Enjoying The Era Of Good Feelings

Anyone who took high school American History class will recall that, at one point during the early years of the young Republic, there was a time known as the “Era of Good Feelings.”  It was a period that began shortly after the end of the War of 1812 and lasted for about a decade, spanning virtually the entire administration of President James Monroe.  It was never entirely clear why Americans had good feelings, much less why an entire historical era bore that tantalizing name, but we learned about it just the same.

I’m in my own personal era of good feelings — brought about by Ohio State’s titanic victory in the first-ever college football playoff National Championship Game — and I’m trying to make it linger for as long as possible.

My primary method of extending this modern “Era of Good Feeling” has been avoiding any news or interaction that might torpedo my mood.  Since virtually all news these days is off-putting, that means paying no attention to news web sites or irritants like the Grammys ceremony, and instead watching and rewatching the three crucial games in the Buckeyes’ march to immortality — the Big Ten Championship game, the Sugar Bowl, and the National Championship Game.  I’ve watched them each multiple times, to the point where my lovely wife is starting to wonder how in the hell I can watch the same broadcast again and again.  So, I’ve tried to be a bit more surreptitious in getting my fix, watching shorter, edited versions of the games when Kish is out of the house.  I still enjoy them, anyway.

In American history, the Era of Good Feeling ended when James Monroe’s second term ended, multiple members of his Cabinet and other figures all tried to grab for the presidential brass ring, and a divided four-way election was acrimoniously decided by the House of Representatives amid charges of corruption.  I know that my Era of Good Feelings inevitably will end, too — but it’s been fun while it’s lasted. In the meantime, have you seen this nifty 16-minute collection of plays from the Big Ten Championship Game?

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Good Karma

IMG_4604Sports fans know intuitively that concepts like karma are vitally important to the outcomes of key games.  Whether you are at the game or watching at home, life gives you little clues about whether things are going to go smoothly and whether the ball is going to bounce favorably . . . or not.  Most fans are superstitious because of this inner awareness — if they wear the same shirt and follow the same routine, they are less likely to invite occurrences that indicate that the balance is tilted against them.

On my trip to Dallas, the little signs were everywhere, and I was keenly sensitive to them.

IMG_4587The trip got off on a wrong foot when my flight to Atlanta was delayed and it looked like I would inevitably miss my connection to Oklahoma City, but I somehow made it anyway.  I drove from Oklahoma City to Dallas without mechanical problems, bad traffic, or speeding tickets.  Thanks to the Friendly Flynns, we had a great place to stay and a great Game Day southern breakfast.  We found a perfect parking spot at AT&T Stadium, enjoyed a laugh-filled lunch with buddies from Cleveland, and did some tailgating with an old friend at a location where there were some hilarious signs and antics by excited ticket holders.  And somehow, in the crush of humanity, we randomly ran into colleagues at one of many temporary souvenir shops set up in a tent along one of the roads around the stadium.

And then, when I finally sat my wind-chilled bones in my seat high in the upper deck of the House that Jerry Built, the first image I saw on the enormous Jumbotron above the field was a sweater vest-clad Jim Tressel, a great coach and even better man who was present at the game because he was being elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.  With the comforting presence of Coach Tressel hovering over the field, how could the Ohio State Buckeyes possibly lose?  And, of course, they didn’t.

It’s nice to go into an important game with good karma, and it’s even better when that good karma produces the desired result.  The fates were with us.

Undisputed National Champions

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They did it. This doubted and disrespected Ohio State team, one that had absorbed so many blows and endured so much adversity, somehow did it. They swept the big games, toppled the mighty Crimson Tide, beat the Heisman Trophy winner, and won the National Championship.

And they did so in very convincing fashion. Despite four drive-killing turnovers, the Buckeyes never quit. And when Oregon pulled to within one point, the Buckeyes ran the ball down their throats and stonewalled them on defense. For anyone who likes old school football — and I’m one of them — it was a very satisfying, affirming win. By the end of the game the Buckeyes had beaten Oregon physically and mentally, and the Ducks just wanted no part of the Buckeyes, on offense or defense.

So here’s to Urban Meyer and his staff. Here’s to Cardale Jones and Ezekiel Elliott and the bulldozers on the offensive line and the great receivers. Here’s to Joey Bosa and Michael Bennett and Adolphus Washington and Darron Lee and Tyvis Powell and the rest of those hard-hitting defenders who didn’t get rattled and stopped the supposedly unstoppable Ducks offense.

So now, the Buckeyes are Undisputed National Champions, and the Omni Hotel in downtown Dallas was lit up to proclaim that fact. What a win!

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Game Day

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Well, it’s Game Day. Oregon Ducks and Ohio State Buckeyes fans have descended on Dallas in force. Last night at dinner there were school colors everywhere in evidence and some friendly bantering between supporters of the two universities.

In addition to anticipation of the game itself, there’s also curiosity and questions about the venue. AT&T Stadium is supposed to be a lavish monument to Texas football. But, where to park? Are there places to eat nearby? How bad will the traffic be? When should we head to Arlington?

Kish calls me the uptight traveler, and she’s right — I like to get to places early. In this case, getting to the game site early not only seems prudent, but it also will allow us to enjoy the pomp and pageantry and building excitement of the very first college football National Championship Game.