Game 23: Rutgers Scarlet Knights @ Central Florida Knights
|GAME # 23
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Rutgers Scarlet Knights: 5-4
It is another 3:30am wake up call to make a 6am flight out of JFK. Why do we keep doing this to ourselves? A question for another day and time.
We arrive at the JetBlue terminal at JFK and are faced with a very long security line. Have I mentioned before how much I love TSA PreCheck? Add Al to the list of people who have now endured this schpeel. Well, JetBlue stubbornly does not participate. So I must now wait in this long security line wondering why only 4 lanes are open, instead of breezing past with shoes on. This is my final straw with JetBlue and I will no longer fly JetBlue because of their lack of participation in PreCheck. It is a great airline, but the customer experience at security is dreadful and not worth it. Only PreCheck airlines for me going forward. Al can add this to the long list of items that during our scheduling meetings narrow the options of schools we can visit because yes, JetBlue does fly some places others don’t and at times, in a more cost effective way.
The flight to Orlando was fine and the flight attendants very cheerful. While I napped (or continued my sleep), Al apparently made friends with the flight attendants and filled them in on our Quest adventures. Alas, none of them have the power to commit JetBlue to a sponsorship deal. As an aside, I should mention that the woman next to me finished four vodka tonics on a 6am flight to Orlando. If she had kids with her I would understand, but without kids it is called alcoholism.
After picking up the rental car, we were off to UCF. They told us to take any car in the compact row. Our choices were a Ford Focus, a Ford Focus, or a Ford Focus.
University of Central Florida
After driving around for a little while on Annie Glidden Road, oh wait that was Northern Illinois or something, actually Gemini Blvd, we parked the car in one of the many parking garages. Al helpfully points out that none of these parking garages were here when he stopped by for a few weeks in 1990. They were all just parking lots and not garages. Of course the school is three times larger now, but that is just a minor point. Al was visibly upset one of the garages was built on the old outdoor swimming pool site. I thought we were going to need sedation.
Upon arrival at UCF the first thing that was highly noticeable was….students! On many of these trips we walk around campus wondering where all the students are. Well, we found them and they all go to UCF. Sixty thousand of them or thereabouts. This was a very busy campus, with lots of high quality talent, and also a very diverse looking group of individuals. This was evidenced by the fact that Al could not pick one word to describe them all as Al has at all other schools. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Actually, there is!
The first stop on the UCF campus was to make a donation to the UCF economy. Being that Al has ties to this school, his donation exceeded mine by a factor of around 7. Each of his kids needed jerseys or something like it. I will say the mini Barnes & Noble with no books had a very nice selection of UCF gear, so much so that Al may have brought two of the same shirts to the register. Al states it simply “This is very true.”
After shopping, it was time to wander around aimlessly. The campus and off campus area “look like Florida”, especially the quaint little area by the basketball arena. If you have never been to Florida, it is tough to describe. But if you have, the campus has the pastel mosaic feel that screams Florida. This is not a bad thing, just a very clear thing. In all the wandering, we did wander over to Al’s old dorm, which was clearly not redone since he left and actually looked like the outside was the scene of a very recent violent murder. Al screams out “Osceola 271, get your s*** together.”
Another striking thing about the UCF campus is the very interesting names that the buildings have, such as Classroom I and Classroom II. Aside from the obvious jokes like how can a school with an enrollment approaching the size of Manhattan only have two classrooms, it brings to mind conversations that students must have daily.
Timmy: “I am heading out to class now”
Johnny: “Are you in classroom 1 or 2?”.
Johnny: “Me, too”
Timmy: “I did not know you were taking Basket Weaving.”
Johnny: “I’m not. I am taking Advanced Drinking for Minors”
Timmy: “Then you must be in Classroom 2”
Johnny: “My mistake, I was cramming for a Whiskey tasting pop quiz.”
Al’s explanation was that the building must have multiple classrooms in them. If that was the case wouldn’t they be Classrooms I and Classrooms II? Anyway, I just love the names. And since you are a regular reader of my trip reports, you know that at some point on our tour we had to find a place to sit and wait out the rain, which we did.
After walking aimlessly and getting a behind the scenes tour from Al, who repeatedly said “this was not here in 1990” or “this was just trees back then”, we headed to lunch. Lunch was Kyoto Sushi Grill, which was very underwhelming. Al wants to point out that it is important to note this was an on-campus food establishment. But was it? I am not sure.
After lunch it was more walking around and more dodging rain. Who is Jarrett, Remo Williams? Hey Al, you stumped me as I do not get the reference. Surprisingly, Al knew his way around campus, including which buildings had the best bathrooms. Just call him George. But it shows he did learn something during his 48 hour layover at UCF in 1990. Have I mentioned how much I was looking forward to this trip, just for the jokes at Al’s expense. And for the record, Al does have the ability to insert his own comments into these trip reports, so this is not entirely one sided, although this trip is.
Another interesting observation, UCF has more skateboards and skateboarders than any other school, by a lot, or any other city for that matter. And when you fall, because we throw sticks at your wheels (Frankenstein), feel free to stop by the middle of campus for free hugs. Yes, there is a group on campus giving out free hugs. Did anyone else notice my great segue! I tried to convince them that they would get more clients by charging a nominal amount for the hugs and we were informed they had those signs too. This led to a whole bunch of questions of what other signs they had for when the police were not watching and the cost of those “hugs”. My mind wanders! Al received hugs several times, mainly for experimental purposes, and was quite under whelmed with the results. They did offer “deluxe” hugs, but clearly that was going over the line having to pay $1 for them. Al adds, “I think they call that something else.”
After hours of mindless wandering, something we excel at, it was time to check in at the hotel. The Courtyard by Marriott was impossible to find and needs some exterior signage (like their freaking name) that is not completely blocked by trees. After a quick nap, it was back to campus to meet our tour guide. We walked to campus to avoid the game day parking disaster, while dodging raindrops.
We arrived slightly early for our tour so we had a few drinks at Burger U and checked out “Light Up” UCF, the campus holiday festival with an ice skating rink. Or at least we think it was ice. I was not too sure it would hold my weight, but that is a lot to ask of the ice.
We met our official UCF tour guide, who showed us around Memory Mall, the basketball arena, and stadium. Memory Mall is a student tailgate. This was probably one of the nicest and largest predominately student tailgate areas. Much like Ole Miss, there was no tailgating before a set time, which in this case was 4pm. But unlike at Ole Miss, people cheated here. We saw some tents and stuff moved in before the appropriate time. Clearly Memory Mall is a if you can’t stop them from partying, let’s make them do it in one place so we can turn the hoses on them in one go type of setup. But it did look like one gigantic student party. We were informed the money donors set up shop elsewhere, but of course there were some older alumni right in the thick of things. But we cannot comment because here we are touring around college campuses as well. So the whole glass house thing applies. Al’s take away was that there were no trees on Memory Mall, and although there are lots of tents, not everyone gets to sit under a tent. This must be scorching hot in the summer and early fall months. Plant some trees guys, even on the borders.
After Memory Mall, it was onto the basketball arena and seeing exactly where MJ sat while his son played basketball at UCF. If you do not know who MJ is, you are too young to be reading this.
Then it was onto the stadium, where we toured the club level, suite level and press box. The stadium very much reminded me of Rentschler Field at UConn. I think we were told that the stadium was built for around $68 million (Al thinks $12 million) and you could definitely tell that it did not have many of the extras that some other places we have been had. But it was built quick and cheap (not sure how I missed it, but Al in a moment of self deprecation adds “like Al’s previous visit here”) which is what UCF needed.
After the tour, we picked up our game passes and waited until the rain subsided a bit. Here we noticed the stadium leaking like Nassau Coliseum (Al’s body just shuttered and experienced a chill at the mention of NVMC) and could easily see now why it only cost $68 million to build; cheap sheet metal, no supports, and lots of holes. But the flip side of that is if they ever pack it in here, this place could really rock. Literally rock.
While waiting out the rain, Al saw his boyhood hero Ray Lucas, who is an announcer for Rutgers. You will remember that we also saw Ray Lucas at Louisville. Back then Al called him Don McPherson. This time he called him “his favorite Jet”. But we all know that his favorite Jet is Richard Todd.
For the first time, Al is adding his own paragraph to the trip report to clarify. Al’s boyhood hero was Reggie Jackson and there can be no doubts about that. Ray Lucas played QB at Rutgers and went undrafted, but Bill Parcells took a chance on Ray as a back up while with the Jets. The season Vinnie Testeverde went down with a torn ACL, Ray Lucas came in and filled in admirably, changing his known playing style on the fly, following the direction of the coaches, and keeping the Jets out of trouble, ending the season with a winning record. I believe the Jets were 6-3 in the games he started. For an undrafted backup with a wildcat mentality, he was one of the few Jet quarterbacks in recent memory (past 30 years) that true fans could relate to and had faith in, albeit for such a short period of time. My mistaking him for Don McPherson was related to two things; 1) we had just had a conversation that I went to the same high school as Don and 2) how he had been ripped off of the Heisman. Upon seeing Ray at Papa Johns Stadium in the press box, I knew who he was, but blurted out the wrong name accidentally as I said hello. As a fan of the Jets and of Ray Lucas, he was very professional about it, made the correction, and moved on. At UCF, I was so in shock to see him again, of course not paying attention to who UCF was actually playing, which is more the issue here, I didn’t call him by any name, just told him he was one of my favorite Jets. He isn’t my favorite Jet, but he is up there. Richard Todd, if you are reading this, you kill me. The number of times you destroyed our hopes……oh wait, that’s just the Jets in general. This concludes Al’s story time.
After the tour it was back to Burger U for dinner. Silly us, it was way too crowded so dinner had to be Jimmy Johns. It was absolutely disgusting and a far cry from gourmet. But I now know why their slogan emphasizes “freaky fast delivery”. The food did come very fast, too bad it bordered on being inedible as it was completely uncooked, cold, and downright disgusting.
We killed some more time before we headed over to the stadium as our passes allowed us pregame access to the field. We hung out down there before leaving to meet Patty and Lisa. Patty and Lisa are friends Al met while he attended/visited UCF back in the day, and has managed to stay in contact with over the years. As a matter of fact, Patty actually stayed in our Deluxe Apartment on a trip to NYC, which I’m sure she wants to forget. Lisa on the other hand, will forever be known as the Queen of Hearts. Don’t ever get involved in a card game with her.
Anyway, we left Patty and Lisa and went back to the field for pregame festivities, which we were able to see without rain as finally the rain stopped and thankfully did not start up again. Watching pregame from the field, we were struck by how empty the stadium was at this point. Could have been the rain, but it did not feel like that was it. This was just a really late arriving crowd, even the students.
I sometimes recap the game, especially if it was a good one. UCF won this one 41-17, so you will not get a recap here. The highlight was us standing in the end zone of UCF’s opening TD drive. We then proceeded to watch the rest of the 1Q from upstairs. After the 1Q we attempted to meet up with Patty and Lisa where they were supposed to have been sitting. But really there was no chance of that happening, being 1) they were actually out of their homes, 2) together, 3) near a bar. After they finally decided to make an appearance at the game, we moved over to better seats at halftime. Patty’s niece, who currently attends UCF and wants to move to NYC, needs to get it together and not take no for an answer. Period. Especially if you want to make it in NYC. Security guards at stadiums who ask you where your seats are, really just want to hear you say “they are up there” as you walk past them. Ah youth!
Post game consisted of more drinks at Burger U. The bar tried to convince us that them putting up the chairs on all the other tables did not mean that we had to leave, but at some point the turning off the lights and setting the alarm signaled we should call it a night. Another early night, early town, but at least there is drinking on campus. We hiked to Lisa’s car for a ride back to the hotel. FYI – The walk to the hotel may have been shorter, but then we would have missed the guy getting a ride to his car in a golf cart, nice service here. Al adds “Holy crap that was a long walk, but at least we didn’t have to walk thru that deserted parking lot and get killed by the HBIC (head bum in charge).”
As an aside, the truth serum came out after the game and Al learned a lot about the other people he met while at UCF and what had happened to them afterward. Needless to say, there is nothing good to say.
The Morning After
The next morning came, as it typically does. As we had a later flight back to NY, we had a day to spend in Orlando. First stop was breakfast at IHop. After getting the menu and trying to order Cinn-A-Stack pancakes, even old ones in the back, we were told that IHop does not carry them anymore. What is this travesty? I really cannot handle boycotting another food chain as my boycott of Chipotle is still going strong, but this is unbelievable. Why no Cinn-A-Stack pancakes IHop, why? If Jarrett won’t boycott, Al will. Starbucks recently got rid of their Iced Lemon Loaf (they serve food?) so Al thinks he should boycott Starbucks too but his addiction trumps desire. Al states that “IHOP is a bit easier to boycott because we have Diners in the north. If you do not know what a diner is, please kiss my grits and reference a show called “Alice””. Look at Al with the television reference.
We decided against spending at least $200 for 5 hours at Disney so we drove around looking for something to do and stumbled upon Grand Prix Orlando. Actually stumbled is not true since the place is located in an industrial park you would not find without GPS. After signing away any right to sue even if the owner poured gasoline on us and lit us on fire, we suited up and were racing around an indoor track in a go kart approaching 50mph. It only lasted for 5-6 minutes but it was awesome. My arms are still in pain. We did this twice. Great fun. Al is looking at having his birthday party at one of these places. That’s a real good idea. We all better take the week off to provide ample recovery time. One criticism…too many racers on the track. How’s that whiplash Al? Sorry! Al continues “Yes, Jarrett crashed into the back of my car, but he was doing that all day as my car finished first in both races. I want to go fast, and if you ain’t first, yerrr last.” Another pop culture reference for Al.
Three thoughts on our trip home:
• Have I mentioned how much I hate that JetBlue does not do PreCheck? Well I hated it at the Orlando Airport yet again.
• I thoroughly enjoyed the woman behind me at the TSA checkpoint who arrived at the airport with plenty of time before her scheduled flight. She then tried to convince the TSA agent that she needed to get to the front of the enormous line because her flight was very soon. The agent smartly does not buy it and tells her she has plenty of time. She then proceeds to tell everyone in line that her flight is boarding so that she can skip ahead. The suckers allow her and then she gets on the phone and tells her friend she is trying to fly stand by on an earlier flight. I really like pleasant and considerate people like her.
• I like Al’s new house. I do not know what the inside looks like but it is much easier to pick up and drop off at than his previous one.
The UCF Knights finished the season at 11-1, winning the American Athletic Conference. Their only loss was to South Carolina is a game that the Knights had a very good chance of winning. The great season was rewarded with a BCS Bowl Game, which was a 52-42 win over Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl.
Rutgers finished the season at 6-6 and a loss to Notre Dame in the Pinstripe Bowl.
Bonus Video: UCF coming onto the field
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