Uncle Rays and Aunt Fayes,
I'm back from the 3rd (err, 4th) Saturday in October, ready to spread college football cheers and jeers across the land. For those of you with short attention spans who don't enjoy my diatribes, feel free to skip to the end of the e-mail. For those who actually enjoy my weekly nonsense, I'm starting off the e-mail with the ABC's and 123's of my trip to Tuscaloosa for the Tennessee-Alabama football game.
A is for A-Team, whose theme song was belted out during the 1st quarter of the game by the Million Dollar Band.
B is for Bear, as in Paul "Bear" Bryant, the legendary coach of the Crimson Pachyderms.
B is also for Brodie Croyle, ninth year senior quarterback and current BMOC.
C is also for City Cafe, site of Southern food and sweet tea so good it'll make you wanna slap yo momma.
And as always, C is for cookie (according to the Cookie Monster).
D is for Dreamland, the famous BBQ joint where we dined after the game.
E is for encephalitis, which I may or may not have contracted during a mosquito-filled visit to the woods behind the RV lot when nature called.
F is for Farmer Fran, the drunk Cajun redneck (I'm sure some of those descriptors are redundant) sitting behind us who dismissed Tide game winner Jamie Christensen as "that damn kicker from the city."
F is also for Forrest Gump, another famous football movie character from the South.
G is for gynecomastia, something for which Phil should seek treatment.
H is for Hester Prynne. I haven't seen that many "A"'s on women's chests since the Scarlet Letter. Not that I was looking.
H is also for Houndstooth, the Bear's legendary hat and also a bar where we spent Friday night not looking for/at those scarlet letters.
I is for imbibing, much of which was done throughout the weekend.
J is for Jamie Christensen, Alabama kicker and hero of Saturday's game.
J is also for Jessica Simpson, who's Proactiv acne medication commercial was playing on the big screen TV during my visit to the Alabama bookstore. WTF? Would it really be that hard to dig up some football highlights and put them on a continuous loop?
K is for Kia Spectra (or as Doug so eloquently put, Spectre - because it's a ghost of a car), the POS rental car we had for the weekend. Even their own billboards put down the vehicle - "Buy a new Kia, get a used car free!" Exactly.
L is for Logan Young, the 'Bama booster busted for paying high school players, kicking off a series of events (including "secret" - until discovered by Alabama lawyers - testimony from UT head coach Phat Phil against the Crimson Tide) that took the interstate rivalry from heated to nuclear level. The gory details are in this article if you care.
M is for Mike Shula, Alabama's head coach.
M is also for Million Dollar Band, Alabama's marching band; they performed quite well the entire day with the notable exception of their omission of Lynyrd Skynyrd music during the halftime montage honoring the sounds of the 70's. Unacceptable.
N is for Namath, legendary Alabama quarterback.
N is also for nil-nil, the score of the game at halftime.
O is for offensive, which describes the play of both the Crimson Tide and Volunteer offenses.
P is for Phil Fulmer, Tennessee's head coach.
P is also for poor bastard, as in the guy who got mowed down, Stephen Hawking style, by the CBS camera vehicle during the 4th quarter of the UT-'Bama game.
Q is for quad, where tailgaters set up tents and had sweet spreads of food & DirecTV hookups.
R is for Roll Tide, Rammer Jammer, Rocky Top, and all the other catch phrases/chants/songs I won't be able to get out of my head for a couple of weeks.
R is also for RV, where we spent the weekend partying with other diehards.
S is for Secret Service Suburbans, the vehicles that whisked away a pom-pom-waving Condi Rice and British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to the cheers of Alabama faithful.
T is for talent, which was on full display during Friday night's block party.
U is for University Boulevard, site of said block party.
U is also for "uonta", which is Southern for "Do you want to?"
V is for Vivian Malone Jones, the first black graduate from the University of Alabama, who died last week at the age of 63.
W is for Warren St. John, author of the book Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer and the person who inspired my weekend adventure. I'm not positive, but I think his RV was parked a few hundred yards down the road from ours.
X is for xenodocheionology, the condition you develop after sharing an RV with six people for three days.
Y is for Yea Alabama, the official school fight song of the Crimson Tide.
Y is also for yellowbelly, the most polite term used by Alabama faithful to describe Tennessee's head coach.
Z is for zzz's, as in sleep (something that was in short supply this weekend).
0 - Waffles fully consumed during a late Friday night munchies run to the Waffle House
1/2 - Factor by which intelligence decreases when speaking with a Southern accent
1 - Babies drinking with us at 3 p.m. on Friday afternoon
1 - Mullets on said baby's head
2 - Factor by which ladies' attractiveness increases when speaking with a Southern accent
2 - Number of times we did the Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer chant after the game. That was the loudest the stadium was the entire day. Link to the cheer here (although the CBS audio really doesn't do it any justice)
2 - Consecutive football pool e-mails with Stephen Hawking references
3 - Points scored and fumbles lost by Tennessee
3 - Times Brodie Croyle overthrew wide open receivers before connecting with DJ Hall on 3rd & long in the 4th quarter
4 - Number of layers in the pie served up by Uncle Ray and Aunt Faye
6 - Points scored by Alabama
6 - Number of people crammed into a compact car for Friday night's Waffle House adventure
8 - Approximate height of the dropoff I fell down in search of an appropriate spot to answer Nature's call
10 - Approximate age of the girl from Tennessee driving around the RV parking lot in a golf cart
12 - Jersey number that is required attire for every Alabama male age twelve & older; also the number worn by famous 'Bama QBs Namath and Stabler
32 - Times I heard the song "Rocky Top" during last year's road trip to Knoxville for the Florida-Tennessee game
34 - BBQ Ribs consumed during Saturday's dinner trip
36 - Ribs ordered for Saturday night's dinner
210 - Times I heard the phrase "Roll Tide" on my trip
253 - Total yards of Tennessee offense
257 - Total yards of Alabama offense
81018 - Attendance at Bryant-Denny stadium on Saturday afternoon
Spotty coverage of games due to my weekend travels. I'll recap the major highlights as best I can remember and piece together from GameDay Final highlights.
Virginia Tech looked solid in their win over Maryland. Of the 3 teams at the top of the BCS standings, Virginia Tech has the toughest road to hoe toward an undefeated season. ... Virginia followed up their victory over Florida State by laying a 7-5 egg against North Carolina. How one beats the Seminoles one week and loses to the Tarheels the next will forever remain a mystery.
Steve Weatherford had 452 yards (over 1/4 mile) punting for the Illini, which says all you need to know about their contest with the Nittany Lions. Time to pull a Texas Tech and start scheduling Phoenix Online, Devry, and IIT to open up the season. Penn State was up 56-3 at halftime. The victory was Paterno's 350th at Penn State. JoePa did not call a single pass during the 2nd half. He even berated an assistant coach for calling a 5-yard touchdown pass late in the 2nd quarter. That is the definition of class and sportsmanship. Choke on that, John L. Smith.
There was another Ted Ginn sighting in Bloomington. TG ran a punt back for a TD. He even caught four passes, and since we all know Troy Smith can't get past the first receiver in his progression, it must mean Coach SweaterVest is designing some plays to get Ted the ball. About time. ... Northwestern pasted Sparty in East Lansing. Couldn't happen to a nicer coach. The Spartans are vying to overtake Minnesota as the team most likely to experience a collapse during the 2nd half of the season. ... Also in the running for that "award" is Purdue, who lost to the Badgers (if only I could spell it like Chris Fowler says it). Wilford Brimley better right the ship in a hurry or the Boilers will have their 1st losing since 1996. ... Michigan downed the Squawks in overtime. Thankfully for Big Blue fans, the game was not decided on a Garrett Rivas field goal attempt. Normally I would have some smart ass Lloyd Carr coaching comments, but I was up until 3 a.m. on Friday night and didn't awaken in time to watch most of the early Saturday morning game.
Big news here is that Texas thumped Texas Tech and moved ahead of USC to grab the #1 spot in the BCS rankings. The rest of their schedule is pretty weak, so they probably won't remain there for long. It was enough to get people fired up about BCS stupidity, however. ... Only other events of consequence were Baylor taking Oklahoma to overtime before losing and Missouri defeating Nebraska. Kinda takes the edge off next week's game in Lincoln. Game of the Century it isn't.
Does it even matter? I cannot take a conference seriously when their current top dog (SUNJ!) lost to the Fighting Zookers (which should absolutely, unequivocally, be the new school nickname if the NCAA bans the use of Fighting Illini).
Another mixed week for Directional Michigan. Western defeated Bowling Green while Eastern lost to Miami (OH). Even though Northern Illinois is the only MAC Directional Illinois university, all but Western won their contests this weekend.
Why does this conference hyphenate their name? Liberalism run amok or strict grammar school upbringing - you decide. ... USC produced some obligatory highlight plays during their win over the Huskies, including a Reggie Bush punt return and a one-handed Dwayne Jarrett catch, both for touchdowns. ... UCLA rolled over Oregon State, while Oregon and Cal staved off upset bids from Arizona and Wazzu, respectively. ... Arizona State was not so lucky. Les Diables got taken to the woodshed down on the Farm by a team (Stanford) that lost to a Division I-AA opponent earlier this year. Dirk is quickly becoming the Pac-10's version of Lloyd Carr (losing close games and guaranteed to lose at least one game per year to someone he shouldn't).
You've already heard the UT-Bama particulars. ... Vandy fell to South Carolina. That'll make it damn near impossible for the Commodores to earn a bowl trip this year. Glad to see that some things never change in college football. ... Georgia hung on to beat Arkansas but lost QB DJ Shockley to a knee injury. The Dawgs will have to rely on solid defense and a ball control offense to beat the Gators next week at The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in Jacksonville. ... LSU outlasted Auburn in a game that both teams tried their hardest to lose. The purple and gold Tigers dropped two touchdown passes and missed two field goals, while the orange and blue Tigers missed 5/6 field goals (including the potential game-tying kick in overtime). The Lloyd Carr Coaching Move Of The Week goes to Tommy Tuberville for sending the same kicker out to attempt all six kicks. ... And finally, Ole Miss defeated Kentucky in Oxford, meaning Kitten keeps her clothes on for yet another week.
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