Wednesday, November 22, 2006

All Thumbs

Some very scattershot stuff from the weekend and its aftermath:

* This was my fifth trip to Bryant-Denny; the first was for a high-school game in the mid-80's. Back then, calling the place a dump would have been charitable. Alabama played all its big games in Birmingham in those days, relegating its official home stadium to homecomings and then-biannual Vanderbilt "rivalry." It's hard to imagine a facility even more dilapidated than Legion Field, but Bryant-Denny fit that bill, and was UAT's neglected child for a long time.

A series of renovations, the most recent completed prior to this season, have considerably improved the place. The new end zone upper deck where UAT consigns most visiting fans is no fun to get up to, and the sightlines aren't what I'd call ideal, but it is new and clean and relatively comfortable, which is more than I could say about the old lower-level end zone seating. Even with the additional seating, though, Bryant-Denny is never going to be a particularly intimidating stadium. The original grandstand design pushes the majority of the crowd well away from the field, and the old-money Alabama fans in the best seats just don't get all that loud, even in big games.

* Of course, the recent changes can't all be considered improvements. The Auburn team entered the field mid-way through Alabama's pregame video presentation (as usual, complete with incomprehensible Bryant argle-bargle), earning no end of squaking from Turds ever on the lookout for "disrespect," but as it turned out, Auburn was just trying to get out of the line of fire. The Montgomery Advertiser's Josh Moon was in the portal with the team:

Who was the genius that decided it would be a good idea to have the visiting team exit the field by going through a tunnel located right below the Alabama student section?

Surely, Mal, you didn't know anything about this idiotic idea before the construction started and it was too late, right? Because I just can't imagine that a man who has been around college football as long as you have would hear that idea and not immediately find it, well, nutty.

For a good five minutes, the Auburn coaches and players stood just outside that tunnel trying desperately to navigate their way through the downpour of half-filled plastic cups, completely filled water bottles, miniature liquor bottles and pretty much every other item the students could lift up and send in flight. After a while, I swear I noticed some of the students sizing up their smaller classmates and trying to calculate just how much force would be required to send them raining down on the AU team.

It was a mess. An ugly, classless, embarrassing mess.

You'd think that after five straight years of losing to Auburn and four straight home losses to the Tigers that the students would be used to this scene by now.

The carnage didn't end there, of course. After the game, Auburn's David Irons was struck in the eye by a water bottle tossed from the UAT student section. I'm frankly not surprised at any bad behavior coming from the Mountain Brook cokehead brats who populate UAT's Greek "Machine," and the Turd braintrust (such as it is) shouldn't be surprised either. Hopefully they'll take some action to prevent their home-grown idiots from acting this idiotic the next time around.

* I'll never understand how an institution that so loudly proclaims its "class" could allow the tacky flea market that jams the streets leading up to Bryant-Denny before a game. I've never seen anything remotely like it at any other college campus. Every possible variety of cheesy elephant porn you could imagine, lined up for sale along several blocks. I guess it's heaven to a redneck who somehow stumbles into Tuscaloosa, but for a normal human, it's an eyesore and a nuisance.

* Watching Tyrone Prothro painfully limp out to midfield before the game was just viscerally unpleasant. I wish him nothing but the best, but the kid is basically crippled, and the television coverage Saturday did not capture the awful lingering extent of his injury.

If it was Prothro's own notion to go out there and fire up his teammates and the fans, fine and good for him. But if it was some PR guy's bright idea, that PR guy needs to be dragged out and horsewhipped.

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