Time for my very cool pilgrimage to Columbus for an Ohio State game. My good friend moved his family up there from West Virginia in 2004 for better employment possibilities. He then purchased Buckeye season passes like any good person from Cols would.
Spreading the wealth, he hosts several of us to each individual game. This year, I get Iowa. Lucky guy I am.
Concerning the Buckeye-Hawkeye matchup, my friend and I had a telephone conversation this week that went something like this...
Me: Too bad Northwestern beat Iowa. Rather had given OSU the chance to end the unbeaten streak.
Him: Uh...if we win, we go to the Rose Bowl.
Guess I have a lot to learn about the Big Ten.
I'm a Mountaineer fan. As one of the B/R featured columnists covering West Virginia and a season ticket holder, I used to think Morgantown knew how to pull off the pre-game party.
Not so fast, my friends.
Spend a couple of hours on Lane Avenue. West Virginia University can't match it.
My friend took me to the game against Marshall in 2004. We witnessed a few unexpected events, one of which was the necessity of Mike Nugent's walkoff 56 yarder to break the tie and win it for the Buckeyes.
Another was Hineygate. The band was awesome, the crowd was unhinged, and we all were shoulder-to-shoulder. A big pit of people. Took my buddy and me back to our 1970s, separate but very equal college days. Then, it happened.
Women crawled onto the shoulders of guys. "Show us your ****!" was the battle cry. No babe took it upon herself to partake...
...until this supermodel hoisted herself up there. Brown eyes, brunette, beautiful visage, nice...
"She's not going to do it," my friend said.
"Show us your ****!" came the screams.
"I agree," I said. "She's way too pretty."
"Show us your ****!"
He smiled. "What would we tell the--"
And there they were, tanned tatas.
"Let's tell them the truth," I said. "They'll never believe it."
We looked at each other and laughed. "I think that's the first time that's happened to us," he said.
"We're getting so old," I replied, "it may be the last."
Hineygate trips for 2005 Texas, 2006 Michigan, 2007 Illinois, and 2008 Ohio University ... so far it has been.
The Varsity Club is much calmer and the beer is just as cold. We finished our pregame there.
Now, for the game. I've never been in a crowd of over 100,000 until The Herd came to town. The noise was like a 747 was starting up engine number two. But, unlike Mountaineer Field in Morgantown, the Buckeye fans were relatively nice.
There they were, confronted by a lowly C-USA team in the hallowed Big Ten, barely holding Marshall back, and the fans in the stands were asking questions about the invaders.
"Where is Marshall?"
"Isn't that the school that had that airplane crash?"
"They're playing pretty well."
I live an interstate hour from Marshall, so I answered their questions and continued the dialogue. It struck me rather hard how nice they were. Maybe the students in the student section were sowing wild oats, but those around us were so civil.
What a new and different way to look at college football.
And, it has continued and actually grown. The Lane Avenue crowds expanded greatly for No. 2 Texas and reached enormous proportions for No. 2 Michigan, but most everyone essentially acted like adults.
Much like Jim Tressel himself.