Between the Lines

Between the Lines by David Lias Poor Philip Nolan.

No, he's not the guy that bobbled the foul ball in Wrigley Field and kept the Chicago Cubs' curse alive.

Nolan is The Man Without A Country.

I'm discovering there is a bit of resemblance between situations faced by me and by Nolan, the main character in The Man Without A Country, the classic short story written by Edward Everett Hale.

I first read this story when I was in high school, and I remembered having difficulty surmising how Hale's rather mild "crime" � he became friends with Aaron Burr, and shortly after that, found himself being tried for treason � got him into so much trouble.

But I'm beginning to understand.

Hale writes about court proceedings that drag on and on, and how people of importance � "the big flies" � escaped penalty (I guess some things never change).

No one would have ever heard of Nolan, Hale continues, except when the president of the court asked him if he had anything to say to show that he had always been faithful to the United States, he cried out, in a fit of frenzy:

��"Damn the United States! I wish I may never hear of the United States again!" �

��He never did hear her name but once again. From that moment, Sept. 23, 1807, till the day he died, May 11, 1863, he never heard her name again. For that half-century and more he was a man without a country.

By now you're probably wondering, "Dave, what in the heck does any of this have to do with you?"

On Friday night, the Vermillion Tanagers football team will face their arch-rivals, the West Central Trojans.

I'll be there, covering the game for the Plain Talk as objectively as is humanly possible.

You see, I'm a graduate of West Central High School.

Then on Saturday, I'll return to the DakotaDome to take photographs of the biggest football game of the year.

The USD Coyotes and the SDSU Jackrabbit football teams will continue a tradition almost as old as the state itself. They will meet in a classic gridiron competition.

I'll be there, camera in tow, being as objective as humanly possible.

You see, I'm a graduate of South Dakota State University.

I've had the pleasure this year to become acquainted with a number of Coyote football players. They would often amaze me out at The Bluffs, where, I swear their golf balls orbited the planet before landing on the fairway.

These are nice guys. Nice big guys. Big enough to snap me like a twig, if they wanted.

I could have kept my mouth shut. I could have made a point of not mentioning that I'm a SDSU grad.

Somehow, though, I must have made it known to them that I received my higher education in Brookings.

Maybe it was that cool spring day when I wore my "SDSU alumnus" sweatshirt to the course.

Or maybe it was last Monday night, when we were watching football together, and the conversation eventually led to this weekend's matchup in the Dome.

If I recall, I wasn't the one who initially revealed, once again, that I'm an SDSU grad.

I think Jim Frye spilled the beans.

All I know is suddenly I had Josh Gassen and Drew Barnes staring at me like I was a bug from another planet.

Thankfully, they didn't squish me. They simply launched a barrage of "Moo U" and "Cow College" epithets my way.

I could have been like Nolan, and uttered something to the effect, "I wish I may never hear of South Dakota State again!"

I could have joined in with the Cow College jokes.

But there's no way I can share the sentiment of all the Coyote Crazies who will be waving "Hate State" banners in the DakotaDome Saturday.

I've been rooting for USD and the Vermillion Tanagers in the Dome for seven years now.

I don't plan to change that.

Just don't ask me to simultaneously chant "Kill the Trojans" or "Hate State."

Suddenly, I'd be a man without an alma mater.

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