Thursday, September 15, 2005

Daylight...Footrace...Touch...Down

ABC Sports' college football announcers Brent Musburger and Gary Danielson each have close ties to Northwestern: Brent is one of our most famous alumni and Gary's kid was the football team's back-up quarterback for our last year of school.

And yet every time I sit down to watch the incredible NU 54, Michigan 51 game from the 2000 season -- and I watch it often -- I always cringe at the play-by-play and color commentary.

I'll explain: This is perhaps the greatest live sporting event I've ever attended. No, it is the greatest game I've even attended. I've been to the World Series and witnessed a miracle, I've been to the Stanley Cup playoffs and celebrated the glory of an overtime series winner, I've been to football and baseball stadiums and hockey and basketball arenas all over the country and seen unbelievable games in person.

But nothing beats this game. Nothing. I watched my Wildcats' spread offense put up 654 yards and 54 points on the vaunted Big Blue defense, slugging it out with All-Americans and future pros Drew Henson, David Terrell, Marquise Walker, BJ Askew and the A-Train on offense and Larry Foote, Victor Hobson, Cato June and Larry Stevens on the defensive side of the ball. At 6-2 (4-1 Big Ten), we were actually ranked #21 in the country to Michigan's #12 ranking, but the talent chasm between these two teams was immeasurable. We had a nerdy scheme that coaches couldn't stop and fans loved to watch; they had big boys and bruisers that would eventually play on Sunday.

We watched intently and rooted as the Cats came back from a 28-10 deficit and ran all over an all-around better, faster and tougher team. After trading scores, we pulled to within five at the end of the game, but Heisman-caliber running back Damien Anderson dropped an easy touchdown with no Wolverines in sight on fourth down, and we lost possession with less than two minutes remaining. When all hope was lost, when all the Wolverines had to do was gain one first down and kneel out the clock, the Hand of God knocked the ball loose from their Heisman-caliber running back Anthony Thomas just as he broke free, and Raheem Covington fell on the ball.

A few Kustokian slants later, Sam Simmons caught an 11-yard pass and we were actually leading with 20 seconds to go. It was the textbook definition of pandemonium in the stands. People were hugging and high-fiving and falling all over each other. We were about to win the craziest game on the entire college football season's docket. On national television, no less. After a botched 57-yard Michigan field goal with four seconds on the clock, we rushed the field for the first and only time in my career as a die-hard sports fan (check out those rushing the field pics above, they show everything up to the point where our student body couldn't bring the goalposts down -- NU engineers 1, NU fans 0).

The Cats moved into a first-place tie with Purdue and the Wolverines fell back to third or fourth place. It was an incredible day, I mean simply incredible. When Covington fell on that fumble I honestly cried tears of joy, and I wasn't alone. That's how insane it was in the stands that day. It was so crazy that I had no energy left and, it being Parents' Weekend, I had to call my folks and cancel our reservation downtown at the legendary Charlie Trotter's. My mother, having made the reservation months in advance and having psyched herself up for it, secretly still hasn't forgiven me for that move. But I'll never forget that day as long as I live.

And when I watch this game on my TiVo (God bless ESPN Classic), those emotions and memories come flooding back, but they're drowned out by Musburger's exaggerated and repetitive calls. The amount of times he says "Daylight" and "Footrace" is unprecedented. It's without precedent, baby. The subject line of this post is an actual call from the game -- just those three words and six syllables -- on a 50-yard touchdown scamper by the great DA.

So imagine my utter delight when I saw the following in an e-mail from Red Cowboy: The Brent Musburger Drinking Game. Feel free to play it this weekend, responsibly of course. I don't quite understand how it doesn't have "DAYLIIIIGHT" as part of the rules, but the rest is right on point. Enjoy.

12 Comments:

At 6:37 PM, Blogger jp said...

Dude, you'll be hammered with 5 minutes left in the 1st quarter if you play that game.

 
At 8:58 AM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

That's an excellent point, JP. Dayliiiiight!

And when he does college hoops, watch out for a ton of "3-Ballll" calls. That and him calling every player by their first name.

 
At 10:11 AM, Blogger dhodge said...

One of the greatest live sporting events I've ever attended also involved a perennial Big 10 doormat defeating the aforementioned Wolverines and the subsequent charging of the field (Purdue, 1996). We managed to rip those goalposts down and chuck them into the Wabash River, however.

 
At 10:26 AM, Blogger MDS said...

Thanks for linking to a photo from the Daily Illini, of which I am a former editor in chief. It sure would have been nice if the Illini could have won even one similarly big game in the four years I was there.

 
At 10:35 AM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

I road-tripped to both your Big Ten schools in 1997, and I went 1-1. Purdue beat us handily, 21-9 behind Bruce Dicken(son), but we spanked the Illini to drop them to 0-9. Oh and Nine. That was fun.

All I remember about Purdue was eating at a La Bamba (burritos as big as your head) and sleeping at the Sigma Chi there. The Illinois trip was hysterical -- and I remember being in the bar and watching Phish on Conan that night (they debuted Farmhouse). I think we went to a place called Clybourne's? Is that a place? We stayed at the Chi Psi Lodge there, and that place was a hotbed of unintentional comedy. Hilarious.

Good times, folks.

 
At 12:31 PM, Blogger MDS said...

Clybourne's was, at one point, my primary hangout. Perhaps we were there on the same night. As big a football fan as I am, I really have no positive Illini football memories at all. Not only did the team suck, but Turner and everyone in the athletic administration were such douchebags that it was hard to root for them at all.

 
At 12:58 PM, Blogger John Howard said...

I remember watching that game, great game. I came in right aobut the beginning of the fourth quarter, then I was able to see the rest on ESPN Claasic.

 
At 1:17 PM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

Yeah, you can tell how passionate just thinking about this game makes me...what an incredible day of drunkenness and great football. I'm glad the rest of the country could join in the fun that day.

 
At 4:29 PM, Blogger The Bourbon Samurai said...

I had to watch this game in Norris because I had to go do a show-it was totally incredible, a hundred people screaming and hugging and overturning tables...

 
At 6:27 PM, Anonymous Chefra said...

You cancelled a reservation to Charlie Trotter's? Your mother has no son.

 
At 2:00 PM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

Ha, Chefra, trust me, I hear about it every time that game comes up. My brother went to Michigan, so trust me, that game comes up a lot. Trotter's is great I'm sure (we never made it there), but dinner is fleeting. The game is forever.

Bourbon, there was a crowd in Norris that day? Man, I'm sure that would have been cool, but I'm sure everyone was kicking themselves for not being a few miles up the road instead. Hmm, an NU alum reads this blog? Do we know each other?

 
At 3:59 PM, Blogger The Bourbon Samurai said...

It was mostly older folk and the theatre people-my friends and I were only there because we had a show going up at 8.

I graduated '03 w/ theatre/religion double. Would we have crossed paths?

 

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