When the crowd parted some yesterday outside the Rose Bowl at the BCS National Championship Game I was able to stand comfortably behind the sprawling College Gameday set and position myself in such a way that I could see Nick Saban in all his frustrated sort-of-glory. His head floated in between a giant steel pole and the elbow of one of the camera men.
I was in a sea of orange and navy and garnet and gold. The Pasadena sun shone down and the temperature was pleasant, God blessing the proceedings. The San Gabriels towered off ahead of us and there was a buzz. Everyone on a vacation, the success of which was entirely dependent upon whether or not their squad won. People were happy, though. They stared at the set with a great deal of awe and hoped for a camera to make its rounds near them so people back home could point at the television, then pause it, then take their picture, then tweet it at them. Everyone was shouting out one name or another trying to get someone to look their way.
Nick! Saban! You still need a second, Nick?! You suck!
Kirk! Herbie!! Kirk!
Coach! Coach! Who you picking?!
To my right some ten yards away in the middle of the patch of grass were three dudes, all of them Florida State fans. One of them was wearing a Winston jersey. The number 5 was faded and I’d imagine it doubled as an EJ Manuel jersey some time ago. The other two were in FSU golf polos. On the ground next to one of them was a 24 rack of Bud Light, the side ripped open revealing the metallic Dory-blue cans. Next to that was a wooden box with the top cut off. They’d cut slits in the sides of the wood so that they could string a leather strap through them to make it easier to carry the box. It looked like a wooden purse. Inside were their empties. Some eight to ten cans were piled up in there. On the side of the box, written in sharpie, it said this: Leweee Vittun.
This is not to say I think they were dumb. On the contrary. I think they’ve got fantastic senses of humor. It looked to be a bit. They were just having fun, hoping someone would try to correct them on the spelling so they could go in on them. All three of them had a beer in a koozie and all three kept on shouting “Noles!” at the top of their lungs. They each wore old, worn Sperrys. I’d imagine they went home very happy after the game.
I’d have been fine observing these modern day heroes for the rest of the day but my attention was diverted when I heard someone shout “Charles”. I whipped my head around and there, behind the fence, 30 yards away, was Barkley. He was talking to a security guard, the both of them pointing to the right, presumably at the gigantic “Tailgate Experience” or whatever they were calling it. Someone, maybe Joe Purdy himself — I was too far away and have no idea what the person on stage looked like — was singing Joe Purdy songs. Can’t imagine anyone sincerely wanting to cover Joe Purdy but, you know, it takes all kinds. Chuck’s shirt was long sleeved and navy and on the back it said “Oops LOL”.
I wondered what that meant. I’d been given the punch line but not the joke. The Chuckster refusing to disappoint with his wardrobe. A homemade, custom shirt. The Gawd. People kept on shouting.
Chuck! Charles! Hey! Chuck! War Eagle, Chuck!
He’d not been paying anybody much mind and started to move slowly toward the set. A woman close to him put her hand on his shoulder and they chopped it up for a few seconds. Barkley smiled.
Then a couple came up and talked to him. He looked like he knew them. They stood by the porta pottie and he took a picture with the lady. Then took a picture with both of them. Then just with the guy. This was when I was finally able to see what it said on the front of his shirt.
In orange lettering, one word: Roll
Chuck flinging zingers. Then I walked off in search of a bathroom and tried to discretely take a picture of the Leweee Vittun box but failed.