So, as it turned out, the actual Sugar Bowl was a disappointment – no surprises there. I’ve now been present for the worst two losses of the Weis Era – Michigan and LSU this year – as well as the most hard-to-get-over loss of the Weis Era – USC last year. I’m still not over that. They’re 2-3 in the Weis Era with me there, 17-3 without me. Maybe I should go to fewer games…
But, the trip went well.
We drove down New Year’s evening – 15 hours. Didn’t seem that long even though I couldn’t sleep, partly because of anticipation and partly because I knew I needed to sleep (when I know I need sleep, I can’t sleep). By the time we got there it was about 10 in the morning on the 2nd. After my dad listened to some lady talk for about 10 years about what to do in New Orleans at a visitor center, we went to the city and checked in to the hotel, where a cool bellhop kept telling us he hated LSU even though he’d grown up in Louisiana. Dunno why he thought we were ND fans – maybe it was Connor’s Brady Quinn Sugar Bowl jersey, maybe it was my Brady Quinn green jersey, maybe it was my backwards ND hat, and maybe it was Megan wearing “The Shirt”. One of the four, I’m sure.
We chilled for a while, then went out to see what the city had to offer, which in this case meant Jackson Square and Cafe DuMonde’s wonderful beignets (beignets are basically elephant donuts that taste like elephant ears with powdered sugar on them – yes, they’re as good as they sound). We went through a cathedral, then walked down Bourbon Street, which in midafternoon was relatively tame. Eventually, we ended up at the Mississippi River dock, where we stumbled across a Sugar Bowl fanfest (literally, we didn’t know where it was till we got there). So we tried the passing game of hitting the receivers through the little holes. Me and Connor each hit the 1st guy perfect, but couldn’t come close on the last two. My dad whiffed all three. Then we kicked a PAT. We all missed, and I didn’t even get the ball off the ground. Then we went to the FG challenge. If you made a 25-yarder, you could have a chance to kick the field goal at halftime like the guy did on TV. We all missed, with me again failing to get the ball airborne and my dad nearly booting it into the Mississippi River about 40 yards to the right of the right upright.
At 4 was a pep rally for fans which was kind of lame because no one knew what the chants were or what the hand motions to do during particular songs were, plus the speakers (Michael Stonebreaker and Frank Stams from the 1988 championship team, and Tim Brown) made lame jokes. Stams’s was that if your colors are purple and yellow, you can’t be called the Tigers, only the Fairies. Har, har, har. The best part was leading up to the rally, when we followed the ND marching band down Canal Street singing the Victory March. Now THAT’s what a bowl should be like.
We headed out to Bourbon again afterwards, and it got dark pretty quickly, which meant the fun began. Let me tell you from experience that the Bourbon Street life is exactly as weird as you’d pictured it. I didn’t see any nudity (at least live nudity – there are pictures plastered on the outside walls of clubs and such that’ll make you blush), but it was loud, there was jazz playing, and the debauchery was in full force. My dad even let me and Connor have some gumbo – and we both liked it so much that my brother was obsessed with it the rest of the trip. On the way out of that restaurant, I happened to run into Kelsey Doll, who I was in PNN with my junior year and now attends LSU (talk about the height of randomness). My dad was off and walking again, so we only got to exchange good luck wishes before I had to keep walking. Then we went back to the hotel, watched some of the Orange Bowl, and immediately went to sleep. We were exhausted from the ride down.
On the 3rd, we headed over to the island of Algiers, where there’s this place – Mardi Gras World – that has floats and such. My dad and sister wanted to check it out, so we hopped a boat over there and took a tour. It was alright, I guess, with a couple of cool floats and whatnot, including a Reggie Bush one. Then we went back across to the city and Jackson Square for lunch, where we nearly witnessed a full-blown street fight. A drunk redneck (drunk already?) stumbled into a group of jazz musicians playing on the sidewalk and, I guess, insulted them or something, causing one belligerent player to start yelling at him. Once surrounded by about four angry black men armed with trumpets, the guy decided he’d had enough and wandered off, which kept us from bearing witness to a beatdown.
Back on Bourbon Street, Connor started collecting beads (people were throwing them around at this point). One girl tried to get him to say “Go Tigers” in exchange for a particularly nice collection, but Connor refused like I knew he would. Later, a woman (I didn’t actually see this, so I dunno if she was an LSU fan or what) gave Connor a purple bead necklace that had a gold football at the end (who knows why). Connor being Connor, he ripped the gold football off the necklace and simply handed the purple beads back to a now-shocked woman.
Off to the Sugar Bowl Fan Jam outside the Superdome (it was about 5 by now). Booths abound. I happened upon a Taco Bell-sponsored taco-shaped Sugar Bowl hat and put it on for a while. There was a Cingular booth where a guy was asking random trivia questions of the fans – normally, to be fair, he’d stick with SEC questions for the Tiger faithful and Midwestern questions for the Irish fans, with occasional sprinkles of actual LSU or ND questions. I got a very simple question (who was ND’s QB in 1993? – Kevin McDougal) but also some more difficult ones. First to three won, and I won the first one my correctly guessing that Alabama had more bowl losses than any other team in history. I got a pocket radio that I’ll likely never use for my efforts. I lost trying to defend my title when the guy gave 2 points to a little kid who happened to guess that Georgia had won two SEC titles since divisional play began (I knew that answer). Connor got his face painted like a leprechaun’s beard (with his long red hair, no surprise).
Once inside, everything’s pretty much a blur. We couldn’t hear the band very well due to the ads and the PA announcer, and the fact that we were in the 600 levels. Seeing ND come out of their tunnel, even though instead of the Victory March we were treated to a stupid highlight reel of them on the Jumbotron, was amazing. Then, when we came back from down 14-0 early to tie it up at 14, the small little ND alcove of the Superdome (ginormous) had all the momentum and it looked like we might just be waking up the echoes.
Then JaMarcus simply threw it up in the air and watched his receiver go and get it for a big gain en route to a later TD. Why every team that’s played ND in the last two years hasn’t run that play repeatedly is beyond me, because thanks to Ty we have a terrible secondary, just awful. Things got ugly from there and I just stayed quiet the rest of the game.
The trip was great – I’m just annoyed it ended in a clunker.
Last night I had to drive my little brother back to IU before coming back to school and arriving just past midnight. I’m still exhausted and I’m having to go through all sorts of crap to get into classes and such on top of it. Plus I have a terrible Monday schedule with classes at 10, then 2, then 6.