You may have seen the highlights from this weekend's game between my beloved Tennessee Vols and the Oregon ducks. The first quarter was very good for us. The other three? Not so much. But the best part of the entire thing was the part that they didn't even show on television.
It all started innocently enough. The Seester happened to be in town this weekend, so the whole family went to the game. (Mom and Dad have season tickets and usually go to all the home games anyway, and the Seester likes to catch them whenever she's in town, and I just figured what the heck, so off we went with 105,000 other people to watch grown men crash into each other and chase a little oblong ball around). Your typical Saturday night in the south.
Anyway, we get there to the game and get all settled in our seats for some good old fashioned collegiate pigskin (we're up 6-0 within minutes! woot!), and the crowd is singing Rocky Top, and our boys are playing well for once, and the old guy behind the Seester is making a special point to give her high fives FOR EVERY LITTLE PLAY, so I suppose it was only natural that no one really noticed that the sky behind us was getting really dark.
I mean, really REALLY dark.
And sure, the wind picked up a bit, but when you're packed into a stadium with 100,000 other people on a humid night in September, you welcome the breeze. And I suppose that that rumbling noise could have been thunder, but who can hear it over the cheering of the fans? So it was really a bit of a surprise when the rain started to fall. But we are the mighty SEC! We scoff at a little rain! Scoff! Scoff! Wait-was that a giant bolt of lightning?
It turns out that it isn't the smartest thing in the world to be outdoors, 7 or 8 stories in the air and sitting on metal bleachers when a major thunderstorm comes up. And this sucker was a humdinger! (Or a gully washer, as my grandparents would say). So the game was stopped, the players were herded back into their locker rooms, you at home broke away to a panel of old sportscasters talking about who knows what, and 105,000 people tried to cram themselves under the little covered awning next to the concession stands. And when the rain started blowing, they crammed in even more. It was like training for the world's greatest clown car.
But even that wasn't the best part.
The Seester and I, having had enough of pretending to be sardines, decided to head over to Mom and Dad's seats in the fancy alumni covered section (also, their seats are plastic and not metal, so bonus points for not being a lightning rod). There we all sat quite comfortably and watched the lightning and the wind and the rain come slashing down on an empty stadium.
Did I say empty? I meant almost empty.
Because the student section stayed in their seats. Every single one of them. And not only did they stand there through the entire storm, but the harder it rained, the louder the students cheered. (Ah to be in college again. So young, so adventurous, so stupid not to have the sense to get in out of the rain). And the storm crashed, and the announcer kept advising people to take cover over the PA system, and the students stayed right where they were and got absolutely soaked to the skin. And they cheered.
But still not the best part.
The best part was when some of the drowned rat college students got tired of simply screaming at the storm and decided to increase their chances of being struck by lightning by hopping the barrier and running around on the open field. (Which as we all know is the number one, cardinal no-no of college football, punishable by immediate arrest. Paint yourself colors, scream all you want, insult the other team's mamas, but stay off the field!) But out they went, 30 or 40 of them, whooping and running and more of them getting ready to follow suit at a moment's notice.
And that was about the time that the streakers joined in. Because what's more fun than running around on a football field during a thunderstorm? That's right! Doing it naked!
You could almost hear the collected "oh crap!" rise up out of the game security guards. Because not only are they now going to have to also run out onto the field and get soaked to the skin while dodging lightning bolts, but they're going to have to tackle slippery, probably intoxicated naked guys while doing so.
(Aren't you sad that you at home spent the time watching the old guys discuss running games vs passing games while all this was going on?)
But out they went, because they are good security guards, huffing and puffing their way around the field after the students. (Interestingly enough from our elevated view up in the covered section, escaping naked students fleeing campus security instinctively take up the swarming pattern of birds trying to escape a predator. You've seen how a flock of birds all swoop and change direction together? So do drunken frat guys! Only it works better for the birds).
Some of the college students managed to swarm back into the stands to escape. Some were spectacularly tacked in a torrent of rain and security guard. One guy, (and this was my favorite) started out running in just his low-hanging basketball shorts, but the combination of the rain and the fact that he was wearing them about 6 sizes too big caused them to slip down around his ankles, tripping him up and making him body surf on his face (and other naked parts) for about 15 feet across grass and sand and gravel in front of the Oregon bench. When he stood up, his front was so bright red it could be seen from space. (Something tells me he won't be sleeping on his stomach for a while).
This whole spectacle went on for quite a while. Every time the field would clear, some other idiot would jump out and go racing across the grass. At first, everyone was cheering for the streakers, but pretty soon public sentiment turned and we were all cheering for the security guards instead. (I think it really pumped them up too. There were some pretty dramatic WWF tackles going on there towards the end. Don't tell me that crowd noise isn't a factor in a football game).
Sadly, the storm petered out after about 45 minutes, and with it, our rain delay entertainment. Annnnd shortly after that the game resumed and the Ducks kicked our butts from one end of the field to the other. But I gotta admit, it was one of the more interesting college games I've seen in a while.
I can't wait to check the weather for the Florida game.