Steven Ensminger Jr. had to work Saturday, otherwise he would have driven his wife, sports reporter Carley McCord, to the Peach Bowl in Atlanta where she was set to cover the Louisiana State University-University of Oklahoma playoff game. He didn't have his phone—which is why he missed his wife's final phone call and text before her doomed flight to the game took off and then crashed, killing her. "I don’t have my phone and she sends me a message saying she loved me," Ensminger says in a text interview with Sports Illustrated. "One of the hardest things I’m dealing with is that I missed her text and I missed her call. It is by far the most pain, angst and terror and just darkest time of my life and I honestly don’t know how long it will last because I still don’t believe it. I don’t want to believe it."
He was on his lunch break when he found out about the crash, which killed four others, from his aunt. (More on the other victims here.) His father, LSU offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Steve Ensminger, found out about his daughter-in-law's death before the game and promised his son the Tigers would beat the Sooners for him; the team delivered, winning the game to advance to the national championship Jan. 13. "To sit here and watch my dad with so many emotions and a heavy heart and his worry for me and watch him do what he said we would do, there’s no question that he is my rock, my idol, my mentor, my coach, my father," Ensminger continues. In a separate text interview with CNN, he adds of McCord, "I can't come up with words. She was my everything. She loved so fiercely. It's so hard and it hurts too much. I just want her here with me." (Ensminger was hospitalized and sedated after hearing the news.)