Chat with Wright Thompson
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPN.com senior writer Wright Thompson stops by to chat about the time he spent in Baton Rouge, La. for the Alabama-LSU game on Nov. 3, which will be featured in this week's ESPN The Magazine's #1Day1Game edition.
Thompson, @wrightthompson, is a senior writer for ESPN.com and The Magazine. He has been featured in seven editions of Best American Sports Writing and lives in Oxford, Miss.
Send your questions now and join Thompson Thursday at 1 p.m. ET!
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What is the Coldest College Football Game that you have been to?
Wright (12:52 PM)
It was this LSU-Alabama game. It's a law of sportswriting not to treat every game like it's the Ice Bowl, so there's this constant voice in our heads reminding us not to get carried away. But a minute or two into that game, standing on the sideline in Death Valley, I looked at the crowd, and at the faces of the people around me, and I realized: I might cover games for 30 more years and never see a night like this one. Or, hear. Its possible that no stadium has ever been louder. I've struggled to describe the noise and the sensation of it, but here's the closest i can: it felt like Tiger Stadium was breathing.
Andrew (Columbus, OH)
What's your favorite story you've ever written?
Wright (12:54 PM)
Well, there are two answers. Because of the impact it's had on others, and how much it means to me, the story I wrote about my father and the Masters: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/eticket/story?page=fathersdayThe one I'm proudest of, for a variety of reasons, is Tony Harris: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/eticket/story?page=tonyharris
How many fishbowls did you drink at Hymels?
Wright (12:55 PM)
I don't remember.Um, several. :)By the way, I took a huge crew of mag folks to Hymel's, and then a few nights later, KVV and I went back and ate gumbo, drank a Dixie and watched the pro game.
what was your favorite tweet on gameday?
Wright (12:58 PM)
That's a tie, too. I loved Pod Katt's pastalaya, because I love pastalaya and don't ever get it.I loved the deer meat sauce piquant that I didnt get to try.So the tweets about those two. Someone want to post a recipe for venison sauce piquant? Ill credit you.
Brantley (Oxford, Miss.)
What stands out as some of your favorite memories growing up as an Ole Miss fan?
Wright (1:01 PM)
Playing catch with my dad in the Grove, laying out for a pass and having Jake Gibbs walk by just at the moment I hit the ground and held onto the ball, and having him say, "Nice Catch."
not venison, but this one is my fav... Cajun-Creole Sauce Piquante can be made with rabbit, squirrel, turtle, alligator, venison, beef, pork & pork sausage, or using catfish or redfish with shrimp and crabmeat.1 .5 cups vegetable oil 10 .75 oz. can cream of chicken soup 2 cups all purpose flour 3 quarts water or chicken stock 2 cups chopped green onions 4 lbs. venison, .5 inch cubed or 4 lbs. seafood or wild game of choice* 3 cups chopped onions .5 cup chopped bell pepper 5 garlic cloves, minced .25 cup chopped celery 10 oz. can Rotel Diced Tomatoes Wild Game or Creole Seasoning, to taste 1 small can tomato paste 1 bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped Black or red pepper, to taste In a heavy black iron or sauce pot (10 to 12 quarts), make a roux by combining oil and flour over medium heat, stirring constantly until golden brown. Add onions, garlic, green bell pepper, and celery to roux and continue cooking for about 15 minutes. Add meat to roux. After about 5 minutes, add Rotel tomatoes, tomato paste, cream of chicken soup, and water or stock. Allow to cook for about 2 hours, stirring often to avoid sticking. Green onions and parsley should be added about 10 to 15 minutes before the sauce piquante is done. Add Creole Seasoning and pepper, to taste.Note: If sauce is thinner than you like, it can be thickened by dissolving 1 tablespoon of corn starch in one cup of water and adding to sauce, allowing to simmer for five minutes. This should be done at the very end.*When making seafood sauce piquante, follow same directions with one exception: Add seafood after all other ingredients has been simmering for one hour.Sauce Piquante should continue cooking for 20 minutes after seafood is added.
Wright (1:01 PM)
Yes, sir. Everyone cut and paste this and email it to themselves. And thank Tony. My god, I'm hungry now.
Brad (New Orleans)
Wright, What do you think of Curtis Johnson at Tulane? Any chance the guy can get a couple lower tier LSU recruits to come to Tulane? Thanks, and long live the Pic.
Wright (1:03 PM)
I don't know much about the situation there. I feel like the sports gods, however, have been angered by the closing of the real Bruno's, and some sort of karmic retribution is floating around in the ether.
Brad (New Orleans)
You aren't talking about the Bruno's on Maple, where I spent a few hours drinking last Friday?
Wright (1:05 PM)
That's the NEW Bruno's.
Dan (New York)
Wright, thanks for the Whiskey & Bourbon Recommendations. Picked up some Bulleit for thanksgiving, but will probably have to get a second bottle because I couldn't wait. Anything else worth a try? Thoughts on the Hudson line of whiskeys besides they're expensive?
Wright (1:06 PM)
Not a big fan of the Hudson. I was drinking Eagle Rare last night. Like it a lot. My go-to at average bars is Woodford.
Wright (1:07 PM)
Oh, first question, I read wrong. Coldest. That would be the 1980-something liberty bowl.
Great article on Les Miles. Is he as genuine a guy as he seems or is that part of the image.
Wright (1:10 PM)
He is completely authentic. No difference by himself in his house or in center of Tiger Stadium. He's strange, quirky, but completely genuine. And he's a terrible liar. It's hilarious. You can tell.
Curtis (Jackson, MS)
Know anywhere in Jackson I can find Pappy Van Winkle? And thanks for representing the great state of Mississippi with grace and sophistication.
Wright (1:12 PM)
I'm guessing Walker's Drive In, but I don't know that for sure. And thank you. Represent the crooked letter...
Dan (Charm City)
It's crazy to say but I have heard a few friends say that LSU should get rid of Les because he can't beat Saban. Would they ever do that? I mean right now besides the demigod Johnny Football, the only person that can beat Saban is Saban.
Wright (1:16 PM)
What's Les' record against Saban? 3-5? I honestly don't remember. I don't think they would get rid of Miles bc of Saban. It would take a collapse of the forward momentum of the program.
Wright (1:19 PM)
Someone got a great jambalaya recipe? like, that belonged to your Nannan?
Bryan (Columbus )
Have you followed up with Urban since your article this summer? Have the changes that were discussed stayed and subsided the fears of those close to him? Also...I picked up a bottle of Jeffersons and of Blantons for turkey day this year...thoughts?
Wright (1:21 PM)
We've talked a few times. And, to be honest, and he might completely disagree with this: I think going undefeated is the worst thing, from a personal standpoint, that could have happened. I'd worry that it reopens the can of worms that perfection is possible, and raises the stakes on next year, without a real payoff this year, and in a year with low expectations, he didn't have a chance to lose and process and deal. Thoughts?
Dan (Charm City)
I know we have to be sensitive to his health but shouldn't perfection and winning the national championship be his goal every year? "You play to win the game!" Right?
Wright (1:27 PM)
Should it be that zero sum?
David (Jackson, Miss.)
Will Ole Miss ever become a viable force in the SEC West? It seems like the 70s-80s will forever haunt the program. While there is momentum with Bjork as AD and Freeze as the head coach, they are playing catch up with everyone else with attendance and facilities and will be for the forseeable future.
Wright (1:30 PM)
I don't think it the 70s and 80s. It's a matter of money. Ole Miss ranks at bottom or near bottom in most every financial category. In a lot of ways, the periods of success are remarkable over-achievements. I don't know if Ole Miss will ever be a force. Mississippi is a poor state. That said, Ross' mentor, Mike Alden, is a wizard of finding and maximizing revenue, so there's reason to hope. The answer is, then, I don't know.
The part in your Les Miles story the struck me the most was his questioning of your travels to Sri Lanka. He clearly has some desire to travel before his time is up. How long do you see Miles staying in coaching? His energy and enthusiasm, in my mind, makes it hard to believe he's 58
Wright (1:30 PM)
I know what you mean. I had to google his age for that sentence and was shocked. He will coach until they don't let him anymore. Know what I mean? Hes a force of nature.
Wright, 2 questions. 1)What are you reading? 2)Favorite beer?
Wright (1:31 PM)
1. Just finished Billy Lynn's Long Halftme Walk.2. Not a big beer guy. I like High Life and Peroni, and Guinness when its cold, and every now and then a big IPA, like the Sierra Nevada Torpedo.
What's the best way to cover a game for a newspaper game story? Essential things to include/not include?
Matt (Portland, Oregon)
Did you find any good spots in Eugene?
Wright (1:37 PM)
Alas, I changed plans and am going to South Bend.
Wright (1:37 PM)
trying to post newspaper gamer answer and it wont let me. email and ill send.
Dan (Charm City)
I think for Meyer the pressure is already red hot. We might not see it on the national scale because they haven't had the media attention they would get if they were eligible for championship. The whole Big10 is looking to him and OSU to rid the conference their reputation as chokers in big games and of being inferior to the SEC. People in Ohio are already expecting the story to be Meyer vs Saban championship battles for years. They think they are on that Alabama level now, where they will be in the national championship race every year. They are just waiting for the ban to pass. I think some now see the SEC as their most hated rival and not Michigan. I'm insider trading. My pops is from Canton and a huge OSU fan.
Wright (1:38 PM)
The pressure hasn't even begun, is what I bet they'd say. Nothing to lose this year. House money.
Will you ever write a book? Is there a 3000 page manuscript in Oxford that you go constantly back to/put away, or are you a feature writer and thats exactly what you've always wanted to be?
Wright (1:40 PM)
No book in the works. I'm not opposed, but I am doing exactly what I want to be doing, and I'm doing it where I want to be doing it. I have a great group of people around me, who want me to succeed, and that is invaluable. I've got no itch for greener pastures. I'm very lucky and know it and don't ever take it for granted.
Have you gotten "Callin' Baton Rouge" out of your head? and is it on your iPod now?
Wright (1:41 PM)
No. But, as a side note, the entire premise of the song has been rendered absurd by cell phones.
Wright (1:42 PM)
Got time for a few more. Send em in.
Dan (Charm City)
OSU brings in a lot of money, has a lot of big boosters. You don't think they are already in his ear, letting him know that expectations are at a "Sabian-level". I guess the question is, does he care more about the expectations from donors and fans or the stress that comes from the media attention he is about to receive.
Wright (1:44 PM)
It's sort of a terminal velocity. OSU has a lot of boosters but is less of a cauldron than Florida, and there's no difference between stress at Utah or Columbus, because the truly damaging stress is self-inflicted. That's why a few losses would have been helpful in terms of sustainability. I think coaches lump boosters and fans and media together as noise.
Wright (1:47 PM)
Alright. I'm out. Thanks for all the questions.