OK, kids, get this: The Grizz spent his Saturday afternoon on the field watching the nation's ninth-ranked college football team play an unimpressive squad from Iowa State. How did I get to watch from the field? That's a secret! Actually, I was an officially-credentialed press photographer, representing Blogrizzard, of course.
It's a once-in-a-lifetime privilege to watch big-time college football from the sidelines. Down here, you've got the same vantage point as the coach, the referees, and the players. You hear the quarterback screaming his count. You hear the offensive line grunting as their helmets slam together. The sensory overload is incredible. How can the team even concentrate?
During the action, it's extremely difficult to follow the ball. With so many guys moving in deceptive patterns, how a defense can react in time to stop the ballhandler? What are the coaches watching? How can they possibly see everything on the field? (They can't. That's why they watch video after the game.)
Enjoy the pix from a very American Saturday in the heart of football country...
Let's peek behind the scenes at a big time college football game. This is my establishing shot.
The great wide receiver Dez Bryant looks my way after a fantastic touchdown reception. I was literally 10 feet away!
Ever the rebel, Cami wears brown instead of orange. She sat in the 7th row with her Mom, while I hung on the sidelines with her Dad.
Dez Bryant times another TD reception. He's put lots of great cornerbacks to shame this season...
Mike (Cami's Dad, and my press pass benefactor) discusses the no-huddle offense with a photographer.
The crowd reaction says it all...
When you're standing on the sidelines, you've got to keep your eye on the action. This play finished extremely close to The Grizz. Interestingly, some tackles are relatively silent, while others sound like a gunshot was fired. If you're a referee on the field, and you hear a horrific sound during a tackle, you can't help but start to reach for your penalty flag... it's human nature.
As Iowa State takes the field, lucky #13 glares at Lil' Grizz and his point-and-shoot handi-cam.
These contraptions are basically giant plastic ears. ESPN dudes wear these during the game to collect live audio to feed to your teevee screen at home.
The Iowa State cheerleaders pose for a pre-game picture. I noticed these gals seemed tan-free (as opposed to the OSU cheerleaders). Maybe their coach enforces a no-tanning bed policy...
The OSU cheerleaders whip up the crowd.
Mike shares a word with OSU men's basketball coach Travis Ford. Though I'm not a tall guy, I was surprised at how short he was. C'mon, he played college hoops for Kentucky!
This brings me to another observation: in the "real" world, your physical size doesn't really matter. But on the sidelines of a major college football game, I found myself constantly noticing the size of the athletes, and comparing myself to them, as if to size up my chances were I dramatically asked to step onto the field. It was strange...
The "losers" cheer from their front row seats. When you're watching the game from the sidelines, even the most expensive stadium seats seem lame (see, I've already developed an elitist attitude).
All you have to do is break the plane of the end zone, and it's a touchdown!
These dudes drink themselves a lot of Gatorade.
The cheerleaders are also fantastic athletes. The women are typically very short and squat, with bodies like gymnasts, not fashion models. They wear an extraordinary amount of make-up, so much so that, if you saw them in real life you'd think, "wow, that poor girl looks like a clown."
Pre-game stretching rituals.
I think the guy in the khakis is the offensive coordinator. Here, he leads his linemen in some pre-game scrimmaging.
The players bench smells like the boy's locker room at Deep Creek Junior High School in 1981. Perhaps the heat was a factor: temperature at game time was 80 degrees. On the field, it's a bit hotter.
These aren't the acrobatic cheerleader girls, they're the flashier, more up-town pep squad, or something like that. I've forgotten the name of their enterprise.
It's truly an incredible rush standing so close to the home team as they take the field!