Sunday, November 1, 2015

Week 9 - The Perfect Saturday

This week’s write up is what I call “The Perfect College Football Saturday”. The best way to understand the flow is to equate it to a wild dream where nothing really makes sense when you think about it.  If I could combine all the greatest aspects that I have either experienced, watched, witnessed or wished for, here is how the day would go:

To begin with, it would be a warm sunny day with just a bit of crispness in the air in the month of October, College Gameday is on campus and the place is going crazy. Lee Corso has picked the home team headgear and Katie Perry is a girl on fire as the guest picker. Sam Ponder looks smoking hot as usual! You walk into the Grove at Oxford to your tailgate party and the spiciest Bloody Mary you ever had brings you back to life after an evening on Broad St. in Athens and staying up for the Midnight Yell at Kyle Field. Incredible Cajun food is served up by the purple and gold faithful coming out of a witch’s pot filled with Bayou goodness. The smoker is putting out the best smoked pork aroma you ever experienced. The 70 inch flat screen TV under the tent is playing the early game and my team is winning. Tailgate games (corn hole, ladder toss, beer pong, flip cup, polish horeshoes) are played and live music from the band is blaring. Kids are tossing footballs in the clearing. The ladies are donning their cowgirl boots and colorful dresses. The college kids are challenging the old guy to a beer chugging contest. It is no contest. Fireball is consumed from the shot ski. You do the ice luge race for the first time. The Cadets and Midshipmen march through campus followed by the Alabama Million Dollar Band en route to the Stadium. The USC song girls appear in front of your Tailgate tent and put on a show for the ages. They take pictures with you and your buddies. You are with a group of family and friends you have known forever while making new ones over cold beer. Mrs. Tailgate is allowing me to have fun. We watch as the players walk through campus in line on their way to the big matchup. They are gargantuan in person. One of my friends does something exceptional or notable that I will blog about. We do a final “Eagle Up” Salute before wrapping up the pregame festivities and take a group picture with the DFT banner.

It’s time to go in the stadium and you pass by the Vol Navy on the Tennessee River and they are still going strong. The Tailgating under the Viaduct is keeping many Cornhusker fans from attending the game. Tightwad Hill in Strawberry Canyon is filled to capacity. Upon entering the stadium, Ralphie the Buffalo is being chased by the Sooner Schooner. Enter Sandman is played and then the players touch Howard’s Rock and run down the hill through the awaiting Duck Cheerleaders. The players kneel down on the blue smurf turf and thank God for this incredible opportunity. Chief Osceola tosses the flaming spear in the turf. Five stealth fighters do a flyover and the hair on your neck rises and your body shudders. Three Navy seals parachute into the cathedral: One with the game ball, one with the school flag, and the last with the U.S. flag. The lone trumpeter in the south end zone belts out the battle hymn of the republic. The American Eagle is released and circles the stadium and lands on the 50 yard line to the chant of "War Eagle". Ronald Reagan does the ceremonial coin toss flanked by honorary captains Roger Staubach, Barry Sanders and my Dad, One Eyed Willy. Half of the crowd is wearing red and half burnt orange. The National Anthem is sung by Toby Keith. I get to watch the game from the field as I have been granted a press pass. 

The Big House is filled to Capacity and Keith Jackson is in the booth announcing and talking about the “Big Ugglies” and saying whoa Nellie after each great play. The home team scores and the Band belts out the Fighting Irish fight song. Touchdown Jesus looks down on the masses. Coeds are crowd surfed through the student section. Coach Bryant is pacing the sideline in his patented houndstooth hat. On the other sideline, Joe Paterno sporting his high waters and cleats is quite animated. With the Wasatch Mountains in the background and the bright changing colors of the leaves, a fall day on the banks of the Hudson River has never been more brilliant. Of course the stadium serves liquid gold and the crowd is well behaved but spirited. The Mountaineer mascot and Pistol Pete are getting the crowd fired up. Halftime approaches and the Buckeye Marching Band takes the field and performs a mesmerizing show. 

The second half begins and the home team scores again and Hail To the Victors plays. The west side of the stadium yells “Go Green” and the east side yells “Go White”. The Defense makes a 4th down stop and all 105,000 fans belt out Good Old Rocky Top.  The opposing fans take the instruments away from the joke of the Cardinal Tree Band and toss them out of the stadium along with the unruly Fresno fans! As the sun starts to set over the San Gabriel Mountains at the Grandaddy of them all, it is almost the end of the 3rd quarter. The fans in Camp Randall get the stadium to register on the Richter scale doing the Jump Around. The Sun Devil cheer squad keeps the fans fired up as the game is tied with only one play left. The “Hail Mary” bomb is completed for the improbable winning touchdown. The underdogs have shocked the nation and have completed the unthinkable. Cheat Carrol is apoplectic in defeat. The college kids storm the field and tear down the goal posts. The two teams go to the student sections and their Alma Matters are sung. Respect is shown as some players kneel again and pray and others shake hands with the opposing team. No player was injured on this day.

The fans empty out to roll toilet paper at Toomers Corner. The goal posts are carried through town by the student body. You return to the banks of Lake Michigan and fire up the grill again for a post-game tailgate and watch the boats sail by. After cleanup, we find a local sports bar with fifty big screen TVs to watch all the late games while eating chicken wings and having a glass of Jameo Black Barrel. You head back to your hotel and watch ESPN College Football Rewind and your roommate does not snore. You fall asleep knowing your flight home is a short one at 11 AM Sunday. You have been upgraded to first class and have TSA pre check and a carry on. That my friends is perhaps the perfect Saturday.

What would you add to this? Please e mail me your thoughts or put in the comment section below if you are really brave.

Around the Country: The Tailgate would like to say farewell to Jerry Kill as he steps down from his coaching duties at Minnesota due to health concerns.  Coach Kill is a very courageous man as he was diagnosed with epilepsy years ago and suffered through many well publicized seizures to do what he loved. Epilepsy is a very serious condition and I applaud him for his bravery in how he dealt with it. He will be missed. In other news Norm Chow was relieved of his command on outpost Hawaii and another Coach quits on his team (read Bieber below).

  My shirt was quite the conversation piece in Berkeley.

We did call another audible and attempted to attend the USC/Cal game in Bezerkely on Saturday.  However, we only made it as far as Pappys on Telegraph Avenue simply because we lacked motivation to move any further. The men of Troy left the city of Puff The Magic Dragon with a narrow win over the Cal bears.
K2, P Mo and Downtown G Brown and our new friends at Pappys.
At what was formerly known as the “World’s Largest Cocktail Party”, Florida forced UGA to drown in their own sorrows after receiving a Gator size drubbing in Jacksonville. The Fighting Irish held off a tough Temple team in the city of brotherly love in the ABC game of the week. In all candor, Temple could have won that game. Oklahoma State and Texas tech participated in the wildest shootout of the season in Lubbock. OK State won the duel by putting up 70 to the red Raiders 53. In the late game for those of you who stayed up, Wazoo gave Stanford all they could handle. With a chance to win the game, the Cougars put their trust in their kicker who promptly stepped up and shanked his attempt wildly to the right. Scholarship revoked. Clemson continued their perfect season by slipping by the Wolfpack in Raleigh and not “Clemsoning” one away as many predicted. For the third straight week, another game ended with an insane finish: In Durham, NC, the Duke Blue Devils just took a 27 - 23 lead and kicked off to the Miami Hurricanes with a few ticks of the clock left. Miami, reminiscent of the famous Cal Stanford play from 1982, used 8 laterals to advance the ball all the way down the field for the winning score. There was much controversy on the play as a Miami player appeared to be down before lateralling the ball off. Also there were several blocks in the back that were not called and a Miami player left the sideline and ran onto the field out of excitement during the play. The officiating crew has been suspended for the next two games by the ACC.

My siblings, and friends at the Navy Tailgate with the World's Most Interesting Man,
Legendary Raven Tailgater Big Chuck Schneider and son
How UConn Fan Brigid Madar Pregames

Oregon QB Pre gaming on Mill St. in Tempe
Bieber Award - – Coaches that quit when their team is headed in the wrong direction. Two weeks ago we saw the true character of Steve Spurrier materialize as he stepped away from the coaching pedestal because his team was not doing well. This week, we saw George “Resume Writer” O’Leary walk away from UCF after a disastrous 0-8 start. I will remind you that two years ago with Blake Bortles as his QB, they beat Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl. But now with the chips down, what does ole rosy cheeks decide to do? He quits on his team. That is like the Captain abandoning the Titanic before the passengers. Would Patton abandon the battlefield leaving his troops to fend for themselves?  Would John Belushi run away from double secret probation at Faber University? This behavior sends the wrong messages to the boys he is trying to mold into men. They retain that it is okay to quit on your team when the going gets tough. Well Mr. O’Leary, you now have a new piece of hardware to place next to your Fiesta Bowl trophy. Enjoy it.

Next Week – DFT heads to the plains of Oklahoma for the Dad’s weekend festivities and Sooner game against Iowa State. Lauren and Mike Mullica will be hosting the Tailgate. Truly looking forward to seeing daughter #2.

Happy Tailgating!