HOUSTON — Bill Rubinsky has season ticket packages for three college teams: Texas, Houston and Rice. He's obsessed with football — about as Texas as it gets.
"My wife is a sports fan thankfully," he said.
So it made sense that Rubinsky started volunteering at the Texas Bowl 12 years ago. His assignment at the game has changed over the years, but it has remained consistent over the past three — he manages the 128-pound Robert C. McNair Texas Bowl trophy.
Rubinsky, 65, lives in Houston and works in marketing and sales for Xerox. He describes the week leading up to the bowl game as his personal fantasy camp.
"Wherever this trophy goes, we go," he said. "And this trophy doesn't miss a party. It goes to every event during the week."
That means going to the Rodeo Bowl — a best-of-seven, rodeo-themed contest between the two participating teams — as well as the pregame party, a formal dinner and multiple other events.
The trophy has around 15 stops set for the evening of the Texas-Missouri game. It will stop by a few suites, and it visited the Texas and Missouri tailgates. At each location, Rubinsky keeps an eye on fans as they pose with the trophy and snap pictures.
Julie Abeln, the mother of Missouri senior offensive lineman Alec Abeln, made sure to take a good look as the trophy passed through a Missouri tailgate inside a building next to NRG Stadium before the game.
"I love that the trophy was here," she said. "It shows what we're going to be taking home."
Rubinsky loves seeing fans like Abeln. Meeting people is his favorite part of the job.
Rubinsky and Bill Scott, his coworker, wheel the trophy around on a black cart until the presentation. The hardware features a polished wood top and is topped with a glass bowl. The game's winners since 2006 are inscribed on the side of the trophy. Rubinsky went to each of those games.
As Rubinsky interacted with fans at the indoor Missouri tailgate, another bowl worker tapped his shoulder. It was time to wheel the trophy away from the dim banquet hall; its next destination was waiting.
Supervising editor is Brooks Holton.