Here again is the word from Auburn Sports Network producer Brad Law, who was right beside Rod Bramblett in the visitors’ radio booth at Clemson this past weekend. Enjoy!
If you have a dinner under a moose* and your walk to the stadium is over a mile, you should probably suspect that things aren’t going to go as you’d planned. Aside from the game itself, the Friday night dinner is typically the highlight of any road trip for our broadcast crew. Last Friday night in Greenville, however, we didn’t have the full, “cast of Ben Hur,” that we typically have around the table. Jason Campbell is working only home games this year, and Ronnie and Stan left for Clemson Saturday morning. There we were, six of us – Rod, Andy, Paul, Patrick, Chris (Davis; GM), and me – at Saskatoon’s in Greenville, where a giant moose head greets diners as they walk through the door.
At various times throughout the evening, on our table you’d find alligator tails, wild boar sausage, duck sausage, elk, antelope, and maybe kangaroo – I’m not sure. Most of our table wasn’t feeling adventurous, so I can happily report that the steaks at Saskatoon are delicious. They even brought mine out in dramatic fashion – flambéed after the server overheard my wisecrack about a flaming dish that went to a neighboring table. The crew shared laughs and stories in traditional fashion. Paul usually tells us about the latest book he’s read, we run through the layout for the pre-game show the next day, and we theorize how the game will play out.
Game day itself required a little more coordination – and physical exertion – than usual. We recorded a pre-game interview with former Clemson coach Danny Ford, so Patrick and I left for the stadium a little earlier than we otherwise would. After getting hassled by some Clemson fans at lunch, we made our way to campus. You know it’s a big deal for Clemson to host Auburn when you get to stadium more than six hours before kick-off and the closest media lot is already full and the attendant tells you, “when we got here to work, fans were already parked in the media lot and we just let them stay.” We got to the parking area so early that the shuttles weren’t running yet. The rest of the crew, minus Ronnie and Stan, wasn’t far behind, and we all trekked the 1.2 miles from the lot to the stadium. Included in the 1.2 miles is Williamson Road. It’s the kind of “uphill” that your parents traversed in the snow, both ways, to school when they were kids. Your calves are screaming louder than the student section by the time you’re finished. For the second straight week, I was winded and sweating by the time I walked into the booth.
The game itself… if you would’ve told me that the defense would limit Clemson to 14 points AND would get two turnovers AND the offense wouldn’t turn it over at all AND Auburn would have a sizeable advantage in time of possession, I’d have been ecstatic. I don’t think Auburn fans realized how important Kerryon Johnson is to this offense until Saturday night. He scored the only TD against Clemson last year out of the wildcat. You could make a strong case that he’d have done the same twice against the Tigers this time around. As my dad is fond of saying, though, “if ifs and buts were candy and nuts we’d all have a merry Christmas.” Auburn got field goals, Clemson got the end zone, and the home team left happy.
Auburn’s ceiling is still very high. The defense showed it can play well enough to give the Tigers a chance against anyone. If the offense figures out how to execute consistently, this will be a memorable year on the Plains. If you live outside of Auburn, make your plans to come back for Homecoming. We’ll interview new AU president Dr. Steven Leath, the homecoming court**, and other special guests on the tailgate show. I hope to see you there. War Eagle!
*Here’s a picture of said moose.
**By far Rod’s favorite interview of the tailgate show each year.