Last weekend, I was afforded a great opportunity to cover the Auburn Tigers' football game against the San Jose State Spartans as a credentialed photographer and got the full college football …
Last weekend, I was afforded a great opportunity to cover the Auburn Tigers' football game against the San Jose State Spartans as a credentialed photographer and got the full college football experience from the sidelines.
Growing up in Massachusetts, the same emphasis was not placed on college football, so I didn't grow up with these Saturday traditions, but I got a great taste by observing some of the festivities.
The best part was connecting with Spanish Fort alum DJ James after the game, but I did miss out on catching some local band representatives during the halftime show, so there's always room for improvement.
I am very thankful to all of the folks at Auburn University for their hospitality and look forward to more tradition-heavy Saturdays in the South.
Until then, here are five of my takeaways from the sidelines of Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, which served as the second SEC stadium crossed off my list behind Texas A&M's Kyle Field.
At the end of it all, I was able to say hey to Spanish Fort's DJ James, and when I mentioned I came from Baldwin County and that I knew he played for the Toros, his face lit up.
"You know I'm from Spanish Fort?" he said excitedly.
I was equally excited to tell him yes, and I think it was just as cool to recognize the local kid on the big stage as it was for him to be recognized. The athletes and their stories will always be my favorite part of the job, and Saturday night, that was easily the best part of the night.
Jordan-Hare Stadium was not quiet
All of the fans who packed into Jordan-Hare Stadium brought the noise from the first quarter to the fourth.
I'll never understand how there can be any verbal on-field communication during plays when stadiums are rocking so loud you can't even hear yourself think. Of course, that's probably one of the biggest reasons why they're on that side of the white lines and I'm on my side.
But nothing compares to that pre-kickoff buzz
After all the pregame ceremonies and pageantry, it was finally time for football, and everybody knew it.
The band was blaring, the players were on the field and all of the shakers were going wild with their users shouting as loud as possible. I could have yelled at the top of my lungs and none of the photographers next to me would have thought it was me.
Maybe it was because I was on the field this time, but I don't know that I've been in an outdoor stadium that got louder than that moment right before the kickoff.
Independence takes flight
Again, with no college football traditions of my own, I was in awe of the pregame flight from the resident raptor that preceded the kickoff.
Saturday's pregame flight featured Independence, a bald eagle, who took off from the flagpole, made a half circle around the stadium, then made her descent onto the midfield logo. I'm pretty sure I also saw the other resident bald eagle, Spirit, as well as one of the resident golden eagles, although I'm not positive if it was Nova or Aurea.
Either way, the whole aspect of having the battle cry brought to life while promoting wildlife conservation is top tier in my book.
Auburn pride all over the road
I was not the only one who set their GPS destination as Auburn University Saturday.
After a fun night on the sidelines of Trojan Stadium in Daphne Friday night, I hit the road going north and saw all sorts of Auburn decals and license plates and car flags on the road bound for the game. Even at the rest stops on the breaks, plenty of Auburn school spirit was worn with pride on a beautiful Saturday morning.