First of all...got to love free wifi in Salt Lake City. I'm so proud of our little home-away-from-home airport that they finally joined the pre-teens (what I've been calling the 2000-09 years) in time for it to turn into 2010. This certainly helps the myriads of folks cruising through the Southwest terminal in SLC.
I know a lot of folks (my wife included) think that travel is this really fun, awesome time. Now, don't get me wrong...sometimes it is, like being in downtown Los Angeles and having the bus drop my and Ryan Cromie the trainer off at the Staples Center and buying tickets to catch the Los Angeles Kings hockey game. But most of the time, travel is a grind....a real grind. Take this six day odyssey for example...this trip is four flights, two long bus trips, and a grand total of six cities (Pocatello to Salt Lake to Las Vegas to Sacramento to Portland to Boise to Poactello). Let's see mapquest figure that crap out.
Seriously...this is today's part of the itinerary....
8:00am Depart Holt Arena South Side
10:45am Arrive @ SLC Airport
12:50pm Southwest Airlines #3067 Departs for Las Vegas
2:10pm Southwest Airlines #2132 Departs for Sacramento
3:45pm Arrive in Sacramento
4:30pm Check into Larkspur Landing
7:00-9:00pm Practice at Sac. State (Small Gym)
The meals are of the figure it out variety....lunch in either the SLC airport before we leave, or during the layover in Vegas, and you can see there's no dinner, because that will be after practice ends at 9ish or whenever. This is the norm for most basketball trips.
I can tell you as a world traveler that the Salt Lake Airport is pretty good foodwise. The Dick Clark's cafe has a nice breakfast, and I'm all for the Sbarro's calzones. The Las Vegas airport has gambling, which is a plus, but the food is expensive, and the wireless wasn't working when I was there a few weeks back.
The Portland airport has wonderful food choices...I usually hit the Panda Express, but they have everything for the discerning food maven. Other good airports for food at Midway in Chicago (get the burger or chicken sandwich at the Illinois Pub and Grill....oh my...trust me), and Phoenix is fantastic. The coaching staff usually ends up at Chili's there, and they have an Einstein's bagels for those early morning flights.
If only Pocatello had an airport that could handle our flights....oh well.
Tonight the Griz have another shot at the National Championship, taking on Villanova tonight in the FCS national title game in Chattanooga, and hence the conflict arises...who does a Bengal fan root for?
Now, I got a TON of flack back in early November from Griz fans on eGriz.com because I had the gall to state that in my poll (I'm a SportsNetwork voter), that I had Villanova #1 and Montana #2, despite the fact that Montana was undefeated. I liked my reasoning of why I had done that (basically 'Nova had a better schedule and I had them at #2 and they lost to #1 New Hapshire 28-24, and I didn't think that warranted dropping them based on the other scores that week), and with both Montana and Villanova in the title game, I do have a bit of pride that my top two in my poll are in the title game.
But my head is one thing, and my heart is another, and honestly, how can Montana not feel like they are destined to win? The early season comeback in the fourth quarter against UC Davis got them started, but kicking the winning field goal with no time left when it hits Michael Wright's hand and then caroms off Dustin Tew's hand and still goes in? Scoreing 40 straight ot come back on South Dakota State? The snow against App. State? The clock running out with the Mountaineers at the 4-yard line? The HORRIFIC field goal attempts by ASU? And then throw in Marc Mariani, who honestly might not be the best Big Sky player I've ever seen, but certainly the scariest and the guy who is in my "Jordan Zone" (NOTE: The Joran Zone is that rarified air where a player does something so ridiculous, yet it's just not that surprising, kind of like Michael Jordan in his prime. Seriously, if someone tells you "did you hear about the Montana game? Mariani had to quarterback the final series to get them into field goal range and then had to kick the field goal" ... isn't that plausible at this point? Hence, Mariani is in the Jordan Zone).
I just don't see Montana getting to Chattanooga for a second straight year and losing. There is something to the magic of a destined team, and they look like it. They survived that ugly Bobby Hauck/Kaimin thing (I felt bad for their SID who was basically rendered inert during that whole preceeding), and I just think they will do it.
Of which, I read somewhere that Montana is in their seventh title game with seven different starting quarterbacks....that's impressive. Or Montana could go to the WAC and play in the Humanitarian Bowl against Bowling Green LOL.
Speaking of Bowls....
Former Voice of the Bengals Russ Eisenstein must be in a weird spot in his life....enjoying the fact that his Ohio Bobcats went 9-4 and are in a Bowl game, but it's the Little Caesar's Bowl, which has been derided by ESPN as the worst Bowls of the season (unless Christmas in Detriot is appealing to you). Russ is even enjoying a 6-3 men's basketball team and a Mid Major Poll ranking. (NOTE: Getting ranked in the Mid-Major Poll is not a national ranking. I've now seen two schools in the Big Sky use that term describing either themselves or an opponent about being nationally-ranked. Unless Kentucky is a part of that poll....it's not a "national" ranking).
I've been posted personal pics from some of our trips on Facebook, and you can find and friend me over there at www.facebook.com/frankmercogliano. I usually don't put weird things over there, unless you consider my family weird (which I do).