"We're getting to that game," Schrager vowed.
"Yeah sure, kid," I responded.
But Schrager and Butler are motivated types. Real go- getters. And, besides, they're sort of sick in the head about Temple basketball.
The two juniors are part of a crew called the Cherry Crusade, a group of super fans who attend every game and scream until they're all, well, cherry-colored. Butler is the president. He paints himself red for each game and stencils a Superman logo on his chest in white. The center of the logo has a "T" instead of an "S." Naturally.
After the NCAA selection show, Butler and Schrager and some other Cherry Crusaders gathered to plan the trip to Miami. Airfare was ruled out. Too expensive. But if they chartered a bus, and the school and alumni association chipped in, they figured they could swing it.
On Monday night, Butler set up a PayPal account and sent out a schoolwide plea asking people to join the trip or, barring that, contribute money. He figured they'd need 25 to 30 students and $15,000 to rent a tour bus, secure hotel rooms, and pay for tickets.
Butler and Schrager and some other Cherry Crusaders skipped St. Patty's Day in order to recruit people. They handed out fliers to intramural refs and fraternity brothers and bartenders. They stapled them all over campus and slid them under the door of every room at six of Temple's dorms. They worked on it from sundown until midnight, then got up and worked some more.
"I kept thinking, 'There will be a bus with kids on it going to Miami,' " Butler said. "I don't know how it will happen, but it will."
And it did. Thanks to help from the administration and a last-second, generous donation by an anonymous donor, 30 excited Temple students boarded a bus and headed south yesterday. They left at noon.
Butler sent me a text from the road. The kids made sure to stock up on all the essentials - coloring books and Wawa iced tea and jars of peanut butter and jelly. Let's hope someone remembered to pack knives. Or bread. Or deodorant.
If all goes well, the bus will roll into Miami at noon today - 24 hours after it left Philly and embarked on what must be an excruciating, cramped trip. The Temple game tips off a little after 2 p.m. If the Cherry Crusaders are lucky, they'll have just enough time to unfold themselves from their seats and take showers.
"A shower would be nice," Butler said. "No, wait, I'm going to need that time to paint myself."
Right. Lost my head there.
If you're wondering how CBS decides which games pop up on your TV, you're not alone. During the early games yesterday, the Philadelphia area got the Butler-LSU feed - even though BYU and Texas A&M were playing at the Wachovia Center, and Cal State-Northridge and Memphis were clawing at each other's eyes until the very end.
A spokesman for the network told me the games are mapped out ahead of time in conjunction with local affiliates. (I guess that means you should blame CBS3.) The spokesman also said Butler-LSU was assigned to Philly because the other two games had "no regional interest."
Huh? One of those games was in the region while the other featured Tyreke Evans, who's from the region.
Spent the second half of yesterday's BYU-Texas A&M game in the CBS production truck. When an Aggies cheerleader popped up on camera, one crew member let out a spontaneous "Hey now!" And for a second, everyone was really excited because there was a George Clooney sighting. But Danny Ocean disappeared before CBS could capture his mug for the masses, which bummed everyone out.
Shockingly, I did learn something. You know how every time there's a national sporting event in Philly they'll show someone making a cheesesteak at Pat's or Geno's? Never fails, whether it's NBC or CBS or ESPN. But I always thought - because it's such a Philly-TV cliche - that it's just file footage. Nope.
Turns out they actually send some poor sap down there each time to get fresh video. I have no idea why.
I told the CBS people that the cheesesteak thing is tired, and they should come up with something new or different. I suggested they go to Dirty Frank's and shoot one of the patrons. "Man face down on bar" would make for great, authentic Philly TV.
"I'm not sure that would work for our family-oriented broadcast," I was told. Right about then, on cue, the producer called for the Rocky theme music.
I got out of there before they cut to someone dressed as Ben Franklin.
Contact columnist John Gonzalez at 215-854-2813 or firstname.lastname@example.org.