Greetings from the pressbox high above the field here at James R. Hallford Stadium. I’ve just come up from the field — a near vertical climb of I’m guessing eight or nine stories — where I got an up-close-and-personal look at one of the best pregame midfield square-offs I’ve witnessed since those Miami-Florida State in the 1990s.
This one was between to of DeKalb County’s finest, the No. 7-ranked Stephenson Jaguars and No. 8-ranked Martin Luther King Lions. Stephenson, in visiting white jerseys warming up on the east end of the field, gathered and bean jumping and taunting on the 45 on their side. The Lions, in their home burgundy, quickly rushed up to their side and began jumping and yelling back. It took every coach, volunteer and referee to keep the two sides at bay.
By the time I got up and settled back at my computer — it is literally standing-room only in this ladder-access edifice — and theywere finishing playing the national anthem. On cue, a red helicopter appeared on the horizon to the west and landed on a soccer field behind Georgia Perimeter College next door. It hovered about 30 yards above the grass for several seconds — clearly to get full effect — before finally touching down gently.
After a long wait for the blades to stop turning, Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin emerged wearing a bright orange pullover. You couldn’t miss him.
Yeah, it’s going to be a wild night.
I’ll be here the whole time telling you what’s going on and what the ESPNU cameras might not see. Hang with me, won’t you?