Meet the Press

So, we found the Houston Bowl diary under BigBadBob's bed, along with some magazines that his mother wouldn't like too much. Read about how our contest winner and his guest spent their time at Reliant, their brush with David Carr, and their impression of the infamous Dean Blevins.

Two Hours Before Game: Arrive

As we pulled into the "media only" parking area, situated directly in front of the Reliant Center, I had my first realization that this was unlike any OSU game I'd been to before.  The sheer magnitude of the stadium made that quite clear.  Standing there in the parking lot watching all the press people carrying in their laptops and notepads, it hit me that not only was I attending my first bowl game, I was doing so as a member of the press (I sifted through the car and found a notepad, so as not to look amateurish). Because the Astrodome (once called the 8th wonder of the world) is right next door, you can really tell how things have changed. Someone remarked that the Astrodome could be lifted and dropped in the middle of Reliant Stadium and I saw nothing that would contradict that statement.

One Hour 30 Minutes Before Game:  Go down to the field

After spending a few minutes checking-in at the press box (with a vantage point similar to hovering over the stadium), we decided to test the full extent of our press pass access by taking a trip out onto the field. Those press passes made quick work of each security checkpoint, leading us right onto the which point I had to stop and stare.  Lewis Field is nice and all, but the Reliant Center it is not. 

After fending off some fans who insisted we summon ESPN to video their children, we made our way to the OSU bench, where D'Juan Woods was sitting (and probably taking-in the view as well).  I actually asked him a couple of questions before getting the feeling that D'Juan knew we were no more part of the press than he was, so we decided to leave while we were ahead. He was pretty noncommittal on how OSU would fare. His companion however (I did not immediately recognize his name-must have been a freshman) proudly boasted, "It will be over by halftime."  I sure hope so young Cowboy, I sure hope so.

While standing on the field, we had one realization-we need to take pictures of SOMETHING. Who better than the kickers (Luke Phillips and Cole Farden). They were just lounging around before the game sitting on the bench (maybe getting some practice for game time) and I asked to get a shot of them. They happily obliged and started to move closer together. Afraid of what may be perceived as a Renzi Stone moment, I quickly told them they did not have to sit so close.  Will this be a picture of two heroes of the game, or of two guys that are just having a good time?

47 Minutes Before Game: See Houston Texans

We left the field through a back exit, which ultimately led us right up to the locker room for the Houston Texans...all of whom were walking to practice at that moment.  Unlike the real sports press, I've never walked through a crowd of NFL football players before (I can now relate with David when he faced Goliath).  David Carr was leading the pack. However, I thought they were the Southern Miss players and was racking my brain to try to figure out who they had on their team named Carr. By the time a companion said: "Look! It's the Houston Texans!" David Carr was so far ahead as not to be able to speak to him. But I guess I can always say that I was 3 feet away from him for about 1 second.

34 Minutes Before Game:   Dean Blevins Arrives, Nobody cares

Back in the press booth, all was extremely quiet.  In fact no noise of any kind beyond some sounds of disgruntlement when Dean Blevins arrived with sunglasses on.  Other "journalists" that I immediately recognized included Bob Barry Jr. (BBJ to those in the know) and Curtis Fitzpatrick of Sports Animal. I was pretty excited that we had better seats than ol Deano. He was so far down that he had to try and talk people into coming to sit with him.


Even after the kickoff, the announcer's voice coming over the speakers at each play was the only sound.  This was surreal to say the least.  Just on the other side of the glass was an orange covered stadium going crazy...and just inside the glass was the quite and calm of a library.

Four Minutes Into Game:  OSU Scores

A calm that was broken by a woman who cheered after the first touchdown.  She was quickly silenced by the press box announcer, who reminded everyone that, "This is a working press box. Cheering of any kind will not be tolerated."  Mental note--leave the face paint and orange wig at home if you plan to sit with the press.


Just before the end of the half, we decided to get a feel for things on the "other side of the glass."  Just as it looked, the stadium was loud.  At this point another realization came over's a whole lot more fun sitting in the stands during the actual game than it is in the press box.  I had quite a bit of pent-up cheering to get out, which I tried to do before heading back up.

15 Minutes Until End of Game: Voting for MVP's

That said, being in the press certainly had some advantages, one of which was getting to vote on the Most Valuable Players.  I really thought there was some mistake when they handed me a ballot to vote.  To think I had a hand in choosing the most valuable player for the Houston Bowl.  Democracy is a wonderful thing...particularly in the press box. Our votes: Rashaun Woods for MVP, Tatum Bell and Rashaun Woods for Offensive Player of the game, Kevin Williams for Defensive Player of the game and Luke Phillips for Special Teams Player of the game (The pre-game picture must have been good luck!)

Two Minutes Until End of Game:  Waiting to get on field

Another big perk which more than made up for the hours of silent watching was field access. Just before the end of the game, we were allowed onto the sidelines to watch the remaining minutes.

End of Game

And when the victory came, we joined the team in running out onto the field.  We stood proudly with them when the trophy was awarded and then sang the OSU alma-mater from a vantage point I've never sung it before...looking up at the crowd.  In fact, this was the highlight of the game for me.  Being able to look up from the field and watching 30,000 OSU fans sing their alma-mater.  It puts into perspective how important fans really are to a team.

30 Minutes After Game:  Press Conference

Afterwards, we hustled down to the post-game press conference, which was actually quite a bit more calm than I would have thought.  In came the coaches and select players, questions were asked, and out they went. Each head coach was asked 6 questions. Each team had 3 players interviewed and each player was asked 3 questions. For OSU the players were Woods, Billy Bajema and Chris Massey.  I actually asked Bajema and Massey questions while our very own Brandi sat silently (along with her O'Colly pals). Guess a cat had their tongue. [Editor's note: Miss Brandi was diligently scribbling shorthand on her notepad as she didn't want to miss a single quote. Ahem, some of us have to work for a living instead of freeloading media passes, Bob :)] Anyway, the question I asked Bajema was: You have made some big plays this year. Do you look to become more involved next year and what do you see for the team and yourself (win a championship.) I asked Massey what he was taking from his 4 years at Oklahoma State and what he planned to do now that his career was over (attend pro tryout camps and see what happens).

45 Minutes After Game: Hallway outside of press conference

The real mayhem started in the hall after the press conference where the coaches and players were assailed by a swarming press corps for individual interviews.  If you've ever seen a player with a dumbfounded look during a post-game television interview, this is why...30 to 40 TV cameras, microphones and notepads surrounding them on all sides, three inches from their faces, literally trapping them in a corner.  The press was a pack, moving from one player and coach to another.  I guess the players get used to this sort of thing, but it must come as a shock to the system the first couple times.  The sports information director for OSU was within a foot of Les Miles the entire time. I don't know if he was more afraid of what Les would be asked or what he would say. We stayed to the very end of this spectacle, until only we and the Daily O'Collegian reporters were left.



Truly, an experience unlike any other.  Being with the press was like watching the game in the Twilight Zone.  It's the same game, but a whole different experience from one side of the glass to the other.  While the fans are going crazy, the press is quietly watching.  When the game's over, that's when the press goes crazy.  And when you're with the press but not in the press...well, you just enjoy the ride. Thank you!

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