The stage is set… These images capture the scene that awaits the Auburn Tigers on Friday as the Crimson Tide host the 2010 Iron Bowl. It is the premier rivalry in not only the SEC, but all of college football. Alabama is the defending National Champion and has the 2009 Heisman winner, Mark Ingram. Auburn has hopes of their own Nation Championship this year and has the 2010 Heisman front runner, Cam Newton. Bryant-Denny Stadium offers the perfect setting for such a large matchup.
I had the pleasure to speak with Aaron Paschal, a photographer and college football fan who has combined these two passions into something all SEC fans will enjoy. Today, he speaks with us about a recent visit to Bryant-Denny Stadium at the University of Alabama and shares some of the excellent photos of the stadium.
What was your initial reaction when seeing Bryant-Denny Stadium for the first time?
WOW!!! The stadium blew me away! The place is amazing from head to toe. I had studied Bryant-Denny Stadium online and talked to people on various message boards in preparation for my trip but I was still taken aback by how beautiful the place is. Everything from the landscaping, to the brickwork in and around the stadium was done first class. Bryant-Denny Stadium is definitely one of the most impressive stadiums that I have been fortunate enough to visit.
Compared to other stadiums, what sticks out to you about Alabama’s?
There are a few things that really stood out to me about Bryant-Denny Stadium. The first being the hospitality that everyone on the stadium crew that I came in contact with displayed. The staff was VERY helpful and friendly. Another thing that got my attention was the FOUR jumbo-trons inside the stadium. Talk about spoiling your fans! I also like the clean lines and symmetry of the stadium and the stadium grounds.
What was your favorite image of Bryant-Denny Stadium and why?
This is a tough one! There are so many shots that I like from my visit to Tuscaloosa! I guess the photograph that stands out to me the most is the one of the statue with the two Alabama players holding the flag. Something about that statue speaks to me. It just seems like it embodies what being a REAL teammate is all about. My interpretation of the statue is that of an older teammate leading the way for a younger teammate. I think it was also a great way to honor Alabama’s football program which began in 1892, “The player on the left is wearing number 18, and the player on the right is wearing number 92”
Can you imagine the thoughts of the Auburn players as they walk in there this weekend?
I think they will spend a lot of energy trying not to be intimidated by their surroundings. Bryant-Denny Stadium is very misleading to opposing teams. You get there and you’re in awe of the beauty of the stadium, but then when you come out of the tunnel for kick-off and you see the sea of Crimson Tide fans and hear their wrath you realize that you have been brought their to get battered and bruised on the football field! I think the fans that fill Bryant-Denny Stadium this upcoming Saturday will be a HUGE factor in the game. I know Auburn is a good team but I’m predicting a BIG Alabama victory.
What aspects of Bryant-Denny Stadium give it character and make it unique to the Alabama football program?
I really enjoyed the Walk of Champions. It was great to see all of the National and SEC Championships, “and they have a bunch of them!” etched in stone leading up to the stadium. That has to have an affect on the team as they walk from the team bus into the stadium, especially with thousands of fans lined up cheering them on along the way!
The statues of all of the coaches who led Alabama to National Championships is a nice touch as well. I think a lot of people outside of Alabama remember Bear Bryant and Gene Stallings, but tend to forget about Wade Wallace and Frank Thomas so having those statues out there serves as a great reminder.
The brickwork and wrought iron fencing around the sidelines caught my attention too. My photo of the gate leading onto the field is one of my favorite’s from my trip to Bryant-Denny Stadium.
With coaches like Bear Bryant and Nick Saban, and countless players that are legends, do you get the feeling of awe walking around knowing that tradition of greatness?
Definitely. To be there and know that Bear Bryant, “who many consider to be the greatest college football coach of all-time” once walked the sidelines was an awesome experience! I know that I say this all of the time, but if you’re a fan of college football it is amazing to be the only person in a stadium! So many things run through your mind. Whether it’s a big play that you watched on television, or a story or legend that’s been passed down through generations. It just reminds me why I love college football so much!When I was alone in the stadium I walked down onto the field and got goose bumps and then I got scared! I thought about all the great defensive players like Derrick Thomas, Cornelius Bennett, and Leroy Cook that patrolled the field and I quickly made my way back into the stands! Then I looked back and thought about Joe Namath “who was steered to Alabama by Woody Hayes because he didn’t fit into Ohio State’s three yards and a cloud a dust offense, but Woody didn’t want to play against him either!” Ozzie Newsome, “my all-time favorite NFL tight end.” And who can forget “The Catch” by Tyrone Prothro?
I even thought about scenes from Forrest Gump! I really enjoyed my trip to T-Town and hope to return in the near future.
What photos do you think Alabama fans will be proud to display?
Probably any shot that involves Bear Bryant! They sure love him in Tuscaloosa! I think they would also be proud of the photos of the front of the stadium, as well as the photographs of the statues outside of the stadium. I hope that my photos will speak to all college football fans. Whether it reminds them of days gone by, or inspires them to create new memories with their family or friends.
Well my project is growing and picking up a solid fan base! I’ve been invited to photograph stadiums all across the country from Florida to UCLA! I hope to complete my tour of SEC and Big Ten stadiums by this time next year with a few other stadiums mixed in.
I think I’m also going to begin work on publishing a book of my photographs from my stadium project! I may need to revisit a few stadiums but I’m more than okay with that!
I’ve also been contacted about photographing weddings at Neyland Stadium, Samford Stadium and Ohio Stadium, “hopefully they workout because that would be fun!”
How can we get prints of your Alabama football photos?
Prints can be ordered through my website at www.wix.com/ap2isme/stadium. I’m currently working with a few different print companies so I’m able to offer a wide variety of products to college football fans. I can offer items such as playing cards, personalized greeting cards, post cards, canvas prints, large format prints, and matted and framed prints.
All items can be personalized to fit the fans request, “i.e. name on scoreboard, quotes blended into brickwork” Please direct any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!