By Mark Nagi

So… I’ve figured out that I’m at a point in my life in which I need to start doing more things for myself.

That doesn’t mean I’m shirking all of my responsibilities, selling the house, buying an RV and heading out wherever life might take me until I’ve spent every last dime. Oh no… I’m way too much of a realist and a miser to do such things.

But when my friend Michael suggested that I join him on the second half of a trip out west, I decided to do it.  I haven’t spent much time in Colorado and I’ve never been to New Mexico.  That area of the country is simply beautiful, and I knew that there would be picture taking opportunities galore.

The one-way plane ticket was secured, knowing that there would be a long drive back to Knoxville a week later. My flight would leave on Saturday, September 26.

Yes, the first big day of college football.

This did cause a moment of trepidation. I would miss out on some of the best television of the year. But again, when is the next time I can take a few days to travel, especially during the pandemic if things get worse this Fall.

I arrived at the airport and saddled up to the (socially distanced) bar since my flight wouldn’t leave for an hour. On my television I saw the beautiful baby blue jerseys of Ole Miss. Lane Kiffin is back in the SEC as the Rebels head coach, and whether you love him or hate him, the SEC is more interesting with him patrolling the sidelines.

I basically saw the first snap of that game before boarding my first flight of the day for Atlanta.  I had spent a couple of hours in that airport, had lunch, kept one eye on the Ole Miss/Florida game and the other on the Kentucky/Auburn game.  Lots of other folks where doing the same thing, with their college allegiances on display verbally and in their attire.

The Gators pounded the Rebels. Apparently, defense is only a suggestion for Lane this year. Kentucky proved that even with all the preseason hype they are still Kentucky, losing to the Tigers by a few scores.

My next flight took me to Salt Lake City. When I landed, I immediately checked my phone and was stunned to learn that Mississippi State was beating LSU late, and Kansas State was making an upset bid on Oklahoma. I’d get to watch the end of those games. The defending national champion Tigers would be embarrassed, giving up 623 passing yards as Mike Leach pulls a shocker in his SEC debut.  The Sooners would lose too.

Man, I love college football.

Most of my layover in SLC was spent watching the Tennessee/South Carolina game.  The timing was nearly perfect.  While I was walking to a restaurant twitter told me the Gamecocks scored an early touchdown and the Vols turned the ball over after a bad fourth down snap. Yes, the “fire everyone” brigade was out in full force, getting their vitriol out early and often. They’ve saved that up for ten months and were ready to go.

My last flight left for Grand Junction just as Tennessee took a fourth quarter lead. My flight had no Wi-Fi, so I was flying blind, with no idea if the Vols had won or lost. This was the first time since I guess the 1990s that I wasn’t immediately aware of a Tennessee game outcome.

When we landed, I furiously switched my phone out of airplane mode and learned that the Vols won 31-27. I’d catch up on the highlights on the trip to the hotel.

Traveling on a football Saturday isn’t ideal, but with minimal effort I was able to stay up to date on all the happenings of the sport we all love.

Oh, by the way, I was scheduled to drive from Oklahoma City to Knoxville on Saturday, October 3.

Anyone want to fill me in on Tennessee/Missouri?