College Football

SMU Super Fan Extends Consecutive Games Streak Despite COVID-19 Challenges

Paul Layne has attended 526 straight SMU football games, but his streak was in jeopardy before a game at Tulane earlier this fall

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Paul Layne wouldn't dream of missing an SMU football game. But COVID-19 restrictions at sporting events this season have made things challenging for him.

"It's had me sleepless at night trying to figure out if I'm going to be able to go or not" Layne said.

The first four games were no problem because fans were allowed to attend. But then came a contest at Tulane, with the crowd limited to only family members of players on the home team.

"I got really neverous about it and at the North Texas-SMU game," Layne said. "I talked to Kate Dykes, Sonny Dykes' wife, and mentioned that they might not be allowing fans at the game in New Orleans against Tulane and she goes, 'But you just got to be there.'"

Determined to make it happen, Kate relayed the message to her husband, who then passed it on to someone above him.

"Our athletic director Rick Hart reached out to their athletic director and just asked," Layne said. "(He) told them the story about my streak, which was 525 games, 48 years at that point, and he said, 'Sure, let him come.'"

So there Paul was -- the only SMU fan in the entire stadium, with only cardboard cutouts nearby as the Mustangs pulled off a dramatic overtime victory.

"I just had to celebrate by myself," Layne said with a laugh.

And that reminded Layne of another time his streak was in jeopardy.

"In 1995, I came down with chickenpox," he said. "So when I found out that I had chickenpox, luckily that weekend it was homecoming and it was Halloween and we were playing at the old Cotton Bowl so I dressed as a scarecrow and went and sat by myself in the upper deck."

An example of social distancing before social distancing was in style.

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