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SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
1/07/2008 06:38:00 PM

Yep ... It's Game Day

Ohio State fans
Ohio State fans have made their presence felt in New Orleans.

NEW ORLEANS -- At long last, the game is here.

What’s felt like the longest, most turbulent season in college football history (to me, at least) will come to a (hopefully) climactic end tonight at the Superdome. While it’s been unusually quiet this week leading up to the BCS National Championship Game, the streets were a sea of giddy scarlet-and-gray and purple-clad fans as I rode the bus from the hotel to the stadium about three hours before kickoff.

It truly was a sight to behold. First of all, my admiration goes to the Ohio State fans, who we all figured would be severely outnumbered here but seemed to me to be nearly as well represented as their LSU counterparts. I’m guessing they’ll still be in the minority once this place fills up, but not as disproportionately as predicted.

• It seemed like about 80 percent of the fans on both sides were wearing replica jerseys. I saw a lot of No. 10s (Troy Smith), No. 33s (James Laurinaitis) and No. 15s (Matt Flynn). I guess they don’t make too many No. 72s (Glenn Dorsey) in normal-people sizes.

• I had kind of an off-putting experience on the ride over here. The bus driver had on LSU’s flagship radio station, which happened to be broadcasting an interview they’d taped with me earlier in the week. No one likes hearing the sound of their own voice -- except maybe Woody Paige.

Sports Illustrated’s seats in the press box are tucked behind the left corner of Ohio State’s end zone, not exactly an ideal viewing angle. Not complaining -- just throwing out an excuse in case our coverage includes a noticeable absence of details from any significant plays in the opposite end zone.

• After attending a rather hopping party at House of Blues being thrown by FOX, some fellow writers and I took an obligatory stroll through Bourbon Street last night and were surprised by the small percentage of LSU fans. I’m guessing many of them drove in from Baton Rouge and other nearby towns this morning.

• Obviously, the big non-Ohio State/LSU news today was June Jones accepting the SMU job. For months, we’d heard Jones and Colt Brennan speak openly about Hawaii’s grossly outdated facilities and operations, and apparently that -- along with about $2 million a year from SMU -- was enough to lure Jones away from the home where he had reached all-out hero status.

Without question, it’s a crippling blow for Hawaii, which not only loses the coach who led it to the the greatest season in program history but is obviously lacking in resources to lure a big-time replacement. Meanwhile, SMU fans have got to be doing cartwheels today. This is the most exciting thing to happen to that program in 20 years, and I’m certain Jones’ offense will help lift the Mustangs out of the basement sooner than later.

The one thing that makes me cringe: The idea that even a low-level Conference USA program is now willing to spend $2 million a year on a coach. The market just continues to spiral out of control as programs across the landscape thirst for BCS glory.

• Well, some of the players have come out to warm up sans jerseys, Boston’s More Than A Feeling is blaring over the p.a. system and sporadic “O-H!” and “Go Tigers!” chants are breaking out among the smattering of fans already in the stadium. Let’s kick this thing off already!
posted by Stewart Mandel | View comments |


Posted: 8:41 PM   by Blogger Jamey
How do you like that Big 10 speed... OSU should be playing USC... SEC = Scrimage.
Posted: 9:46 PM   by Blogger adam
I'm actually quite enjoying that "Big 10 speed". Especially when they fail to use it to catch our wide recievers. Good game, sir!
Posted: 9:53 PM   by Blogger slb
You're surprised by the amount of jersies being worn?

Have you been to Ohio or Louisiana before?

Jean shorts, jersey, and "Midwest Mustache" is the required uniform.

In Lousianna they just have a mullet.
Posted: 10:01 PM   by Blogger colodiver
Game over......... Bottom line it is not the players, it is the coaches. LSU has made the adjustments DURING the game where as OSU (Big Ten) just can not think on their feet. The LSU coaching staff has won this game
Posted: 10:04 PM   by Blogger SECJake
Nice post, Jamey. Are we watching the same game?
Posted: 11:52 PM   by Blogger B_Dubya
Jamey.. did you NOT see the NC game last year when OSU jumped out to a lead early? Why bring yourself to post something like that so early? Don't feel bad though.. I know it's a Southwest moment for you (wanna get away?), but we'll be easy. ;)
Posted: 3:10 AM   by Blogger David
WOO OSU!! We are going to win this one!
Posted: 1:32 AM   by Blogger coot66
You can guess who I'll be rooting for... Good choice, no?

But then again, the other team has such a cool song...
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