Before this season, I had never experienced a Blue Raider road game. In fact, I had never really experienced being a true Blue Raider fan. I’ve covered and supported the team but I never got to be in the crowd and really live the MT fan experience. I’ve always been treating the games as just another day in the office. All of that changed when I made the trip to Louisville.
The day started off by meeting everyone to get on the bus. I thought we were taking the World Famous Hillbilly Hilton up the interstate to Louisville. That would’ve been fine with me really. However, as I’m sitting in my car waiting to depart, I noticed in my rear view mirror a big massive black bus pulling right in behind me. That’s when I was informed that we would be traveling on that bus and not the Hilton.
I stepped on the bus and the first thing I noticed was the flat screen plasma television. Let me rephrase that… the four flat screen plasma televisions. A few minutes later we took off and I was officially introduced to the bus. I’m trying to remember everyone’s name as I type here, let’s see, there was Danny, Pam, Danny, Pam, and another Danny or ten. I felt a little out of place at first as I was the only minor on the bus, but by the time we reached the Kentucky line I felt a little more settled.
Being the only minor has its advantages. For instance, I was able to decipher the master code of how to make one television show a DVD while the other one shows ESPN. It was a basic operation really but the over 30 crowd couldn’t seem to figure it out. I think they were looking for the 8 track player.
We parked across the street from Papa John’s Stadium at a tailgating spot appropriately called Tailgaters. There was a live radio show going on with Johnny “The Freak” Renshaw as the host. “The Freak” was the youngest person in the history of sports radio to have his own syndicated radio show.
I played John in a game of arcade golf to kill some time. I shot 32 over par but it was my first time playing. That’s a good excuse right? After that, I was made aware that John was going to be a guest on the radio show with “The Freak.” Now John wasn’t hammered drunk but he had a few drinks in his system. Honestly I feared the worst because John had basically a five minute notice to do the show on top of the Miller Lite.
So of course what does he do, he nails the show. Nobody could’ve asked for a better performance with such short notice. “The Freak” basically wanted John to give in and say Louisville was the greatest but he held his ground and gave legitimate reasons why we could at least make a game of it. Freak even had the audacity to ask if we would score over ten points. John said “yes” with confidence and stunned the three or four Louisville fans watching live.
It’s finally game time and for once I’m not in the booth wearing a collared shirt. I’m in the Middle Tennessee section and I’m proud as heck about it. We’re cheering and screaming our heads off in anticipation of kickoff. And then what happens, Louisville scores on the first freaking play of the game. I seriously think I’ve never been from one end of the excitement spectrum to the other so quickly in my life.
Once we got the ball, the fans started to pick up the noise and we were cheering for our Raiders to score. To my surprise we actually scored. As a side note I saw Louisville winning maybe 38-14 or something of that nature so to score so quickly caught me and most of the Blue Raider faithful off guard. After the teams traded scores again my moment in the spotlight arrived.
Phillip Tanner scored on a beautiful run right up the middle with 10:37 remaining in the first quarter. I had the game recorded on my DVR so when I returned home I could find myself on the tube. Sure enough there I was clapping with my hands over my head like the goofiest looking person you ever saw. Of course at the time I had no idea I was on television. I was just trying to avoid picking my nose just in case.
So by now you know what happened in the game. I really picked a good one to make my first. If you’re a student like me especially, be aware that road trips are a great way to meet new people and experience college football at a major level. Our team can compete with anyone which makes for a good quality product on the field. This weekend I’m traveling to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to watch our Blue Raiders take on the LSU Tigers. I’ll have part two of the road trip for you sometime next week.