Last Wednesday David Kernodle and I jumped in Sat Buggy 2 and got it up I-77 to Detroit to cover Davidson's run in the Sweet 16. I took the first tank of gas. David took the second tank. This may seem odd for a reporter to be driving a live truck but David's not your average reporter. He's the kind of reporter who pulls cable, power and sets up a light while you're raising the mast. The kind of reporter that would rather edit his own tape. The kind of reporter who got his start as a photographer. You know, the kind of reporter you hope you draw when heading on a road trip that would need efficient news gathering in order to create good television that will make the bosses happy. Needless to say, I'm glad David got the call.
The drive up was uneventful. I-77 through Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and Ohio. West Virginia brought back some good memories of my summer trips to work on houses in High School. Ohio was boring but I felt comfortable since Jennifer and her family are from there. A few miles south of Cleveland we took the Ohio Turnpike west for one hundred dreadful miles to Toledo where we picked up I-75 north to Detroit.
Detroit is different. To be honest, of all the Midwest bracket destinations in NCAA history, I wondered why we had to draw Detroit. It was a town I'd heard few good things about. Why we couldn't go to Chicago or Indianapolis or Minneapolis or maybe a place I actually wanted to go? All I knew of Detroit was car sales are down which equals fewer jobs which economically equals bad things. As recently as a couple of weeks ago I saw a story on one of the national shows about a Detroit suburb where $300,000 houses were selling for $150,000 due to the heinous market conditions. I wasn't terribly excited about going to Detroit, but I kept an open mind. We arrived before ten Wednesday night, Welch picked us up and we headed to the hotel for food and beverages.
Ford Field will host the Final Four next year so this years Midwest Regional was a trial run for the venue. It was tremendous. 72,000 people could comfortably fit inside the building to watch the basketball games. Some of the seats were really, really far away from the court. Regardless, the setup was well done and looked terrific.
Seeing Davidson this far along in the tournament was great for news. It was great for me, too. When I worked in Mooresville as a sports director, all I covered was NASCAR, high school sports and Davidson. I shot every men's and women's basketball game at Davidson. The men's team never sucked. They were always a well coached group of smart Americans and others from around the world. This year was different thanks to a star, an exceptional point guard and the support of an entire nation. It was neat to see Davidson staff members I used to drink pints with at the Davison Depot get interviewed by CBS, ESPN and Sports Illustrated. Ten years earlier, I was trying my damnedest to get them to go on camera with me at PrestigeVision 4. From really small time cable to national darlings. It was great to see good people do so well.