Videos by OutKick
I woke up on the first Saturday of the 2011 college football season feeling very much like I did on my wedding day – full of excitement and anticipation. (Of course, I did in fact attend an Alabama football game on my actual wedding day. Yes, really).
Regardless, I was up early, bouncing around the house and rarin’ to go.
I dressed carefully, putting on a very cute (non-maternity!) crimson top, shorts, red-and-white polka dot flip flops, houndstooth sunglasses, and “A” logo earrings. I loaded my seatbelt bag with only the bare necessities – my wallet, camera, debit card, tickets, and makeup bag (which is, of course, essential). As we got in the car, I asked my husband to grab us 2 stick-shakers from the pile in the garage, stopping to explain to him the difference between a “stick” handle and a “tag’ handle. (Having gone to UAB, Jonathan is still being indoctrinated to the ways of a true Tide fan).
We then started off down I-59 towards Tuscaloosa – and were met in traffic with a dead-standstill. We sat. And we sat. And we sat. Whoever said that “getting there is half the fun” was full of crap.
However, as usual, we had some interesting car conversations. For example:
Jon: “What is Kent State’s mascot?”
Me: “The Golden Flashes.”
Jon: “What do they do, paint themselves gold and wear a trenchcoat?”
Me: “Not flashERS, ding-dong. FlashES.”
Jon: “Oh.” (pause) “Flashers would have been way better.”
When we finally arrived in Ttown, it was a mere hour to kickoff. We raced toward Bryant-Denny Stadium looming ominously a few blocks away. Dodging drunken frat boys, avoiding people selling cheap t-shirts, and semi-stalking the UA basketball player walking beside us, we ended up on Bryant Drive and snaked our way through the crowds toward our gate.
As we navigated the masses, I kept looking across the street to see if I could spot OKTC’s Hayley Frank with her “What Not To Wear” camera hiding in the bushes. It would have been a golden opportunity for her. I saw a lady wearing a black silk romper with tiny elephants on it. Another lady – and I use this term loosely – sported jorts that laced up the side. There were several men who had donned bright red pants with script “A”s on them. And of course, a mirage of body paint covered the beer bellies and hairy backs of a dozen 300lb cavemen.
It was then that I noticed a sorority girl walking my way. She was adorable and tiny, with breadstick arms and twiggy legs. And she was wearing the Exact. Same. Outfit. As. Me. I pushed out my growing baby bump hoping to give off the “I’m not fat, I’m pregnant” vibe, but she didn’t even notice me.
Jonathan decided to sidetrack me from feeling sorry for my not-fat-but-pregnant-self by offering me Skittles. It totally worked and I forgot all about it as we trudged up the spiral ramps to our press-box level seats.
I plopped down in my aisle seat and enjoyed the fact that our section was covered and the wind was blowing comfortably. When the pregame videos aired on the JumboTrons, my heart started to beat a little faster. As the Million Dollar Band took the field, I felt the butterflies swirling in my stomach. The team burst out of the tunnel to the glorious sound of “Yea, Alabama!” while I jumped and screamed. Goosebumps rose up on my arms when the crowd started the obligatory kick-off “Roooolllllllllllllllllll…TIDE! ROLL!” Jeremy Shelly darted forward and sent the ball flying towards the Kent State return team.
And it was all downhill from there.
As a whole, that game was without a doubt the single most boring sporting event I have ever attended.
It was little more than a giant audition on a regional stage. Players were swapped in and out, making the starting rosters I’d memorized so carefully completely useless by about halfway through the first quarter. AJ McCarron and Phillip Sims traded out at quarterback, neither one demonstrating anything remotely impressive. Sims was hit-or-miss; either spot-on with some rapid-fire passes, or completely off the mark by throwing to a man in coverage rather than the open receiver slightly downfield. After all the talk about his mobility, he showed very little by dropping back three steps and STANDING in the pocket almost every passing play. McCarron was not really much better, proving to be what can only be described as “consistently mediocre.” This might not seem like much, but Greg McElroy is proof that “consistently mediocre” can win a national championship and score a 7th round draft pick.
The game was disappointing to say the least. The O-line kept folding and the highly-tauted defense, while certainly not bad considering the only points Kent State scored was from a pick-6, was sloppy. Bama also went to the locker room with no clear winner in the quarterback battle. I left the stadium with 4 empty souvenir soda cups, a sore throat from yelling various curse words, and a headache because the band played that stupid “Phantom of the Opera” tag over and over and over and over so often that it reminded me of the aggravating way Tennessee plays “Rocky Top” after every first down, score, or sneeze by the head coach.
I can just hear some of you yelling at your computer “But they WON! They got the W and that’s all that matters!” That’s true, but with teams like Penn State coming up this week and Arkansas on the horizon, St. Nick’s got a lot of work to do before he’ll have my SEC Championship Christmas present ready in just 12 weeks.
Like the day I married Jonathan, Opening Day of Bama Football this year had a lot of build-up, anticipation, and planning involved. Also like my wedding, the game was over quickly and left me with a feeling of “Wow…all of that…and now it’s over.” However, after the wedding (and the Bama vs. Ole Miss game that night), I began a life that is so wonderful it sometimes feels like a fairy tale. I can only hope that this football season brings as much happiness as my marriage – complete with a magical trip to New Orleans for the BCS National Championship game in January.
(Editor’s note: Due to a technical issue, this article was previously attributed to Clay Travis. The byline has been corrected.)