While I'd doubted the merits of making a ten hour-long drive to the Music City Bowl (especially after so brutal a November), I relented.
On the eve of the game, at the 'battle of the bands' on Broadway, I encountered thousands of LSU fans, lots of whom actually had no tie to LSU, but were fans of other SEC teams. Many seemed smug, less-than-friendly, and blithe in the assumption that their team was superior. One button read, 'notre damned.'
Afterward, we drove the 20 minutes to the gigantic Opryland Hotel where, I soon learned, both teams were staying. While parking the car, my learning disabled son Ted (who wanted to stay at the hotel thru all activities) - hung in the lobby, and befriended Mike McGlinchey. McGlinchey was very accommodating, and Ted begged the talented tackle to wait until I arrived about eight minutes later from a distant parking lot. As I entered the hotel, I bumped into my first hero, Terry Hanratty. He was - as always - friendly and fun. I should've sensed then that good things were in the offing. As I entered the lobby, my son introduced me to the obliging McGlinchey.
After the game, I maneuvered thru heavy traffic as I headed back to the hotel, and took a call from Ted; he announced that he'd befriended Isaac Rochell. The FG-blocking tackle had given Ted a game glove, as well as detailed contact info for Ted's future use to remain in touch. Then, upon my arrival, I had chances to briefly visit with Tarean Folston, and Everett Golson, as well as Lt. David Robinson - all of whom were very gracious, and seemed wonderful ambassadors for the university. While the last-second upset of an SEC power had been dramatic....the highlight was simply meeting such good ND people. At that point, the 2014 Music City Bowl struck me as a major bowl after all.