Sunday, November 17, 2013

Dave's Thoughts of the Day: November 18th

I have some thoughts to share about my experience going to ESPN's College Gameday on location at USC, but first there was one thing I want to get off my chest.

I picked up Brandon Knight and Brandon Jennings for a fantasy basketball team this year.  These two point guards switched places over the offseason.  Jennings used to play for the Bucks.  Knight was point guard for the Pistons.   So I had them going.  Jennings, who I would call "Golden Boy", was hurt to start the season, but he came back about two weeks ago and had a pretty productive two weeks.

MEANWHILE, Knight does absolutely NOTHING, can't score a basket to save his life and then jacks up his hamstring and hits the shelf.   This was after he was already hurt earlier in the season.  Then I read an article from a few months ago that said "Knight blames Pistons for low production."  You know what?  Brandon Knight, you can get lawst!    I saw both Jennings and Rodney Stuckey produce very well for the Pistons, Stuckey going back a few years, and Jennings over the last two weeks.  The Pistons are not the reason for your low production.  The reason for Brandon Knight's low production is because he @*$%@% sucks!!!  This weekend, I had enough:  I cut Brandon Knight and told him to take a hike!   Last night, I saw Jennings collect 7 assists in the first *half* against the Lakers, including a phenomenal alley oop off the backboard to Andre Drummond.  That's all the evidence I need. 

Thanks for letting me get that out..  on to the good stuff from our blog.

So you want to be on ESPN College Gameday?  The key is to get there early.  It all started at 4am.  I probably didn't have to wake up at 4am on a Saturday morning, but you know?  I didn't want to take any chances.   Gameday was at USC this week, on campus no less as opposed to the Coliseum Site (grody). 

Here's a few tips I learned from reading an article about the show from the Upper Deck Blog, which had a piece about attending "Gameday", and from my own experience:

Parking on campus is not happening before 6am... SC has a reputation of being a bunch of captain "no-funs" in many respects.  Coach used to work there and he tells me they have a stuffy attitude in certain areas.   At any rate, I go over to the Figueroa gate, which is open 24 hours.  What they DON'T tell you is that none of the parking structures on campus will allow parking before 6am unless you're faculty/staff/student.  Now, how lame is that?   I asked if there are any convenient local parking options near there and they weren't aware of one.

So, I was on my own.  4:30 am in the morning and still looking for parking.  Usually I'd park at Culver station and take the train, but there was no way I'd make it without getting hosed out of a good seat completely.  The first train to SC left at 5:08 and arrived at the Campus at 5:28... I really needed to be on-site at McCarthy Quad, where they set up the studio, around 4:45.  So I drove around, checked for meters, even tried to park at the hotel across the street which didn't work, and went back to Figueroa Blvd.  I turned at this one street behind the Shrine Auditorium in order to circle back to Hoover and try Jefferson Blvd for meters.  Then I checked for meters on the "little street" as I went along, and BEHOLD... there was a block worth of unmetered public street parking next to an apartment building, right on that street!  It was barely around the corner and a block away from SC.   I mean, what fantastic luck!   I wouldn't park on this street regularly but early on a Saturday morning, it was worth the risk, so I parked the car.

Next tip... don't even bother with costumes.   I didn't realize the extent to which they screen prospective fans on the show.  They really don't want any shenanigans, and the same applies to the signs people use on TV.  Actually ONE sign slipped through the cracks (a highly inappropriate Jonathan Martin related sign, see Deadspin for details on the elaborate plot they had to use to get it displayed), but normally they get kiboshed.  So I go in, with my Gorilla costume, ready to get to a spot where they can catch me on camera.   However, the producers, and some sponsors run through each of the guys individually, and even give you forms to sign to authorize your likeness on television.  This is required in order to enter one of two "pits" where the majority of fans are caught on camera.  I went for the side-pit behind the auxiliary stage on the right (it has a football field for a floor).   The production crew was unsure of how to assess my gorilla costume.  They asked me "what's the gorilla costume for?" and I said "no reason."  So they did not allow me to go all the way to the front of the side pit, but they did let me take a spot on the Coke Zero grandstand, a small section of bleachers behind the side pit where you can, actually, get a very nice view of the set.  However they told me to stand by to see how they rule on the gorilla suit.

So I'm at the bleachers, but first row, far left side facing the set because it would line me up with the side set.  Little did I know, it would line me up perfectly with the MAIN set too, more on this later.  I was ready to go... some frat guys and coeds were joining me in the section trying to set up this "lumberjack" getup with fake plastic Axes to "cut down Stanford's Tree" so to speak.  Then, just before air time, the producer guy comes up and asks me to step aside... I thought "uh oh, this isn't good news."

Two producers (or maybe sponsors I'm not keeping track), two cops, and the USC Director of Campus Security all have me in front of them and they give me the bad news:  I am not allowed to use my Gorilla Costume on the air.  I couldn't use any part of it, even the robe, and they asked me to take it all off.  They said they'd keep it safe and give it back to me at the end of the show.  Fortunately for them, I had a shirt on underneath so, although very disappointed, I agreed to take it off.   I was so distraught that I considered just leaving the set entirely and going home, but at the end of the conversation, the producers said "we feel bad about this, we're going to give you something at the end of the show, we'll set you up."

Slightly dejected, but understanding, I returned to my spot in the grandstand.   I think one important consideration to make about the grandstand is that they also do NOT allow signs in either this area or the side pit... however, it's a smaller area and actually just as great a frequency of getting on camera as the main pit, and possibly more exposure.  Costumes they don't allow either -- I think the sticking point was the mask... the mask was just not going to fly w/ the crew.  It's possible they want to prevent the scene from turning into a circus a la "Let's Make a Deal."  I think I could have gotten away with using a Dodgers wig, but not a full blown monkey costume.  With all that decided, I went through with the show and looked around.

Well folks, it was a very festive scene.  Gameday is an experience I highly recommend for anyone who loves college football.  The grandstand is a great new addition to the set... you get a seat, first of all, you're elevated such that you can really see everything from every angle, the little path between main pit and side pit both sets, you're right in front of the jumbotron which presents the live feed of the show, it's  tremendous spot.  THEN, it hit me that, once they pointed a camera at Desmond Howard, stage right, it positioned him on a direct line of sight from where I was!   So I looked over to the jumbotron, and it showed I was right over his shoulder!!!  Hahahahahahahahahaha, can you believe that???   So, I took my plastic axe and started to do really silly things with it.  First I did the chopping motion like everyone else in the grandstand did.  Then I bit into it.  Then I was doing the swimming motion with my arms.  Then I was fistpumping.  Then I Kapernicked a few times.  Then I started pointing back and forth.   Towards the end of the show I was doing some bizarre combination of all of these and then broke out into a "robot dance" out of the blue.  Here's how it looked (courtesy of my friend "Tims" from the message boards):

That was fun... I was only able to go to Gameday myself, due to the impossibly early hour on the West Coast, but I still had a great time... I'm glad a lot of my friends were able to see me on TV.  That angle was money.

That left the matter of the "consolation prize."   As the show wrapped up, the producer came over and awarded me two Buffalo Wild Wings gift cards and he thanked me for being so cooperative.  I told him that it was very generous and kind of him to offer these and thanked him for the privilege.  After hanging around campus for a few minutes after the program (you should have seen the whole campus erupt when Lee Corso picked the Trojans to win the game), I walked back to my car and drove home.  THEN, once I got back, I looked up the value on each card.  The cards were worth 50 dollars each for a total of 100 bones!  How great is that??  

A few other comments about the production:  It's a very well done show.   I am happy to report that the people you see on the air, Chris Fowler, Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, and Desmond Howard, are the same upbeat personalities on the air that they are off the air.  During commercial breaks, all of them would have fun chatting with each other, the chemistry is as bold as a marker.  I had no idea that random fans from other schools also would go to Gameday, just to soak in the ESPN Gameday signage experience.   Gameday has just become a phenomenon of its own.  I'd be intrigued to see what a Gameday Episode was like in the late 90's when it was just getting started.  I grew up forever seeing this show, and really, most of the same guys have been hosting it as long as I can remember.

The most comical of these "random fans" were a bunch of Auburn fans who came all the way to Gameday and into the side pit just so they could catch Gameday's *remote* interview with Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn who was at Auburn preparing for the game that afternoon.  I actually thought that was pretty wild!  Good job on their part supporting their coach.  They even had another random joker who represented Florida, complete with the Gators hat and a Tim Tebow Jersey.

The place was just packed... an excellent move by USC and ESPN to move the Gameday site to McCarthy Quad within USC over the Coliseum... the Coliseum is great for the game, but the peristyle and the site itself is a little dry and industrial -- it's not an ideal location for TV.   McCarthy Quad was a much better representation of SC itself, and hopefully Gameday will return there the next time around.

Did you guys know there was a burrito truck on site that was doling out free burritos?  Boy I missed that one!!!!  However, Gameday also passed around free donuts during the show and I took one for my enjoyment.  Anyway, after Gameday, and going home, I ate sandwich I bought from Ralphs on the way back.  It's called a Bayou Bomber: a roast beef sandwich with jack cheese with a chipotle dressing, a mild jalapeno pepper, served on foccacia bread.  It was absolutely amazing.   Truly the best thing I ate all day.

Later that afternoon I took a one hour nap, then watched the end of some wild college action, including an unbelievable miracle catch at Auburn to win the game vs Georgia.  THEN I saw the USC game against Stanford and could not *believe* how awesome it was.  I had a feeling the whole afternoon that SC could compete with Stanford... I really thought our o line and d line were at least as good as theirs, but while true, I have to admit, Stanford was getting the better of SC in the second half.   SC held through and somehow, SOME WAY, they won the game!   What an incredible, HUGE victory for USC!  I was so pumped, but eventually I was tired.  By then I had been up a while.  Overall, I was awake for 18 of the last 19 hours.  An exhausting day came to an end after I did some online holiday shopping.

Time for some other thoughts, if you won't mind indulging me...

I don't care *what* the fox says!  What is the big deal?

It was a huge weekend for the entire LA area... we can go back to Thursday when UCLA had their own huge victory against Washington.  That was a big, BIG win for the Bruins.   Then the Kings swept all three NY area teams on the road.  Then, SC's win, and you can even include the Lakers' win over Detroit on Sunday Night and the Clippers beating the Nets the night before.

I really took it on the chin with hypothetical wagers.   It was easily the worst weekend of the year for LOCKS of the Week.   I just had a bad feeling the whole time.   My brain was nagging me not to take the two enormous point spreads for Ohio State and Alabama, but I did it anyway.  As a result, I'm going to go 0 for my first 4 and potentially 0-5 if the Patriots beat the Panthers tomorrow night.

Saturday night, I had a really weird feeling as I went to bed... I felt like I was really shutting down but I couldn't lie still either.  That was, I think, the direct result of drinking a Venti Cafe Latte from Starbucks only hours before going to sleep.

If you try to drive into a chicken restaurant, and a ragged guy with beads starts walking to your car, keep on driving.   He probably just wanted to sell me some beads but I didn't want to take any chances.  Hopefully I didn't hurt his feelings.

I think that's all for now.  Hope you all have a good Monday!

No comments: