Sports Illustrated's amazing Classic coverage

Editor's note: Sports Illustrated went behind the scenes at the 2014 GEICO Bassmaster Classic to capture the action for SI fans. Below is the introduction to their in-depth coverage of the Classic. Click through to for the full story.

Bear Bryant, bronzed beneath his houndstooth hat, stands eternally outside the convention center in Birmingham, pointing across the street to the Sheraton, and possibly to the future: to the boys (and girl) of the Montevallo High School fishing team, the blue-shirted Bulldogs — the g in Bulldog is a barbed hook — who hurry past the statue of the Crimson Tide football coach to another Alabama, where tackle means a Megabass Flap Slap crankbait with a vibrating jig.

Behind Bryant are 220,000 square feet of exhibition space filled to the gills with Ugly Stiks and Mr. Crappies, and an 18,000-seat arena that will host the nightly weigh-in for the 44th annual Bassmaster Classic, the self-described Super Bowl of Fishing — though to the 200,000 angling enthusiasts passing through here in cardboard hats in the shape of bass and weapons of bass destruction T‑shirts, the Classic is a vast improvement on the Super Bowl. Says Ronnie Garrison, veteran correspondent from, “They really should call the Super Bowl the Bassmaster Classic of Football.”

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