It's January 5 in Santa Barbara, and it's raining. I really don't mind, however, because a) we haven't seen much of that here in quite a while, and b) it's reminding me a lot of being in San Antonio last weekend! Yes, as I told you before, my angel of a wife gave me a trip to the Alamo Bowl for my Christmas gift. I'd been very excited for weeks, and then, well, Boykin-gate happened. That put a bit of a damper on things, eh?
Nevertheless, the drive down the coast from Santa Barbara to the Bob Hope Airport in Burbank on January 1st was a beautiful crystal clear day. It reminded me of doing the same thing on January 1st, 2011 en route to Pasadena, so that cheered me up a lot, and I was still excited about going to this game. I just had no idea what to expect. Neither did Las Vegas, I guess, who I heard had the Ducks up by 7 by Friday night.
I landed at SAT and caught a cab to my Marriott hotel downtown. Except there are 12 of them in downtown San Antonio, and this one turned out not to be mine, even though I'd given the cab driver the exact name. Not a good start. And it was raining. Thankfully, the bad start was redeemed by that Marriott's manager driving me to the right one (in his own car), thus saving the day. Was that an omen I'd just ignorantly missed!?!
It was absolutely awesome Walking the River on Friday night and seeing all the Horned Frogs and TCU paraphernalia that had taken over the town. Being the Texas team with four players from San Antonio, we were definitely the home team! A few restaurants were trying to be neutral, but I thought it was pretty funny that most were essentially giving the Ducks the cold (and wet) shoulder. (We'd also bought out a number of them for private gigs it seemed.) The one I'd looked forward to going back to was closed altogether; they didn't want any trouble I guess. The few green and yellow clad fans I saw out and about seemed uncomfortable around all that purple, but nevertheless pretty obnoxiously verbalized what they thought of their chances. We worried they were right, but I spent a fun evening having dinner in a piano pub (one I'd been to before, and the only place I found without a wait), and made some new Frog friends at the table I shared. I also got a hug from a pretty blonde gal when I asked the piano player to play "Stupid Texas Song" by the Austin Lounge Lizards. Apparently, she loves that song too. There were a few Ducks in there at first, but - egged on by the piano player - the Frogs eventually out shouted them right out of the place. Another omen? (Although, I don't recall the piano player ever changing his shirt color.)
I got up Saturday morning a lot more excited than I'd been the past few days. Game day just does that to me, I guess. Although reports are that game attendance was about 50,000 Frogs and 15,000 Ducks, my hotel was about 50/50, and there were a lot of quiet, uneasy, furtive looks going around in the breakfast room. I grabbed my game ticket and camera and headed out. First I wanted to check out the Grand Hyatt where the team was staying. I'd been there a couple of months earlier and I also knew it was probably the closest place to get a latte. I loved all the purple in the lobby there! There was one large Oregon sign the hotel had put up that looked very much like an afterthought. Some oblivious Duck that had booked there had probably quacked! Next I wanted to go see Tom and Tim Gibbons and the T-C-U (Tailgating Command Unit) Frogmobile. Unlike at The Carter two months earlier when I couldn't find them, I'd been able to decipher where they were set up this time. On the way there, right across the street from the lot where the Frogmobile was, I also ran into a guy named Doak and his cool new trailer hitch tailgate contraption. He's working on his web site for it now, so I'll tell you more about that when he's ready. Doak had been a year behind me in school, but at Baylor where he played Football for the Bears. However, he's a pretty cool laidback guy and he'll make a tailgating hitch for any school's fans. He was displaying the TCU one, but had Baylor and Oregon ones in the bed of his truck. I joked that he should display the Oregon one under the tire of the truck. So after chatting with Doak about his cool invention, Boykin-gate, and the upcoming game, I crossed the street to meet in-person the guy I'd interviewed on the phone. I found Tom Gibbons at the grill flipping burgers with a TCU spatula just like the one I have at home. It was nice to finally meet Tom and brother/co-owner Tim in person and get a good closer look at the T-C-U Frogmobile.
The next stop was the pre-game party outside the stadium, where one major goal was to buy an Alamo Bowl TCU cap. I'd been to the Fiesta Bowl, the Rose Bowl, and the Poinsettia Bowl in recent years, and the Fiesta Bowl was the only one where I had not bought a cap. There was no way I was not buying a cap at this game. I found the one gear stand at the pre-game party, and the guy had no caps - he had not gotten his delivery! My first attempt at getting a cap had netted zero results. Once inside the stadium, however, I quickly spotted a table with caps and grabbed a really cool one right away. My second attempt at scoring a cap was thus far more successful. The omens were still manifesting.
No thanks to the signage at that stadium, I eventually found my seat and settled in to watch the Horned Frogs defend Texas against the invading Ducks. I've had my fair share of reasons to be depressed, but not many were worse than the than at the end of the first half. It was a pretty low moment, and the Alamo theme seemed pretty apropos. But I knew that Horned Frogs never quit. I'd seen other comebacks, but this one didn't seem too likely. So after NOT using the restroom and NOT getting anything to eat at halftime, I again settled in for what I thought was the final half of the game. I didn't know then that there would be three halves! Once we'd scored 10 points, I was relieved that could confidently say we hadn't been shut out. But at 17 points, the time when everyone I've talked to says they began to feel it, everything changed. The Frogs all around me were starting to go nuts, and the Ducks just couldn't seem to either stop these invigorated Horn Frogs, nor put together any kind of offense of their own. And then....
It's still kind of hard to believe what we saw, isn't it!?! There are plenty of places to read the details of what happened and the analysis of how it happened right here on Frogs O' War. But in the end, when someone tries to invade your territory, you defend it. You fight to the end - against all odds. This time in San Antonio, it worked out pretty well. So I'll just leave it at this - not the best - but my favorite picture I took that night - after the game - right in front of The Alamo.
GO FROGS!!! NEXT SEASON UP!!!
All photos by Warrior Horned Frog