My Texas Bowl story actually begins in Scottsdale. I was there the two days before the Texas Bowl, enjoying some warmer weather before I started the eventual trip home (with a little detour, of course). I was in the Capitol Grill the day before the bowl game for dinner, and through a series of events came to have a brief conversation with one of the guys from the next table. Turns out he was on the Fiesta Bowl committee, and he was involved with last year’s Insight bowl as well. He was geniunely impressed with our fans and found the experience refreshing compared to the sense of entitlment that some of the traditional powers exude.
I met a few Flyertalkers for drinks before the game. I had to restrain myself when the organizer called Rutgers his “favorite mid-major”, and just chalked that up to the Texas football worldview where almost any team not from Texas is probably a mid-major. It just shows how much work the Big East needs to do to rehabilitate its reputation in football.
The game itself was a blast. The stadium was phenomenal, while the on the flipside the field condition was terrible. RU fans apparently shows up in droves, with more than 17,000 in attendance according to the Houston Chronicle (no link available). That Rutgers won 37-10 in what was really a dominating performance, especially in the second half, made it even more rewarding for Rutgers fans. The post-game component was unique, with a lot of love between the players. Eric Foster had the crowd perform the chant made famous in a video from the locker room after the South Florida game. All in all a special experience. Even more so with the chants of Brian Leonard throughout the game, who more than any player helped make Rutgers a special place to play and watch football.
The team returned home Friday, as did I. As expected, the early afternoon flights from Houston to Newark were incredibly overbooked, with my originally scheduled 12:05 pm flight needing what looked like at least 10 volunteers. In the end I saw them get around six, with another four IDBs (Involuntary Denied Boarding). Of course, I jumped at the opportunity to pick up a voucher and still get home the same day. So my relatively expensive trip ended up netting me $500 back.
All in all, a great experience. I can’t wait for next season!