Friday, July 11, 2008

"I've got goose bumps over my entire body"

While I'm not yet in a full fledged fever, I can't believe that I'm only seven short weeks away from getting on a big ol' jet airliner and heading back to the motherland for the blessed return of college football.

I stumbled across three posts of Dawg interest this week over on Paul Westerdawg's great Georgia Sports Blog:

Catching up with Bill Bates. Of course, all good Dawgs know Bill Bates as the baby-shit orange wearing doormat that Herschel Walker wiped his feet on when first entering the pantheon of college football immortality. Sad to say, Bates actually appears to be a good guy (much like Peyton Manning) so it's hard to muster my usual white hot hatred for all things Vol where he is concerned (plus, it doesn't hurt that we won the game featuring the classic 34 highlight, punctuated by Larry's legendary "My god! A freshman!" call, where All-American Bates was trampled like a drunken paraplegic in Pamplona, and we went on to win our last National Championship. On the other side of the ledger, he did play for the hated Dallas Cowboys, but yet again, he did suit up with his college tormentor). Cute story about his relationship with 34.

Video from the "Hose Bowl." Yep, I was there. I thought I had posted about my experiences at this game before, but it turns out it was on my old myspace blog (or TNRLM 1.0). From the archives:

One of the references cited got me strolling down memory lane again. The infamous "Hose Bowl" in Auburn. That year, I think I had just moved again (it happened every year of college, it seemed), and during the toting of furniture, I must have "torn" something. I didn't realize it at the time, as "painkillers" were readily available and frequently ingested. One thing I did notice is that for the weeks leading up to this game, I would often get knifing, crippling pain in my abdomen that came on suddenly. Eventually, it would go away, but through trial and error, I discovered the best "cure" came from lying down on my back, with my legs in the air. A very strange cure, and I'm not sure exactly how I unearthed this remedy, but I have a few suspicions. It's also important to remember the time and the nature of the rivalry, too. While I have always HATED Tennessee with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns, we weren't in the divisional alignment back in the day, and didn't play them every year. Tech was a joke, and this was also during the run of complete domination of the jorts-wearing mullets down in Florida. So then, Auburn was probably our fiercest and most competitive rival, and usually, the SEC title hung in the balance when we played them. Throw in the age and history of the rivalry, the Bo vs. Herschel comparisons and the Dooley/Dye backstories, and you had one hell of a hatred.

During this time, my family was also spread across the southeast. Mom was in our "traditional" house in Rossville, Dad was working full time (and living) in Memphis, and I was in Athens. We talked on the phone all the time, and Sam and Bettye always thought it was fun to guess which road games I would go to on the spur of the moment, and then would stay on the phone "Pillow Talk" style during a televised game trying to spot me in the crowd. Hard enough, looking for your son (uh, he'd be wearing red and black) in a quick crowd shot of 100,000 people, especially in the pre-Tivo era. When we chatted earlier in the week, I didn't think I was going on the road trip to Auburn. We were three touchdown underdogs, and playing our back up QB. We weren't ranked, and Auburn was #8 in the polls. However, at the last minute, we decided to go. It was a night game, on ESPN. We spent the afternoon driving down and getting near the stadium (Auburn, along with Clemson, has some of the absolute WORST traffic once you get within a couple miles of the stadium). And of course, drinking. It was a chilly night, but as was my tradition, I was wearing shorts (back in those days, that was only cool for road games. Home games, you wore the standard issue starchy white shirt, khakis and red tie) and a new, red Theta Chi sweatshirt that my parents had purchased for me during my last trip home. Unbeknownst to me, that afternoon, mom called dad and said she just had a "feeling" that I would wind up at the game and that something "special" would happen, and they agreed to watch the game, on the phone, from their different locales.

When we finally parked, we sat around the tailgate doing shots and getting good and liquored up. Sitting down for most of the evening, I didn't have the strange recurring pain. But once we started walking toward the lights of the stadium, it hit again, suddenly and viciously. I doubled over and could barely walk. One of my friends was extraordinarily helpful, pouring my cocktail down my throat as I was prone in the parking lot field, with my legs propped up on the car beside me. Auburn fans heckled me as they walked by, and never one to shy away from engaging the enemy, I promised to gnaw on their fucking ankles if they came back. Fortunately, I was so pitiable, no one took me up on my offer. Eventually, things "settled" and I made my way into the stadium and watched one of UGA's signature wins that will go down in Bulldog lore, as we won 20 - 16 to pull the huge upset.

The point of addressing what I was wearing is this: When we took the lead, ESPN did one of their typical crowd shots. Sam & Bettye started screaming to each other on the phone, as there in the middle of the frame, was their only son, wearing his red sweatshirt, and unmistakable due to the Theta Chi logo. (Also due to the game cup in one hand, the about emptied flask quite visible in the other). Mom's "feeling" that I would be there, and that indeed something "special" would happen, did come to pass, and they got to see it on TV.

After the game was over, UGA fans poured down to the ledge at the bottom of the stadium, overlooking the field, to cheer on our Dawgs. I was standing on this ledge, screaming madly for Wayne Johnson and the boys, and teetering precariously. The stadium officials didn't want anyone on their precious turf, so they were breaking out the water hoses to spray fans who got onto the field. I had no intention of running on the field, but a bitter Auburn fan intervened and pushed me in the back and I tumbled onto the field. Seconds later, I was soaking wet from getting "hosed," but eventually found my way out of the stadium, drenched with not only Opelika backwater, but also with the indelible memories of a spectacular college football game.

When I went home for the Thanksgiving break, I saw a doctor, and it turns out that I had a hernia and several torn muscles that required a rather delicate surgery. Still, whatever pain I endured was well worth the memorable road trip and "precognitive" fun had by my parents.

Unfortunately, you can't see me in the clip at the link above, and one of my few TV appearances has probably vanished into the mists. But I still have a scar, and a memory, that will last forever.

To end on an even better note, and one that doesn't involve any pains in my loins, how about a little "Holy Smokes! That's the whole team!"

Yeah, baby. Seven motherfucking weeks.


  1. My memory of the Auburn "Hose Game" event also includes your curse laden diatribe against the Auburn "rent a cop" standing next to us at the ledge who did nothing after the Auburn guy pushed you. Only the Dominos pizza man diatribe of 2002(?) would come close in the amount of profanity uttered.

  2. Someday, when I can accurately reconstruct the events of the Dominos rant, I'd like to put that down on paper. There's a circular argument to that situation that would enlighten logic professors and have a "Who's on first" quality (as uttered by Tony Montana) to it.

    Somehow, I'm guessing the Auburn incident was more profane. For Florida, we lost the game (of course, during that period) and we couldn't get a motherfucking pizza. At Auburn, we did win, but I was pushed off a ledge, hosed and had a torn nutsack. And I tend to react more virulently to cops than I do "customer service." But it's probably a close call.