scott Campbell says.

If his father couldn't take him to a game due to business, Ian Campbell would persuade a friend's dad to take him. His game attendance streak -- which his family began counting last year -- remained intact.

Ian Campbell has plenty of memories from those games. To him, the most memorable happened in 2003 when he was 7 years old. The Mean Green won the Sun Belt Conference against Arkansas State and fans stormed the field afterward, tearing down the goalposts and carrying them to the Hurley Administration Building.

Even during the Mean Green's toughest years, Ian says they had some interesting games -- such as the record seven-overtime game against Florida International in 2006, tying an NCAA record; the 74-62 game against Navy in 2007, setting the record for the most combined points in a college football game; and the University of Louisiana at Monroe game that featured a 99-yard touchdown pass and run from Giovanni Vizza to Casey Fitzgerald.

"There were a lot of cool things that happened even when we weren't doing so well," he says. "There are lots of memorable moments."

Scott Campbell says he appreciated the 2013 move to Conference USA, allowing the Mean Green to play Texas rivals.

"We loved this season," Scott Campbell says. "It's been great to have a winning season, but we've loved every season we've gone to."

Ian Campbell is excited for the Heart of Dallas Bowl, noting that the Mean Green's chances are great.

"We can bring a huge fan base and pack the Cotton Bowl," he says.

Besides attending football games, Ian Campbell started a small business with his friends in which they put on concerts with 25 percent of profits going to charity. He wants to be a concert promoter and plans to major in marketing in college next year.

He applied to only one college -- UNT, his father's pride.

"I'm loving that he's excited about the same program that I am," Scott Campbell says.

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