My editor's assignment was simple: Participate in the MAC media football day at Ford Field in Detroit, taking on the task of a sports reporter and asking questions to find out more information about the football teams across the Mid-American Conference.
Dapper Dudes - Drew Willy & Ronald Hillaire
Now, let me give you a little history about me. I have only been watching football for the last five years or so. I know hardly anything about the game. What I have learned, I learned from my husband Dave (aka my editor), from watching the games in person and listening to other reporters' comments. I think I am slowly catching on. Every once in a while I am able to actually see a play be executed instead of just seeing a bunch of guys running around aimlessly on the field.
Executing the assignment: We arrive at Ford Field and register with the MAC registration table. I look over the interview schedule and see if I can figure out how I am going to complete my assignment. I realize that I do not remember anything that Dave has told me about the teams. Also my natural shyness starts cropping up. My first inclination is to run away. It is 9 a.m. and there are six tables with a coach and two football players at each table. I am supposed to pick a team and sit down and start asking questions of the coach and players. I did not have any questions prepared; I was at a loss. I took a deep breath and proceeded to sit at a table where there was an open seat.
First I sat at the Eastern Michigan table with Coach Jeff Genyk, LB Daniel Holtzclaw, and QB Andy Schmitt. Justin, a reporter from the Eastern Echo was there also and had many questions to ask, so I sat and listened. During a lull in the conversation, I felt everyone looking at me to see if I would ask a question.
Suddenly I came up with an idea for a question. "Since you have played each of the teams before, do you find that you can sometimes anticipate what the other team will do?" The players patiently explained about the game tapes and that they watch them all the time, how the coach will tell them what changes if any to make.
Okay, maybe that wasn't a profound question to ask. I forgot about game tapes. Sheesh. This reporting business is harder than I thought. How do I ask questions that are not silly and ridiculous?
Other questions I asked were: Do you enjoy away games or are the trips hard on you? Do you have any superstitions before your game?
I was able to interview the players and coaches for Western Michigan, Ball State, Northern Illinois, Temple, Akron, Buffalo, and Miami. They all answered my questions in similar fashion.
But I was able to find out some tidbits of questionable significance about the players/teams as I sat and chatted with them.
Daniel Holtzclaw wants to play in the NFL, but if that falls through he will get his criminal justice degree and apply for a job with the FBI.
Zach Davidson of Western Michigan likes the Radisson in Kalamazoo. Feels spoiled by them. The extra soft pillows are the highlight of his stay there.
Chris Miller/Nate Davis of Ball State - Chris is the talker of the pair. Nate seems to be focused on being a quarterback.
Temple's Terrance Knighton - His favorite Philadelphia food is Philly cheesesteaks. He also wants to play in the NFL, but if that falls through, he will pursue a career in criminal justice, specifically in corrections.
The Temple squad flies to most of their away games. They try to schedule their nonconference play against teams in their local area to reduce the amount of travel.
Akron will play Eastern Michigan for the first time in the last four years. (In other words, they don't have any game tapes to watch.)
Buffalo DL Ronald Hillaire speaks three languages, Creole, French and lastly, English. He does not use his knowledge of the romance language to get chicks, because he already has a girlfriend. He does have a superstition before the game. He puts his left sock on, then the right sock on, then tapes the left ankle, and then tapes the right ankle.
Miami OL Dave DiFranco quotes movie lines before a game. I tried to get him to quote some or at least tell me which movies. He would only tell me that he quotes from comedies like Adam Sandler movies.
Then my assignment was suddenly modified by Akron head coach J.D. Brookhart, no doubt likely due to the fierce line of questioning I had pursued.
My new assignment: Report on the fashion statement that the players made today.
Clearly Coach Brookhart felt sorry for me and my assignment. Sensing that I was not cut out to be a reporter, he gave me a different assignment; comment on the well dressed players. I think he wanted me to pick a favorite, namely his own player, TE Merce Poindexter, who was very smartly dressed with gold trimmed tie and gold handkerchief peeking out of his pocket. DB Bryan Williams was just a tad less flashy in comparison, but still well turned out in a three piece suit with classy tie. I will never be able to recognize these men in their uniforms.
This assignment is a little easier. Thanks, Coach Brookhart. Maybe that is what makes you a good coach: Figuring out the strengths of a player (me) and giving him (me) his (my) assignment accordingly.
So with this new assignment in mind, and clearly well within my comfort level, I kept my eye out for players dressed to the nines. I had already noted that LB Daniel Holtzclaw from EMU had done well for himself with the violet colored shirt and matching variegated colored pocket handkerchief and tie. QB Andy Schmitt was more subdued in dress, but still in stark contrast to the football gear that he will be donning in a few short weeks.
DL Ronald Hillaire was looking mayoral (sorry - bad reference to Detroit's infamous mayor) in his suit, while Bulls QB Drew Willy lightened things up with his. Both looked completely comfortable in their suits. Is that because a man's suit is a lot like football gear with shoulder pads and tight shoes?
Western Michigan WR Jamarko Simmons also sported the purple/violet shirt and coordinating tie/pocket handkerchief combo with a little different pattern than Daniel Holtzclaw's. DE Zach Davidson gets mentioned not only because he is Jamarko's teammate, but because his suit had subtle lighter lines running through it and a tie that enhanced his jaunty appearance.
Lastly, I chose to picture Ball State QB Nate Davis and punter Chris Miller's fancy garb. Both, when photographed, looked like they would rather be dressed in full football gear. But they were good sports and I still think they are handsome indeed.
I thoroughly enjoyed both my assignments, but think I might have to leave the football questions to my esteemed husband/editor.
One last note"Sartorial Splendor" - Dave provided the title. I had to look it up.