Posted Jan. 8, 2015

Sep 26, 2011

Thoughts from The Valley: There is The Grove. And Then There is Everything Else.



HOW I AM FEELING: Completely and utterly exhausted, in most every way one can be completely and utterly exhausted. As I write these very words I am sitting here at the Memphis airport, whiling away the hours and not-so-patiently waiting for my flight, which doesn’t leave until 2:50 p.m.. I had to get here at 8:30 a.m., however, because Co-Host Mike and Your Editor’s other travel companions’ flight left at 9 a.m. So it’s been a fantastic day of basically walking around the Memphis airport and feeling miserable. I just want to go home. In happier news, OH MY GOD WE WENT TO THE GROVE YESTERDAY AND I MAY OR MAY NOT PACK UP THE FAMILY AND MOVE TO OXFORD. Because The Grove was that good. I mean, so good that there is no point in me even attempting to write about it. But I will try anyway. Shortly.

WHAT I AM DRINKING: Stella Artois. Not because I have any particular fondness Stella Artois. But rather because Stell Artois is the only beer option in this awful Memphis airport bar that doesn’t include the word “Lite." The South is good at many things, including tailgating and playing collegiate football. But The South is not good at beer. This is some serious Pale Yellow Fizzy country here, folks.

WHAT I AM LISTENING TO: The ringing in my ears. Courtesy of The Grove. I hope it never goes away.

VILLA UPDATE: The World's Most Beautifully Named Football Club played QPR this weekend in London. And you’ll never guess what happened. That’s right another draw. Good news: Villa remains unbeaten in this Premier League season. Bad news: We are dropping points like crazy. Every point counts, folks. Additional bad news: Draws are mildly demoralizing. Especially when they are the result of own-goals given up three minutes into extra time.


I will say this right up front: Nothing I write here will do The Grove justice.

There are no words for how beautiful Oxford is; it is a town, as you might imagine, straight out of Southern Living.

There are no words for how kind, for how hospitable, for now unbelievably charming the Ole Miss fans are; they go out of their way--I mean, really make a concerted effort--to make sure that you, a Grove newbie, are having the greatest time of your life. And they succeed.

There are no words that can explain to you, non-Grovers that you are, just what it’s like to spend a day in those glorious 10 acres, to witness tailgating done so well that it’s probably not even fair to describe it as tailgating at all, to eat and drink and carry on in true Southern fashion, to see the Rebs, led by The Right Reverend Houston Nutt, parade through campus during The Walk of Champions.

There are no words that can put that town and that place and those people into their proper context; it is as if they exist in a place out of time, removed from the dull grind of "reality."

There are no words to explain why The Grove is different.

There are no words, to be quite honest, that can ever make you “get it.”

You’ve either been there. Or you haven’t.

I’ve been there.

You haven’t.

My advice would be to remedy that situation as soon as possible.

Hotty Toddy. Flim Fam. Ole Miss. By Damn.


THREE: Temple beat Maryland 31-7. This is outstanding on many levels. The most important level being this: Temple has real uniforms and Maryland has pretend uniforms. That’s what you call “Justice Served.”

TWO: The Penn State quarterback controversy continues. And my God is it getting annoying. Look, I get it, Mr. Angry Penn State Fan: You have a horse in this race, and I’m sure you feel quite passionately that your guy is the right guy to lead Penn State to the promised land. But here’s the thing: There ain’t no promised land this year (lest you consider a third-tier bowl game to be the promised land), and at the end of the day, neither Rob Bolden nor Matt McGloin are going to set the world alight. They are what they are: Average quarterbacks. Occasionally effective quarterbacks. Occasionally ineffective quarterbacks. They will make some plays. They will botch some plays. But they aren’t, in the parlance of the football analyst, difference makers. Penn State could win nine games this year or they could win five. But at the end of the day, it’s not going to the quarterbacks that make the difference. Because they are quite honestly incapable of doing so. So just relax, won’t you? There are no conspiracies. There is no Grand Plan. And not, this is not all Jay Paterno's fault. What we have here, my good friends, is two guys who aren’t particularly talented at playing quarterback. Life goes on.

ONE: Five quick thoughts boiled down into one item. Here goes: 1. West Virginia has no right to be ranked. 2. The difference in athleticism between the LSUs and Alabamas of the world and the rest of college football nation is staggering. We are witnessing nothing less than the Manchesterization (i.e., the consolidation of power) of college football. And Manchester is the SEC West. 3. Clemson is having a remarkably un-Clemson-like year, and it makes me worry for Clemson fans, because you just know this is going to end, and end badly. 4. Denard Robinson is quickly becoming my favorite non-Penn State player of all time; appreciate this kid while you can, folks. We won’t see another like him anytime soon. 5. LSU has played four games. Three of those games were against ranked teams. Two of those games were on the road. One of them was at a neutral site against a Top 5 opponent. I respect the Tigers (and their athletic director) a great deal. They do scheduling right. Most everyone else does it wrong.

TOUCHDOWN: One of the more interesting things about our trip to Ole Miss was this: We asked approximately 14,000 people if they could tell us what “Hotty Toddy” means. Nobody could. Except for one girl, about 14 drinks deep, who informed us the following. “It means we’re the [expletive] [expletive].” So there’s that.

OVERTIME: Speaking of our Ole Miss experience: PLEASE BE SURE TO LISTEN TO THIS WEEK’S EDITION OF THE TCFA PODCAST. Because we will have actual audio recorded live from The Grove. You will hear old Grovers and young Grovers. You will hear "Hotty Toddy" and rambling Southern lasses. You will hear … well, me and Mike. It shall be grand. Tune in, won’t you? In the meantime, feel free to write us at

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