I like to think of myself as a positive person. Really, I do.
When big games come up, I always think my team is going to win. When things are looking down, I know they will get better soon. I’ve even been known to overestimate my skill-set when I strap up for a game of old-man hoops.
All that said, if Jan. 2 doesn’t go down as my worst day of 2010, then this year is going to be downright awful.
Since you’re on the edge of your seat, let me explain...now that I’ve had almost a week to digest this pitiful game—not to mention thaw out and recover from the nasty flu-bug I no doubt picked up in Birmingham.
The illustrious PapaJohns.com Bowl takes place at Legion Field and typically matches two unranked teams from the Big East and SEC—a game most people are not very interested in.
But since my hometown Gamecocks came off a decent year, especially a 34-17 trouncing of Clemson in the final week of the season, my friend Trey and I headed down I-20 to watch the game, optimistic enough to think we would see some quality football from South Carolina.
We couldn’t have been more wrong.
Despite the fact that Gamecock fans made it all but a home game, dominating the bleachers in a sea of garnet and black, South Carolina players—particularly the offense—looked like zombies. They were listless, bored, and freezing cold.
The offense didn’t get a first down until midway through the second quarter.
The offensive line played its worst game of the season.
The running game was non existent.
Receivers dropped ball after ball.
Et cetera. Et cetera.
And all this in 25 degree weather—in the shade, with a stiff breeze in my face.
Meanwhile, the UConn fans—all 150 of them—sat in the sun, enjoyed what is holiday weather for them, and cheered on the only team that showed up that day.
But as painful as the football was to watch, the “stadium experience” may have actually been worse.
I had a feeling things weren’t right when we rolled into town at about 11:45 AM for a 1:00 kickoff, and the gas station worker a few blocks from the stadium asked, and I quote, “Is there a game in town today?”
Furthermore, I will refrain from making too many negative comments about the surrounding area of Legion Field, but I will offer some financial advice: If you are looking for a real estate venture, I would not recommend looking in the downtown Birmingham area. Yikes.
As for the stadium, either the venue was trying to save money or they just forgot that roughly 35,000 people were going to show up. Because there were more guys trying to get us to park in their front yards than there were stadium workers.
So few ticket gates were open that ridiculous lines had formed well before the game, and about four port-a-potties were available to the masses. That comes to a restroom per 8,000 people or so.
Inside the stadium, the “Jumbo screen” appeared to be a Sony 27-inch TV bought from a local Goodwill in 1989. Replays were few and far between, and they could never actually show the right part of the replay, instead choosing to show us the handoff rather than the run, the ball landing on the ground instead of being thrown, the coach on the sideline instead of the play itself.
The PA crackled and hissed all 60 minutes.
Lines for food were a good 15 minutes.
Arrogant Alabama fans were everywhere, although it’s hard to blame the venue for that one—unless, of course, they hired them to make things miserable for all involved parties.
“Sandstorm” was randomly blared about 87 times—but never for more than four-five seconds at a time.
On the plus side, at least I got to relieve myself in an individual toilet instead of the standard trough you see at so many stadiums. (For the record, you know things are bad when your best gameday experience is that you got to whiz in your very own toilet.)
So here’s to you, PapaJohns.com Bowl.
Thanks for nothing.