Friday January 5th, 200712:01am
Hey, Is That Fran?I have not forgotten to put up my game recap, I'll get it up over the weekend. This, however, is pretty cool so I thought I'd share it separately.
After the Holiday Bowl my brother and his friend, Scott, drove up to L.A. for a couple of days and then over to Vegas to cap off their trip.
He sent me this picture and I responded to his email with something like, "Man that's awesome. LOL." I'm thinking, man that's a pretty good Photoshop job.
So I'm talking to my dad today and he says, "Wasn't that awesome that Sean ran into Fran?" I was like, "Yeah, he did a good job with that." He goes on to tell me that Sean really did meet Fran in the Vegas airport.
I didn't believe him until he told me that they were on the same flight and that he saw Fran when he picked Sean up at the airport....he told me he saw Fran, his wife, and two daughters. My old man wouldn't know that he had two daughters.
Sean sent me an email this evening:Dad says you thought that picture was fake. It wasn't and I am offended! lol I was gonna go get some water in one of the stores in the airport and I saw him and I thought, "that looks an awful lot like Coach Fran." and he nodded to me cause I was wearing my Aggie shirt and hat and I thought, "that is Coach Fran!" so I walked up to him and said, "Howdy!" and he said, "Howdy, what's your name?" and i said, "Sean" and he said, "so what did you do today?" and i said, "Just woke up and we're about to leave Las Vegas." and i said, "we flew up to San Diego to see the Holiday Bowl," and he said, "Yeah, I wish we could have played better." and i said, "it was still really fun." and i said, "it was nice meeting you." then i went and got my water and i came back and i said, "Coach Fran, i hate to bother you, but could i get a picture with you?" and he said, "sure." and then he said, "i think we're on the same flight."That is pretty cool. When you see Fran on the sidelines or in interviews or on TV you forget that the guy is a real person. I might not always agree with all the play calling or be excited about the results but I do really like Coach Fran. You may not love that he isn't the most animated guy, or the toughest S.O.B. in the conference but he is a good guy who spends as much time as he can with his family. He has always been good to the fans and the students in particular.
And before I get responses like, "What was he doing in Vegas....he needs to be practicing or recruiting"....the players are home for the remainder of the winter break and he isn't allowed to contact recruits during the current dead period until today. This is essentially the only week of the year he gets off to travel with his family.
Anyways, I thought that was cool.
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Tuesday January 2nd, 200712:01am
Trip to San Diego for the Holiday BowlThe game itself was hands-down the worst game I've been to since the 2005 Iowa State game.
In my 2006 season preview I said I was tired of getting blown out and other than a blowout against texas this was the worst game we could have been blown out in because now we have 9 months of doom-and-gloom. We completely squandered the incredible momentum we had after beating texas in Austin.
I'll get into the game a little later because I had a great time on the trip out to San Diego.
Wednesday morning I caught my flight at 7:30am. I was pleased to see that about 30% of the flight was maroon. I bet there was a flight at some point during the day that was almost all marooned out.
I always find it funny when you're sitting at the terminal waiting to board the plane. As soon as the lady gets on the intercom to start calling the wheelchair passengers everyone stands up and starts to migrate towards the booth regardless of where their seat is. Seems like an unnecessary 10 minutes of standing holding of your carry-on luggage if you ask me. I've never done it and I've never not had my seat waiting for me.
On the flight I started reading Seven Seasons of Sherrill by Joe Hatcher. It wasn't the best book I've read but it was informative as it took you through each season game-by-game and talked about recruits. Of course it also talked about the scandal, which was what I was interested in because no one ever talks about it and I didn't know anything about it.
Note: Ink pens explode at 30,000 feet. This can prove bad when you are wearing the only pair of pants you brought with you on the trip.
The sign that greeted me on the front door of the hotel
I landed at 9:30am and by 9:50 I was already sitting on my bed at the hotel. I was amazed at the ease it took to get out of the airport, catch a cab, and get to the hotel. By 10:20 I was fast asleep.
I woke up at 2:30 when my phone rang. It was my father and brother letting me know their flight had landed in Anaheim and they were on their way to San Diego. I watched TV until they arrived. When they did, my old man needed to nap so Sean, his friend Scott, and I took off to go and visit Balboa Park.
We got slightly lost on the way mainly because we couldn't find the entrance to the freeway but also because the scale of the map threw us off. On a map of San Diego 1/2" is about 30 seconds on the freeway but in Houston it is about 15 minutes.
We got to the park and just walked around. Balboa Park is the second largest park in the nation behind Central Park in NYC. It's essentially the cultural center of the city as they have a bunch of museums, an outdoor amphitheater, and of course the San Diego Zoo (which was on our schedule for Friday). Everything was closed when we got there but we had a good time just walking around and looking at the buildings.
That is me in front of the Globe Theater practicing my Shakespeare
We goofed around a bit as well.
We got back to the hotel where we found Larry watching the Emerald Bowl (FSU v. UCLA). Then we took off for Old Town which is a pretty nice little part of town. We pulled into the first Mexican restaurant we came across and the wait was over an hour and a half. We put our name down then decided to walk around. As it turns out if you turn the corner from the first restaurant there is a second Mexican restaurant called La Piņata where the wait was only 10 minute. We got in there and waited and waited and waited and waited for someone to take our drink order. After about 20 minutes we just got up and left.
As it turns out....
Our final destination
There is another Mexican restaurant about one block down from La Piņata called El Fandango. We were seated immediately and enjoyed a very nice meal. Excellent chicken enchiladas.
You're right Sean, La Piņata had terrible service
We were finished with our meal before our name even came up to be seated at the first restaurant.
From there we headed down HW 5 into downtown for Yell Practice which was being held in the underground parking garage at the convention center. Larry couldn't get over how many Ags were in San Diego and I kept telling him, "Dad, we travel well."
There were probably 1,200 Ags down in the parking garage for Yell which was, unfortunately, one of the less memorable Yell Practices I've been to. The sound system was really bad and it got uncomfortably hot down there....and the moron with the cigar didn't help matters ("Hey dope, there is no air circulation down here"). I was kind of disappointed because it was my dad's first Yell to attend and I don't think it was a good one to make a first impression with.
You can actually view the Yell online at Aggiesports.com.
One of the high points was running into an old friend, Jenn B, who worked with me for years at Inspirations. She's now living back in San Antonio so it was good to see her again.
From Yell practice we headed back to our hotel and all crashed after a long day. One funny story to tell....
Larry was exhausted, he couldn't sleep when we left him to nap so he had been up all day after taking me to the airport early am (central time), he was getting into bed and the sheets were tucked in really tight. I'm standing at the foot of the bed and I hear him say, "This bed is like a war." What? He was half asleep and fighting with the sheets. We had a good laugh about that.
We got up Thursday morning and it was game day. We grabbed something to eat at Jack in the Box and headed downtown to get tickets for a tour of Petco Park, the home of the San Diego Padres.
View of Petco from the press box
The park was gorgeous. Our tour guide Don explained all sorts of stuff to us about the park and took us all around....the warehouse out in LF, the locker rooms, the press box, and of course....
Down on the field. It was the first time I had been down on a major league field since I was in 3rd or 4th grade and I went to an Astros instructional day before a game.
From Petco we hopped on HW 5 and headed north to La Jolla to get something to eat. Frankly, we didn't find anyplace to eat that didn't look too fancy. It was all Porches and fancy boutique stores. We ate a Subway and of course they ran out of meatballs just before I ordered....and the only thing I like there is the meatball sub.
After La Jolla we went back to the hotel to prepare for the game. We watched the first half of the OkieState/'Bama Independence Bowl and then headed out at 3:30 for Qualcomm Stadium. We drove over to the tram station that takes you to the station. The first tram passed completely jam-packed full but somehow the four of us squeezed onto the second tram. Sean was smashed up against the glass door....you couldn't have poured a glass of water in between all the people.
It was pretty chilly out there when we got off the tram. I was really worried about our tickets and whether they were real or fake. I got them on eBay and they were the only ones I saw around the stadium that looked like the he standard Ticketmaster tickets and not the one with the design on it from the Holiday Bowl.
Much to my relief they got us into the stadium and we made our way up to our seats. We were literally 3 rows from the top of the stadium right next to the huge scoreboard in the end zone. The two guys behind us were really cool, they were old corps buddies (c/o '80, I think). One guy was totally redass and the other knew his football really well. I enjoyed having them behind us.
Cal fans around us
The people to our right were strange. One chick was reading the Business page and another guy was playing with a rubik's cube. Yeah, at a football game. Then the guy down to our left had this little sign that rolled up. One side said "Go Bears" and the other side said something like "Go Cal". He must have opened and closed that sign 100 times during the evening.
The bands were fun to watch, the FTAB was great as usual (although they were booed by Cal fans when they came on the field), and Cal's band was interesting. They lost several of their big feathered hats during their performance but they made the cursive "Cal" logo which was kinda cool.
I'm going to talk about the game itself in a separate post....this is getting pretty long as is.
The tram line
After the game we went out to catch the tram but the line was mind-blowingly long. Each tram had only 4 cars on it and we estimated somewhere in the neighborhood of a 2 hour wait. We decided to walk out of the stadium parking lot and catch a cab. As we were going through the parking lot there were a couple of Cal fans throwing a football around. They threw one over our heads and Dad joked, "I could have intercepted that" and the Cal fan quipped back, "Only in the 1st quarter." It was sad but at the same time it was pretty funny.
Once we got out of the stadium we grabbed a cab and were back over by the car within 10 minutes. It was brilliant. We grabbed some dinner at Outback and then headed back to the hotel to sleep off the loss.
Larry's flight left early Friday morning so he grabbed a cab to the airport and we got up, grabbed another JItB breakfast and headed to the San Diego Zoo. The zoo was really nice but to be honest, I didn't think it was too much better than the Houston Zoo. They have pandas which are a big deal, but the line to see them was probably 400+ people long. Plus it cost $22 to get in compared to $5 or so in Houston.
We decided that if we owned a zoo we would just put the animals in concrete cells so people could actually see them as opposed to having to stare at a bunch of trees while looking for a pig with red whiskers who may or may not actually be in the exhibit. We also decided that every Friday afternoon we would have a "Nature's Course" which would pit two animals against one another in a fight to the death. How long could a beaver last against a gazelle? I don't think anyone really knows. We would also allow humans into an exhibit where they could go mono-y-mono with a monkey in his habitat....You get a sack and see how long it takes to catch him.
Anyways, we had a good time until about hour #3 when my focus and enthusiasm for animals petered out. From the zoo we headed to my first In-N-Out Burger. I was impressed. It isn't like McDonald's or Burger King because all the burgers are freshly made (meat is never frozen), the fries are made from potatoes that are peeled daily, and I could understand what all of the workers were saying when they spoke. Zing. But seriously, it was pretty good and the place was so full that we had to take a table for two and then wait for a bigger table to open up and then rush over and snag it.
From there I was dropped off at the airport. If the flight out to San Diego was 30% maroon then the flight home was 70% maroon. I was reading in at the terminal and I heard this guy behind me talking on the phone and I recognized not the guy's voice but his speaking mannerisms and realized it was Louie Belina. He does his radio show exactly like he talks in real life....he just sits and talks.
That was about it. I finished Seven Seasons of Sherrill about 10 minutes before we landed.
Outside of the second half of the football game I had a terrific time. San Diego is a beautiful city.
Only eight and a half months 'til kick-off.
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