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Our Auburn Trip Diary - "Parents Without Children"


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Our Auburn Adventure

One of the coolest things about getting rid of the kids for a weekend and taking a road trip with the wife is that you never know what's in store.  Like Brad, I had a good feeling about this USF/UA game... I wasn't going to predict a win, but I definitely had the feeling that good things were in store.  Looking back, how right we were... anyway, here's a short diary of me and Mrs Eats It's trip to Jordan Hare stadium...

**Saturday**

6:00 AM - No kids, we're sleeping in late.

6:05 AM - Can't sleep, constantly thinking about tonight's game, I decide to get up and start getting ready.  Wife soon follows.

8:20 AM - Flight to ATL leaves at 10:05, I tell Debbie (Mrs AEI) that we need to be out the door by 8:30 to stay on schedule.

8:45 AM - Wife still in bathroom.

8:50 - Wife finally ready, thanking the Lord that we're only bringing carry on bags.

9:20 - Arrive at TIA, park, get through security in record time, walk like crack-addicted street vermin to Starbucks for immediate fix.

10:05 - We take off - Wife immediately looks airsick.  Yikes.

11:26 - We land.  No barf to report, all is well.

11:45 - Thrifty rental car doesn't have the mid-size we reserved, nor do they have large cars.  We're upgraded to a super sweet slate blue 300M with every single option.  Total cost:  $18.  This trip is looking good so far.

12:50 - Pull off interstate after seeing "Chick Fil A" sign - pissed when sign at bottom of ramp says "2.9 mi. east".  False advertising.

1:00 - Even more pissed when, after 2.9 miles, no signage in sight.  Finally stumble upon it for greasy fast food fix.

1:30 - I-85 taken to 1 lane for three miles for no apparent reason.  Profanity directed towards State of Alabama.

2:00 - First Auburn University signs begin appearing on road - I officially have to pee.

2:10ish - Snap picture of wife sleeping

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2:30 - Welcome to Auburn!  Holy crap, this is one incredibly gorgeous town... Don't get me wrong, I love USF, but I officially have architecture envy.  Absolutely amazing.

2:40 - First smarmy comment from suit-wearing frat boy.  Hey, Junior, your grandpa called and he wants his tie back.

3:00 - Hook up with Kyle, get media parking pass, park close to stadium for free.  Again... trip looking good so far!  It pays to have the hook-up (thanks Kyle!).

3:30 - Trek all the way to Will Call Window on other side of stadium in 90+ degree heat, find out it doesn't open until 6.  That blows.

3:31 - Flipflop4900 calls, invites us for drinks and then some tailgating.  Boo-ya... beer and food!

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4:30-ish - Treated to the most amazing tailgate spread courtesy of some Auburn alma mater, who were the nicest folks you could possibly imagine.  Plus many of the know quite a bit about USF.  I'm officially adopting Auburn as my 2nd favorite team at this point.

4:50 - I chuck a football 40-odd yards into a briar-ridden pit and make Flipflop4900's youngest boy chase it.  I tell him it builds character.

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6:00 - I walk over to Will Call and pick up my two extra tickets, then sell them 30 minutes later at a $50 loss.  I rationalize in my head that the free food and beer made up for it.

8:00 - We arrive at the stadium and climb a ramp with 8000 levels to find our seat in the 26th row of the upper deck.  I'm not sure if the boys on the field can hear us, but I'm pretty sure passing 737's can.

8:10 - Wife officially jazzed up by the atmosphere.

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9:00 - Kickoff baby!

9:30ish - Debbie and I take a walk after USF goes up 14-3... we need to calm our nerves.  Along the way, many nice Auburn folk say hello to us, even though we're kicking their butts so far.

**THE AUBURN LETTERMAN'S LOUNGE**

9:32 - One nice Auburn fan that I'm talking to happens to be Jeremy wells, former long-snapper for Auburn from 1999-2003.  Incredibly nice guy, but a sloppy cheese eater.

9:35 - Jerermy invites me and Debbie down to the AFLC:  The Auburn Football Letterman's Club Lounge, located in the basement of Jordan Hare Stadium, and accessible only by former players and their guests.  I quickly remind Jeremy that we're decked out in full Bulls gear and will look pretty awkward, but he says it's no problem.  We get his cell phone number with instructions to call him at halftime.

9:36 - I immediately begin worrying that this is some sort of set-up for a horrible prank.  Debbie tells me to calm the hell down.

Halftime - We call him, he takes us downstairs toward the club.  On the way, Jeremy and I make small talk about the Bulls, and the Big East.  Being an SEC fan, I figure I'm going to have to try and "convince" him that the BE is a real power, so I start in with the story of last season.  Before I can get started, Jeremy looked at me and said (and I quote):  "Stop.  You don't need to prove yourself to anybody anymore.  You're in a BCS conference and you've beaten and are beating great teams now.  You don't need to say another word."

Whoa.  I'd never hear a Gator fan say that, much less a Gator player.  I'm silenced.

We get downstairs, and voila!  We're in.  It's really amazing... a wonderful place filled with Auburn memorabilia going back decades.  I immediately realize the magnitude of my situation and quietly ask Jeremy if I can look around.  I snap few pictures, though, because I don't want to disrespect the place.  It's one of the few times I've really felt like I was in the presence of College Football history and greatness. 

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We also got a chance to meet Sam Rives, who was the place holder on Jeremy's team and a member of the 2004 undefeated SEC championship team, as well as a few of his friends, who were kind enough to show off their SEC Championship rings... which they wear all the time.  Hell, I would.

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Just before the 2nd half began, we thanked Jeremy and made our way back upstairs. 

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Again... how many FORMER PLAYERS would invite opposing fans to see something that's really reserved for players and friends only?  Auburn players would... again, a testament to how friendly and welcoming they were.

Before we leave, I totally work the Bulls mojo on the place... yes, I take full responsibility for the win.  =)

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**SECOND HALF**

I'm not going to summarize much here because, if you were there or if you watched it on TV, you already realize how emotionally draining that game was, but I'll just say this:

HOLY FREAKING CRAP WE BEAT AUBURN IN THEIR OWN FREAKING HOUSE!!!!

For the first time ever, as I watched the celebration on the field and heard the band play the Alma Mater... I got truly emotional.  I don't think I'll be able to hear that song after football games the same way again.

**SUNDAY AM**

Bulls fans are dancing in the street outside Jordan Hare... high fives, bear hugs, the fight song sung at full volume... the works. 

Curiously, Auburn fans are as cordial as they were before the game... I'm awed when multiple fans come up to us, shake our hands, congratulate us on the victory, and wish us well.  These fans are true gems... even the students are being gracious.  I suddenly feel a little bit embarassed, because I'm pretty sure that if the tables were turned and Auburn beat us in Raymond James, they wouldn't be treated so kindly.  That's one of the true marks of a great program... they win AND lose with class.  I said it before, but I'll say it again... they are the model upon which we should build our program AND our fan base.  True class.

1:30 - My cell phone vibrates... it's a message from Jeremy, the AU player:  "I don't want to talk about the game, but we're over at Sky Bar if you want to come have drinks with us".

So we go, and meet more fans and former players.  True to form, while they're disappointed in their own performance, they're complimentary of our team and they respect us. 

3:30 (4:30 EST) - I have to pry my wife out of a conversation with everyone (she is SO the life of the party) because we have a flight to catch at 8:00 EST.  We exchange emails, phone #'s facebook accts, etc. with our new Auburn friends, and hit the road.  Also, I make mental note that Jeremy stored my cell number as "Matt w/Hot Wife".  If he ever learns how to eat cheese without drooling it all over himself, I may be in for some competition!  ;-)

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What a great synopsis.  Plus that picture of you throwing the ball looks like an old clipping from a 1940s newspaper.  Great pose.

I nominate this for a Hall of Fame Post.  Just don't put it in there quite yet, as others have to read it.  Every USF student should have to read this to learn about the class of the Auburn faithful.  Its easy to win with class, but to lose with class is another story.  Matt, great stuff as usual.

Go Bulls!! 

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Dude...you were there till 3:30?! I guess you really were amped!

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my wife and I were the same way nothing better than a weekend away with out the kids and a bulls victory

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Congratulations on all the luck you fell into meeting players and especially the Letterman's lounge. I wish I had the physical gas after the game to party until 3 but I just couldn't find it in me. The Auburn fans were indeed some of the nicest fans I've ever come across. I grew up going to Gator games and AU was fan for fan waaaay nicer than those at UF.

GO BULLS

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Man... the more I hear about this game, the more I wish I had been there, not for one of the best wins in USF history (although certainly that too) but to have been in the presence of what are now storied fans. I'd also love to hear, years down the road when we're more establish, people to ask some of us older Bulls about our hospitality in Tampa, we can proudly respond, "An away game down at Auburn back in year 11 really taught us." I think as a young program and fanbase, we'd to well to learn from our elders.

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Aww...but Little Eats it and Smaller Eats it are sooooo cute.

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By the way, _EI, weren't you "Bye Week Eats It" before the bye last year?

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By the way, _EI, weren't you "Bye Week Eats It" before the bye last year?

Yeah, but I'm too amped up do that this year.  UNC is squarely in my sights! 

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