In 2011, I took a trip down to Florida to complete my journey of watching Alabama play in all 12 SEC stadiums. This was a satisfying accomplishment until the SEC expanded the next year leaving me 2 stadiums short again. Last year I hit number 13 at Missouri thanks to the scheduling luck of having an away game against the new SEC East team. That left me with one to go ... Kyle Field, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX.
One year after a loss to the eventual Heisman Trophy winner, some viewed this as a revenge game even though Alabama won the National Championship a few months after that loss. I never saw it as much of a revenge game as I saw it as a redemption game.
Being 12 1/2 hours away from College Station, I would have normally taken a flight out of Memphis or Nashville and flown into Houston and driven the rest of the way. Unfortunately after picking up a game ticket at $500, it wasn't feasible to pay another $400 for a flight and a little more for a rental car. So road trip it was going to be. I left on the Thursday before the game and stopped off at the main office (work) in Memphis on the way. Met a few new employees and then headed off to Little Rock for the night. On Friday morning I continued my trip and drove into Texas. The first thing I noticed was the 75mph speed limit on the interstate. That was something new. Through most of Tennessee and Arkansas I had to drive a paltry 70mph. To my total shock after turning off the interstate onto a two lane highway the speed limit was 70mph for most of the drive into Marquez, TX where I was staying the night before the game. Again, I am used to a slow 55 mph on roads of these types.
6:00am - Wake up, shower, hit the road for the final 1 1/4 hour drive.
8:00am - Park at the parking garage across from Kyle Field, read the local paper.
9:00am - Walk over to the ESPN GameDay Set and watch the pageantry for the first time. Obviously GameDay has been at many other Alabama games over the past several years but I've never bothered to check it out before.
9:15am - Got my first "Howdy" of the day from a cowboy hat wearing Aggie. He asked how I was enjoying College Station so far. Good Fans 1 - Trash Talking Fans 0
9:30am - Started walking around the stadium and walking by many tailgating areas. Another "Howdy". GF 2 - TTF 0
9:45am - Reached the corner of Houston St. and George Bush Dr. and received a hearty "Roll Fags" from 1 of 3 walking toward me. It comes as no shock that such words were spoken from a single person that was accompanied by two others. Most people don't get that brave if they are by themselves. GF 2 - TTF 1
10:15am - After a long walk and a few other yells out of truck windows, I made it to the George Bush Library. I spent a couple of hours touring and cooling off.
12:15pm - Back to the car to cool off again and change out of my sweaty shirt after walking back toward the stadium.
12:30pm - Met a really nice Aggie fan in the parking garage stairwell and walked with him and his family to the stadium. Was really impressed by the tunnel that ran under Wellborn Rd. to get to the stadium. It's obvious that lots of money has been spent around the campus. From the parking structures to the buildings surrounding Kyle Field, it looked first class. GF 3 - TTF 1
12:45pm - Entered the stadium and made my way up to Section 316 Row 32 Seat 16 ... One row from the top and the last seat on the row up against the concrete side of the stadium. Temperature was a crisp 95+. Enjoyed a tasty stadium hot dog and lukewarm bottle of water while watching the other fans stroll in.
2:00pm - Had a few Aggie fans sit behind me and begin over-hyping how much they were going to "Beat Bama". It was definitely directed at me since I was the only Alabama fan in sight so I just put my right earbud in to match my left earbud and continued to listen to the pregame show on the radio. This totally blocked out any trash talking from around me so I hope the guys behind me kept up their ranting because I didn't hear a thing from them. GF 3 - TTF 2
2:45pm - Bad start from the good guys ... UA 0 - TAMU 14
3:00pm - Things are looking a bit better now ... UA 14 - TAMU 14
4:00pm - Everyone is very quiet ... UA 28 - TAMU 14
4:30pm - Tip Ball ... UA 35 - TAMU 14
5:45pm- Just one more yard and this game is over ... and a fumble ... UA 42 - 28
5:46pm- Saw that coming ... It's a game again ... UA 42 - TAMU 35
6:00pm- Breathing again ... UA 49 - TAMU 35
6:14pm - Time for an Onsides Kick ... UA 49 - TAMU 42
6:15pm - I hope they don't kick it to the left side because our players are looking right into the sun.
6:17pm - Wow that was fun. Now get out without someone killing you.
6:45pm- I've never been on a spiral ramp for this long after a game. Come on people ... Left, Right, Left, Right.
7:00pm- At the car, down the ramp, out of the parking garage and heading down the road. That was quick.
9:30pm- Back safe in Palestine, TX.
Long 10 1/2 hour drive in the morning so I missed the end of the Wisconsin/Arizona State game.
I enjoyed my time in College Station. I enjoyed the game. For the most part everyone was nice and helpful. If anyone has an extra "12th Man BTHO Bama" towel, I would like to buy it for a souvenir of my first trip to Kyle Field and my 14th SEC stadium.
My 72nd consecutive Alabama game is next versus Colorado State. It will be at least 20 degrees cooler for this game. I hope we are not down by 14 early.