Photo report: Indy Bowl begins with hilarity

The Independence Bowl officially kicked off with an afternoon press conference featuring the head coaches and three players from each team. Then the squads headed off for a night, which featured a meal, a video-football competition, skits by both teams and a rousing show conducted by a hypnotist.

Tide Head Coach Dennis Franchione talks to the media at the initial press conference for the Mainstay Independence Bowl. Franchione was his usual glib self. In response to one writer's question about how to correctly pronounce his name, Franchione deadpanned "Dennis" to appreciative laughter. The only question he didn't answer was who would start at quarterback.

After the press conference, the two teams headed to the Shreveport/Bossier City Civic Center for food and fun. Here, Santonio Beard watches the video-game action.

Tide Athletics Director Mal Moore talks to Coach Fran and his wife Kim before dinner.

Evan Mathis shows off the bowl watch every player was given. A local jeweler was set up at a table in the civic center to adjust and size the watches for the players.

As part of the evening's activities, each team presented a skit. Alabama's was "Win that Date," in which a pretty girl queried three "contestants" as a takeoff on the old Dating Game. "Coot" (Michael Ziifle), a redneck, trailer-dwelling, Tide football worshipping Bama resident is at left. At right, Matt Lomax is the interpreter for contestant No. 3, Evan Mathis. Mathis played a decidedly politically incorrect (but also very funny) Indian immigrant. Not shown are Dennis Alexander and Atlas Herrion who played Siamese twin rappers. Ziifle, or rather I should say "Coot," dedicating his victory to his "hero," Dennis Franchione.

Another hilarious part of the evening featured a hypnotist. Pictured are the participants after they were first put under. The various "tricks" to his show are too numerous to name, but the act literally had the Tide players rolling in the aisle with laughter.

Among the most popular of all the activities Saturday night, Alabama ###### Iowa State in a head-to-head video football game matchup (we're not supposed to tell you the score, but the Tide players were mostly smiling). Roman Harper (lower right) led off, carrying Alabama to a halftime lead. While Von Ewing (behind Bert McBride who is behind Harper) took over in the second half.

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