Road to Game Day: Week 7, Austin

Words by Keith Arnold, who ↵is touring the country with his brother Phil as they invade a different ↵college campus each Saturday during the football season. They’ll be reporting back in this space with their various adventures. You can also keep tabs on their vagabonding over at RoadtoGameDay.com. This weekend, they were in Austin for the Missouri-Texas game.
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It is a much different experience watching a football game live and in person. Even with flat screens, HD, and all the fancy flying cameras they use now, you tend to forget about some of the basics. Like how big a football field actually is. Or how far a quarterback has to throw the ball on a deep out. And just how unbelievably big and fast these guys are. While you may not get the replay angles or the yellow line in the stadium, no matter how good your sound system is at home, you just can’t feel how loud a stadium gets during a big game. ↵

↵And Darrel K. Royal Stadium got plenty loud. ↵

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↵Say what you’d like about the Dallas Cowboys (and right now, there is plenty to say), but there is no team in the state of Texas more beloved than the Longhorns. And right now, there is no Longhorn more loved than Colt McCoy. If you told me that they were making a sequel to The Program, and star-quarterback-turned-head-coach Joe Kane took the coaching job at Fake Texas University and had to battle James Caan and the ESU Timberwolves, Colt McCoy would be the name of the gun slinging Texan that Joe would recruit to lead his team. It’s actually a little disappointing that McCoy’s real life brothers are named Chance and Case, I was hoping they’d be something like Stetson or Marlboro. ↵

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↵Watching McCoy play in person these last two games has helped me appreciate how good he is. When a guy can calmly pick up a bouncing football, out run the pass rush and throw a strike to a crossing receiver, you know he’s feeling it. From the moment the game started, it was pretty clear that the team with the skinnier quarterback was going to roll. And with the score 35-doughnut in the 2nd quarter, Phil was pretty happy we didn’t actually buy real tickets. ↵

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↵These last seven weeks have taught us more about economics than anything we learned in college. It should be a graduation requirement for Econ students to buy tickets from scalpers at their school’s biggest football game. The guy or girl who pays the most for a ticket fails the class. There is no better example of supply and demand than outside a packed stadium. And with supply being the lowest we’d seen since USC, we had to resort to the black market. As we haggled between scalpers asking $300 for a pair of lower level seats, we were approached by a guy who said he could get us end zone seats for 60 bucks. It sounded shady. We jumped on it immediately. ↵

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↵Our ticket purchases have been adventures every week. From scrambling to find a drunk frat guy with an unused ticket 10 minutes after kickoff in Gainesville, to lucking our way into two seats at USC because an actress alum had to be on set, to accidentally purchasing two tickets to the Georgia–Central Michigan game instead of the showdown with ‘Bama, it’s been a gong show every week. Now we had a guarantee into the stadium and end zone seats for the newly negotiated cost of 60 bucks total. And he assured us we could get into the stadium with our camera bag too. Were we concerned that he wouldn’t give us the “tickets” until we were at the gate? A little. Concerned enough to walk halfway around the stadium to where a bunch of other scalpers were selling tickets for $120 a piece? Not really. ↵

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↵Almost every stadium we’ve been to has a couple sketchy ticket takers or ushers that let people into the games for free. They might be cousins with the scalper and split the cash, and just shuffle a couple extra people into the stadium with bum tickets. We approached the gate with our “host,” who cut us to the front of the line where his buddy was a ticket taker. They did some kind of handshake and then we just walked in the stadium. It felt like the first time you got into a college bar with your fake ID. I handed the guy the 60 bucks and he just patted me on the back. “Man, there be plenty of seats in the end zone over there. You don’t need a ticket. Just go pick a seat.” And then he left. I wasn’t sure whether to feel scammed or cheated. But I did know, that if we were going to be sitting in the wrong seats, they might as well have been good ones. ↵

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↵So from the 40-yard line in the lower deck, we watched the best team in the country, the pride of Texas, led by its homegrown hero beat the bag out of an overmatched Mizzou. Somewhere, I’d like to think my Econ teacher is smiling. Although he’s probably just shaking his head. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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