Love That Southern Hospitality

Bobby Curran
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Friday - September 08, 2006
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A couple of thoughts after returning from one of the shrines in college football, Bryant-Denny Stadium, home of the University of Alabama Crimson Tide.

* College football carries an aura of religiosity in the Deep South in general, and Alabama in particular. Everybody in the University of Hawaii party, from players and coaches to parent and fans, were treated to an astounding level of Southern hospitality. People would stop you everywhere to welcome you to the state. Perfect strangers would come up in restaurants wanting to talk football and inquire how they could be of help. The chef at the Hot and Hot Fish Club came out from the line bearing gifts of appetizers and then asked for a breakdown of the Hawaii defense.

“How do you think they know we’re from Hawaii?” asked an aloha-shirt clad Robert Kekaula. Gee, I wonder ...

* The RVs started rolling in Tuesday night for the weekend. By Friday morning there were hundreds of them. Apartments adjacent to the stadium are rented all year by fans who use them only six weekends a year. On Friday, the team bused from Birmingham 54 miles to Tuscaloosa for a walk-through practice. The motorcade included two buses and two cars sandwiched between three police cars and four police motorcycles. All traffic is shut down for the entourage by leapfrogging police. Fifteen miles out of Tuscaloosa, four more solo bike officers joined the procession. On the way home, bumper to bumper traffic was parted like the Red Sea, and nobody even gave us stink eye. The whole process was repeated on game day ...

* We overheard a mother and daughter debating the relative merits of calling a draw play on third-and-15 ...

* The on-campus Bryant Museum is dedicated to Crimson Tide football. There are video programs on ‘Bama history, highlight videos of great moments in games, and Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant speechifying on video to the faithful.

Former Tide star QB Ken Stabler was signing autographs all day Friday in the museum. And, of course, everybody asked if they could direct you to something special ...

* The 120 luxury boxes in the stadium account for more money than the rest of the stadium, which sold out at 92,138. Yes, it’s big-time college football, but it had hospitality to match. I was reminded of the aloha spirit at home and how each of us must do our part to nourish it ...

* It was a treat to see former Warriors Vincent Manuwaii and Chad Owens at the game. They had a day off from the Jacksonville Jaguars and came to see their former teammates. Owens learned on Friday that he had made the team. Owens is my choice for the most inspirational Hawaii player of all time. Told he was too small since entering Roosevelt High, Owens kept working and believing, and after an excellent career at UH and a year on the Jaguars practice squad, at 5-feet-8-inches and 180 pounds he will be returning punts against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

When I congratulated him, it was vintage Owens: “I’m grateful that I’ll have the chance to get better.”

* Former KGMB and current ESPN anchor Neil Everett was fly-fishing on a Montana river on Friday morning before taking a journey to Tuscaloosa that required five stops. Everett travels light; he arrived with only a toothbrush in his pocket ...

* One of the toughest ways to watch a game is with your child playing in it. The anxiety level can get pretty high. My brother and his wife sat next to a Hawaii fan and after talking about the game throughout, not until the fourth quarter did my brother learn that he’d been talking to Terry Brennan, father of Hawaii QB Colt Brennan.

That’s an unbelievable bit of self-control. The elder Brennan is hugely involved with his son’s career, and now we know where Colt gets his humility and class ...

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