monday, december 02, 2013

The 2013 Iron Bowl

"The only way to get something to turn up when you need it is to need it to turn up." - Terry Prachett

As the arc of the football neared the goalpost it would never reach and met the awaiting arms of the kick returner it all seemed so... inevitable. Awful but absolutely inevitable. And that was the worst part.

The beauty of watching college football is the ineffable sense of possibility — that this will be the series the defense will make their stand, this will be the play that will turn the odds, this is where everything will be put right. Once that next play starts everything slides with a terrifying quickness from possible, into the probable and finally solidifies into the blunt incontrovertible fact.

Fortune's cruelest blows involve an awful sense of powerlessness. It's always there, of course, but these are the moments you can actually feel it and recognize its power. That poignancy isn't possible when the outcome is never in doubt. Blowouts lack drama. On the field anyway. It might get ugly at the airport on the way home. read more

posted by kleph @ 6:00 pm | comments

saturday, june 22, 2013

Franklin Barbecue and Being Part of The Experience

I often use Peru's famed "Lost City of the Incas," Machu Picchu as an example of things which have become so unbelievably overhyped there is no possible way they can live up to the promise -- but it does. Everybody talks about going to Machu Picchu and having returned raves about the experience.  Because when you finally make the trek to see it you're gonna be dumbfounded like the rest of us.

That experience is actually quite a bit of hassle. Getting there carves days out of a trip to Peru and you are part of a torrent of tourists pretty much from the moment you step off the plane in Cusco. You know very well you are being sold a very effective marketing narrative from the start.

But when you stand on the top of that hill and look down on the place, somehow, it grips you in an almost visceral way. Just like it has done for everyone else who has gone before you. You become a believer and, inescapably, part of this strange and bizarre cycle. read more

posted by kleph @ 8:00 am | 0 comments

friday, september 09, 2011

Arizona State vs Missouri

My 2011 football watching season got officially underway as my dad and I headed over to Tempe to see the Sun Devils take on the Tigers. Weirdly enough, the last time I was at Sun Devil Stadium it was to see Missouri. This time it didn't end any better for the boys from Mizzou.

The weather all week has been consistently past the century mark and that was the expectation for this one, even though kickoff was well after sunset. A band of thunderstorms moved through during the day and the temperatures were... well, still pretty warm but very nice for an early-season game.

The ASU folks decided to run a gameday special on lower level tickets, probably due to the fact it was a nationally-telecast game. Dad said the nosebleed ones were fine so we hiked up to our aerie just below the luxury boxes for this one. We got there about half an hour before kickoff and there were lots of open spots around the stadium.
read more

posted by kleph @ 1:30 pm | 0 comments

wednesday, february 16, 2011

Why Toomer's Corner is Important

The Iron Bowl is the one time each and every season an Alabama fan cannot hold anything in reserve. It is the game you are completely invested in no matter whether you think the Crimson Tide are a lock to win or have hardly a chance at all.

As a result, the outcome of the game is marked by the most extreme of emotions by the faithful. Some years Alabama wins and I enjoy the most delightful rush of ecstasy and joy that lingers with me for weeks on end. Some years Alabama loses and I'm crushed emotionally and physically, left in a dour mood that takes at least a fortnight to shake.

No matter what, when the game ends it's over. Until next year...

Harvey Updyke couldn't wait till next year. When Alabama fell to Auburn last November he felt the formidable sting of the loss and instead of accepting it and rising to the challenge it presented -- which is what we ask of the players -- he chose to strike back in the most destructive manner he could think of. read more

posted by kleph @ 11:00 pm | 0 comments

friday, january 14, 2011

Kleph Looks Back on the 2010 Season

With the fall of confetti to the field at the University of Phoenix stadium in Glendale on Monday, the 2010 college football season has come to a bittersweet close.

It has been one hell of a memorable season for me. In the course of the last three-and-a-half months I've been able to see no less than 15 football games (including 12 college contests) involving 24 different teams. I've traveled to five separate states and seen games in nine different stadiums.

That's more football in general and Alabama football in particular than I've ever been able to see live and in person over the course of a single season in my entire life. And it was a blast from start to finish. During the course of it all I endured my team suffering two painful losses. Weirdly, this only made the experience that much more meaningful. read more

posted by kleph @ 12:00 am | 0 comments

wednesday, january 12, 2011

The Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Gameday

Few bowl games this year inspired less enthusiasm than the matchup of No. 4 Oklahoma against No. 25 UConn in the Fiesta Bowl. As the champions of the Big XII and Big East conferences respectively, both earned their way to the game but the mismatch was apparent to any reasonable person who had been watching this season.

As great a time I had earlier this season visiting Connecticut's Rentschler Field for their matchup with Buffalo, I certainly didn't see anything in the team's performance to lead me to believe they were any kind of giant killer. Still, there's a reason they play the games and so, after watching my beloved Crimson Tide annihilate Michigan State, off I went to Glendale. read more

posted by kleph @ 12:00 am | 0 comments

tuesday, january 04, 2011

Kleph Doesn't Go to the BCS National Championship

Back in October, I purchased a suite of tickets to bowl games here in Arizona affiliated with the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. The whole thing was a deal to pick up a ticket to the BCS National Championship Game: if you wanted to see the title matchup you had to buy the rest. Which was fine by me since my goal this season was to see as much college football in person as I possibly could.

Now I certainly was hoping my Crimson Tide was going to be in the game but I knew it was a long shot. Never in my worst nightmares did I think our most hated rival Auburn would earn the honor. But that's exactly what came to pass and, in a weird way, I took a perverse pride in the fact I would be going to see the game. It was a twisted testament to my hate.

Then the resale prices for the ticket started to climb. And they climbed a lot. read more

posted by kleph @ 4:00 am | 0 comments

wednesday, december 29, 2010

The Insight Bowl Gameday

When the bowl lineups were announced earlier this month, The Insight Bowl was probably the one I was most excited about.

While Iowa fans had to feel their team's had a disappointing 7-5 season but my impression of seeing them play in September was that this was a squad with a lot of talent and potential. Missouri flirted with the No. 1 ranking in the nation for a week after beating Oklahoma but their stellar 10-2 record, while legitimately achieved, smacked a tad of overachievement.

What I was expecting was a high octane offense match up against a solid bend-but-don't-break defense for a great 60 minutes of football. And guess what? That's exactly what I got.
read more

posted by kleph @ 3:00 am | 0 comments

saturday, december 25, 2010

The MAACO Las Vegas Bowl Gameday

Las Vegas is only about a five hour drive away from where I am and the journey didn't seem too insane to watch what promised to be one of the better matchups in the bowl season - The No. 20 team in the land, the Utah Utes (10-2) taking on the No. 10 Boise State State Broncos (11-1).

Sounds like a pre-New Year's Day bowl dream but then Mother Nature decided to step in.

For much of the week, the West Coast was pounded by rainstorms and on gameday one of these systems had moved over Southern Nevada and was just sitting there. Hovering over Las Vegas dropping a copious amount of rain on the region.

Getting on Highway 93 going north in Phoenix there wasn't any precipitation to contend with but the skies sure weren't welcoming either. Pretty much across the whole of Arizona things went smoothly enough but right about Kingman the rain started. read more

posted by kleph @ 7:00 am | 0 comments

tuesday, december 14, 2010

AIA High School Championships Gameday

It's a long tough slog from the end of the college football regular season to the start of the bowl games. Not as tough as the brutal 8-month death march of the off-season of course, but a difficult stretch nonetheless. Luckily, I found something to get me through it - the Arizona High School football championships.

Arizona splits its highest division 5A into two independent divisions. The 5A-I game was featuring the Hamilton High School Huskies from Chandler versus Mesa's Desert Ridge Jaguars. The 5A-II contest pitted Scottsdale's Chaparral High School Firebirds against the Centennial High School Coyotes from Peoria, AZ. These are all from the Phoenix metro area so I figured there would be a decent number of folks out at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale to see these games. read more

posted by kleph @ 5:00 am | 0 comments

monday, december 06, 2010

A Few Thoughts on Alabama's 2010 Regular Season

It’s not the will to win that matters. Everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters. – Paul W. Bryant

There are few times in my long love affair with Alabama football that have been as painful and disheartening as the end of this year’s Iron Bowl. To see a team this talented come that close to victory and squander it away simply stung in a way few loses over the years ever have. It’s not a game that will or should be forgotten anytime soon.

Which makes it a little odd that I find myself not only optimistic about this team in particular, but in a pretty good mood about the state of the Crimson Tide nation in general. And to understand why you need to start with Coach Saban’s book, “How Good Do You Want to Be?read more

posted by kleph @ 5:00 am | 0 comments

wednesday, december 01, 2010

Georga Tech vs Georgia Gameday

While I was initially disappointed that the powers-that-be had forced the Iron Bowl to be moved to the Friday following Thanksgiving it turned out to be a bit of a boon for my game-going expedition. There were a host of other rivalry games occurring the following day and one that I had a particular curiosity about was the one pitting the Georgia Bulldogs against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

So I got in contact with T. Kyle King, the proprietor of Dawg Sports website which covers all things concerning the University of Georgia athletics and asked if he could help me get to see the game and he was more than happy to help. read more

posted by kleph @ 4:00 am | 0 comments