MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Shawn Eichorst hollered at me Saturday afternoon from the Nebraska sideline.
“Hey, Sage, come sit down on these!”
(Sage Rosenfels. Yes, an odd, lame way to get a nickname that’s lasted 15 years, I know).
Anyway, the Nebraska athletic director wished to visit before the game while sitting on high-tech benches that delivered cold air from the top, bottom and middle.
They were pretty cool.
Cooler, in a literal sense, than the leather seats in the first row of the end zone section, which were cool, in a figurative sense. I’ll have more on those in a bit.
But Nebraska players at least had a place to seek refuge on a sunny, humid day where the heat index, according to a Miami Herald reporter, was 102 degrees at game time.
Yes, we Nebraskans aren’t immune to heat and humidity, but if you’ve never been to Florida, well, it’s still a different animal. That sun’s just … stronger, more potent.
Thanks to Brian Cothren, president/CEO of Athletic Recovery Zone LLC, the Huskers had use of the air-conditioned benches. They actually began using them for some home games last season, Nebraska equipment manager Jay Terry said, but these benches were brought in from Jacksonville, Florida, home of Cothren’s company.
There were four benches, with each seating about eight players. The benches were loaded back up and taken to Jacksonville for Sunday’s NFL game between the Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
In the NFL, if the home team has such benches, then the visiting team must, too. That rule doesn't apply in college, and Miami, far more used to these weather conditions, managed without the air-conditioned benches, relying on good old-fashioned fans.
New-look Sun Life
As for the big, cushy leather premium seats, they’re part of a refurbishment of Sun Life Stadium. One fan showed me his ticket for the seat — $475 for Saturday’s game — which included food and beer. Coolers, cell phone jacks and other compartments were available.
In other changes from my last visit here, the bleachers from the upper four corners have been removed, reducing capacity from 74,916 to 64,982. Filling those empty spots will be four giant video boards.
This be a much-improved venue when complete — great for the Dolphins but probably still too big for the Hurricane fan base.
Announced paid attendance, with help of about 8,000 Husker fans, was 53,580, but probably closer to 40,000-45,000.
And I realize Miami is a small, private school, but man, I’ve seen more bodies in a student section in the Red Zone on a Tuesday night in November at the Devaney Sports Center.
* Kudos to the Sun Life Stadium personnel and other helpers for their friendly and helpful assistance, and with smiles. It’s nice not being given the rude runaround for no reason. Greatly appreciated, and thanks to a class crew.
* Fan of the game was the one who turned around and made a "U" gesture with his hands pressed against the visiting media press box window. He also slapped the glass at game’s end, with a big grin.
* The text of the game to my phone came from 12-year-old Nathan Dugan, via his father, Matt: “If Missouri is ranked 22, I don’t want to see who is 23.”
* Television viewers may have heard referee Dan Capron declare “Timeout, Wisconsin” in the fourth quarter. It drew a nasty reaction from an irate crowd not pleased with a series of recent calls against Miami.
* Former Husker player Ndamukong Suh, now with the Miami Dolphins, made a stop at the Husker team hotel Friday evening, but left town Saturday morning because of, well, work. Former NU quarterback Zac Taylor, quarterbacks coach for the Dolphins, also stopped at a Husker tailgate event.
* Oh, if that rollout two-point conversion pass happened just like that Jan. 2, 1984 ...
* Any typos? Blame the beach sand in my eyes.