Friday 4:30 p.m.
Freshly shaved face and head, I am ready to roll. Just one more last mental run down trying to make sure I don't forget anything. I have to run and get money from the ATM; of course my wife has it all in her checking, and my account basically is just there I guess for aesthetics. Call it an allowance. I have often contemplated that, why do I even have an ATM card? I get her card and head to this small grocery store in our neighborhood and get what money I need. Now, as I'm driving away from the store and start heading toward Pittsburgh, my phone rings and it's my wife. I don't even answer. I mutter a few expletives and turn around and drive home. Here is your card honey, thanks. I'm heated now, but it worked out because my oldest son just got off the bus so I get to see him before I takeoff. This weekend is going to be the weekend from hell. On the combine tour we all dread back-to-back days, which we have with Iowa and Rutgers this weekend. After one combine, they are so mentally draining that you need a day or two to get your bearings straight. This weekend we won't have that luxury. I'm running late and traffic is horrendous. I swear I just drove 15 miles going five miles an hour.
Friday 6:30 p.m.
Just in time as my flight boards at 6:31. My flight plan is from Pittsburgh to Chicago/O'Hare then to Cedar Rapids. Then I will be picked up at the airport and we'll make the short drive to Iowa City. It's raining like cats and dogs. It's now 6:50 and our plane just pulled in.
Friday 7:15 p.m.
We are now boarded, but we are sitting on the runway. That's all I need is to miss my connection to Cedar Rapids. I am in a egg crate with wings again. I don't know how I keep getting so lucky. The seatbelts on small planes are not real big, so I ask for a "Fat Strap." The flight attendant looks at me oddly, I asked, can I get a belt extension please. I was trying to be humorous. I said I can't help I was born with a little extra "junk in my trunk." I don't think she had much of a sense of humor. I think we are taking off now. I am going to watch a little bit of "Blazing Saddles." I don't remember ever seeing it. I will see you guys in Chi-Town.
**We are now in Central Time until late Saturday night**
Friday 8:00 p.m.
The big man is hungry, so I figure I could wait until I get to the gate and grab something. The only thing there is a Starbucks. They had three types of sandwiches, but I remember an old saying my pappy used to tell me. "Son, if you can't say it, don't eat it." Well I couldn't, so I didn't. I'm not too big into raisins, lemon juice and cucumbers on my sandwich. Who the heck puts raisins on a sandwich? I grab a lemonade … wow. I just paid $3.49 for a 16-ounce bottle of lemonade.
Friday 9:00 p.m.
We are supposed to be boarding, but of course there is a delay. There is something about me and American Airlines that is just not good. Something bad always seems to happen. I'm guessing the other guys are in Iowa City and have eaten already. Bob is on his own.
Friday 10:10 p.m.
I arrive in Cedar Rapids, not a real big place. Scott Kennedy and Ben Barrick have come to get me. Ben is in the airport checking to see if our jump mat has arrived. Of course it hasn't. Scott presents me with a present, two small pieces of pizza, the remnants of a meal that these guys all got to enjoy. I guess it is a start. I eat the pizza and I am still starving. We depart for Iowa City and we are staying at a Baymont. I have never heard of it. So much for my healthy eating; we stop at McDonalds and my meal is a double cheeseburger and a coke. Now we are off to the hotel.
Friday 11:00 p.m.
We were talking about food on the way over, and Scott almost said Clark's Fish Camp was had the best food he had eaten so far, but he stopped. I laughed and said, "go ahead and we're fighting." It was funny, but probably one of those things where you had to be there for it. Those of you who have read the previous blogs will know what I mean. When we went to Jacksonville, everyone went to Clark's Fish Camp but me. After I waited all year to do so. It is still a touchy subject. We get into the hotel and I get to be by myself, no roommate. The chainsaw did not make the trip. Scott got us new shirts from our sponsor BadgerSportsWear. I figure my shirt will fit until my wife washes and dries it once. Nothing else to eventful happening. I did have a deep thought today. Have you ever looked out the window of a plane and looked down at the ground. The land is so squarely divided. I mean perfectly. Time to call the wife and get some sleep.
Saturday 6:30 a.m.
Rise and shine, scrub a dub. We grab breakfast at the hotel and head on over to Iowa. We all have our own big bottles of Powerade. Yes, we learned our lesson from last week. No PimpJuice.
Saturday 8:00 a.m.
We arrive at Iowa; great facilities. The staff here is great and very helpful. The entire Iowa staff is here. I see a number of coaches from Iowa State and Wyoming. It's 9:00 a.m. and our photographer hasn't showed up yet. Scott will have to take photos. Of course then he realizes he doesn't have a compact flash card or a lens. Luckily, our Nebraska publisher, Steve Ryan, shows up and has what we need. Finally, about a half hour later, the lady shows up. We get through the registration process and it looks like between 140-150 kids, not bad considering most of the Midwest schools are having their spring games today.
During registration I am always eyeballing the players to see if anyone sticks out. Darren Evans from Warren Central looks great. Evans was at our Champaign combine last year as a sophomore and you could tell that he would be special.
Saturday 10:00 a.m.
I'm doing the shuttle. I get lucky and one of my good friends Bill Cherpak, the head coach at Thomas Jefferson, is my recorder. Steve Kennedy is running the other shuttle with Thomas Jefferson assistant T.J. Srsic. I know we will be entertained; Dom DeCicco and Dan Giergerich made the 10-hour trip with Dom's father to visit Iowa.
Saturday 2:30 p.m.
We had a few good linemen today, I have to admit though the offense was a little deeper and we took our lumps on defense. A player who caught my eye was Harland Gunn from Nebraska. He has committed to Miami. We hurry up and leave; we have to drive back to Cedar Rapids to catch a plane to Chicago. We say our good byes to the kids and decide to stop at Arby's to grab a sandwich. No raisins at Arby's, just meat, cheese and bread. We (myself, Don Cox, Tim Glanton, Rance Gillespie, Ben Barrick, Daryl Jones, Scott and Steve Kennedy) fly to O'Hare. We check the board and see that the earlier flight to Philadelphia before ours has been delayed for about two and a half hours … not a good sign. Scott checks on the flight and they said we are in good shape. Immediately, I think about my luck with American Airlines … this is not good. Yes, I am a little pessimistic. I find out Aaron Hernandez has just committed to Florida, so I give him a quick call. He confirms that he has. I remember when they offered and he told me he would probably go there. I guess he was telling the truth.
Saturday 7:30 p.m.
We stop at Wolfgang Puck's and grab dinner. Everyone gets a cheeseburger and we all try to re-hydrate.
Saturday 8:20 p.m.
We begin boarding and we are on here with the Villanova girls' volleyball team. Don Cox and I (Amos and Andy) get the bulkhead seats. I can put my feet in first class. He pulls out his DVD player with two headphone jacks so we decide to watch "Blazing Saddles," then the pilot gives us the great news. We will sit on the runway for at least and hour and a half. This is beautiful. Maybe Miller is not the one with bad luck; maybe it's all of us. I'm sure he'll be happy to read that.
Saturday 10:20 p.m.
Finally, the pilot gives us the O.K. We are about to take off. He says we will feel a lot of swaying as we fly around the storm. Remember earlier when I said the trip from hell. It doesn't do much for one's confidence when lightning is surrounding the airplane. At first I thought it was the blue lights on the wings, but then I figured no way would they illuminate the entire sky. Every time we see it Cox and I just look at each other think "Oh, #@*$." At this point I don't know whether to laugh or cry.
Sunday 12:25 a.m.
**Back to Eastern Time**
We arrive in Philadelphia. Scott gets off the plane and he think some girl just got sick and blew chunks by Coach Glanton. One by one we wait for all of our guys to get off the airplane. Of course we are waiting to see what happened with Coach G., then someone asks what happened, so Scott repeats the story. Little did we know that the girl standing four feet from us was THE girl. We are laughing, then the girl turns and looks like we are devils. Coach G. gets off the plane and the girl apologizes. I guess barf bags are not as strong as you would think they are. Now, we head to baggage claim to get everything and see if the disappearing jump mat has made the flight to Philadelphia. Of course, it hasn't. We call the Hertz folks and they are sending a shuttle to come get us. We walk outside and it's about 50 degrees, I am comfortable. The other guys who are all from the South are freezing. Finally, the shuttle bus comes and it is pouring out. The roof of the bus is leaking everywhere. At this point you can't do anything but laugh.
Sunday 1:00 a.m.
We arrive at Hertz. We have two cars. Steve takes one and he is in a grouchy mood so I decide to linger back and ride with Scott, Ben and Daryl. We get to the gate to leave and the place is like the Whitehouse. The woman says we just had an Edward Kennedy leave here. Scott proceded to tell the lady "I am not Edward Kennedy." They made Scott take the car back to the desk and get it straightened out. Luckily it was him. I probably would not have handled it so well.
Sunday 1:30 a.m.
You'd have to be in the car to appreciate it, but when Scott is in a car with GPS it is classic. He won't listen to it and he argues with the lady's voice. It is classic. We are driving to Somerville, N.J., which is like 85 miles away. Scott says we'll be in bed by 3:00 a.m. I said more like 3:30, which by the time you brush you teeth and everything else means 4:00 a.m. We pull into the hotel at about 3:30 a.m. Honestly, I can't even remember the name of the place. I know I called my wife and said we just got there and I don't think she believed me. I set the alarm and passed out.
Sunday 7: 45 a.m.
I hear a knock at my door, and I realize I slept in. I hurriedly get dressed and throw my contacts in. No breakfast, straight to Rutgers. It is absolutely pouring out. Now I'm just wondering how many kids will actually show. We get everything situated and we're ready to begin registration. Lansford Watson is already here, gotta love the New York City kids; they're not afraid to compete.
Sunday 11:00 a.m.
We get all the players across the street to the "Bubble" at Rutgers. We have 205 kids checked in, a real nice looking group. I'm running around like a chicken with his head cut off, making sure the drills are going smoothly, making sure all our coaches are keeping hydrated, making sure the photographer is getting pictures of kids we want. I wore my jacket this morning and I'm wishing I did not. I am sweating like a pig. Reggie Dixon just ran a 4.3 in the forty. We really have some great-looking kids here. Our Rutgers guys are running around getting content and helping out; that's great to see. Donald Forbes, our Rutgers publisher, did a great job helping secure kids for the combine.
Sunday 3:30 p.m.
We went a little long today. Tough to cut off early with so much talent. We also figured out that we have a problem. We have guys leaving from three different airports. I depart from Philadelphia, most of the guys are leaving from Newark and Scott is leaving from LaGuardia. Luckily, Donald Forbes gives me a ride to Philadelphia. We have about an hour drive, and it's going to be close. That leaves two cars for two airports. Steve Kennedy takes off in Scott's car for Newark with Tim Glanton, Rance Gillespie, Ben Barrick and Daryl Jones. Those guys all wanted to try to catch an earlier flight. Scott and Don Cox are at Rutgers. They could have taken off and met Steve at Newark, then Scott could have headed to LaGuardia. One minor problem: Steve has both sets of car keys. Steve has to turn around and head back to Rutgers. Scott finally departs for LaGuardia; Steve and Don head to Newark. Of course the whole time we're all calling each other just laughing because whatever can go wrong does. My flight is delayed. We wont be leaving until a little after 7:00 p.m. Steve and Don get to Newark at 6:50 p.m. for their flight at 7:10 p.m., but it's been delayed until 8:40 p.m. due to a landing gear problem. They have to fly another plane in from Atlanta to get them. My plane is leaving. It's a little after 7:00 p.m. and we should be back at Pittsburgh at 8:00 p.m. The guy sitting beside me seems like a nice guy, but his dragon breath is too much. I pass out before we leave the gate. Next thing I know I hear people panicking. I wake up and its 9:20 p.m. I thought I slept through Pittsburgh and they forgot about me. I hear the people say that the pilot made an announcement that they had to fly around and burn off fuel. Well, hell, I watch CNN this is not a good sign. Nobody knows what happened but we land in Pittsburgh at 9:20 p.m. I got a few text messages from Scott. His flight has been delayed two hours. He will not be home until 3:00 a.m. West Coast time. And I thought I had it bad.
Sunday 1:00 a.m.
I am finally home and I am exhausted. This was definitely the trip from hell. We have another double this weekend. Please, Lord, do not let it go like this one. hopefully after two years, most of us will be smart enough top say no doubles next year. of course, we all said that after last year.