Today Kish and I are going with friends to West Lafayette, Indiana to watch the Ohio State-Purdue game. We’ll be the “visitors” you see mentioned on the scoreboard.
I’m looking forward to the prospect of being a “visitor.” Until today, my college football experience as a visiting fan has been limited to several trips I’ve made to see the Buckeyes play Michigan up in Ann Arbor — and I’m not sure that such a rivalry game tell you much about the “visitor” experience.
I first went up to Ann Arbor as a high school student in the ’70s, Michigan won, and one of the happy Wolverine fans stole my Ohio State hat and ran away after the game was over. Stealing a hat from a high school kid seems like a pretty cheap stunt to me, but it’s just another reason why it’s not hard for me to hate Michigan with every fiber of my being whenever we play That School Up North.
I think I’ve been to Ann Arbor four times. Ohio State won twice and lost twice, and each time the experience was pretty much the some — lots of (mostly) good-natured razzing, some angry, obscene comments, reasonably good behavior by all concerned once you sit in the stands, and always that slight hint of potential personal danger lurking right around the corner. You have to stay alert for an abrupt change in the vibes coming from the fans around you.
I’m not expecting today’s atmosphere to be as charged as an Ohio State-Michigan game, but I’ll keep my eyes open — and a hand firmly on my hat.