Cleveland Browns wide receiver Joshua Cribbs won't be able to attend his alma mater's biggest football game in 40 years on Friday night.
Cribbs went out of his way -- again -- to make sure he's helping a group of Kent State fans get there.
Through his Team Cribbs intitiative, the former Kent State quarterback is helping to sponsor a bus trip that will take fans to Detroit for Friday night's Mid-American Conference Championship Game between No. 17 Kent State and No. 21 Northern Illinois. He sponsored a similar trip to the College World Series last summer.
Friday's Kent State-Northern Illinois game is big for many reasons, including the game it could lead to. A Kent State win could land the Golden Flashes in a BCS bowl game in January; representatives from the Orange Bowl and Sugar Bowl will be attending Friday's game.
Cribbs can't attend the game because the Browns leave Friday afternoon for their Sunday game at Oakland. He'll be watching via TV after the Browns arrive and hopes to reach the bus passengers by speaker phone after the game, during what he hopes will be a celebration. Kent State last won a MAC title and played in a bowl game in 1972. Its 11 wins this season are a school record; Kent State's last winning season, at 6-5, came in 2001, when Cribbs was a freshman.
Passengers on Friday's bus must be 21 or older. This, after all, is a celebration four decades in the making.
"Yeah, it's a party," Cribbs said. "I'll be busy in Oakland but I'm glad to have this group representing for me.
"I'm proud of my school and the football team's accomplishments this season. Hopefully, this is just the start of a bunch of winning."
Cribbs spent more than 10,000 of his own money on a similar bus trip last June when Kent State qualified for its first College World Series, a committment that included ordering 53 tickets for Kent State's game vs. Arkansas. Forty-nine fans were on that bus for the more than 800-mile trip from Northeast Ohio to Omaha, Neb.. Cribbs turned down seats in the university president's suite to sit with the bus passengers at the game and joined the group for dinner before the bus headed back.
Later last summer, Cribbs shot a commercial -- with little reimbursement -- for Kent State University. When his jersey was retired in Fall 2010, he pledged a donation of 100,000.
"I'm all for the Flashes -- the kids, the fans, the whole university," Cribbs said. "As soon as we found out Kent State clinched a spot in the MAC Championship Game, we started getting this thing together."
Lisa Hahner, who works on TeamCribbs.com and with Cribbs on many of his community projects, said the first 20 passengers to sign up for the Detroit bus trip also went on the Omaha trip.
"Satisfied customers," she said. "People are excited. We've started something really cool here."
Hahner said that as of early Wednesday afternoon, six open seats remained for Friday's trip, which will begin in the Cleveland area and be handled, again, by Precious Cargo Transportation.
More information on the bus trip can be found at TeamCribbs.com.
Regardless of Friday's outcome, Kent State will be playing in its first bowl game since 1972 sometime in the next five weeks. Where that game takes place -- Miami, New Orleans, Mobile, Ala., Cribbs' hometown of Washington, D.C. or maybe back in Detroit -- won't be known until the end of the weekend, but the Team Cribbs project has already begun exploring travel packages to help as many Kent State fans as possible get there.
"I'm not saying for 100 percent that we're going to the bowl game," Cribbs said. "Let's just say we'll be getting something planned."