4:00 a.m. - My road trip to
4:30 a.m. – It's getting close to that time to leave and the morning paper still hasn't arrived yet, and I'm not happy about drinking my coffee without it at all. I can read it online, but there's something about actually reading the physical paper in the morning that I have always liked. Then the phone rings and its USFNation.com photographer Kyle Jeffries who knows me to well making sure I'm up and on schedule.
4:45 a.m. – Loading everything in the car, but before I can leave realized I had run back inside to get my charger that was still plugged into the wall and a few other things. Some things never change.
4:55 a.m.- Finally I'm leaving my very humble abode on
5:40 a.m. – Made it to the terminal 10 minutes later then I was supposed to but 5 minutes before the 5:45 cut-off that would have left me looking for a later flight and most likely out of luck. After some ribbing by Kyle for being late we headed over to the gate to catch our 6:30 flight. While walking to the gate I was amazed with how many people I saw at the airport wearing USF apparel. On our flight there had to be a dozen USF fans if not more. The fact that people wee traveling to
6:30 a.m. – The plane just took off the ground and we're in the air, next stop
8:30 a.m. – Good news, the pilot just announced will be landing 15 minutes earlier then expected.
8:45 a.m. – The new about an early was premature as the pilot just announced that there is some fog an air traffic and we'll be in a holding pattern for a bit.
9:00 a.m. – Just had a scary air moment. We went in for a landing and then at the last moment the pilot pulled up and aborted the landing due to fog.
9:15 a.m. – Had an even scarier air experience. As we went in for our second landing attempt and got within 50 feet or yards, it was hard to tell, the pilot realized we weren't aligned with the runway and aborted again. But this time we climbed very steeply and so hard you could feel the G-force. I actually gripped my armrests and for a moment was nervous.
9:30 a.m. – After circling for over 45 minutes and two aborted landings the pilot just announced that we have to redirect to
11:00 a.m. – following a 45 minute pit stop in
11:45 a.m. – Finally, we landed in
1:00 p.m. – We saw there was a place called Levittown PA, so we decided to check it out. Found some road signs to Levittown, but made some wrong turns, couldn't find it and then decide to continue on to
2:00 p.m. - A car next to us starts waving so I rolled down the window and the guy says "Are you from South Florida?" I say yes and he says, "Jerome Murphy is my boy." FYI, Murphy is from
2:30 p.m. - After driving on Route 1 for a while, I'm realizing how hard it is to get around New Jersey, the only place I know where you can't make a left turn and the Map Quest directions are very suspect and don't seem to help much.
3:00 p.m. – We finally arrive at
First thing I notice is that all the light poles on the roads surrounding the stadium are adorned with nice red
Right next to where we parked, I notice that
Next to the Bubble, were the facilities and parked outside was a red Helicopter with a Big ‘R' affixed to it. I didn't know they had a copter, but found out they got it over the summer from Liberty Helicopters, and have used it to fly to see recruits during games. They also said the "R' was recently added and was unveiled for the USF game.
I was first impressed with the Stadium itself and they way it's dug into the side of a hill, but that changed when I had to walk all the stairs to get to and from the press box. The Pressroom was top notch and held over 120 media personal.
Now down to the field to check out the pre-game activities. There were a lot of faces on the field garnering some attention. Doug Flutie was the first to catch my eye, and ESPN reporter Erin Andrews was noticed by almost everybody as well. There were also a gaggle of NFL scouts in attendance talking to both
Even though there was a sea of Red, the USF section looked to have somewhere between 2,000 to 3,000 in it, including Jen Sterger and Brittany who have become a fixture at USF home games. Considering the sold out stadium only holds around 44,000 it was good to see all the fans that traveled for the Thursday night game.
While walking and filming one of the student sections (it seamed like there were a ton of students at the game) I noticed how close to the field they were and how hostile the crowds were. They were yelling all sorts of obscenities at me. The only suitable to repeat is the one I actually heard often was, "Nice tan, go back to
7:45 p.m. – The teams re-entered the field and after the national anthem and an Army helicopter fly over, they kicked off to start the game at 8:00 o'clock. I'm not going to go into the game summary that is already being rehashed enough on the message boards. Lets just say it was a hard fought game, the Bulls had there chances to win the game and the Ref's didn't seem to favor our South Florida Bulls very much.
11:37 p.m. – The game ended with Rutgers on top 30-27 and the throngs of fans storming the fields which made it very hard for me to get off the field, all the way up to the press box, and then all the way back down to the field to the other side of the stadium and up the long steep ramp to the post game press conference held in the men's lacrosse locker room. The post game was a short one by Coach Leavitt:
On the reversed call on the touchdown:
"We blocked a field goal and picked it up and I thought we scored. Somehow the replay showed we did not score. That would have been a big part of our defense also. I was not in the replay booth and I was certainly disappointed by that but they have to go what they think is right. That was big, a turn of events of 10 points."
On the defense:
"I thought our defense played hard and I think you have to, come on and give
On the offense
"We did not protect very good. We have to get the ball off and Matt probably held onto the ball too much instead of getting rid of the ball. They were getting thru there. We all saw the same thing. You have to be a little disappointed, possibly with the offensive line. There are a number of factors there."
On the feeling in the locker room:
"They are not jumping up and down and excited (in the locker room). They are down. They battled their tail off and worked hard. I am proud of them and they are disappointed certainly."
On the Big East Conference:
"It's a tremendous conference, BIG EAST football. You better be locked in every game because I imagine they are all going to be like this every game. Boy, if people out there saw this game, they would think it was an unbelievable game, unbelievable plays, the highs and lows. For a fan watching it, it was unbelievable. For a coach watching it, it was a little bit of a strain."
1:00 a.m. – We leave
3:30 a.m. – Arrive at the Philly airport way to late to get a room, especially when he had to be at the terminal at 6:30. I didn't know this, but you can't even enter the main concourse until security opens at 4:00, so we had to wait in a small area akin to a bus stop. Once we were allowed through, I realized how much I missed
7:30 a.m. – Flight leaves and we begin the final leg home. I tried to get some shut eye, but two crying kids in the row ahead of me made it almost impossible. Finally and without incident we land in
12:00 noon – After a long 34 hours with minimal if any sleep, I do some work on the computer and then crashed for what seemed like an eternity. The road to Rutgers was long and tiring, and even though the Bulls loss made it bittersweet, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. However, next time I may do it a bit differently.
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