Saturday, December 8, 2007

Day 3: Home of the Bearcats

The final day in Maryville has wrapped up. First thing this morning, we met with the on-field officials for a pregame replay discussion. It's a good group of guys from the Lonestar Conference in Texas. Obviously not a big football conference, but if there's anything Texas knows, it's certainly football.

Lunch at Applebee's was uneventful. The restaurant was pretty full around 12:30. A man in a Grand Valley sweatshirt recognized us as part of the replay crew by our company logo and chatted briefly with us about his grievances with the NCAA. According to him, the Lakers were cheated out of home-field advantage because of an official ruling to end a game early due to lightning. Because it didn't count as a win, their strength of schedule wasn't strong enough to get their deserved advantage. And so, the Lakers made the trek down from Allendale, Michigan to Maryville (634 miles).

The game was actually very exciting. Both programs are pure class, from the coaches and administrators down to the players and managers. While there were several minor penalties throughout the game, there was very little extracurricular jawing and fighting, despite the significance of the game and the history of the matchup. As for the replay system, we learned that our wireless headsets do not function in extreme conditions. At 4 degrees with wind chill and with a constant spattering of freezing rain and mist, the headsets had to be switched out twice for thawed units from inside the booth.

After all was said and done, we only stopped the game once for a critical spot review. Grand Valley went for it on 4th down and barely made the first down. We stopped it to appease the coaches and to let everyone know we had our eyes on everything. The on-field guys made the right call in giving the Lakers the first down.

The game ended strangely. With only a few minutes to go, and NW Missouri State nursing an 18 point lead, GVSU's coach ran across the field and had a private conversation with the NWMS coach during a timeout. From there, the Lakers ran out the rest of the clock. I can only assume he said 'Good game. This weather is atrocious and we want to get the hell out of here. We concede.' I'm not sure I like the call. It is both classy and classless at the same time. He may have saved a lot of people from unneeded exposure to the elements, and saved some from injury. But he also betrayed his players and his fans. Maybe something happened that we missed. Maybe that's exactly how it played out. I don't know.

I do know that we did a pretty good job of packing up shop and getting out of there afterwards. It took longer to get the half inch layer of ice off our car windows than it did to pack up the replay system.

Early afternoon flight tomorrow out of Kansas City means an early morning. To Northwest Missouri State, thanks for the hospitality. Congratulations on the win. We'll see you and Delaware in Florence next week.

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