Gearing up for a strange football trip

I’m going to the LSU game Saturday. I’ve been to more than my fair share of games, especially considering I moved away from Louisiana 17 years ago. Most of the Tiger games I’ve been to have been played in Baton Rouge, but I’ve been to games in many of your finer Southern college towns as well as here in Atlanta.

But the game experience Saturday is going to be different. Way different. LSU football in Seattle is still a concept I’m trying to get my head around.

First of all, Seattle is a damn long way away from Baton Rouge. Consider this: Google Maps tells me Seattle is 2,645 miles from Baton Rouge. Google Maps also tells me you can drive from Baton Rouge through each of the other 11 SEC towns and travel just 80 miles farther than driving to Seattle.

So it’s a long way. And, of course, I’ll be flying to Seattle, which is also a strange concept for me. Heading out to an SEC game from Atlanta in a car is an experience in itself. If I’m driving to Auburn to see LSU play, I’m going to encounter fellow LSU fans and Auburn fans heading to that game, but I’m also going to see other fans on the move. Maybe it’s a Bama fan from Mobile heading to Tennessee or a Georgia fan from Columbus heading over to Athens. The flag-borne troop movements across the Southeast each weekend is a big part of SEC life. Maybe TCL and I will bring along our car flags and put them up in the cab from the airport.

These things I know will be different. What I’m curious to see is how familiar the game weekend and game day experiences feel out there in the Pacific Northwest. There’s a handicap, of course, for Washington fans. Fourteen straight losses, to be exact. Will Husky fans be lively and enthusiastic with the hope of a new coach, a new season and a season opener against LSU? We’ll see. I can’t say I’ve ever been to a game where the home team went 0-12 the season before.

But what is Pac-10 pre-gaming like? In the SEC, you can count on a fairly consistent experience. Lots of food, lots of drinks and a familiarity with your opponent that leads to interesting interactions with your foes. But I expect the Washington campus to be pretty much dead. The “no open alcohol” law is a big part of that assumption. When we travel to road games, though, a lot of our time tends to get spent at campus bars watching other games on TV, and the late-night start and west-coast time zone really lends itself to that here. UGA / OSU kicks off at 12:30 local time, you know. And from what I hear, UW has a pretty active bar district. Whether that atmosphere resembles what you get in Athens, Auburn or Gainesville remains to be seen.

And then there’s the boat aspect. My boy Meathead has himself one out on the lake and will be doing his tailgating afloat. I’d love to experience that, but getting yourself on a boat is an inherently limiting move. In my dreams we come across some crazy Cajun boiling up the Pacific Northwest species of crawfish or making gumbo with things he found at Pike Market that morning. I don’t think we’ll find that, but I at least want to look for it.

Then we move inside the gates to the stadium and game itself. A proud old venue, I’m told, is Husky Stadium. But it’s got one of those stupid tracks around the field and its claims of being an intimidating place to play will have a high bar to meet for boys used to being in Tiger Stadium, Ben Hill Griffin, etc. The Wikipedia entry on Husky Stadium has amusing bits about the fear factor of the place:

Husky Stadium was once considered one of, if not the loudest stadium in the country before attendance to home games began dropping. This was in part due to the stadium’s design; almost 70 percent of the seats are located between the end zones.

Well, boo. We’re 20 years too late to be intimidated. And let’s see – 70% of 72,500 = 50,000. If you buy the idea that concentrating seats “between the end zones” makes things louder than 360 degrees of insanity coming at the field, I’m pretty sure LSU puts at least 50,000 of their seats between the end zones.

During televised games, it has been known to become so loud that the cameras shake, although this could also be due to the fact the stadium is in need of structural repair.

OK, I’m sorry. That’s just a hilarious tidbit to be in their Wikipedia entry.

In the final analysis, I have no idea what to expect. But I do know this – it’ll be different and interesting, which is why we’re going.

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3 Responses to “Gearing up for a strange football trip”

  1. TCL says:

    Also the longest road trip in LSU history. And for once, I’d like to be part of history for something positive. (Thanks. Don’t forget to tip your waitress.)

    And there’s some reason to be hopeful that someone will be boiling crawfish, even without the fact that Acadian Seafood* “packs for travel”: According to an article I read in the WSJ recently, decent amount of crawfish farms in the PacNW, including near Seattle. Not the same, I know, but better than grilled salmon.

    The article has a great tidbit about some crawfish poachers in St. Landry Parish “disappearing” and police suspecting that they eventually became bait in someone’s traps.
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125064074756441757.html

    *Is Acadian Seafood still there?

  2. Meathead says:

    Not only was “Sailgating” a ton of fun, but Jim Varney from the Times-Pic boarded our vessel & did a front page (not sports front page, FRONT front page) article on us & other sailgating groups.

    Lacking a name for our group, some fool yelled out “Tiger Phat!” and the name stuck, so now I am creating a website for our group.

    http://www.nola.com/lsu/index.ssf/2009/09/lsu_football_fans_opt_for_sail.html

  3. TCL says:

    I didn’t know Ernest wrote for the Times Picayune.

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