Tulane Green Wave: 3-5
Raymond James Stadium
|Trip Dates||11/2/2018 – 11/4/2018|
|School||University of South Florida|
|Visiting Team||Tulane Green Wave
Pre-game Record: 3-5
|Home Team||South Florida Bulls
Pre-game Record: 7-1
|Game Time (ET)||3:30 PM Eastern|
|Weather||73 & Partly Sunny|
|Attendees||Jarrett, Al, Debra, Haley, Diane, Howie, & Jody|
|Jarrett’s Pick||South Florida Bulls
(29 and 16 record)
|Al’s Pick||South Florida Bulls
(22 and 23 record)
|Length of Game||3:17|
|Seat Location||30 yard line, 3rd row of middle tier|
|Photo Album||Click here for the USF Photo Album|
The Last Minute Game
So a brief introduction to this game is warranted. From the outset, this was a choice game. We were either headed to Miami for Duke at Miami or Tampa for Tulane at South Florida. This was going to be an in season call. As the season progressed, we decided to go to Miami. That is until I looked into flights. Airline prices were running over $400 to Miami. Now we have definitely paid that for Quest flights before. But I fly to Florida regularly and I know this is a $250 max ticket. So that was a tough price to pay and the College Football Quest CFO was balking at that price tag.
So we began looking at alternatives. Now I should also mention that we have two guests on this trip, Haley, my daughter, and Debra, Al’s significant other. As an aside, the English language is significantly lacking a word for girlfriend/boyfriend you are living with but not married to. I would suggest flugelbinder, but that is already taken. Possible trip alternatives that came up included Arizona State, but we decided on South Florida despite the fact that the flight to Tampa was also ridiculously expensive, but a little less so than Miami. So this trip was booked on about 3-4 weeks notice. And in hindsight, given the storm that the Miami Duke 1H was played in, good call.
Al left his car at my house and we headed out in an Uber to LaGuardia. Last minute flights had us leaving from LaGuardia but returning into Islip, so driving was out and Uber it was. After a relatively safe Uber ride to LGA, we met Debra at the exquisite central terminal at the finest airport in the world. Now please have a seat, because I am going to say something absolutely stunning. Go ahead, I will wait….The TSA Precheck line at Southwest at LGA was efficient and smooth. Yes, it really was. The line was short and we moved through without a problem. Well, except for the fact that my 17 year old daughter still needs 17 pounds of pudding to take her daily meds, so we had to deal with the TSA on that one. (Sorry, Haley, but mom thinks that is hysterical.) But that one is on us, because even before 9/11, I don’t think you could take 17 pounds of pudding on an airplane because it throws off the weight distribution (right @sebastiancomedy ??).
After getting past security, it was onto, “which lounge can we get into?” The Air Canada lounge is no longer part of Priority Pass so that was out. The Amex Centurion lounge was back outside security so that was out. I guess it was the cheap seats for us. Or as Haley put it, “I don’t like being like everyone else.” She’s going to fit right in on the Quest. Where’s Target (If this is your first trip report, Brett and Target are the same person) when you need him? Oh right, he bailed on the trip because he’s been doing too much traveling. Seriously. I guess he didn’t like the lack of perks on this one. Beth quips that he did not like the company, lol. Fair weather Quester.
We made a pit stop at Dunkin’, where the first bet of the trip was made with Debra and Al both ordering an egg sandwich. The bet being on the race between the sandwich and bathroom access. But Debra did have a fair point about a nuked egg being a nuked egg. There’s just something about a nuked egg sandwich at a Dunkin kiosk in a terminal that has giant holes in the ceiling that during rain storms looks like Niagara falls. Haley could not get past the fact that this Dunkin’ did not have a chocolate chip muffin. So Haley! It’s an airport, not a real Dunkin. It’s all a crapshoot. The only way to win is not to play (name that movie reference).
We found some seats and waited to board. And then began the constant alarms and announcements about the constant alarms. At least water wasn’t leaking from the ceiling anymore. Hey Alex, pay attention here, because this is where Al got a taste of his own medicine. Haley then began a non stop assault on Al about all the things wrong with the fantasy football scoring system. She had about ten thousand suggestions of ways to change the scoring. If Debra thought she would find an ally in Haley away from all the football on this trip, this 10 minute span would dissolve any notion she had of that. Alex, you would have been proud. But unlike Alex, Al may actually think about them and implement a few of them. Haley, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul. FYI – That was the third movie reference and we have not even left LaGuardia. And Haley got this reference, so everybody should get it. But Beth didn’t. She could not follow who was saying this quote and was confused. So Beth.
Al picked us a nice hotel, Grand Hyatt, because he had grand visions of laying by the pool. We were able to check into one of the rooms, so we dumped all the bags in there and headed off to USF.
University of South Florida
We headed off on the 20 minute drive to the USF campus. It should be pointed out that Haley did apply to this school and is waiting to hear on the status of her application. (She would get in, yeah!) Despite that, she was adamant about not taking an official tour of the campus and getting any kind of information about becoming a student at USF. I know that Al and I are excellent tour guides of places that we have never been and are quite adept at making shit (uh oh, fifty cents) up and having it sound good, but it still seems like a curious decision not to tour a school that you applied to and are at anyway and would take no additional time and did I mention you are there anyway. Literally, standing right next to the admissions office. Oh, and her official absence from high school today is a college visit. Beth’s only words…”Have you met Haley?”
We arrived at USF, parked the car, and headed to the union for lunch. Moe’s for Debra and I, Papa John’s for Haley, and Subway for Al. After lunch it was off to the bookstore for USF gear. Haley opted for nothing and her Bulls career is off to a great start. Al, Debra, and I found shirts but the shot glass selection was non existent. There was one choice and it sucked. I would have to try to find another place (I didn’t). For the second time this year, I would have to order one online.
After the bookstore, we headed out on our self guided tour. There were plenty of campus maps to guide us as we walked around aimlessly. USF was actually quite helpful by putting the names of the buildings in bold letters on the top of each building so we only had to make up half the stuff we were telling Debra and Haley. It was good that we did this USF tour, because I think that Haley now realizes that there are bugs outside in some places. I think this may eliminate USF and she will have do some deeper research to see what other schools have bugs so she can cross those off her list. Beth adds, “Again, so Haley! We love you Haley!!”
We wandered around some more and found ourselves down by the basketball practice facility. We then tried to enter the Sun Dome, but it was closed for circus preparations. And no, I do not mean the USF basketball season, I mean the actual circus. But we were asked if we wanted to do early voting. I would have liked to since the races in Florida are much more interesting than in NY, but that would have been wrong, so I said no…or did I?
The Road Back
We finally left USF and tried to find an off campus bookstore or something like that to get a shot glass. No luck. Nothing even remotely looking like an off campus bookstore appeared in either direction on what appeared to be the main off campus street. So we headed back to the hotel.
And then the rains came. And then the tornadoes. While driving back to the hotel, we were all receiving non stop alerts on our phones about tornadoes in the area. And the rain. The driving rain. Yet another check mark on Haley’s list of must haves for a school; bugs and tornadoes. We did eventually make it back to the hotel, albeit very slowly as visibility while driving was quite poor, plus we kept looking out for funnel clouds.
We now had a bit of time for rest. Our dinner reservation was not until 9:30. Al and Debra went off not to be seen again until dinner. I should mention at this point, that Al was on a bit of pain killers. I will be kind and simply say that Al hurt his foot and was hobbling around most of the day. He does not know how he hurt it, although many theories were discussed mostly centered on his age. But he was on painkillers and we were up early. So the leading theory was that Al and Debra napped, and it was at least in the plausible category.
Haley and I headed off to my parents room as they drove in for the game. Actually, I think they drove in to see Haley and I (who am I kidding, it’s Haley) as the USF Bulls are not quite the immense draw. We had a few hours to hang out and discuss many topics, drink some wine, and eat some snacks. Dede came prepared. To Haley’s dismay, the conversation eventually turned to college applications. Haley tried to duck out of it by doing her high school yearbook survey and other busy work, but she could eventually avoid it no more. But to her credit, she did engage the conversation, and in all seriousness, I do think that she came away with some things to think about, as she does need to zero in on a few things, do some research, and make some choices. But I think and hope she is on it. I will say no more. Moving on. Time to get ready for dinner.
Bern’s Steak House
Ever since we booked this trip to Tampa, we were going to be having dinner at Bern’s Steak House. This was a restaurant that was long on my list of places to eat. And I got my chance this past summer, so when we were headed to Tampa on the Quest, we were definitely going again. A nod to Debra who was most gracious agreeing to go to a steakhouse given her vegetarian diet. But there will be wine.
The only option was a 9:30 reservation, but it was not even a consideration not to take it. We arrived at Bern’s and were seated. Bern’s is a bit different than a NY steak house in that it is not all a la carte. They actually give you a bit of food with your entree. All entrees come with onion soup, salad, potato, vegetable, and onion strings. So an appetizer is not really needed. The only thing that is needed in addition to your entree is additional sides if you wish. We ordered a few creamed spinaches and a sweet potato dish. To Al’s dismay, they did not have the sweet potato with marshmallows that he somehow found on instagram. It was mostly steaks all around. Diane (my mom) ordered a veal chop, Debra had vegetarian stew, and the rest of us ordered steak. It should be pointed out that Haley ordered and finished the same size steak as Al. I am not sure if this says more about Haley or Al.
My review is as follows:
Your meal will start with an excellent bowl of onion soup. The gooey melted cheese is very rich (that one was for you Beth) against a very tasty onion broth. The only complaint is that you will wish there was more. Your second course is a well balanced salad. There is an extensive list of dressing options and you can not go wrong with the few that I have sampled.
Finally, your steaks will arrive. There may be those who will argue that other steakhouses have better quality steaks. This is a debatable point and one which I would disagree, but I do not think many would argue that Bern’s is at least in that conversation. What can not be debated, is that no place, cooks your steak as perfectly to your liking as Bern’s. You tell your waiter how you like your steak and it is cooked perfectly to that order. Your waiter will work with you to craft your perfectly cooked steak and it will be hand cut to those specifications based on your preferences. My rib eye, with a bit of fat on the edge, mid rare, seared on the outside, could not have been more perfectly cooked. This is where Bern’s excels. I also believe that the creamed spinach is amongst the best. Many have called Bern’s overrated and I could not disagree more. In addition, it offers good value in a steakhouse since your meal will include soup, salad, potato, vegetable, and onion strings.
Furthermore, Bern’s has an excellent wine list. In fact, after your meal, you have the option to go on a tour of the kitchen and wine cellar. I highly recommend doing so. Bern’s has one of the largest private wine collections and is well worth seeing.
After dinner, you will move onto the dessert room. According to Al, this was the best part of the meal and he feels that Bern’s dessert is where they really shine, even more than the steaks. You will have an abundance of choices and the ambiance of a separate table for dessert is unique and adds an interesting twist to the the meal. Beth agrees with Al.
I highly recommend Bern’s and it is one of my top meals anywhere.
We moved upstairs to have dessert and we each ordered our preferred choice. I was conflicted so I ordered the sampler. Haley went with her default, a cookies and cream sundae. It was promised to be the best sundae that she ever had and she said that it came close. I can say that one of the desserts on the sampler that I had came with ice cream and the homemade ice cream was fantastic. Al could be right, that as good as the steaks are, maybe the desserts are the brighter star. Either way, Bern’s is clearly one of my favorite restaurants. And yes, you can go for just dessert. We will keep that in mind for tomorrow.
At some point it got really late as I guess that is what happens when you start dinner at 9:30. As we were leaving the dessert room, we headed past the now closed dining rooms. We must have gotten back to the hotel around 1am. So off to bed it was.
A Very Lazy Saturday Morning
A late night combined with a 3:30 game, leads to a golden opportunity for sleeping in. Haley has been know to take advantage of these opportunities, so it was a very lazy Saturday morning around the hotel. I can certainly think of worse ways to spend Saturday morning than in bed watching Gameday. But we did eventually have to get out of bed and go do something. Those of you who have been following us on the Quest can probably guess what comes next.
We headed out for the Ale House to get some lunch and watch some of the noon games. I have absolutely no idea why we continue to go to the Ale House. They have revamped the menu and removed most of the few items that I actually liked. The food is average at best and most of the time they screw up at least one thing that we order. But they do have many beer options, although never what Al wants, and many tvs. The fact of the matter is it is easy and we know what we are getting. We are very simple folk who can be quite dumb. We need to make better choices.
Raymond James Stadium
After lunch, it was time to head to Raymond James Stadium (“RJS”) for the game that we did come to Tampa to see. The USF Bulls play their home games at RJS, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which is a 20 minute drive from the USF campus. This is not quite as bad as the drive the UConn Huskies have to Hartford for their football games, but it is not ideal. But for us, it is right by the hotel.
We pulled into the parking lot and met up with Jody, who disappeared to Tampa decades ago. Jody, who now lives in Tampa, is a childhood friend of Al’s whom I met back in our UF days. Yesterday’s Tampa tornadoes did knock down part of his fence, but he was able to make it out for the game, wearing a soccer jersey. But at least it was green, Haley, and at least he was there.
We moved to enter RJS and I must stop and mention a few signs that we saw on the way. Now, I have spent a lot of time in Florida. I went to school there. My parents and in-laws live there. I know the place has issues and some people can be messed up. But your signage indicates some real problems. First, the list of prohibited items states “items that could be missiles”. Can’t that really be anything and doesn’t it beg the question, like what? And what caused that to be added to the list? Second, after entering Raymond James, there is a huge banner that says “No Field Jumping, Violators Subject to Arrest”. Is this that big of a problem that necessitates that large of a banner? You do realize your home teams are the Bucs and Bulls, right?
Anyway, we actually enter RJS which is a very nice stadium with wide councourses and a roomy interior. Despite Al’s continued foot issues, we were able to walk from one side to the other and take in the giant pirate ship in one of the end zones. As we were in Florida, the end zone concourses had a very Disney feel to them. Pirate village comes to mind fitting in with the Buccaneer theme and feel. Not much USF Bulls signage though. There is not much transition from Tampa Bay Bucs to USF Bulls. There are some very nice pics of the stadium in the photo album.
We head off to our seats which are fantastic. We were seated in the 200’s section which consisted of black leather seats with nice cushions. I am not sure that black leather in the Florida sun is a great choice, but I do not think that we have sat in more comfortable seats outside of a club or luxury suite. I guess that is what you get in an NFL stadium as opposed to a college stadium.
Time came for kickoff. Both Al and I picked the USF Bulls. Many times, when it is a good exciting game, I will do a game recap in this section of the trip report. The final score was Tulane 41 USF 15 and I will not be doing a recap. USF scored first and led 3-0. Tulane then scored the next 34 points. Tulane rushed for 365 yards but USF outgained Tulane 440-426.
The game was so riveting, that my parents headed off on the 4 hour drive home at some point during the 3Q.
I will choose to focus this section on other things that we noticed during the game. Minds tend to wander in a game that ends 41-15.
Let us start with the good. I think that this game had the best time out distraction event that we have seen, corgi races. Here is the setup, invite fans with corgi’s to bring them to the game, then place the corgi’s with one of their owners on the ten yard line and then release them all at the same time and have them run to another owner at the goal line. The first corgi to cross the goal line wins treats for a year or something like that. But here is the best part…after the race, someone has to round up all the corgi’s that are now running around the field. Alas, no corgi took a dump or humped another corgi. That would have been special. But I will say, this was fun to watch and a great event. You could do this at each game with a different breed of dog. And then at the last game you could have each winner race from one end zone to another. There are a lot of possibilities. But I will say, I was entertained. And since this is Florida, why couldn’t I bet on it? Ooh and cats. Herding cats would be fun too.
And now the bad. USF game ops is not even trying. Let’s start with the easy stuff.
- For the entire 1Q, the Tulane logo was incorrect on the game stats screen. First it was the Tulsa Golden Hurricane logo and then the UConn Huskie logo before finally being correct.
- The game stats were so far behind as to be utterly useless. Midway through the 2Q, the stats were only updated through the 10m mark of the 1Q. And so on.
- Where are the out of town scores? I know everyone has phones and can check scores on their own. But where is the attempt to keep people up to date?
Now a question, because I am confused about something. Did you really just honor a child who is fighting cancer and say that his dream is to go on an Alaskan cruise and then not say or do anything about that? Why would you do that? Why mention that if you are not doing anything about that? Most of the time, when something like this happens, it is because there is a donation to send them on the cruise. But if that is not being done, are you not starting a collection for them to go on the cruise? Could you not have mentioned a venmo account or a charity or something? It felt really cold and unnecessary. Again, are we not trying or not even thinking? Fun fact, Jimmy’s lifelong wish is to go on an Alaskan cruise, good luck with that Jimmy. Uh oh USF! Beth read this and her direct quote is “This is disgusting and Beth is following up on this.” You can expect a phone call.
And now for the stuff that is a bit harder. I know that you are playing in the Bucs stadium, but could you at least try to make it seem like this is a USF home game. Could we get a bit more green? Could we get some more USF signage? Could we get some more USF concessions? Can you try to make that pirate ship into a giant bull? I know this stuff is a bit harder, but c’mon, try to be a FBS school. You are the ones that made the decision to play at RJS, make the best of it and do what you can with it. You are mailing it in and it shows. This is a two bit operation. We have seen schools do more with less and you should take a lesson from schools that likely have budgets far less than yours. I was certainly disappointed with what USF is doing.
And by the way, does anyone realize that the giant pirate ship blocks the giant scoreboard?
Another separate observation from the game, there should be a time limit on clothing that contains a date and how long you can wear it outside your house. It is 2018 and I do not think anyone would argue that a tee shirt from 1998 is not acceptable. There is one exception I can think of and that is, it was such a good year for your team and it is never going to happen again that you bought a case of 100 shirts and you break out a new one each year. In that case, never mind.
After the game, we headed to Cooper’s Hawk for another late dinner. Cooper’s Hawk is an excellent restaurant that has an extensive wine list of house made wines that are quite good. Beth notes that Cooper’s Hawk has the best white sangria from a bottle. It is an upscale but relaxed place that allowed us a venue to have a good meal but still be able to watch the LSU vs. Alabama football game.
The quote of dinner coming from Haley is that she is glad she is on this trip so that she can see what is real in the trip reports. I really did not appreciate the insinuation that I make stuff up in the trip reports. I really wonder what part of which reports Haley believes is made up. On an unrelated note, the conversation then moved onto the fact that Haley has felt guilty about her aristocratic childhood and agreed to reimburse her parents for the costs of her upbringing. I told her that I really appreciated that and it was unnecessary but she could simply take care of things from this point forward including college. She agreed. It was a nice father daughter moment.
Dinner and wine was served, Alabama crushed LSU, and we returned to the hotel.
We purposefully booked a late flight home on Sunday. Al had put in a request with the College Football Quest travel office for a late flight home so that we could sit by the pool on Sunday. That was the reason for the nice hotel and the late flight. Unfortunately, the weather on Sunday did not warrant a pool day. It was a shame because the Grand Hyatt pool looked nice from nine floors up. But instead we would have to find something else to do.
Haley rejected all ideas for culture such as the aquarium, zoo, art museum, and similar venues. She simply refused to do anything but watch NFL. Her fantasy team is on a 4 game winning streak so all she wanted to do was watch football. Beth, we all tried to talk her out of it. It did not work. She held her breath until we caved. Beth notes,
“So Haley and so Jarrett’s upbringing. I am very disappointed that not even the tiniest part of her would have suggested shopping!”
So we headed off to a bar called Hattricks in downtown Tampa. The menu online looked good and who could not like a bar called Hattricks. The bar attracted fans of all teams but there was definitely an overwhelming amount of Tampa Bay fans. And they were vocal. Even after getting down 35-7, you would think that cheering for a Tampa Bay first down would get old, but it did not. But I guess if you are a Bucs fan, cheering for a first down is all you have, so have at it. Tampa would do what they do best and pull within a TD, getting the fans all riled up, and then fall short. So Tampa.
But the highlight of the early games was not on the field, it was at our table. Debra is new to our Quest and to hanging out with me, but you have to know that starting off a sentence with “In my sausage eating days” is never going to end well.” In fact, I would question any group of friends where one would think they could get away with a sentence like that. And yes, I do know what she meant, but still.
But as Harry Dunne once said, “Just when I thought you couldn’t possibly be any dumber, you go and do something like this… and totally redeem yourself!” Somehow, we ended up on the topic of Singerpedia and the fact that Al is now banned from Wikipedia. If you are unfamiliar with Singerpedia, I refer you to trip reports 8 and 9, which are Texas Tech and Cincinnati. Debra has now taken on the task of getting Singerpedia up and running as a full fledged omnipotent authority on all things useless information. I may have slightly misconstrued what she has taken on, but this is what I am going with. Go Debra!
It was also determined that Debra may in fact be a very good fit for Al, as they may go on vacation for a week together and not even pack a bag. As Quest followers know, Al can go on a Quest trip with hardly a change of clothes, which is in direct contrast to myself, who must stuff every inch of whatever bag I take, so that I can have clothes for every conceivable possibility. Well, Debra had to buy a Tampa shirt because she ran out of clothes. And for the record, no one noticed, this only came up because she announced it. I would say this was because of all the drinking, but I actually think this came up on the way to the bar and not at the bar, so there goes that theory.
After the 1pm games, we did have to head out to the airport. We returned the Silvercar, got dropped off at the terminal, and picked up our boarding passes at the Southwest kiosk. Tampa has kiosks.
We managed to convince Al to get a wheelchair more for the comedy of it, but partly for his benefit. It did not last long as he did not have patience to wait for the elevator and refused to allow me or Debra wheel him onto the escalator. A very wise decision by the way. Nor did he allow us to load him up with all the luggage. He can be a real downer at times.
We managed to find a place to drop anchor to wait out our slightly delayed flight and watch the late NFL games. Debra went off to find shakes and Haley went off to charge her phone or at least that is what she told us. I think she just had enough of 40 year olds for one weekend. She did return long enough for a now gin and tonic infused Debra to engage Haley in a sociology and psychology discussion. Haley heard someone calling her name and fled.
We did eventually board and returned to NY. I am sure that Haley would like me to point out that I was proved absolutely and completely wrong on our flight home, as I said that with a boarding number of B15 there was a 0% chance of us getting an emergency exit row. I was wrong. Inexplicably, we did manage to end up in the emergency row. I will end with, I was wrong and I was very happy to be so.
BTW, Al’s fantasy football team beat me this weekend, which sucks, but we did charge the entire trip to the Underhills.
South Florida which had started the season 7-0, would finish the season losing its last 6. The Bulls finished 3-5 in the American Athletic which was good for 4th place in the East. The season ended in the Gasparilla Bowl with a 38-20 loss to Marshall.
Tulane would finish 5-3 in the American Athletic West, which was good enough for a three way tie for first. The Green Wave won 4 of its last 5 to get into that tie as well as become bowl eligible and the reward was a trip to the Autonation Cure Bowl where they beat Louisiana 41-24, finishing the season at 7-6.
For our South Florida photo album, Please click here. You can view as a collage or run as a slideshow. There are comments to explain what is in the photo but most are self explanatory. Thanks to Google, I can no longer embed the slide show with comments.