HOT TIDE TIPS: An Alabama Fan Guide to the Bay Area
Alabama is among the four teams that can advance to the College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship at Levi’s Stadium. Mark Purdy, a longtime Northern California journalist and Bay Area 2019 contributor, offers helpful specific advice to Crimson Tide fans who follow their team to Santa Clara and are looking for things to do before the game.
Must-Attend Championship Weekend Activity: Media Day at SAP Center. Tide fans should set their alarms for an early Saturday morning wakeup, because beginning at 8:30 a.m. Pacific Time, the two participating teams and coaches will all sit for an hour’s worth of interviews from national reporters inside San Jose’s downtown arena. The event is free and open to the public. Fans will receive a small radio with earbuds to listen in on sound bites from their favorite coaches and players. Upon departing the arena, every media day attendee will receive a free ticket to Playoff Fan Central down the street. En route, they can pass through “The Quad” at Cesar Chavez Plaza and catch a glimpse of ESPN’s outdoor anchor desk where Alabama grad Rece Davis may be holding court.
Must-Visit Historic Local Site: Former location of Candlestick Park. The 49ers’ former stadium on the southern San Francisco border was demolished in 2015. But in its time, that patch of real estate produced many fabled moments—including Dwight Clark’s famous touchdown catch from Joe Montana in the 1981 NFC Championship Game. But there is a largely-forgotten Crimson Tide moment from that unforgettable Candlestick game: former Alabama running back Johnny Davis scored a third-quarter touchdown for the 49ers, contributing to their victory. Two weeks later, Davis became the first African-American football player from Alabama to play in a Super Bowl and win a NFL championship ring. (Bonus must-visit for Tide fans: a Bay Area sports venue that’s still standing is the Oakland Coliseum, where former Alabama quarterback Ken Stabler perpetrated miracle finishes for the Raiders.)
Recommended Local Hangout: Smoking Pig BBQ. According to the Alabama alumni website, the official Crimson Tide game-watch location in the Bay Area is the Blue Light tavern on Union Street in San Francisco. But the choice closest to the Championship Weekend activities is San Jose’s favorite spot for pulled pork, brisket and other fine barbecued meats that should remind Alabamans of home. Smoking Pig has two San Jose locations, one just north of downtown on 4th Street and the other on Coleman Ave., adjoined to Avaya Stadium, which is home to the San Jose Earthquakes professional soccer team. One item on the Smoking Pig menu will definitely be new to Alabamans: Wolf Turds, a stuffed jalapeno pepper dish that has never been served anywhere near Tuscaloosa, but demands to be tried at least once.