How was your weekend? Wiz correspondent Greg Laughlin made the most of his, taking in two bowl games in two days. After a stop in Tampa (see post below), Greg made it to Birmingham for the Papajohns.com Bowl. Accept no imitations. Birmingham is home of the original Pizza Bowl. Forget this Little Caesars stuff in Detroit.
Greg can now make the rarest of claims: He has attended all four Pizza Bowls in Birmingham and — this is the clincher — the first Little Caesars Bowl in Detroit. If anybody else has pulled this off, please step forward.
For the most part, the Birmingham game has been a giant headache. The first game in 2006 didn't have pizza. Not good when the title sponsor can't sell its goods.
ESPN, which operates the game, attempted to deceive viewers into thinking the crowd was bigger than it actually was by having the majority of fans sit on one side of the stadium — the side that faced the cameras.
Version 2.0 in 2007 wasn't much better. Not only did the title sponsor run out of pizza in the first quarter, but "Cincinnatti" was misspelled on the official game T-shirt. Bearcat fans were able to laugh it off because their team beat Southern Mississippi, 31-21.
The 2008 event went off with few hitches, bringing us to Saturday's fourth Pizza Bowl. Jon Solomon of the Birmingham News reports on more troubles:
"Traffic was a nightmare getting to Legion Field. And even though Papa John's added two mobile kitchens this season to cook pizza — up from one last year — it still wasn't enough to solve the annual logistical nightmares of Legion Field. The stadium has limited oven space to meet pizza demands.
"At one trailer, fans waited 45 minutes for pizza in a line that stretched 110 people deep. Once fans got to order, they were told only cheese was available and it would be another 45 minutes for pepperoni.
"Papa John's stations behind an end zone were filled with fans around halftime waiting on pizza. Some waited 30 minutes until the workers at the stand recommended they purchase pizza at the mobile kitchens, causing disgust from some irate fans.
" 'How do you run out of pizza at the pizza bowl?' said Jake Gottlieb, a South Carolina fan from Atlanta. 'They don't run out of Chick-fil-A at the Chick-fil-A Bowl.' "
Although some fans are praising the game in the comment's section of Solomon's story, many are ripping the event. A sampling:
"When I got back to my car some man who said that he lived in the house where we parked did not give us permission. We paid some guy ten dollars and now some one is calling the police on us and telling us our car will be towed away. That was the most exciting part of the whole day, yes the game was pretty boring but just getting out of there in one piece was interesting."
"Legion Field isn't half of what it use to be. If B'ham isn't going to put the money needed up update and remodel it, then B'ham doesn't deserve to host a bowl game. If they had kept the place up they wouldn't of lost the AHSA title games. Throw in the fact it's in a bad location, and it's not that useful of a field. I wouldn't be surprised if PapaJohn's tries to move the game to another location...anywhere but that old field."
"Being a UAB fan and season ticket holder all I can say is WELCOME TO OUR WORLD!
"Our complaints fall upon deaf ears. Maybe now since the mighty SEC is having problems there something will get done to improve overall game day operations which are pathetic.
"Between not enough concession stands, rude security, poor traffic control, and overzealous parking Nazis, one would swear that the folks running that dung heap are trying to convince people never to go back.
"All I can say is good luck getting anything fixed out there. They truly do no give three hoots. Hell, it took us three years to get them to put soap and toilet paper in the bathrooms!"