Saturday, December 05, 2015

The Press Box

8:59 AM:    This is happening.  I’m setup in the pressbox at McLane Staduim.  I’m not going to lie to you.  I was scared shitless today.  I have no idea what I’m doing and frankly don’t belong here.  I found the media parking lot this morning and sat in my car for a while texting Ashely for a confidence booster.  After following a bunch of people from the media parking lot to the stadium, I found my way to the press box and, completely intimidated, hightailed it to the ladies room so I could look like  I had a purpose. I ventured out of the bathroom and noticed a seating chart….this was helpful.  I wandered to the rows of pressbox seating and found my designated seat.  

“Holy Shit, this is happening!” is literally the only way to describe seeing Adventures of a Football Girl’s designated seat in a real, live, press box.  I’ve gotten set up and feel much more comfortable now. 

9:10 AM:  I smell food.

9:11 AM: Uh oh, an actual media person that legitimately belongs here has taken the seat next to me.  I don’t know what TWC Sports is….but they seem legit.

9:12 AM:  I busy myself looking at the stat sheet provided to me by Baylor.

9:13 AM:  Did I mention that this stadium is beautiful?  The band is playing Dr. Who just outside the gates with the sun shining off the river in the distance.  Not too shabby bears.  Still, it feels so small after being in the monster that is DKR.  Or maybe objects are smaller than they appear through these pressbox windows.  

9:26 AM:  Okay, I think I’m set up for a running diary of sorts, going between word, where I can timestamp and posting to AOFBG.  A little more difficult than I thought it would be with only one screen and without looking like a total spaz. 

9:26 AM:  I heard they have all the kinds of Dr. Pepper here.  I’m going to try to find that room.  And talk to other people so they don’t think I’m a total freakshow. 

9:27 AM:  Side note, some other out of place looking person is also taking pictures.  SO there’s that.  He probably knows how to tweet.  I bet he’s tweeting.  I should figure out tweeting. 

9:29 AM: They’ve starting playing champagne rap really loud in here.  It’s surreal.  I’m bobbing to the rhythm “welcome to our house, you’re in my house”.  I am now a mysterious press personality in a furry vest.

9:35 AM:  I walked around for about three minutes.  There are approximately 3 other women here, one of which works here.  Everyone seems to know each other so I scuttled back up to my seat. 

9:39 AM:  The line for food is getting significantly shorter.  

9:43 AM:  I can look busy for 2 hours and 17 minutes….

10:14 AM:  I’ve returned to my perch from the dining area.  Literally everybody knows each other in media, I guess.  The Longhorns are out warming up on the field.  They do not look like they’re having a very good time. 

10:15 AM:  Looks like they open up the windows here in the press box, so we’ve got a nice fall breeze coming in through the booth.  Smells like football up in here.

10:16 AM:  I met a nice guy while eating tiny sausage biscuits.  He, who I will call “Not Quite Medium-Rare” Or NQMR from this point out, had the unfortunate experience of biting into a complimentary burger and finding it to be terribly under cooked.  Because NQMR works for ESPN, I, fortunately will not have to witness what happens when the food poisoning sets in. 

10:18 AM: Two points of note about that following entry.  1) The sausage biscuits are about the size of a clementine orange and wrapped in “Baylor Athletics” themed paper.  In case you forget where you are.  2) NQMR has my dream job.  He does sport related statistics and research for a living FOR THE LONGHORNS.  I’m so incredibly jealous.  I love statistics and research.  And football.  And Texas. I've heard they can do face transplants now.  I'm sure no one would notice if I replaced him.

10:22 AM: The Baylor helmets are so shiny.  I am now blind. 

10:30 AM: The feedback (or echo, I guess) from the field announcer into the booth is incredible.  I feel like a cartoon where the character is drunk and God is talking to him and it’s all echo-ey.

10:31 AM:  I’d like to point out that until I walked out of the elevator here at McLane Stadium, I honestly expected my press pass to be revoked on several occasions.  Certainly they vet the people they let in?  I mean…I’ve written a lot of less than flattering pieces about Baylor and Coach Briles in particular.  

10:33 AM:  27 minutes.  Looks like we’ve got a pregame show about to start.  The Longhorns are running off the field to a visiting section comprised of, I would guess, almost exclusively players parents and the band.  Lots of orange up here in the box, though. 

10:36 AM:  Just got directions to the visiting team postgame interviews, which will require me walking across the field, which I find very exciting.  I feel this will be quite a haul, to make it in 10 minutes.  We will see. 

10:38 AM:  Texas Fight.  It’s hard not to reflexively react to that.

10:39 AM:  Wait? Is the Baylor Alma Matter “In The Good Old Summertime”?  Asking for a friend.

10:44 AM:  Dear Baylor Band, Please do not take liberties with the National Anthem.  Love, Beth 

10:46 AM:  “…and McLane Stadium said ‘Amen.’”  I did not know pre-game prayer was a thing.

10:47 AM:  More “In the Good Old Summertime.”

10:50 AM:  I spy pyrotechnics.

11:02 AM:  Hmmm….did not know Bob Stoops was at this game.

11:03 AM:  I think our sad, sad season has mentally prepared me for watching a football game in a completely outwardly emotionless state. 

11:06 AM:  Did we really just get the ball back on downs??

11:07 AM:  Chris Warren.  Hello. 

11:08 AM:  Scratch that outwardly emotionless crap.  I just whisper yelled “Oh My God” when we broke the plane for a touchdown.  

11:13 AM:  Okay, I’ve got my professional face back on.  I’d like to note that after every play a female voice announces the statistics in the press box.  Like a robot voice.  Siri is here. 

11:15 AM: PUNT FORMATION.  Careful Horns, it might be a trap.

11:16 AM: Alright.  Let’s try for another. 

11:18 AM:  Please don’t misunderstand what I’m about to say as complaining, because it IS NOT.  But I’m surprised the layout of this pressbox isn’t more accommodating for a lap top, for being as new as it is.  The tables/counters are pretty high, like my elbows are up pretty high just to type and you can’t see over a standard laptop to the field.    So I am really fidgety.  There is a TV like, literally right up in front of me.  Maybe I’m supposed to be watching that.  But it’s about 20 seconds delayed.  L

11:21 AM:  First Down!  What game am I watching????  Long pass to Johnson came up short.  BUT I WANTED IT.

11:22 AM:  DAJE!  I’m so happy you learned how to read!!!!

11:23 AM:  Chris Warren is looking a lot like Ricky.  Let’s talk Yards after contact.  Seriously.  I need NQMR to look up the stat.

11:24 AM: SWOOOOOOOOOOPES.  Nice shifty moves back there buddy.  You’ve got a good sized orange crowd SWOOOOOOPING for you.

11:25 AM: OMG I’m so glad that Baylor guy dropped that Ish.

11:25 AM:  I think the older man next to me in the booth thinks people are BOOOOOOIng Swoopes.  He keeps saying “that’s not right.”  Either that or he doesn’t think it’s right that Baylor only has  64 yards halfway through the quarter and is down 10-0 in the first quarter. 

11:32 AM:  What’s that flag?  Oh, holding??  No first down for you!!!

11:34 AM:  The bass from their “timeout music” is rocking this press box like an earthquake. 

11:35 AM: Holy 4th down, Baylor.  Pull it together. 

11:36 AM:  TRAVELLING!!!!

11:36 AM:  Okay, we’ve got the ball back.  I like that we’re not taking FOREVER to snap the ball, but – Wait, why is Heard in?  Are we trying to kill him?  

11:39 AM:  Our first non-scoring drive.  Why did we take out Swoopes?  I'm legitimately asking.  


11:41 AM: Possible turnover and that was a big hit.  Looked clean.  SHUT UP TEXAS FANS, THEY’VE GOT A MAN DOWN.

11:42 AM:  Turnover.  Under review.  The Baylor kid got up, he’s alive, that’s a plus. 

11:42 AM:  What quarterback am I about to see?  I hope it starts with a SW and ends with an OOOPES.

11:44 AM:  Baylor fans are absolutely losing their SHIT over the unsportsmanlike conduct call and it’s highly amusing.



11:45 AM: Back to my point about the Baylor fans, we can hear them very clearly though the window, and they do not have good Baptist mouths.  A cop just went and leaned out the window and looked at them.  

11:46 AM:  If you’re just joining me, the score is 17-0 Texas.  That’s not a typo.  Texas has 137 yards total offense as compared to Baylor’s 79.

11:48 AM: Baylor fans are Boooing the hell out of these refs.  How quickly they turn on their biggest fans.

11:52 AM:  WE GOT THE BALL!!!

11:49 AM: OMG.  I’ve never, never seen anything like this bench clearing brawl.  WHAT IS HAPPENING???

11:50 AM: While watching this melee, I said out loud “This is awesome” and the two real media people next to me just turned and looked at me then started laughing.  At this point about seven Baylor employees started running full sprint across the box to the elevator, and when I turned to watch them I realized there’s a full on COP standing literally right behind me.  He’s probably reading this as I type.  Like 24 inches from me, directly behind me. 

11:54 AM:  Okay, new quarter.  

11:59 AM:  I had to pee.  But it sounds like we had to punt.  Which is what we have been doing with Heard at the wheel.  We need more wheels.  Like 18 of them.  Like Swoopes.  Get it?

12:00 PM:  Why by the way is this bathroom so huge?

12:01 PM:  Traveling, Baylor.  2nd down.

12:01 PM:  Hi Policeman!!  I’m guessing you’re reading this?

12:03 PM:  That’s right, Baylor.  Punt it.

12:03 PM:  Delay of game.  Baylor is a mess today.

12:04 PM:  That was the scariest punt recovery I’ve ever seen. 

12:05 PM:  Okay, look, I’m going to get real with you.  Live blogging is hard.  You’ve gotta do all this time-stamping and try to keep up with the game while being all witty and stuff.  Plus my arms hurt from this high as hell countertop.  It’s a lot to keep up with.  Much respect to the running diary writers of the world.

12:06 PM:  Swoopes  is back.  No gain Warren.  Everyone keeps expectantly watching the sidelines as if we’re going to have a brawl any moment.  

12:08 PM:  Looks like we’re going to punt.  Score is still 17-0 Texas, with 11:00 minutes left in the 2nd quarter.  Baylor has two turnovers (one fumble, on Interception), and is squaring up with Texas on total offense, Texas 143 – Baylor 124, though the score has not quite synced up. 

12:11 PM:  One stat of note, penalty wise:  Texas 1-15 (the unsportsmanlike Texas earned even though the entire Baylor bench looked ready to rumble) and Baylor is 7-50.  Guess they don’t get the “one true champion penalty discount” anymore.

12:14 PM:  INTERCEPTION!!!!!! 

12:14 PM: Flags and fighting.   Oh geeesh.  What’s it going to be.  Helmets are off.

12:15 PM: Holding on the return team.  I’ll take it.  

12:15 PM: So, let’s make that 3 turnovers.

12:16 PM:  Short pass, nowhere to go.  3rd and three.  Come on, guys.

12:17 PM: Swoopes throws short again, kicking  team is out on the field.   The Baylor PA is cranking out some KRUNK music right now.  Come on Highland Park, it’s senior day.  Short.  But Rose made the tackle.  Somewhat satisfying. 

12:20 PM:  This game is getting pretty touchy.  Last I heard, Baylor didn’t give a crap about Texas because we were so terrible.  Not sure why they’re getting so rilled up now.  I guess it’s tough to be losing to the team who beat (one of the) teams that stole your playoff dreams.

12:25 PM:  Almost interception.

12:25 PM:  I have no idea what is going through the mind of either of these teams or their coaches.  I know that a two and a half quarters is a lot of football to play, but it has to be exciting for those longhorn storm troopers out there to be putting up these kinds of numbers on a team that they had only a 7.5% chance of beating (according to a stat I read just prior to kickoff).  It makes me think of how we felt going into the OU game.  Optimistic and underdogs.

12:27 PM: Attempted Baylor field goal.  No good.

12:28 PM:  Big gain by Chris Warren.  Siri just announced it was 26 yards.  

12:29 PM: Chris Warren just pushed through about 6 guys for a gain of 8 and a first down.  I hate to say it again, but he looked like Ricky dragging those defenders along with him.

12:30 PM:  I’m so distracted by these shiny as hell helmets

12:31 PM:  Well, that drive was as good as dead.  Thanks for the extra down, Baylor.

12:32 PM:  Except that we did nothing with it.  Time to kick. 

12:33 PM: Holy crap, field goal.  

12:39 PM:  Ok.  35 seconds.  Can we keep this streak alive.  It would be nice to go into the tunnel with a half-time shutout.

12:41 PM:  May I ask what Coach Strong is wearing?  He seems awfully causal today. 

12:42 PM: Block that kick! Block that kick! Block that kick! Block that kick! Block that kick!

12:43 PM:  We did.

12:44 PM:  Victory formation.  Or is it….hahahhaha you got us Coach Kingsbury.

12:45 PM: Oooooooh.  Cookies. 

12:54 PM:  We’re into halftime.  Texas band just played a strange tribute to Back to the Future.  Why they didn’t do this during the K-Sstate game, you know….at home… October…….I do not know. 

12:59 PM:  I also don’t know what Texas does after this.  Do they go back out and just eat as much clock as they possibly can and play defense like their lives depend on it?   Just keep it protected and muscle it out?  Or do they have enough momentum to make it really gaudy??  I kind of don’t even want to think about it. 

1:03 PM:  The Baylor media team just passed out 1st half play by play and stats.  I wonder if a robot, much like their Siri color commentator is on staff.  That’s pretty efficient.   Or maybe they just yoink it off of and drop it into their letterhead.  This seems more likely than them being self-aware.

1:03 PM:  I don't want to retype any of this, so here's what we're looking at:

1:04 PM: In the cookie line I asked NQMR to look into some Ricky Williams/Chris Warren yards after contact statistics for me in their freshman years.  NQMR was kind of like….yeah, if I have some downtime, you freak.  I’m just saying, if they put that stat up on ESPN, it’s totally because I planted that seed.

1:07 PM:  Three and out.  That’s a bit of a letdown after halftime.  I want to take more time off the clock and …. Now I’m totally distracted.  They’re doing this bit on the Jumbo Tron where they ask Baylor athletes to identify songs.  One after another, they fail to recognize “Good Vibrations” and keep calling it “old school”.  Which makes me sad, because we’re not talking about the Beach Boys.  We’re talking about Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch.  I guess I’m old.

1:13 PM:  Baylor came out to play.  In possibly their longest drive of the day, they’ve strung together several first downs and are in the red zone.  Though, they’re 0-2 in the red zone today, so maybe we’ll be ok.  

1:14 PM:  Baylor breaks through for a touchdown and the Baylor fans go wild.  Like they’ve just won the SuperBowl.   I know how they feel, but I will still mock them.  It’s 20-7, Texas. 

1:17 PM:  Fans are doing some Baylor version of “Texas! Fight!” and totally screaming over the presentation of the senior spirit squad members.    

1:18 PM:  More “In the Good Old Summertime.”

1:20 PM:  I’m unfit for the pressbox.  While yes, I am toned down like 108% of my normal game watching personal, I have not been able to control spastic arm movements when something exciting is happening on the field.

1:22 PM:  Like just now when Swoopes broke out for a gain of six on third down.

1:22 PM:  But back to what I was saying.  I think I’m going to have a fake conversation so the people next to me can somehow how overhear me talking about my crippling affliction, Turrets. Then, it’s not that I’m unprofessional.  

1:25 PM:  Baylor’s “Jumbotron Singalong” is to “Bad Blood” by Taylor Swift, which I think is a really odd choice.  I mean, what?  Point of note.  As the camera pans the stands, we see hundreds of “Horns Down”.  

1:28 PM:  Now Texas is doing what Texas does during the third quarter.  Which is a big stack of nothing.  Baylor appears to be putting together another good drive.  I wish NQMR was here to talk to me about Texas’ third quarter stats.  I know they’re not good and I don’t have the resources right here to do the research.  I just want a big stop here at 3rd and 2.

1:32 PM:  Seriously.  Helmets.  So Shiny. 

1:37 PM:  Yup, this is happening.  Flags everywhere.  3rd and 3 on the 14. Offsides,  First down.  Just give it to them, Longhorns. 

1:38 PM:  Big stop in the redzone.  2nd and 9 on the 9.

1:39 PM:  And another.  I thought Hawthorne was a gonner.

1:39 PM: And another.

1:40 PM:  Baylor Field Goal 20-10, Texas.  The good news is, the 3rd quarter is almost over.  So we can get back to playing.

1:41 PM:  He’s baaaa-aaaack.  Hi Policeman!!!

1:42 PM: Kickoff return that went well for us.  Daje on the carry putting us at midfield.  52 yards, let’s take this home, Horns.

1:44 PM:  Another note on the stadium design.  The big picture windows in the press box are two panels tall.  The metal dividing the two panels runs, when seated in the 3rd row, as I am, exactly along the line that obstructs the view of A) the banner scoreboard that runs between the upper and lower deck, where scores, time, and stats are displayed, and 2) the lower portion of the scoreboard that displays downs, time, yardage, etc.  It’s such a perfect obstruction that it almost seems by design.  Everyone in my row is constantly gophering up and down to read these stats.

1:48 PM:  We’re going for it on 4th down and it’s close but I think no.  If we can just hold Baylor to a field goal or less on this drive, that would be excellent……or we can just let them get a first down right here.  That’s cool too. 

1:52 PM:  And another one.  I mean, only if they’d like.

1:53 PM:  Ok, that was one of the sketchier touchdowns I’ve ever seen, but whatever.  The score is 20-17, Texas.  We are about to receive the ball and it’s time to make some defense and some scoring happen.  We need to score again.  Like now.

2:02 PM:  By now, I mean right now immediately.  Oh how the turntables have turned.

2:03 PM:  First down.  Let’s just keep doing this for the next 7 minutes. 

2:03 PM:  I’m getting excited about the Coach Strong presser after the game.  I estimate I have 10 minutes to get there, and I’m keeping a pretty close eyeball on John Bianco to see when he’s heading that way. 

2:04 PM:  “In the good old summertiiiiiime.”

2:04 PM:  Chis Warren finds a little hole.  Third Down.

2:04 PM:  So, back to the presser.  A friend of mine asked me if I was going to ask a question as I notoriously do – PASS COMPLETE TO BECK, FIRST DOWN – during Dan Dan conventions.  He asked if I was going to ask Coach Strong about his MURDER TATTOO.  For those of you who don’t know, I’m convinced that Coach Strong has a large tattoo across his upper chest/neck that says “MURDER.”  I want it to be true so badly. 

********Totally leaving now for the presser.  Bianco just jetted out and so is everyone else.********

When I last left you, I was leaving the box to find the Texas interview room, where I was possibly going to ask Coach Strong if he had a tattoo that said "Murder" across his chest.  After climbing down about 8,000 stairs a few of us made our way down to the field (YES!) and ended up on the sidelines for the last few minutes of the game - in fact, just as Poona Ford forced the fumble.  It was exhilarating and frightening.  The whole time, as I huddled as close as I could to a wall to avoid being crushed or worse, caught on TV looking like an idiot.  My Mom's advice "not to get trampled", along with my friend Jeff's premonition that I would tear another ligament, rattled around my brain, and my main goal was to get to the interview room.....intact.

While in the tunnel on the way to the interview room, you could hear bits of player conversation and celebration on the way to the locker room.  My favorite quip: "I-35 Bowl Champions!!"

The Texas interview room was tiny and had some kind of acoustical issue, like a white noise filter that was out of wack, making it pretty tough to hear.  It was actually pretty cool being in there just prior to the interviews, because you could hear faint celebration, coming from the locker room two rooms over. I suspect this is part of the reason for the white noise.

I didn't ask about the murder tattoo.  In fact, I remained mute and just observed.  Quite a feat for me, but I gleaned a lot of information.  For one, Coach Strong answered every question asked.  I don't think Coach is particularly pleased with the season, in fact he flat out said as much.  He shut down controversy regarding the quarterbacks immediately by addressing the dual QB system as planned and a look on his face that said he didn't want to talk about it any further.

When asked about the brawl in the first quarter, Coach Strong commented that the Baylor players had been "chirping at" the Longhorns all day, and that he was glad his team didn't back down.  I reviewed the brawl and didn't note any punches thrown or particularly overt violence, so I think I can get on board with his endorsement.

Coach Strong talked about how important his next recruiting class was and how it's difficult to be too excited about a win after the season we had.  Several times he mentioned how important it is to keep building on this momentum.

He also has mad love for Duke Thomas, who he mentioned several times and could not say enough good things about.  Four (mentions) for you Duke go Duke Thomas.

Tyrone Swoopes came in for a bit and answered questions directly and concisely, in a soft voice barely audible about the white noise of the tiny visitors press room.  A journalist in the front row who doesn't know the difference between defensive player Kevin Vaccaro and quarterback Tyrone Swoopes asked Swoopes if he intentionally stepped on the QB on the sidelines and felt he deserved the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.  To which Swoopes responded "you'll need to ask that #18, it was a different #18, I was on the bench with the headset on."  Oooops.  Swoopes also did refuse to comment to a question on Heard's medical status, which, was a dumb question to begin with.

At that point the room became a little split up interview room which I wanted exit as quickly as possible because it was crowded and a bit chaotic.  That did not stop me from giving Nick Rose a "Highland Park Forever" fist bump.  And by the way, his hair is possibly even more amazing up close.

The experience was awesome for a little blogger like the Football Girl.  I learned so much - though I'm not sure if I'll ever have a chance to practically apply my new knowledge and appear a seasoned journalist.

Until then, Hook Em, Goodbye & Good Luck.

I-35 Bowl Champions Forever!!!
Football Girl

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