3:30 am Pacific Time in San Diego
Alarm goes off and my wife and I begin the drive towards Arizona in our Ford Fusion by 4:30am.
8:15 am Mountain Time in Yuma
After hours on I-8 we cross the Colorado River into Arizona.
10:45 am in Glendale
We drive by U of P Stadium.
We get our parking permits for the game at a mall by the stadium. And then you see all kinds of 'Bama and Clemson fans for the first time on the trip. We get the permit and head to my wife's aunt's house where we'll stay at which is in Glendale.
Aunt Deb and Uncle Joe were super friendly. They took us to the 'downtown experience' in Phoenix. At the convention center they had all kinds of NCG related events. There was merchandise and even Mark Ingram signing autographs.
There was also a field goal game, throwing games etc. The real Championship Trophy and a Heisman Trophy was there. Also the Cotton and Orange Bowl trophies.
We saw a pep rally with the Million Dollar Band.
When we finally left the convention center it was almost dark. We walked out to an open area where we saw a concert, vendors and ESPN stage.
We stayed a little bit then called it a night since we were up since 3:30.
We wake up and Aunt Deb makes us breakfast burritos and coffee. We get ready, go to the store for tailgating food. Then we get to the stadium at 11am and there still was tons of parking. We unload and chill for an hour hanging out with other tailgaters, snacking, drinking. About noon we head to the 'Great Lawn' on the other side of the stadium where they had events like the downtown experience but they also had corn hole game competitions and a zip line which we didn't do.
We spent an hour or two there then headed back to our spot in parking lot Green E3 and noticed alcohol has kicked in for a bunch of fans. This group next to us was a bunch of neutral fans who bought tickets before knowing the teams that were in. They gave us ribs, chicken and fireball shots. Right across from us were 'Bama fans from Colorado playing Sweet Home Alabama and Dixieland Delight on a loop it seemed.
Just before 5:00 pm
We go in the stadium. This was a clean, modern stadium. Very nice. Our seats were at the bottom of the top section across from the huge screen. It had a nice sideline view. It was supposed be a Bama section there were so many Clemson fans they had to sprinkle them all around us. The game was very nerve-racking for Bama fans but it seemed Clemson fans were just happy to be there. They have this cheer where they spell "C L E M S O *delay* N" that annoyed us every million times they said it.
I lost my voice early on when Henry scored his first TD lol. We didn't feel confident about the game the way Clemson moved the ball. It wasn't until Henry scored that last TD that I was confident we'd win. That was the point Clemson fans starting leaving too. I couldn't wait to hear "Rammer Jammer" live so I recorded it.
Bama fans watched the celebration on the field for a good 20-30 mins. After the celebration we headed to the shops in the stadium to get championship merchandise. We waited in really long lines but when we were waiting (UA men's basketball) coach Avery Johnson passed by me. I tapped him on the shoulder and said, "hi Coach." He turned and smiled, with a thumbs up, said "Roll Tide!" to the croud of people in line. Well, the wait was worth it and got our merchandise before leaving.
It was a once-in-a-lifetime type thing for us. Well worth it to witness a championship game. I'm still on cloud 9. Roll Tide!
All photos and images provided by WCTideFans