Troha tastes the SEC good life

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 7, 2003

There were two things I learned from last Saturday’s University of Alabama vs. University of South Florida game at Legion Field.

First, there might be a chance the Crimson Tide will have a successful season despite all the controversies over head football coaches and NCAA probations.

Second, being a sports writer comes with a lot of great perks.

Both of these revelations came to me as I was sitting in the Legion Field press box surrounded by all the great sports writers and broadcasters from across the nation who came to cover Mike Shula’s first game as a head coach.

I felt a little like a wolf in sheep’s clothing the moment I walked into the room.

I was there to cover the atmosphere. I was watching the watchers, so to speak.

As a UA graduate, a die-hard Bama fan and a football fanatic, I enjoy watching the game as much as the next gal.

But I don’t just enjoy the great plays and exciting atmosphere, the men in Crimson and White are pretty pleasing on the eyes as well.

John Gullion, the STJ sports editor, had already planned to go to the Auburn game (poor guy!) and asked me to represent the newspaper at Legion Field.

I gladly accepted without being fully aware of all the fantastic things awaiting me.

I didn’t have to worry about paying someone $20 to park in their yard and then get blocked in for hours after the game.

I was handed a parking pass with easy access in and out of the stadium lot.

Once I made my way up to the press box, I was greeted with a long buffet overflowing with all the free food and sodas I wanted.

As I chowed down on fried chicken and Coke, trying not to gawk at the ESPN announcers, Don Shula himself walked right past the table.

Of course, I had no idea who he was at the time.

It wasn’t until I later saw his picture on TV that I finally recognized one of the greatest pro football coaches of all time.

I wish I had said something more impressive than the &uot;hey,&uot; I tossed his way.

Right before the game started, a UA student in a red dress escorted me to my seat, which had an unobstructed view high above the 50-yard line.

As I sat there munching on free popcorn and sipping my seventh free soda of the afternoon, I could think only one thing.

The best part of the whole experience wasn’t sitting in the air conditioned room, using the sparkling clean bathroom facilities, or meeting

Eli Gold and Kenny Stabler.

No, the best part was impressing my family and friends after the game.

They were all suffering from bright red farmer tans, complaining about the heat and concession stands running out of ice and water.

They got revenge later on though. I made myself sick from drinking too many sodas.

The whole experience was one of the best I’ve ever had at a Legion Field game. I enjoyed every moment of my time as a sports writer.

I know from working with John that being a sports writer isn’t usually this glamorous, but it is days like Saturday that make all the trouble worthwhile.