Armchair Talking Head

Bigger and Newer: Is it Always Better?

I damn near cried the first time I went to St. Louis and saw the giant hole that used to be Busch Memorial Stadium. I went to my first Cards game with my Dad there. I learned that it was okay to love a baseball team like a woman there–you have your ups and downs, but you still lover her, dammit. My emotions were similar the first time my Dad and I set foot in New Busch Stadium where a whole slew of new memories have been made, none to top sitting on the first base line with Dad as the Budweiser Clydesdales galloped around the warning track with the 2006 World Series trohpy on opening day. As cool as new Busch Stadium is, something about me misses the old arches atop the old park. I liked the idea of watching Albert Pujols play at the same place my old man watched Bob Gibson hurl the ball. Progress is all good and well, and the topic of old baseball parks and the new-fangled “baseball parks” that focus on fan experience instead of baseball is an entirely different topic.

Credit: Crassic

I had a somewhat similar feeling as I drove down Bryant Drive today for the first time since it had opened post-South Endzone construction. It’s beautiful. It’s worth every penny spent on it. I oohed. I ahhed. I almost rear-ended a sorority girl back a week early for Rush in the BMW her daddy bought her because I was staring out the side window of my beaten down Chevy. A marvel of football, modern engineering, and a testament to the thousands of Alabama boys who have worn the Crimson and White on Saturdays in the fall sits between University Blvd. and Bryant Drive for sure, but I had a different reaction as I turned north on Wallace Wade Avenue.  Just as that street is named for a coach of old (Wade won 3 National Championships at Alabama from 1923-1930), the western side of Bryant-Denny tells a different story. Exposed beams, old but sturdy bricks dominate the view. You can see inside the stadium to an extent, and on game weeks you can often see the inner workings of getting the stadium ready for the 100K plus fans that will fill the seats that weekend. I kind of miss the ability to take a glimpse into the stadium, and the old feeling the stadium used to have. That oldness spoke to the tradition that so many Alabama fans love to talk about. I often wonder as I stand at the urinals tucked under the seats of the student section staring at the wood bolted to concrete and steel keeping us in our seats if the men who built the stadium in the 1920’s, or even people who have worked on it in the years in between, ever imagined the behemoth it has become.

In the changing, fast-paced, dog-eat-dog world of today’s college football, bigger and newer might mean more talented recruits, more fans, and more money. In fact, it might even play a part in the success of the team on the field, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it. I do like it, and I welcome progress, but  a little part of me hopes they never cover up the older parts of the stadium.

My Take on the Tide: 48 Hours from Kickoff

In 48 hours, the Tide will begin their 2008 campaign under the Dome in Atlanta.  Before we can talk about where the Tide will go in the second year under the “Nicktator,” we must take a look back at where we’ve been.

In the first year under Nick Saban, the story was “close, but no cigar.”  Every game in the first half of the season seemed to be a nail-biter, minus the Vandy game which wasn’t exactly a blowout either.  The first leg ofthe 2007 season featured a 3 point win over Arkansas, an OT loss to UGA, a touchdown loss to FSU, a near tragic 6 point win over Houston, and a 3 point scare at Ole Miss.  The turning point came against Tennessee.  Everything clicked for the Tide, and everything bombed for the Vols in a 41-17 Alabama win.  When everything was setting up for a late season run off the momentum of the Tennessee win, the house of cards came tumbling down.

A potential monumental upset fell by the wayside against LSU with a 1 touchdown loss.  The wind was completely let out of the Tide’s sail after a demoralizing loss in Starkville, followed by the LA Monroe debacle.  In the Iron Bowl, redemption was almost had, but slipped away by 7.  Even the Weed Wacker Bowl was a close one, with the Tide overcoming Colorado 30-24.

It was a roller coaster that I only survived thanks to Captain Morgan, and Jim Beam.  The old ABC theme, “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” never met a more appropos team.  The close wins were uplifting, the blowout was exhilarating, and the near losses, especially to State and LA Monroe were down right demoralizing.

If the 2008 campaign is to be more successful, the close losses have to go away.  To get where the program needs to be, we can’t lose any more games to cupcakes like LA Monroe, and the annual match up with Starkville Feed/Seed/Lawn Mower Repair and Junior College must be a guaranteed win.  When that happens, then we can talk about having enough in the tank to hold on against the likes of LSU, UGA, and Auburn in the 4th Quarter.

The “process” is well documented, and that’s just what this Saban experiment is; a process.  I think the “easy” games will come with relative ease.  Perhaps contending for an SEC West title is a year down the road, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel sweet Bammers, there’s light at the end of the long, dark, vile tunnel that stretches from DuBose to Fran; from Price to Shula.  The end of the long Bammer Nation nightmare is nigh.  A loss in the game Saturday with Clemson will be an understandable casualty of the “process” to achieve that end. A win in the Georgia Dome, however,  has the very real potential to set that end into motion at a breakneck pace.

It’s football season baby.  Despite the copious amounts of academic BS I’m doing right now, not even my law profs can take my joy away.


Monday Fastballs

Saban Talks About Kent State Massacre
May 5, 2008, 2:59 pm
Filed under: Miscellany, Saban | Tags: , , ,

The Kansas City Star has an interview with Nick Saban about the Kent State shootings which occurred while Saban was a student-athlete there.  In the interview, Saban revealed that he himself might have very well been in attendance at the ill fated rally had it not been for some opportune hunger.

Thank God the chorus of this classic Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young tune wasn’t “five dead in Ohio”

(h/t SportsByBrooks)