I was sweating out a prep football practice here in Florida when ESPN the Mag called with a cool last minute assignment. Always fun to see their name on the caller I.D. I was to jet off to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, for the weekend to cover the University of Alabama Crimson Tide take on their bitter rivals – the University of Tennessee Volunteers. It got even better. I didn’t need to cover every-down, game action – just wander the stadium making pictures of what a true megafootball college program is all about.
Oh, and they’re the CRIMSON Tide. That’s red…like a moth to a flame if you know anything about my work.
These guys are the Goliath to a small start-up college program they’ve been following at Georgia State, which will be starting up their inaugural season next year with Alabama on their roster – one year to the date. In Alabama. The Mag played it up as what might quite possibly be one of the biggest massacres to ever happen in college ball. That’s got to be fun to hear in their locker room.
I had never been anywhere near Alabama (except at 75mph on my way to FL), but man, that place was great. Amazingly nice people, nice light, pumped fans, and the thickest, most southern accents you could ever imagine. They make one syllable words have three, sometimes four syllables. For example: “Chip” translates to “Chee – yup.” I have no idea how they do it. It turned out to be an amazing game, but to be honest, I was wandering making frames most of the game, popping down to the field whenever I could for a quarter to shoot action.
It took me about 3 1/2 hours to get back to the hotel in Birmingham – a drive that only took 45 minutes earlier in the day. Luckily, I got some great advice from some people on the plane on BBQ – Dreamland BBQ in Tuscaloosa. It made that drive so, so sweet. Rib plate, slaw, white bread and a side of sauce. So good. Come to find out you can have them FedEx’ed as well.
Roll Tide, Roll Tide.