In the interest of ethical blogging, I’ll start with a disclaimer. The following post is a re-enactment of events which occurred earlier today. Portions of the day have been edited for length.
It’s a college football Saturday, and big challenges lie ahead. On TV, they’re giving today’s games the (to me) awkward title of “Separation Saturday.” Separation, I suppose, of the pretenders from the contenders for the national championship in big games such as Michigan-Notre Dame, LSU-Auburn, Florida-Tennessee and the University of Southern California (where I grew up, USC is in Columbia and nicknamed the Gamecocks) vs. Nebraska.
My agenda will be mostly different today. As I explained a little in my last entry, my pursuit of higher education took me to Clemson (Alma Mater No. 1), the University of Florida (No. 2) and almost a decade later to Texas A&M University (No. 3). I follow all three, with the most emotional investment in Nos. 1 and 2, which I attended when the world was much younger.
The scheduling gods have decided that this week they should all play at night. Clemson at Florida State, kicking off at 7:45 (ESPN), Florida-Tennessee in Knoxville at 8 (CBS) and finally Texas A&M vs. Army in San Antonio (ESPN2), a 9:15 p.m. start. A test of mental agility and of physical proficiency with the remote.
It begins easily enough. I get to focus complete attention on Clemson-FSU for 15 minutes and UF-Tennessee begins just as Clemson’s kicking game melts down — a blocked extra point returned for two points and a blocked field goal for a touchdown and FSU up 9-6.
From that point we toggle between the ACC and the SEC game. Halftime of the Clemson game coincides roughly with the kickoff of the A&M-Army game so we can delay the start of the three-way remote shuffle for a little while yet.
Trifurcation begins between 9:30 and 9:45 and it soon becomes apparent that I can’t handle it. Clemson, up as much as 20-9, appears to be on the ropes late in the third quarter, as FSU has tied the game. Florida loses an early lead and trails 17-7 in the third. A&M is losing early to a scrappy Army team. Army is coached by Bobby Ross, a former NFL and Georgia Tech coach, whom I encountered early in my reporting career when he was at The Citadel in the late Seventies. (Funny how much older he looks now. I haven’t changed.)
I’m forced to make some decisions, so I lead with the heart. Stay with Clemson to the finish. The Tigers win on a James Davis 1-yard touchdown run with eight seconds left in the game. Clemson coach Tommy Bowden wasn’t kidding when he told the sideline reporter at the half that he wasn’t going to kick it again.
Turning over to the game at Rocky Top, I just miss Florida’s go-ahead touchdown with 6:30 left in the game to take a 21-20 lead over the Vols, but get to watch them hang on and celebrate.
The day finally ends at 12:39 a.m. with Texas A&M surviving a foohardy call by Head Coach Dennnis Franchione and holding off an inspired Army team, 28-24. A&M went for it and failed on a fourth and 1 at its own 28 with less than three minutes left, and Army drove to the Aggies 2 before the clock ran out.
In other games, I think that Notre Dame lost to Michigan, that Oregon-Oklahoma was a one-point game, and that Southern Cal beat Nebraska, but I’m not sure. Just know I’m 3-0 in the ones that mattered.
Call it Satisfying Saturday and off to bed.