I still tell the stories about the first Oregon State football game I covered back in 2004. It was the triple overtime loss at LSU, and it comes in at No. 2 on my list of OSU football memories.
The game itself is well known among OSU fans. LSU had won the national title the year before and the Beavers had the Tigers on the ropes throughout the game.
A late comeback forced overtime. Alexis Serna, a walk-on redshirt freshman, missed three extra points, including the one that gave LSU the win at the end.
Serna was a long-running national news story for the meltdown and his return to never miss another extra point in four years. He won the Groza Award as a sophomore for being the best kicker in the nation that year.
The action around the game was just as interesting to me. LSU was coached by Nick Saban, who I'll be covering at Alabama in a few weeks.
Photographer Ryan Gardner and I went a day early to follow the team as it got ready for the humidity and time change. We went to Thursday's practice, and got there early. The LSU security people forced us to stand in the rain to wait for the Beavers since it was too close to LSU's practice.
ESPN's "Game Day" was there, so I went into the crowd for a story about OSU fans making the trip. That created an early day. After sending in that story, it was off to find lunch.
I had been to New Orleans to party before and knew of the local food, so I wanted to get a Baton Rouge Po'boy, a monster sandwich. Locals pointed Gardner, Salem reporter Gary Horowitz and I in the right direction.
Our destination was a butcher shop/mini mart. A guy with a blood-stained shirt with a Creole accent asked for our orders. Gardner got the ham and I the roast beef. Yes, they were rare. Horowitz got the shrimp.
The guy behind the counter didn't wash his hands before and between orders as he put handfuls of the meat of our order on the bread. I wasn't thrilled with the sanitation, but I tried to get it down.
After that failed, it was on to the game. The press box was open air, so we were all sweating in the humidity. I didn't know I could sweat through my fingernails.
Then a huge pregame rain storm hit the field and delayed the game. Water pooled in the middle, so the fans decided to run onto the field and use it as a slip-and-slide.
When that comedy was done, the game started. What turned out to be an easy afternoon game became a deadline nightmare. Media folks were scrambling to write and get a quote from Serna in one of the few times OSU didn't allow access to a player.
If that wasn't enough, I accidentally booked a 7 p.m. flight instead of 7 a.m. the next day to come home. It turned out to be a good thing because the maids of our hotel kicked us out of the room for oversleeping at noon.
A trip to Bourbon Street in New Orleans to kill time would make the trip complete. However, I didn't realize what the special event was that week. It was a gay and lesbian event that took over Bourbon Street.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but this group was over-the-top stereotypical with naked men showing body parts for beads. I'll stop now. Gardner and I saw things we wish we hadn't. Being a photographer, he took pictures to horrify our co-workers.
A long day ended when our flight reached PDX close to midnight with OSU fans cheering to be home. But we had another 90 minutes to drive.
That was the first game of my OSU beat writing career. I never missed one, and that one sticks out.