Saturday at The Swamp
Jenn invades enemy territory and comes out impressed
Posted: Tuesday October 3, 2006 9:39AM; Updated: Wednesday October 4, 2006 11:56AM
"Good morning, Ms. Sterger. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, involves infiltrating enemy territory approximately 150 miles South of Tallahassee, Fla., in an area often referred to as 'the Swamp.' There, Urban Meyer and his fifth-ranked, undefeated band of Gators are plotting an all-out attack on your Seminoles on Nov. 25, 2006. You have 24 hours to blend seamlessly into this foreign environment of orange-and-blue and obtain as much inside knowledge regarding the team and its strategies as possible so your Seminoles have a fighting chance come Judgment Day. As always, should any member of your Cowgirls be caught or killed, the SI staff will disavow all knowledge of actions. This message will self-destruct in five seconds."
Gainesville. Why did it have to be Gainesville? Just getting off at that exit for gas is enough to make me cringe. Let's just say I was less than thrilled when I received my weekly assignment to cover a college football game in one of the most intimidating college stadiums to date: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (a.k.a. the Swamp).
By size alone the Swamp doesn't look like much, but on game days thousands of Gator loyals give life to the stadium, making it a living, breathing monster. As I walked into the open breezeways -- without a stitch of garnet or gold to be seen -- I was met by a sound unlike anything I had ever heard. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what Gator Nation calls "the Chomp," but if you are in the minority that is not baring orange-and-blue, it's called "intimidation." Their fans have it down to a science.
I got there a few minutes into the first quarter, missing the Steve Spurrier lovefest that took place before the game with UF's Ring of Honor ceremony, celebrating 100 years of UF football. I figured that by sneaking in after the crowds, I would avoid being discovered; after all, I was alone, and I was definitely in enemy territory. This lasted all of about two seconds, as I walked through the Florida student section. As whispers of "That's that FSU [insert expletive here]" and dirty looks began, I realized my cover was blown. I would have to relocate.
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