Thursday, September 21, 2006
Special trip to Tuscaloosa
If you grow up in Alabama, you’re either an Alabama fan or an Auburn fan - period. There is no straddling the fence.
Football in the State of Alabama, in particular that rivalry, is serious - very serious.
I’ve been a Crimson Tide for as long as I can remember. My favorite gifts have always been “Roll Tide” related, from I guess 1-year-old to 45-years-old.
I can never recall not receiving some gift Crimson Tide related at Christmas time.
My earliest game memories are going to ones at Legion Field in Birmingham. The Tide used to play a few games there every year, including Auburn. But no more.
I’ve seen games there from the press box and from the sideline. Those I will never forget.
My fondest Alabama game memory is the 1982 Liberty Bowl in nearby Memphis, Tenn. It was Bear Bryant’s last game as coach, a 21-15 win over Illinois.
All Alabama home games are now played on campus in Tuscaloosa, at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Saturday, daughter Emma and I traveled to Tuscaloosa for my first Alabama football game in person in awhile, and Emma’s first ever.
It’s a father/daughter road trip we’d talked about for some time, but Dad always seemed to be too busy. Last week, we made it happen.
We left early and got home late, and we had a great time.
We arrived in plenty of time to explore the campus, seeing various buildings and tailgating. Emma had been before for baseball and basketball games, but this is different. This is football, a way of life in and around Tuscaloosa, and football in the shadow of the legendary Bryant.
Emma will be picking a college in just a few years. Alabama, I believe, is on her short list but likely won’t be her choice. That’s OK.
But like her dad, who graduated from the University of North Alabama, she’ll always pull for the Crimson Tide.
Bryant-Denny Stadium has been the home of Alabama football since 1929. The state legislature renamed it Bryant-Denny in 1975.
Its first expansion came in 1937, with 6,000 seats added to bring capacity to 18,000.
The most recent completed this year brought seating capacity to 92,138, making it the seventh largest on-campus facility in the nation.
My son Andy is an Ole Miss fan. He gets a kick out of the fact that one of my worst memories from Bryant-Denny is the Rebels’ upset win, 22-12, over Alabama there back in 1988. I was actually sitting with a good friend in the Ole Miss section.
Fortunately, I don’t take the games as seriously as I once did. I guess when you get my age, with a wife and three children, you realize there are much more important things in life than football.
Alabama beat Louisiana Monroe easily Saturday, a warm-up for some tough SEC opponents awaiting. It appears each game this year will be a challenge for a young Tide team. But you know, the only one that really matters is the Auburn game.
Our seats were excellent, 47 rows up on the 50-yard line with the parents of University of Alabama football players. I swung those seats, thanks to a good friend who served several years as a football manager for the Tide.
We were adjacent to the band and the University of Alabama student section.
We stayed until the end, soaking in the entire college football atmosphere on a Saturday evening in Tuscaloosa. It was special because it was Alabama football, but it was even more special because it was a day shared with my 15-year-old daughter.
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