Tales from The Swamp

Well, it looks like Jessica Pivik has taken the week off again (maybe she”s bi-monthly now), so my wrapup of the Gainesville trip will round out my Monday offerings.

Needless to say, LSU dominated Florida. The 24-21 score didn”t quite reflect that, because we handed the Crocs 14 points early. But we looked good, and the hard part of the schedule is past us. Troy / Vandy / Bama / Ole Miss / Arkansas is a much easier road than Auburn / Miss. State / Georgia / Florida.

I went down to Gainesville Friday with my Gator buddy Oz. We stayed about an hour south of town at his family”s river camp. So the environment felt a lot like Louisiana, except that you actually want to get in the water. Florida rivers are apparently fed by natural springs, whereas Louisiana rivers are fed by septic tanks.

Before heading down to the river Friday night, Oz gave me the campus tour. He peppered it with the same kind of Donald Trump superlatives (“The best cancer hospital in the south” … “The biggest intramural sports program in the nation” … “The most alligators in any on-campus lake”) that I throw out when I torture people with LSU tours, so I had a good time there.

Having spent consecutive weekends in Athens and Gainesville, I”ve begun to understand just how different the LSU gameday experience is from most other places. People in Athens come out to the stadium early, but don”t seem to have much fun. People in Gainesville have a lot of fun before the game, but not at the stadium. At LSU, the stadium is the fun, with good Cajun food everywhere.

For a 6:45 ESPN game in Baton Rouge, I”d feel like I was running late if I weren”t out at Tiger Stadium by about 2. But Saturday we headed out to The Swamp (from a Gator house party) at 6:45 for the 7:45 kickoff, and Oz says that”s typical. Drive, park, walk. No grabbing a bowl of jambalaya, tossing a football around or any of that. We got to out seats 10 minutes before kickoff, though. He”s got his timing down right.

And while Florida”s on-campus atmosphere may be lacking, I gotta say The Swamp was impressive. It”s big, it”s intimidating, and it”s loud. The rumble when LSU had the ball was close to what opponents get in Tiger Stadium, and the quiet that came over the place when Florida was on offense was amazing. The noise in Tiger Stadium never drops for our guys like it did at The Swamp. When I”d yell out something like “Come on, Marcus [Spears]!”, when we were on D, a dozen or more people would turn around and give me this “Shut up, jackass” look.

Not that I cared, of course.

The Swamp made Georgia”s Sanford Stadium feel like a church on Sunday. For whatever reason, 94,000 UGA fans just don”t make much noise (I know, we got blown out – but they tried several times to intimidate us).

So it was a great weekend. My boys are off this week, then (work travel schedule permitting), I”ll be down in Baton Rouge on the 23rd for LSU / Troy (State).

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