We’re back with a much happier trip to Fayetteville than the one to Baton Rouge ended up being. Bradford T. Law returns to tell us about just how rude NW Arkansas was to the radio crew after the Tigers provided a beatdown of the Bielemas.
“‘We beat ‘em, but they’re trying to get us back on the way out.’ That’s what a gentleman said to engineer Patrick and me as we made our way to the hotel stairwell at 3:15 Sunday morning. The Embassy Suites in Rogers, AR, was evacuated in the midst of a steady rainfall because of a fire in the laundry room. It was surreal to stagger into the cold night and watch fully uniformed firemen parade into the lobby with determined faces and look around at all of the other people with sleepy faces. A hotel employee came out with robes for the women and children who didn’t stop to put on warmer clothes. In those people’s defense, the alert that shook us all out of our beds was jolting, “ALERT, ALERT, A FIRE HAS BEEN DETECTED IN THE BUILDING…” The firemen did their job quickly, and we were allowed back into the building somewhere around 3:45, but that was only enough time for a quick shower and final check of the room because our flight out of Northwest Arkansas was scheduled for 6 AM. The fire alert beat my alarm clock by 45 minutes.
Unbeknownst to those of us on the 6 AM flight, the team flight has major issues of its own when it took off just a few hours earlier. Turbulence at takeoff rocked, bounced, and shook the plane loaded with student-athletes, coaches, administrators, and radio crew members. There was screaming, praying, hand-clutching, bracing. It was described by several after the fact as their worst flight experience ever. The unfortunately irony is that during one of my two-minute drill segments of the pre-game show, I asked the guys about their worst flight experience to date. Stan warned me that I was tempting fate by bringing up the subject, so I’m going to be avoiding any subjects and scenarios going forward that have ever been featured in the Final Destination series of films. If anyone on the staff who experienced this flight is overly superstitious, I accept blame and apologize.
Before the drama, Friday night, we made our usual Fayetteville pit stop at Herman’s Rib Shack. While there, we learned that Ronnie’s roommate during his first freshman semester had a pet snake – a big one – that died during a break and caused a horrific smell when they came back. I also watched Stan pay close attention to the Astros/Yankees game on the TV across the restaurant. One of his sons is a huge Jose Altuve fan, so Stan perked up every time he came to the plate and was really excited when the Astros second baseman homered to pad the Houston lead in the eighth inning. As a father of two young children myself, it’s really fun to see dad-Stan out in full force on road trips.
As for the game… I’ve listened to some local radio since the Arkansas win, and I’m more impressed with Auburn’s coaches and players for putting LSU behind them better than some of the fans have. The run/pass balance was tremendous, and the execution of both the run and the pass was equally exciting. The Tigers are running screen passes with far more success this year than any year I can remember, and a healthy Kam Pettway will only make Auburn a more lethal offensive team. Special teams still needs work, but the defense didn’t relax one bit from the first quarter through the third quarter before the younger players got their turn. It sure looked like LSU taught a valuable lesson, and there’s a fire that’ll be hard to extinguish – especially after a bye week helps the team get healthier heading into November. Now, let’s go get some rest! “