Earlier I proposed that NCAA tournament life is better in a bar, not in an arena. The past two hours proved my point. The American grads and friends of grads and husbands of grads were acting silly. Partially, perhaps, it was the cash bar. (Lots of Heineken.) Partially, perhaps, it was the American artisanal cheese platter (Silver Mountain Cheddar, Great Hill Blue and Fleur de la Terre.) And then there were the Eagles, who kept bombing away over Tennessee, leading a bunch of grown adults, many in work clothes, to do things like chant "DE-FENCE" (clap clap) "DE-FENCE" (clap clap) at a flat-screen TV in a downtown bar many hundreds of miles from Birmingham.
"This is indescribable," said Howie Soltoff, class of '68. "It's the first time in my life I've ever had an experience like this."
There were red shoes and Patriot League championship t-shirts and American license plates and American pom-poms. There were ex-team managers there, and all manner of ex-AU athletes, and ex-AU theater types who, still acting the part, sprinted in front of the masses, waving their arms and screaming about the Eagles. The fans told Garrison Carr that he owned Tennessee; they told Vols Coach Bruce Pearl to sit down; they told the refs a few unprintable things and they did at least three different kinds of group cheers. The original estimate was about 100 people; the best estimate was something like 228.
Well into the second half, the score was tied and Clyde's was without a doubt as cool a place to be as the Verizon Center, even during the Belmont game.
"It's going to be madness," said Jamie Miller, asked about the possibility of an AU win. "They're going to terrorize this place. It might be trashed."
Even later, the score was 54-51 and American had the ball; "hit a three and this place will go nuts," someone observed.
But it was never tied again, and with a few seconds left CBS showed an updated bracket, with Tennessee advancing. The American crowd booed.
Also, I'm sorry for thinking American would lose by 30.
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