by Pat Dooley
This trip started at 3:37 a.m. 11 days ago when the alarm went off for the drive to Tampa to catch an early flight. Sometimes it feels like it will never end.
But if you are going to ride the March Madness train, this is what you get. And if you are going to be away from home for an extended period, it’s difficult to believe there are two better sites than Omaha and Phoenix.
For one thing, the people in both cities are so friendly. After being in New Orleans and almost being killed by a cab, it’s amazing how people here in Phoenix will actually stop and let you cross even when you don’t have the right of way.
And they have people wandering around downtown with bright orange shirts who are there to help you get where you want to go. It’s like the opposite of so many SEC cities where nobody seems to know where media parking is.
Downtown Phoenix is one of the nicest and most beautiful towns in America. If there is a negative, it’s that the homeless people here are really angry.
I was walking to breakfast one morning and there was a guy on the corner just screaming about something. And later that day, a young girl was walking near my hotel holding a cat and trying to beg for money. As more and more people ignored her, she finally yelled, “Am I bleeping invisible?!!?”
As much as I miss my family and all of you back in Gainesville, this has been a wonderful ride. And on Thursday, I was in the same building as two of my sports heroes — Muhammad Ali and Magic Johnson.
Tonight will be my 16th night in a hotel bed out of the last 18 nights. But this is what you sign up for with the tournament.