Spectacle of crowd tops football odysseys By Bob Karolevitz There's something about the pageantry of college football that has lured Phyllis and me to gridirons all over the country.
I remember one time when we wanted to see an Ivy League game and we showed up at Dartmouth thinking we could get tickets. No way!
So we got back in the car and hurried over to the University of New Hampshire at Durham (where we'd never been before), joined the alumni (which we weren't) for a pre-game fried chicken picnic and then watched their team lose to the University of Delaware Mudhens.
At Annapolis one year we attended an Army-Navy game, hard to describe for its tradition and the inspiring sight of future ensigns and lieutenants on the field and amassed in the stands.
We've seen just one Rose Bowl game, and that was because I won an all-expense-paid trip to Pasadena for writing a 25-words-or-less jingle about Carsten's Bacon. Somehow we ended up with lots of Michigan State fans who were celebrating their team's victory over UCLA.
When we lived in Seattle, we seldom missed a Washington Huskies game for 17 years, rain or shine. We traveled to Spokane to see them play the Washington State Cougars and to Portland for the Washington-Oregon rivalry there. (I always had mixed emotions for that one because I did my graduate work at Ducksville.)
Here in our home state we have made numerous trips to Brookings in our loyalty to the South Dakota State Jackrabbits — in victory or defeat. I suffer when we don't win, and Phyllis tries to calm me down by saying: "Remember, it's only a game."
My retort has always been: "Show me a good loser, and I'll show you a LOSER!"
Hobo Day has always had a special appeal for us, but we've also enjoyed Dakota Day in Vermillion. Incidentally, my Hobo Day memories go back to 1940 B.P. (Before Phyllis), but we've shared lots of SDSU homecomings since then.
Together we've seen spectacular runs, game-losing fumbles, punts that barely cleared the line of scrimmage, "Hail Mary" passes and a few brawls. We've seen pompoms of all colors, scores of scantily clad cheerleaders and outstanding half-time performances by marching bands — including one embarrassing pratfall by an over-exuberant drum major.
But I've got to admit, the greatest show of them all is a University of Nebraska game where Big Red football is almost bigger than Christmas. (It wouldn't surprise me to learn that even Santa got his red suit in Lincoln.)
Phyllis and I have only been to two Husker games, mostly because tickets are harder to get than a Monet original. And almost as expensive if you go the scalper route.
In both instances we were fortunate enough to have friends from the Seattle area come to see us, bearing extra tickets from the Washington Huskies allotment. The first time was in 1991 when the Purple and Gold ended Nebraska's 44 home-game winning streak and went on to share the national championship.
This year we were present for the 55 to 7 debacle. Not only did the Cornhuskers gain sweet revenge, but they were dominant in every phase of the game. Phyllis and I felt sorry for the 3,000 Washington die-hard fans who traveled half way across the U.S. to sit through the humiliating defeat.
Neither of us ever attended the University of Washington (although I once taught a magazine-writing class there), but because of our long stay in the Evergreen State, we've been vicarious followers of the Dawgs, as the Huskies are popularly known. Consequently, we sat in the tiny island of purple amid the great sea of red. Despite the score, though, the spectacle provided by more than 73,000 frenzied fans topped anything Phyllis and I have seen in more than four decades of our college football odyssey.
No wonder Nebraskans are so Big Red crazy. I guess we'd be, too, if we'd been born on the south side of the Missouri.
© 1998 Robert F. Karolevitz