Sunday, August 28, 2011

Open House

The Open House last year was an extremely memorable event as I managed to get the whole team to sign a Stanford football poster and Luck to autograph a #12 jersey and my Sun Bowl cap. I had both the poster and jersey framed (for way too much money) and wore the cap to every single game. Somewhat superstitious, I wanted to do the same this year and was delighted that the program included an open scrimmage as well. As I pulled off the 101 to the Embarcadero exit, a car with an Oregon Ducks license plate was in front of me. I ended up following the car to the parking lot anxious to see who this not-so-clandestine advance scout was. It turned out to be a father and young son – both clad in red. As we walked towards the rugby field where the scrimmage was being held, I couldn’t help but drop the “doing some early scouting for the Ducks” line and he was somewhat taken aback by how I had figured it out. I almost told him I could spot a Duck a mile away but fessed up that his license plate revealed his true allegiances. It turned out that he was a UW undergraduate who went to graduate school at Oregon and had moved to the Bay Area where he was a Stanford/Andrew Luck fan whenever they weren’t playing the Ducks or Huskies. Or so he claimed.

The scrimmage was a spirited affair but it’s hard to draw any real conclusions other than who is getting first team reps when offenses and defenses are so vanilla. I recall the Spring game before the Orange Bowl season when the game ended in a 6-6 tie and the Whitaker brothers had to settle it in a sudden death kickoff duel that Nate won. If anything, Eric seems to have lost some of his mojo because he pushed his brother pretty hard during that battle. Ty Montgomery’s mother was sitting near me and it is always amusing to hear well intentioned but less informed fans ask questions like “Is he on a scholarship?” The question of what other offers he had been considering also came up and I always feel like asking “If Team X had offered, would he have gone there?” where in Ty’s case, Team X would be Texas given that he is from Dallas.

There was some time between the end of scrimmage and the open house in the stadium and so I made my way over to the Track House to purchase a #12 jersey. A line outside the Gate 1 entrance a good 30 minutes before doors opened had already begun to form. It was much longer when I got back from the Track House. What a difference a year makes! Upon entering the stadium, I noticed another line on the East concourse an hour before the autograph session commenced. Of course, it was for Andrew Luck (and Shayne Skov) and I promptly got in line, With only 1 autographed item allowed per player, my plan was to get Andrew to sign my poster, get through the rest of the team and get back in line for him to sign my jersey. It would have been a breeze last year but with the long lines this year, I missed out on a station and was sadly unable to get any of the first string running backs’ signatures.

Some of the highlights while getting my poster signed were giving Skov some shit about not being featured on this year’s poster and telling him that he’d be front and center of next year’s poster (if he comes back was the unspoken assumption), telling Ty how glad I was that he chose Stanford and hear him sincerely respond that he couldn’t be happier about his decision, Vaughters adamantly telling a young fan when asked that he would be a true freshman, and telling a somewhat bemused Fleener how much his freshman RAs who I know talk about him.

While I didn’t get a chance to obtain everyone’s signature for the team poster, I did get back in the Luck/Skov line and had Skov autograph my Orange Bowl cap and Luck sign my jersey. Last year when I had Luck sign my jersey, it felt like it was still pretty new to him and he asked me where I wanted him to sign it. This year he wanted to know my name so he could personalize it, presumably so that it wouldn’t end up on eBay for a decent chunk of change. What a difference a year makes! That suited me just fine and once this season concludes, my most prized possession is going to be a framed Andrew Luck jersey with a plaque containing his final Stanford stats signed “To Z”!

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