Archive for the ‘College Football’ tag
Freshman running back TJ Yeldon slices through the Michigan defense during the Alabama and Michigan game in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas Saturday, September 1, 2012. For complete photo galleries visit www.decaturdaily.com or click on the photo and you will be taken there via internet magic!
“Are You Ready For Some Football?” That’s the question we get every Monday night through the pro season and I guarantee you that in Alabama the question is always answered with a resounding ‘yes’ no matter whether you are an Auburn fan or a Bama fan. If you are any other kind of fan living in this football crazy state all I can ask is, really?
Had you polled Michigan and Alabama fans before the Cowboys Classic Saturday both sides would have said yes. If you asked after, Michigan fans might have asked for one more week. Alabama just pounced all over Michigan in a very one-sided 41-14 drubbing in the palace that Jerry built. Really now, how many bars and restaurants does one need inside a football stadium? But hey, if you spend a billion dollars… I digress. I was talking about football but, dang it, that is one amazing stadium, if it can be called a stadium. It is more like a five star resort hotel with a football field in the middle of it and the world’s most amazing TV hanging from the ceiling. Well, dude did spend a billion dollars. But I was talking about football.
Alabama struck quickly, efficiently and often. I left the field about four minutes before the half to edit my early take and Bama was up 31-0. Was Michigan really supposed to be in the top 10? The Wolverines did score a touchdown right before half but it was so far gone by then we all were simply waiting for it to end. By the time the final points were tallied I think the nation knew that Denard Robinson is not going to win a Heisman but Alabama might just win another BCS Championship. I mean, it looked real easy and Bama had it in cruise control for the entire second half. Of course, the SEC schedule is yet to be played and that is where championships are won or lost anyway so the Crimson clad should not get too cocky.
By the way, did you know they have luxury suites built dugout style all around the stadium. I mean, you can’t see a thing on the field but you have a great view of the big TV in the ceiling and you have your own bar and food service and a server wearing a white jacket in there with you. But, I forgot, I was talking about football.
I had a great luxury shooting this game. No, I didn’t cheat and shoot stuff on the big screen TV during replays! I had two quality cameras and that is the first time in years that has been the case. I had both a D3 and a D4. I didn’t know how to act! I shot the D3 with a short lens, usually at ISO 3200 at 1/640 @ f5.6. The D4 I generally used with the long lens (300 f2.8 with a 1.4 converter) at ISO 5000 at 1/1250-1/1600 at f4. You know, the lighting was the only thing that surprised me in the negative about that stadium. It was about one full stop less than I would have expected. But hey, I guess a billion dollars only goes so far. But, I forgot, I was talking about football.
The game went like most Alabama games have gone in the Saban era. The Crimson Tide pounds you to death with a smothering defense on one side of the ball and they wear you out with outstanding running backs on the other side of the ball. Just to keep things interesting, they have a quarterback who can get the ball into the hands of some very quick, and in this game, wide open receivers for touchdowns. I usually stay in front of the Alabama offense and behind the other team’s offense. That keeps the Bama players facing the camera as much as possible. (Same goes for covering Auburn.) I got most of my best images in the first quarter and certainly the majority of all my best images came in the first half while Alabama was still trying to score points. The second half was mainly drumming my fingers on the turf wanting the clock to run faster to get the game over so I could make deadline.
There are no great secrets to reveal. I kept the camera focused on Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson at the start of each offensive play because he was the focus of Alabama’s defense. When Alabama had the ball I focused on a lineman when the play was likely a running play. When I thought there might be a pass, I generally looked over the top of the camera to see where Mr. McCarron was looking then focused down field on whomever I thought he may throw to. Like I said, no big revelations; just predict, react and shoot.
As a final note to this story, and something that 99 percent of you won’t understand, it has been a pleasure, Mr. Almond, kneeling beside you on sidelines across the south. You have challenged me and I have enjoyed your friendship. It is a sad day and I will miss shooting with you. Many blessings to you my friend. May we again meet on a sideline somewhere in this great land in the not too distant future.
Auburn scored late to go up 28-27 then held on with some gutsy defense and by taking some chances on offense. In some ways, the game mirrored last season’s game in Auburn where it was Alabama coming in highly ranked, trailing early and having to make the heroic comeback with a late touchdown to win. Alabama parlayed their victory into a National Championship. One wonders now if Auburn can do the same thing. The next step will be this weekend in Atlanta for a rematch with South Carolina.
Auburn’s last, and only National Championship, came in 1957 and with this one so tantalizingly close Auburn fans are shoving any concerns about Cam Newton’s eligibility to the background and focusing on the final push. Here is hoping that what happens on the field determines the National Champion and not what happened, or didn’t happen, in some under the table, back room deal Cam’s father made.
Shooting this edition was a little different for me than last season. Last year I went solo on the game which is a big challenge. This year I shot with colleague Brennen Smith. Being able to divide the responsibility with another shooter literally halves the load. I worked the Auburn side and he worked the Alabama side so I didn’t have to worry about anything on that side of the field, but especially not the Bama bench are and post-game react shots. I could focus on Auburn’s side and Auburn’s post-game react.
During the first half of the game I usually work really hard on action then switch modes to focus more on reaction during the second half. This didn’t work out too well for this game because the game was in the balance right up until the end. I only switched to a wide zoom in the last minute of the game when it was pretty well done. Shooting jubilation and dejection are my greatest challenges in sports photography. I have never felt it was my strength. With Auburn winning though, I didn’t have too much to worry about because they are very emotional. Bama on the other hand is as staid as their head coach and don’t show much emotion one way or another.
I shot the game mostly from the end zone, especially in the first half. I brought along a 2x converter and used it quite a bit early in the game. I had to shoot manual focus and the 2x shot wide open has a tendency to render soft images. I didn’t want to stop it down at all because the ISO would have to be pushed really high. Not a big deal with the D3s but still a factor to consider. I did this up until half-time and then transitioned to just the 300 for the second half. I had mixed results manual focusing with the 2x. I have never been as good as the AF system, particularly since Nikon actually made a camera with decent AF performance.
The primary advantage to using the 2x converter was it allowed me to be stationary for a longer period of time. I felt physically pretty awful Friday and running sprints up and down the sidelines was not appealing. Using the 2x kept that to a minimum. I did make some mistakes. I failed to shoot very much at all of Coach Chizik and never found him post-game. Dave Martin, from the AP, got a beautiful react shot from him and I really kicked myself. I didn’t feel up to chasing Cam Newton around the stadium either. I got some shots of him but I just couldn’t keep up. That man is fast! In the end though, I got a nice jube shot of the guy who caught the game winning touchdown and I got Cam and I got Nick Fairley. My game action was solid if not stellar and I left with a decent Iron Bowl under my belt.
I never actually so Brennen during the game so he was doing his job, or else, he was out having a coffee to get warm! When shooting with a partner, the worst thing to do is shoot on top of each other. That is unproductive and causes at least one of you to miss shots or be out of position when something big happens. Our main challenge was weather. It was damp and cold Friday and the threat of rain was there during the entire first half. I hate being wet and cold so I was praying for a break. We got decent weather with only one brief shower during the game. My greatest problem was not being able to find my rain coat. I had the pants and used them but never did find the coat. Otherwise, I managed to stay warm enough and dry enough for it to be nothing more than inconvenient.
And then we got to fight the traffic, the monstrous, unyielding traffic. I don’t know if I have mentioned how bad I hate the traffic but that is the ultimate downer after a game. We pulled out of the driveway at 6:30 am and got back in the driveway after 11pm. Nasty long day but when you are done you at least feel a sense of accomplishment. That and the nagging doubt that you didn’t do as good as you could have or as good as you wish you could have anyway.
The opinions expressed in this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent those of my employer.
Let me say it right off the bat. Cam Newton may be the best football player I have ever seen in terms of pure athletic ability. Amazing.
For most of the past two seasons I have covered University of Alabama football. Last week’s loss to South Carolina refocused the spotlight on Auburn who is still unbeaten. Auburn faced Arkansas Saturday in a game for the ages. At least it was the most remarkable offensive game I have ever seen. Arkansas scored 43 points, and got blown out. Auburn scored an incredible 65 points. I have never seen anything like it. And if anyone can tackle Cam Newton I am sure that SEC defensive coordinators have a spot for you.
Newton rushed for 188 net yards. There were several subtractions for sacks. His overall rushing total was over 200 yards and he accounted for three rushing touchdowns and one passing touchdown. There was a 99 yard kick off return, and it didn’t score a touchdown! There were interceptions, fumbles that were and fumbles that were not. An Auburn fumble that was ruled on the field a touchdown but was actually a fumble before the goal line was inexplicably ruled a touchdown for Auburn even after the review. Then Arkansas fumbled later in the game and Auburn recovered it and ran it in for a touchdown. Auburn, in fact, scored 28 points in the fourth quarter alone. And they actually trailed Arkansas going into the quarter.
Like I said, it was an unbelievable game that was more like a track meet, or dare I say, a WAC game, than an SEC football game. They used to play defense in this conference and they used to make a tackle more often than not. You would never have known it Saturday.
Covering a game like this meant you better have on your running shoes. I was worn out by the fourth quarter. I made that long run from one end of the field to the other frequently. By the way, if you ever observe the photographers running from one end to the other behind the benches you will see something that is a cross between a shuffle and a jog. It is the funniest thing ever. It looks like, well, I don’t know what it looks like. But we are trying to run as fast as possible without losing any gear or getting beat up by the long lens we are carrying on our monopod slung on the shoulder. It made me wish I were running sprints instead of 5K because I would have been in better shape.
The challenge when photographing a game like this is indeed mobility. The challenge of staying in position to shoot the game is the tough part because the ball is literally moving all over the field and it is moving really fast. Couple that with the limitations imposed by a 300mm lens and you get a formula for a lot of running. The 300 is a great lens, it really is. The problem with it is the 300 is just a little bit too short for shooting college and pro football and baseball because you just can’t get close enough to a great deal of the action. In a football situation this means you have to use your feet a lot to keep pace with the action.
While this is not the end of the world it changes the way you have to shoot. When shooting from the end zones, which is my ideal spot for football, you have a very clean background and the action is usually coming toward you or going away from you. When shooting from one of the sidelines you end up shooting with the opposing sideline as a background and the sideline, even an out of focus sideline, is very busy visually. Ideally you would have a 400mm or a 6o0mm and shoot from the end zone but life is usually far from ideal. Unless you shoot for Sports Illustrated!
Saturday’s game had beautiful sunlight during the first half which either gave you great front light or great back light. Either way was fine. When shooting into the sun you will definitely want a nice long lens hood. There is also about a two stop adjustment between the front light and the back light. And one little detail you might overlook. Have a good pair of shoes on. When you are schlepping equipment in a series of 100 yard dashes you would be surprised how miserable you can be if you have bad shoes on. Knee pads might be a good idea too. I have tried pads but don’t like them much. I pay for it at the end of the day with some very sore knees but such is the nature of the game.
I never cease to be amazed at the number of people who want to be my “assistant” on game days. Let me help you out with that. You can’t see anything. Really! The sidelines are the worst place to see the game from because you really can’t see plays develop at all. You stand a fair chance of being run over by an athlete in his physical prime and who is wearing protective gear. You will have to run, a lot, while carrying heavy and cumbersome gear. You will be worn out. You will smell bad. And as a special reward at the end of the day, you will get to fight the same traffic as everyone else to get out of town. No magic carpet rides for journalists. But, you will sleep good once you do find the bed. So there is that.
For a full slide show from the game, please visit decaturdaily.com.
Photos copyright Gary Cosby Jr., The Decatur Daily. The opinions expressed in this blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.
Congratulations to Rolando McClain who was selected eighth overall in the NFL draft yesterday. Rolando grew up in Decatur, played for Decatur High School and the University of Alabama. He won the Butkus Award for the nation’s top linebacker and was rewarded by the Oakland Raiders as they selected him in the top ten. I have been photographing Rolando since he got to Decatur High in both football and basketball and I am very happy to see him do so very well. Following is a slideshow with some images from his days at Alabama and a couple of images thrown in from his junior year at Decatur High. Hope you do very well in the NFL.
Photos copyright Gary Cosby Jr., The Decatur Daily.
Then there was Robyn Armstrong McDaniel cradling perhaps the most valuable football in America, the crystal football that sits atop the National Championship Trophy. She works for Dr. Pepper and her job is to help manage that football. It sat on the stage between the coaches and ESPN host Jesse Palmer. She and several colleagues are in charge of managing the trophy. Maybe my favorite moment was her cradling that ball. Just don’t fumble!
The press conferences are, well, press conferences. You get to shoot pictures of the coaches on a set. Expressions and gestures receive an explosion of shutter clicks all firing at 8fps. Don’t want to miss a single inflection. The coaches press conference was an ESPN TV event so it was a bit fancier than most where you only have a back drop and people in front of it. Faces, expressions and gestures please and as many and as varied as possible.
Otherwise, our first day in California was just like a day anywhere else. You still have to move around to the assignments. You still have to shoot, edit and move photos and do it all as quickly as possible with iffy internet connections. Fortunately, they are taking good care of us. I could get used to being pampered like this. There is a media shuttle that takes you pretty much anywhere you need to go. That is just fabulous because it removes one layer of stress. Anytime you can remove a layer of stress it is a good thing. They are also giving us some very nice lunches and wonderful service on just about anything we need. Like I said, I could get used to this. I hope my wife isn’t reading this one!
Lest you feel we are having it too easy, our first day began with a 3:55 Central Time wake up call to get to the airport for a 6:15 flight. We hit the ground here, checked into the hotel, got a bite to eat and were working immediately. My day finally came to a close at 9:45 Pacific Time when I was finally able to fall into the bed. With the time change being two hours back to our time zone, every event in the evening pushes deadline hard. So there you go, all this glitz and glamor, ahem, is certainly off set by the stress, delays and problems of just getting here and doing what would otherwise be pretty normal. I know, I know, don’t cry for me!
Photos copyright Gary Cosby Jr., The Decatur Daily. The opinions expressed in this blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.
Here is a short slide show on the sideline tight rope walk that Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy did during the first half as she scrambled for a key first down. McElroy got to the sideline, got bumped and still managed to keep himself in bounds long enough to get the first down.
And as a bit of bonus material, there is always one that got away. One! Actually there are so many that get away you don’t even notice most of them but this one just hurts. Auto focus is a great tool but depending on it in the wrong situations can burn you. It is like driving a nail with a pair of pliers. You can do it but it certainly is difficult and will frustrate the heck out of you.
Alabama defensive lineman Terrence Cody is standing there in the middle of the shower of confetti when, all of a sudden, he sticks out his tongue like a kid in a snow storm. I am almost giddy. This is too good to be true. I am in photographer heaven! Then he tips his head back and opens his mouth wide. Nice, NIce, NICe, NICE!
Then I start to edit and realize the confetti confused the AF and my camera locked focus on a point nearer his arm than his face. NO! NO! NO! But, oh yes, I missed the shot with his tongue out. I got the other one but it is just not as good. I should have manual focused but shoulda, woulda, coulda does not a photo make. I am still kicking myself. Memo to self: when shooting in a confetti shower, MANUAL FOCUS YOU IDIOT! And, by the way, how in the heck do you get a guy as big as Cody out of focus!?
Alabama took it to the Florida Gators Saturday in the SEC Championship game dominating from opening kick to flying confetti winning 32-13. The win put Alabama into the BCS Championship facing Texas out in Pasadena. Bama fans are giddy. I suppose that athletics director Mal Moore is now thoroughly vindicated in his hiring of Nick Saban. This is what Saban was brought to Alabama for. I have not heard a single Alabama fan complaining that he was not part of the “Alabama family.”
So Bama fans are now packing for California. I can only hope that my editor will come tell me to do the same before too long. I am not holding my breath but I do have my fingers crossed! You just never know. Everyone is tightening up the purse strings right now but I certainly hope we open ours a tiny bit. I just don’t know if there will ever be another chance to cover a national championship game during my career. Here’s hoping!
The SEC Championship was held in the Georgia Dome. Not my favorite place after last year’s SEC title game where I had a lens stolen. All my gear survived this time and I understand that I got plenty of face time on national TV. Sweet! My brother kept texting me telling me he was seeing me on the tube. The cameras love me!
Covering the game was very challenging. The sidelines were absolutely packed with working media. And you always had to dodge the network guy in the lift that patrols behind the benches. He has a great perch but you have to run around and ahead of the cart when the play moves down the field. A whole herd of photographers has to run from one end of the bench are to the other, that is a 50 yard sprint at minimum, while trying to avoid being run over by the guy driving the TV cart. Fun times. When you mix that all too frequent little jog in with the pre-game beef stew the result is a little bit unsettling. I kept my eye out for a garbage can so I wouldn’t soil the lovely, fake, green grass in the Georgia Dome. Fortunately, the need never came up.
I also found it a bit taxing in the post game to keep up with 21 year old kids in prime physical condition. Here I am 46 and hauling around two bodies and three lenses and a monopod which I dared not lay aside all while chasing Mark Ingram and company around the field trying to get in focus shots of the jubilation. Did I mention that there were several dozen other media doing the same thing. To use the word melee might be an understatement.
I have included a rather large slide show of images for you to check out. Hope you enjoy it. I prayed pretty hard before the game to be in the right place and it seemed to have worked out pretty well. When the paper puts an investment of confidence in me to send me to cover a big event I always do spend a bit of time praying over the job. I want the paper to receive a full return on the investment they are making plus I want to do a really good job for me too. The scripture says that whatever our hands find to do we are to do with all our might not as working for men but as unto the Lord. When He blesses me I like to give Him credit. You don’t generally see a photo credit saying “Photo by God.” And save the Tebow jokes. I know I just threw you guys a softball!
Feel free to email me any questions you may have about covering big games or big events. I would love to hear from you and I will try to answer in a timely manner or do a blog post in answer to the questions.
Photos copyright Gary Cosby Jr., The Decatur Daily. These photos are intended for the viewing pleasure of this audience and are not for sale or reproduction in any way that might make the NCAA or its member institutions feel grumpy. Just a little humor guys. The photos really are only for viewing so play nice. The opinions expressed in this blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.
Alabama’s annual family feud between The University of Alabama and Auburn University is now in the books. It was a classic Iron Bowl game. Alabama, ranked second in the nation in the BCS, rolled in to face unranked Auburn in Auburn. The Iron Bowl is an amazing game in any year no matter how good or bad the teams might be. This season, the first under new head coach Gene Chizik, Auburn has played great and played poorly. Friday they played great.
Auburn kicked to Alabama to open the game, held Bama then took the ball and scored a quick touchdown. Auburn then caught Bama off guard with an on-side kick which Auburn recovered leading to another quick score. Before you knew it, the under dog was dictating to the second ranked team in the nation. Then Alabama woke up. Sort of. Bama answered with a pair of touchdowns before half-time to even the score.
Second half was every bit of exciting as the first half with Auburn again scoring first. Bama kicker Leigh Tiffin added a couple of field goals but Auburn still led 21-20 with only eight minutes and change left in the game. That is when the second ranked team in the nation took over. Led by quarterback Greg McElroy, the Crimson Tide marched steadily down the field chewing up yardage and time on the clock. Then I knew Bama was going to win. With just over 8 minutes left on the clock I made a picture of the scoreboard as a sort of marker in my images. Alabama ground its way down the field finally ending up inside the Auburn five with a third and goal with about a minute and a half on the clock.
Like everyone else in the building, I just knew that Alabama was going to run the ball up the middle. If they scored, fine, but if they didn’t they would be set up for a field goal to go ahead and Auburn would have about one minute and one time out to try and win. I positioned myself so I could see Tiffin’s face when he kicked the game winner. Then to my utter surprise, and apparently to the surprise of everyone else in the stadium including the Auburn defense, McElroy faked the middle hand off and sprinted out to his right finding running back Roy Upchurch in the right flat all by himself. Upchurch raced into the end zone and Bama had a lead that would force Auburn to try to score a touchdown and not simply go far enough for a field goal try. This sealed Bama’s victory.
Great game unless you were me. I was out of position for every touchdown except one. The game winner happened on my side of the field but I was up near the 25 yard line setting myself up to shoot the field goal I had anticipated. Instead of a really nice picture, which Mark Almond from Birmingham News made, I got a lame photo of Upchurch just after he caught the ball. Then to my complete chagrin, the entire jubilation after the touchdown was blocked from my view. I literally missed the whole thing. Maddening! But it was that kind of day. I was so out of position on Auburn’s touchdowns that I was literally 100+ yards away when they scored. No joke.
The story of game was Alabama. Sorry to all you Auburn fans but if Alabama lost then the story was not that Auburn won but that Alabama lost. If Alabama won the story was that Alabama made it through to the SEC Championship unbeaten. Unfortunately for Auburn fans, the Tigers were merely the foil and not the primary combatant. I know that chafes the Auburn folks but sometimes that is just the way it is. The point is that I was positioned to cover Alabama’s defense meaning that I was behind the Auburn offense which put me behind the back of the end zone. Two of the three of Auburn’s TDs were long plays that caught me far, far away from anything meaningful because I was shooting to cover Alabama.
That is the trick when covering a big game like this one. You have to decide before the game starts what is the most important thing and go with that. I couldn’t clone myself to be on both ends of the field so you have to know there are some photos you are going to miss. I anticipated a one-sided Alabama victory; therefore, I positioned myself to cover that. Auburn decided not to play along with my scenario. This threw a monkey wrench into my coverage and frustrated me all day long. Because the game stayed close I had to stick with my plan. Even doing that I missed almost every touchdown or got nothing more than a record shot from them. I had photos of all three Alabama touchdowns but none were impressive photographically. That is the way it goes some of the time. You just have to hang in, read the game and try to make adjustments on the fly.
I shot the game with the Nikon D3, Nikon D2H and the 300 f2.8, 80-200 f2.8 and the17-35 f2.8. I leaned most heavily on the D3 for obvious reasons. I yearned for longer glass but there was nothing that could be done about that. I spent a lot of the game sprinting behind the bench from one end of the field to the other trying to stay in position to shoot with the shorter 300. That would be a 50 yard sprint loaded with gear multiple times during the game. I know, I know, don’t cry for me. I was shooting the Iron Bowl. Still, I am getting older and 50 yard sprints are a long way in the past.
The slide show included with this post shows you the action photos that I actually transmitted and a secondary edit I did today for our follow up stories so the total output from the game will probably be around 50 action shots and maybe a dozen feature type shots and I really took it easy on the features this year.
Photos copyright Gary Cosby Jr., The Decatur Daily. These photos are for the viewing pleasure of this audience and may not be reprinted or reused in any fashion without written consent by the copyright holder and the athletic governing bodies. So look but don’t touch! The opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.
The game of the week was in T-Town Saturday with Alabama facing LSU. It was a big matchup because LSU is a big time opponent and could give Alabama much needed poll support in the BCS. I am rooting for Bama to get to the National Championship because that is about the only chance I have of ever covering a Division I national championship and even with Bama playing in the game the deck is stacked against me getting to cover it.
Bama did, in fact, defeat LSU which clinched a berth in the SEC Championship Game for the second consecutive year and they will face Florida again. I have a much better shot at covering that game so fingers are now crossed. Bama must still overcome Mississippi State, Chattanooga (suppressing laughter even as I write) and Auburn before the SEC title game but the berth is now clinched. The only shot Bama has at the National Championship game is to remain undefeated for the rest of the regular season and then defeat Florida for the conference title. No mean feat that!
So Bama didn’t really knock my socks off during the first half but they did play a reasonably good second half to get the win. I had a game about like the game itself. Good in places but not great anywhere. Such is the day. Whenever I shoot a game, it is always the shots I missed that bug me. And there were plenty of shots I missed from either being out of position or from bad focus. Yep, even with a D3 I can screw up the focus. Must be operator trouble!
The only technical challenges came from the mixed light in the first half. The field was a mix of bright sun and shadows. I just used aperture priority exposure mode during the first half to help compensate. It worked just fine. The D3 does have a pretty accurate meter. I am including a slide show with the post. Hope you enjoy it.
Photos copyright Gary Cosby Jr., The Decatur Daily. The opinions expressed in this blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.
For those of Ya’ll who don’t come from around here, the Iron Bowl is the biggest deal in the great state of Alabama. That is what we call the annual contest between the University of Alabama and Auburn University. This year’s grand event will be down on the Plains in Auburn and will start at 7pm. My Christianity will not permit me to say what I would like to say about 7pm starts down on the Plains in Auburn. That pretty much means I will be getting home just in time to get up. Not nice at all. Never the less, I would not want to miss being at this game.
It’s not because I am a huge Alabama fan or Auburn fan, I just want to be at the big events, period. This game kind of represents what I love about photojournalism. The whole state is polarized. The whole state will be watching or listening. Churches will have Iron Bowl parties. Bars will have Iron Bowl parties. Heck, even Boy Scout troops will probably be having Iron Bowl parties. It is an event and I get to be there. Not only that, but most newspapers send their best to this game. Most newspapers send more than one shooter to this game. There is pressure. There is a challenge. There is intensity. And I’m not even playing in the game. Fun!
Now my wife doesn’t understand this. She just knows I am leaving her at home, alone, with six of our eight children. She also knows that I will be gone until basically Sunday. And I know that I will have to come home and be civil even with pretty much no sleep to our six children who are at home. (Two of our children are now all grown up and out on their own. One of them is at Auburn in school.) And no, we didn’t exile her there. She chose it on here own. And she hates football. Go figure!
Now, the other thing I hate about 7pm starts on that network that has both elevated and ruined college football (not naming any names here but their initials are ESPN) is that deadline is all over you. There is a page one deadline for the showcase story. There is an inside pages deadline for sports and there is the rather amorphous deadline for the sports front which means that they get their picture whenever the game is over. Did I mention the pressure. Of course, pressure also pushes you to do your best work – quickly! Finally, there is that long, dark drive home with the only thing to keep you awake being the smell from sweat soaked, or rain soaked, clothing which is pretty effective. Its kind of like smelling salts. Then, when all is said and done and you are sitting home fully recovered from this year’s edition, you have the satisfaction of knowing you were there and competing right alongside the athletes. And you will have your stories to tell too. Like the year the game began with sleet and freezing rain and ended with the coldest rain I have ever felt. And my clothes were soaked by halftime and all I had was a light weight rain jacket to use in the second half. I am still shaking!
I will have an update post later with actual pictures from this year’s game. The photo with this post is from a few years back when Auburn beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa. In fact, as a final thought leading into this game, if Alabama wins this year they will end a five year losing streak and lay to rest all that ‘one for the thumb’ business they heard all last year when Auburn racked up their fifth consecutive win. And if Auburn wins, I guess they will be chanting something about Saban spelling his last name SHULA.
Photos copyright The Decatur Daily. The opinions expressed in this blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.