“We’ve gotta beat those sonsabitches.”
It was the last thing I did inside Ohio Stadium when I left after Saturday’s cold, rainy loss to Michigan State.
And it was the best way for me to start Michigan week.
Those concrete garlands – they’re “strung” all around the stadium, attached to the building’s original façade – are my connection between the current, expanded version of the stadium and the one that my grandfather worked on before it opened in 1922. I’m not especially superstitious, but I always make sure I go up the correct stairway to C Deck so I can touch one of those garlands. It’s a little thing, but it makes me feel like I have the entire weight of Ohio State football history behind me as I climb up to my seats.
The renovations to the stadium were completed in the early 2000s, and they added capacity to the building in two ways: the track was removed and the field was lowered, so additional seats could be added to the base of the lower bowl, and a new façade was erected outside the old one so C Deck could be expanded up an out. I don’t recall the first time I touched one of the garlands, but once I settled on that as a tradition, I’ll even backtrack down a second flight of stairs just to make sure I touch one before the game begins.
As you may be aware, I got my first tattoo last spring, a subtle – in theme, not in the size of the piece – display of my affection for Athens. Something having to do with Ohio State football was a natural for Tattoo No. 2, but getting a Block O or something else obvious just wasn’t going to work. But while struggling with potential ideas, Mrs. Crappy made a suggestion: What about those garlands? I immediately thought they would work as a bicep band.
And although there won’t be another trip to Ohio Stadium during the 2015 season, I will have a little bit of the stadium with me all the way through Michigan week.
- Samuel Johnson said patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. Bullet posts are the last refuge of a distracted blogger.
- I’m sitting at the kitchen table in my parents’ house. I have prep work for tomorrow’s tailgate party done, and I’m enjoying the hell out of this bomber of Bison Imperial Stout, from Homestead Beer Co. in Heath, Ohio.
- This will be a (mostly) all-Ohio beer weekend and, if I have anything to say about it, the full week that follows. That’s what back-to-back weekends of games against teams from the state up north will do.
- There is an exception to the all-Ohio beer rule in place for tomorrow’s Michigan State tailgate party. Ethel’s brother-in-law Chris is in town and he usually brings along something delicious from Founders Brewing in Grand Rapids, where he lives. That’s totally worth making an exception.
- If you’re hungry for grilled cheese sandwiches, our tailgate party tomorrow is the place to be.
- The other thing I’m making? The Official Queso Dip of the Big Ten Network.
- I’m going to have to learn how to spell “neuropathy.” I already know how to spell “peripheral.”
- As I write this post, I’m listening to a Phil Lesh and Friends show from Hershey, Pa., in 2002. I’m pretty sure Mrs. Crappy and I were there for that one — we saw Phil in Hershey several times — but that’s not really what sent me down this path. I’m suffering tinges of regret (yes, I’m sure that’s different from the neuropoahy) over not seeing Dead and Co. in Columbus last week. I know Phil’s dealing with more health problems, but I’d love to see him tour a bit more, even if it’s a last go-round. His bands were always excellent; a full show from the A.J. Palumbo Center in Pittsburgh in 2001 got me nearly all the way from Pittsburgh to Columbus this afternoon.
- I am missing Mrs. Crappy. And Mr. Charlie.
- As of this very moment, I am four days behind in my NaBloPoMo efforts. Any bets as to whether I can catch up?
From now through Nov. 28, one state will occupy an inordinate amount of my time and energy.
One week from today, Ohio State plays its final home game of the season against Michigan State. In recent years, the game against Sparty has been the biggest one on the conference schedule, at least in a practical sense; there are teams I want to beat more every year — hello, Penn State — but this one has become the game of year. Besides being good, there are some losses to State bad enough — and recent enough (B1G title game two years ago, and the 1998 Reason Why I Hate Nick Saban Game) — that this one will always have my attention.
Plus, it’s fun to see we can make Mark Dantonio look even grumpier than usual.
The annual game against that other school from that state — The One Up North — has lost some luster recently, because TTUN has been, well, bad. It turned down the intensity of the rivalry a bit and, worse, it damaged the reputation of the conference, because one of it’s marquee schools wasn’t playing up to standard.
And then this guy came back. And he has his team playing … better.
Why do I hate Jim Harbaugh? It goes back to this, a thing that even colored my opinion of him when he coached my 49ers:
I’ll tell you more about what I think about Jim Harbaugh and that team he coaches when the time comes. Until then, let’s all be sure we remember this:
That’s where the bar has been set, boys and girls. And that’s a thing for the schools in Michigan to keep in mind.
After I posted stuff about my new tattoo over the weekend, one of the biggest things I was curious about was the reaction of my parents. On Tuesday, Father of Uncle Crappy emailed this:
Couple of afternoons ago, I was in the kitchen chopping celery for a meat loaf and Pat asked, “Guess what YOUR son has done now?”
After thinking of a few possibilities, she said it was a tattoo. Hmmmm.
I considered a few possibilities … A big U of M “M” with a screw going into it … the scores of the Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon games … and my fave: a tank with the gun blazing with a pithy slogan like “Guts. Glory. Tanks.” or perhaps “Give War A Chance”.
Then she said it was a brick from Athens.
Perfect, I thought, a tribute to the ancient writer/philosophers like Plato and Socrates.
Then she said it was Athens, OHIO. Hmmmm.
Why not? You love Athens and OU. I think it is cool.
I came very close to getting a small USMC tat … one less person in line at the parlor at Oceanside and I probably would have one.
I’m anxious to see it (and you guys!)
And now I’m thinking about a tattoo of Plato. Hmmmm.
Forgive me if I behave like a normal, rational human being for a moment, while discussing college football. I promise you — it’ll last just a minute or two.
That’s all the time I’ll need to explain why I’m excited that Michigan landed Jim Harbaugh.
(I know, I know. Stick with me for a second, OK?)
* The best thing about The Coaching Change Up North is that Harbaugh should bring that program back to its traditional place in college football — and that is nothing but positive for the Big Ten. The shine has come off our conference recently, and it’s for one simple fact: we don’t compete. This isn’t all the fault of the team up north — look no further than a horrible loss at home to Virginia Tech as an example, ahem — but having one of the conference’s marquee teams struggle to earn bowl eligibility goes a long way towards hurting the perception of the B1G. Ohio State must be consistently good for the Big Ten to be respected, and the conference’s other big name programs — Penn State, Nebraska, Wisconsin and, especially, Michigan — must match that consistency as well.
* If you believe what Harbaugh said in his news conference today, it’s good to hear that Michigan is getting a guy who believes in — who understands — what’s different about college football. We’re not watching the same level of football as we do on Sundays. But we care more, and that passion is what makes Saturday football better. NFL reporters and execs won’t understand why Harbaugh left. I do.
* Finally — here’s a Michigan coach I can really hate again.