Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The Cotton Bowl

I went to the Cotton Bowl on Friday.

I know--I've written before that bowl games (except for the "national champonship") are just glorified exhibitions. That's still true, in my mind, but it was a chance to see my favorite Texas Tech team play in person, my buddy Mike had tickets, and it was a chance to be in the Cotton Bowl.

Growing up, the Cotton Bowl had a mythical status with me. During my formative years, the Cotton Bowl was, in many year, the game that decided the national championship. It was also the game that the champion of the Southwest Conference went to, and that was my "home" conference.

That was back in the day when EVERY major bowl game was played on New Year's Day. As a kid, it was my favorite day of the year, because it was (literally) twelve straight hours of football.
This year is also the last year they've having the Cotton Bowl in the Cotton Bowl stadium, so that was another reason to go. I really couldn't understand why in the world they'd want to move the game, even if Jerry Jones is building a football Taj Mahal down the road.

Boy, do I understand now.

Here are the three rules of the Cotton Bowl:
1. You can't get to the Cotton Bowl.
2. If you do get to the Cotton Bowl, you can't park at the Cotton Bowl.
3. If you do park at the Cotton Bowl, you can't get inside the Cotton Bowl.

Here's how bad it was--it took us three hours to drive the 200 miles to Dallas, and another two hours and forty-five minutes to go the last five miles, park, and get to our seats. There's no infrastructure to support more than twenty or thirty thousand people, but the stadium holds nearly ninety thousand now, and it was absolutely full.

As perhaps the best example of the epic scale of disaster, there were two gates to admit incoming fans--gates "A" and "G." We entered at gate "G," and there were three people taking tickets. So if gate "A" had three ticket takers as well, that's six ticket takers for 88,000 people!

Once you get inside the stadium (if you make it alive), it's still beautiful. And we had ridiculous seats--I was on the thirty-six yard line, behind the Tech bench, four rows off the field. I was literally less than ten feet away from the grass.

I was also, seemingly, less than ten feet away from the sun. Weather.com says that the high temperature in Dallas on January 2 was 76F, but in full sun, that number must have been 15 degrees higher--at least, it felt like that, and I would have been sunburned to a crisp if one of Mike's friends hadn't had sunscreen.

Suncreen on January 2. Welcome to Texas.

I remembered a few things about seeing a game in person:
1. The lower you sit, the better you can feel the speed of the game.
2. Standing for four hours is tiring.
3. There are an absolute shitload of television timeouts. It's crushes the flow of the game in person.
4. The sidelines are a freaking ZOO. There must have been two hundred people, including players, on each sideline. I have no idea how anyone can keep track of substitution packages and when they're supposed to be in the game.

Tech lost, which was a bummer, but it was an exciting game and I was glad I went.

I found us when I came home and looked through the tape of the game. Well, I sort of found us--my shirt and Kenny Rogers hair were clearly visible (I was shielding my eyes from the sun, so my face was blocked), and Mike's head was easy to see, but his body was completely blocked. I'm not sure what he told his kids--"Girls, come downstairs and see your Father's head on television!"

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