This Saturday, Stanford football finds itself playing in a most unfamiliar place: Stanford Stadium.
You remember Stanford Stadium, don't you? You remember how to get there, don't you? You remember what the place looks like, don't you? If not, that's okay…it's been six weeks since we all convened at El Camino and Galvez to watch a football game, but it seems like years.
Even if you were there for Stanford's last home game, you won't be the only one getting reacquainted with the old place. It's homecoming weekend, so that means alums from around the world will be converging on The Farm to reunite with friends and to watch the Cardinal take the field.
It's also the first home game with fall quarter in session, so that means the students will be in full force again. This is especially true for the freshmen, who will finally get to check out a Stanford football game live and in living color.
Since it seems like everyone will be checking out the place either for the very first time or for the first time in a long time, it seems like a good time to put out a guest's guide to Stanford Stadium…
BEFORE THE GAME
It's not a full Stanford Stadium experience without a visit to the Eucalyptus Curtain and the Pac-10's best tailgating environment. This is where most folks begin their football day on The Farm. Drive on in (watch out for the squirrel holes!). Crack open a couple of cold ones. Fire up the grill. Toss the ol' pigskin around. Hang with old friends. Make new friends. Talk smack with the opposing fans. Sneak a peek at the game that's on the TV at the neighboring tailgate.
In short, do whatever you feel… there's usually plenty of room!
By the way, for your next tailgate, bring bacon. It makes all the difference in the world. Trust me on this one.
You'll find some of the more hardcore folks in the El Camino Grove, the lot that is sandwiched by the stadium on one side and El Camino on the other. You can tell it's a hardcore lot because RVs are prominently parked there. And RVs plus college football always equals good times. Also, students and young alums tend to tailgate around gate 12. Add it all up and the El Camino Grove is a pretty happening place to hang out before the game.
Not down with parking in dirt in September? Don't want to wade through the mud in November? If paved parking is more your style, try to finagle a pass to Lot 1. This parking area sits between the stadium and Sunken Diamond and puts you pretty much at the center of everything. The stadium? Right there. Chuck Taylor Grove? Steps away. The Fan Fest at Pac-10 Plaza? Right under your nose. The Walk? It passes right in front of you. Lot 6 by The Track House puts you pretty close to much of the action as well.
By the way, crossing Galvez Street takes you from the beer crowd to wine-and-cheese land. If there's a place to see and be seen in the Stanford tailgating world, it's called Chuck Taylor Grove, nestled between the track and the aquatics center. Many Stanford (and Bootleg!) bigwigs have their pregame picnics here. Try to horn in on one… you never know who you might meet!
AT THE GAME
Stanford Stadium has a lot of history. That's a nice way of saying it's old.
Mike Price always said it was a great stadium to coach in, since his players didn't have to worry about hearing audibles. That's a nice way of saying there isn't much of a homefield advantage on The Farm.
The place has its faults, but that's what gives the building its character. That's a nice way of saying it's kind of a dump.
But no matter what, Stanford Stadium is our fall residence. Here are a few do's and don'ts for making your three-hour stay at Stanford Stadium more enjoyable:
Do not stare directly into the bleachers. On hot, sunny days, the reflection could be bright enough to damage eyesight. Wear sunglasses.
Do not work out on your StairMaster before coming to the stadium. There's no need. You'll get all the exercise you want climbing up the 878 steps to the concourse. It's no coincidence that when an athletic apparel company filmed a commercial at Stanford Stadium, it was of an athlete running stairs.
When you get to your seat, do admire the new scoreboard hovering above the north end zone. It's the most important addition to the place since the press box elevator was installed for the 1997 season. You know what, though? In some sick, twisted kind of way, I miss the old videoboard for its, um, rather abstract presentation of football. It was like watching a game through the concussion-clouded eyes of Troy Aikman.
If you get a chance to watch the game from the palatial press box, do stop by the home radio booth and say hi to Ted Robinson, Murph, and me.
While you're there, do go down the hall, poke your head into the KZSU booth and thank them for undoing every good thing KZSU Sports had done for the Stanford community over the past ten years.
And above all, do make some noise and cheer for the Card. No explanation necessary here.
Perhaps the only people that might need no introduction to Stanford Stadium are this week's opponents. The Washington State Cougars will be playing in Palo Alto for the third straight season (Stanford returns the favor in the future, heading to the Palouse three of the next four seasons). Unfortunately, the Cougs made themselves quite comfortable in their previous two visits. Hopefully Stanford won't be quite as hospitable this time around.
RANDOM PAC-10 THOUGHTS
As I walked out of the L.A. Coliseum and into the South Central night, I had but two thoughts: "Let's get the (bleep) out of here" and "It could be worse…we could be the Washington Huskies right now…"
In doing my usual lurking on the BootBoard, the thread that centered on last week's loss "with dignity" especially intrigued me. I do think the young men handled themselves quite well in the aftermath of the U$C game. Actually, I think they handled themselves a bit too well. Maybe things were different behind closed doors, but during the postgame interviews I heard, no one seemed particularly upset with the way things went on the field. Not that I want guys to act like Rich Gannon and Terrell Owens or anything, but I would rather have heard anything but the incessant "Well, U$C is a really good team" talk that dominated the postgame interviews. Losing with dignity is one thing, but there's something to be said for losing with passion too…
After reading the quotes of U$C players accusing Stanford of playing dirty on Tuesday morning, I could not stop laughing for hours. Like the Trojans have never cheated on or off the field in their history. Pot, meet kettle…
U$C accusing any program of dirty tactics is like Don Imus calling Rush Limbaugh a drug addict…
Shhhh… don't look now, but here comes Clarence Farmer…
Not a Pac-10 thought, but… only one team in Big XII country can hang with the Oklahoma Sooners: the Kansas City Chiefs…
Runner up for Quote of the Week, courtesy of former Stanford assistant coach and current Nevada assistant coach Denny Schuler, raves about his current boss Chris Tormey: "[He is] flat out... the best I've ever been around. He does everything right… He has that tremendous attention to detail but he also listens to his assistants. Tyrone Willingham never asked my opinion in three years."
Quote of the Week, courtesy of Ted Leland, who was Murph's halftime guest on last Saturday's radio broadcast: "It's like watching the junior high team go up against the varsity squad."
Can't argue with him. The more physical and more experienced team won on Saturday night. It really is that simple…
Washington State @ Stanford. There might not be that much of a dropoff from U$C to Washington State. Between Matt Kegel, Devard Darling, and Sammy Moore, the Cougs have no shortage of weapons on offense. Their defense is as quick as U$C's. Stanford's secondary had better be ready, and their offensive line, now without Brian Head, had better be ready as well. I like Washington State by 12.
cal @ UCLA. The rugged Bruin defense took one on the chin, allowing 519 yards to Arizona, of all teams. Can they rebound against a team that actually has a head coach? I suspect so, only because I have questions about cal's offense. I like UCLA by 10.
Washington @ Oregon State. Maybe the last thing the Huskies need to see is a Beaver team that's coming off a bye week and finding its groove. If Cody Pickett and Reggie Williams couldn't connect against Nevada, of all teams, how are they going to connect against the Beavers? Unless the UW rushing attack and offensive line turn in career performances, the Beavers defense might make this a romp. I like Oregon State by 14.
Last week (straight up): 3-0, (ATS): 1-2.
This year (straight up): 9-3, (ATS): 7-5.
Got a thought on this column or on Stanford sports? E-mail me at email@example.com! The ones I like best will end up in next week's E-Mailbag…
Troy Clardy is a reporter for the Stanford Cardinal Farm Report, which airs Saturday mornings at 8:30 on Fox Sports Bay Area.
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