I spent the Fourth of July in an airport, then got a nice little fireworks show as we took off from Seattle. It was a new one for me -- spending the holiday in the air, flying across the country on an overnight flight to New York. I quickly learned I had overestimated my ability to sleep on an airplane.
Living in Eastern Washington, I thought I understood heat. Stepping out of the terminal at JFK at 6 a.m. and being hit by a wave of heat -- 85 and humid already -- was an odd sensation. Welcome to New York, I guess.
The reason I was in New York is sort of relevant to Washington State. It was a meeting of the minds -- really, really awesome minds, in fact -- to plan for the upcoming college football season. The SB Nation College Football crew was there, and we did all our work at the studio. It's pretty amazing that we have an actual video studio filled with incredibly talented and driven people.
So what'd we do for two-plus days? A lot of fun stuff that should get you excited for the season! Let's do this with bullet points.
- Dan Rubenstein is basically the studio point-man for college football. His camera presence is outstanding, and the work he's done so far has been great. But college football is like a belt-high fastball for him. It's his thing and he owns it. The stuff he has planned for the upcoming season is going to blow you away. And he's a West Coast guy -- Oregon grad -- so you'll see Pac-12 teams getting plenty of love.
- Speaking of which, everyone there was excited to watch Pac-12 football and Washington State. It's a weird feeling having become accustomed to being the little kid in the corner in the Pac-12. There's genuine interest everywhere and the Cougars will see plenty of coverage as the season nears.
- If we're able to pull off the season kickoff plan, which centers around Washington State, it'll be the best thing you consume all year, without question. Can't really give away any of the details, but there's some awesome plans that'll start the season off in style.
- Spencer Hall is probably the most brilliant man I've come across. You know his writing by now -- like this, which is incredible -- but he's exactly what you'd expect in person. It's non-stop laughs, hilarious anecdotes and off-the-wall ideas that nobody else would think of or be able to pull off in a way that captivates readers.
- And then there's Bill C., who has been powering through team previews like nobody's business. The man is smart as all hell and knows stats better than, well, anyone. He's a walking computer, but he's also just a big fan of college football and its stories. I felt like I was getting smarter simply through osmosis and learning things just by being around him. Oh, and about Connor Halliday ... he's still a huge fan of Connor.
- On Thursday night, we had a lengthy "Drink beer and shoot video roundtables" session, where a long list of topics were covered. You'll see those as the season nears, but there was plenty of WSU, Mike Leach and even Idaho talk. The WAC is one of the must-watch conferences this year, along with the Pac-12 and MAC -- the latter two for ALL OF THE POINTS and the former because it's dying and last gasps are fun. We'll pass along the videos when they're up, but I can't even describe how fun it was to shoot with Spencer, Bill, Dan, SB Nation recruiting expert Bud Elliot and Paul Myerberg (also known as PreSnapRead). A whole bunch of smart minds breaking down college football is an easy way to get in the mood for the season in a hurry.
- The bonus guests dropping by to hangout for the night: Mr. Robert Bigwheel (SB Nation's senior legal analyst), Chris Brown (@smartfootball on Twitter; author of The Essential Smart Football (go buy it); And awesome guy in real life) and Stewart Mandel (SI college football columnist and sidekick to Noted Barbecue Enthusiast Andy Staples). Brown is releasing a massive Air Raid essay this coming week, so go ahead and block out time to read it.
- Bud might be the perfect recruiting guy. He has a signature hat -- both useful as a sun shade and stylish -- and just sounds like a southern recruiting bro. Seriously, his accent had me convinced that he is the world's foremost recruiting guru (he is!) and kind of made me want to yell "S-E-C/" Be sure to read the work Bud and his team are doing. They're absolute studs.
- I was able to sit in on a Solid Verbal podcast Friday night in our swanky podcasting studio. Ty and Dan are really good at this whole podcasting thing and it was a pleasure to join them, along with Bill, for an episode. It'll be out next week.
- As for the city itself, it was my first trip. Staying at The New Yorker was cool, as was being right in the middle of Manhattan -- I was a block from Madison Square Garden and the studio was a block from that. Walking to Times Square on Friday night was easy: It glows, so just follow the light. Everything in Manhattan is kind of disorienting, as well. Between the buildings towering over the sidewalks and the whole "first time in New York thing," it's amazing I never got lost. Shouts to Dan for making sure Bill and I didn't get lost/murdered on the subway and playing the gracious New York host.
- On the other hand, the sidewalks smell like garbage and ass. So there's that.
- Being on camera is hard and I have even more respect for what analysts do -- especially our studio team. That was my biggest lesson of the week. A lot of work goes into setting up shoots and being able to rattle off information at the drop of the hat is harder than it seems. Luckily we have some smart people that are really good at it!
And with that, we'll be back to Washington State stuff this coming week. The season is almost here and fall camp will be starting before you know it. It's about damn time.
Edit: I forgot Spencer competed in Kobyashi's hot dog eating contest on Wednesday. Come for the gluttony, stay for the puking into a plant. It's amazing.