When some loud braggart tries to put me down
And says his school is great
I tell him right away
"Now what's the matter buddy
Ain't you heard of my school
It's number one in the state"
So be true to your school now
Just like you would to your girl or guy
Be true to your school now
And let your colors fly
Be true to your school
I don�t know when Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys wrote this, but I�m discovering that he�s captured a timeless, universal message in just the song�s opening lyrics.
It�s a sentiment I�ve witnessed literally thousands of times over the years as I�ve watched supporters of the USD Coyotes rejoice during good times on the playing field or basketball court, and as they continue to �be true� when things aren�t going so well for the South Dakota sports teams.
I�ve done my share of cheering for the �Yotes. And commiserating during the bad times.
It�s not been easy. For during all of the years I�ve been in Vermillion, I�ve at times felt like a CIA operative that�s gone over to the other side, a double agent, if you will.
Because you see, I�m a (gasp) proud graduate of South Dakota State University.
Yes. I�m a Jackrabbit.
But, for crying out loud. It�s not like I�m coming out of the closet with this revelation. Lots of people know I graduated from (to use terminology that�s common here in Vermillion) Moo U. Silo Tech. Cow College.
That �other� school.
I�m prompted to discuss my allegiance(s) after the public became aware of one of USD�s latest promotional billboards. I�ve been told it stands along Interstate 29, near Brookings. And, a photo of the sign seems to have gone viral on the internet, at least among USD and SDSU supporters.
In large letters near the top of the sign is the message: Have An Old Friend For Dinner.
Underneath those letters is the image of a coyote chasing a jackrabbit (for out-of-state readers, those are the mascots of the two schools). And included with the imagery is this date: 11-17-2012.
The billboard, created by the University of South Dakota, plays on the soon-to-be-renewed rivalry between USD and South Dakota State. The date refers to the 2012 football game between the Coyotes and Jackrabbits in Brookings, which will mark their first meeting since 2003.
When the rivalry begins once again, I�m not going to burn all of the USD garb in my somewhat limited sports wardrobe. Nor will I push the envelope and wear a blue SDSU sweatshirt to every sporting event I cover in the DakotaDome.
I�ve decided to, well, not change a thing. For all of the time I�ve lived in Vermillion, I�ve been forced to express a dual loyalty which I will argue is perfectly healthy, even in a local sports climate that has already begun to warm and by November 2012 will be hot enough to melt the snow off I-29 between Vermillion and Brookings.
My interests in both the Jackrabbits and the Coyotes remain fully aligned. SDSU will always be my alma mater. USD has been a big part of my life for the rather lengthy time Cindy and I have called Vermillion home.
My brother graduated from med school here in Vermillion after first attending SDSU. A cousin is a USD law school grad. My niece attended USD, and USD President James Abbott handed my daughter her diploma during graduation ceremonies two years ago in the DakotaDome.
It is enough to stretch one�s loyalty to the maximum.
I�m not going to publicly say who I�ll be internally be rooting for when the USD/SDSU sports rivalry is renewed next year.
Let�s just say Brian Wilson�s lyrics will be running through my mind.