GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Sometimes life throws a curveball your way that makes you shake your head and chuckle. Those are curveballs you don’t mind.

If someone had told me three months ago Florida was going to make it to the College World Series and travel to Omaha in the Rolling Stones’ private jet, I would have circled the date on the calendar and marked off the days like an 8-year-old waiting on Santa Claus.

 

 

No way would I miss that trip.

As an enthusiastic (but not psychotic) Stones fan, I have spent more disposable income on their music -- and don’t let me forget that cool skull cap -- than probably recommended over the years. I once paid a silly sum for a rare imported CD at Bleecker Street Records in New York.

Sales clerk: “You really like the Stones, huh?”

Me: “Yeah, too much today.”

So, you can imagine my surprise Wednesday night, while picking up my wife at the Gainesville Regional Airport, at the sight of a Boeing 737-400 with the Stones’ iconic tongue logo on the runway with the doors open.

Before I could even text my wife to ask her to take an up-close photo with her iPhone, she texted me one as her plane passed the Stones’ jet on the runway.

She knows.

In fact, she will be with me at the Stones’ show Friday night at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Mick Jagger and Co.’s sixth stop on their 15-city “Zip Code Tour.”

But back to that airplane. And no folks, we’re not talking about the famous “Starship” jet the Stones chartered for their tour 40 years ago across America.

That was then:

“For the Stones, there was an added bonus: when the group leased the plane for their 1975 tour, it solved the longstanding problem of Keith Richards’s tardiness. The often comatose guitarist could now be propped up, wheeled onto the tarmac and tossed aboard the plane, where Suzee would be waiting with his favored drink, a Tequila Sunrise.” – Steve Kurutz, New York Times.

Those days have passed these 70-year-old Stones by.

If you’re wondering how the Gators ended up leaving for Omaha on Thursday as passengers on the Stones’ plane, more coincidence and the machinations of the charter jet business than anything else.

The Stones played at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta on Tuesday night, and flew to Orlando early Wednesday for their show Friday night at the Citrus Bowl. They don’t play again until next Wednesday in Nashville, so with a weekend off in Florida, the plane was bid out for other charter flights.

The NCAA, in conjunction with an independent charter travel company, arranges flights for the eight schools and their traveling parties to get to Omaha. As it turns out, the Stones’ plane matched Florida’s criteria, was close by and most importantly, available.

And while, yes, it would have been cool to join the Gators on Thursday on the flight to Omaha, I will settle for seeing Mick and Keith and the boys Friday night in person. After the show, I have a 5:15 a.m. flight from Orlando to Omaha for Florida’s game against Miami on Saturday night.

In coach. Oh well.

It’s Only Rock And Roll (But I Like It).