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Indiana: Clockwork

Of the three speakers that started my Saturday morning at the Ohio State Advocates Fall Event, Archie Griffin, Gene Smith and E.Gordon Gee, one would be hard pressed to predict who would give the most entertaining speech. The talk turned serious quickly though; big changes are ahead for the Ohio State campus in the form of ProjectONE, a huge new hospital that will further cement Ohio State’s roll as a leader in Cancer research.

After listening to Dr. Steve Gabbe and Dr.Michael Caligiuri outline the new plans for ProjectONE, I felt kind of proud that my adopted state would host such a visionary project.

Since the event was in the Archie Griffin ball room at the (new) Ohio Union, I got a chance to walk around campus a little bit, probably only the second or third time I have done so. I joined the crowd making its way across the famous Oval, avoiding the stinky nuts littering the ground on the west side of the oval.

The Advocates event kind of put the game in perspective. Curing cancer is infinitely more important than beating Indiana in the world-view scheme of things.  Hopefully a cure for cancer is as sure a bet as beating Indiana.

It was a glorious fall day in the ‘Shoe, with temperatures in the perfects and the stands (mostly) filled with scarlet-clad fans. The Buckeyes came out and got right down to business, scoring a few minutes in, setting the tone for the first half early. As in, score a bunch, and shut the allegedly high-powered Indiana offense down.

first on the board

Six for one.

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Ohio: Times Flies

To say that Ohio University’s visit to the ‘Shoe was a let down from last week would be unfair to the experience of watching a game in Ohio Stadium.

That said, it was hard to get too excited about the actual game to be played, despite Ohio’s hard-fought 26-14 loss during their last visit in 2008. History seemed unlikely to repeat itself.

I breezed into Columbus  at nine a.m. and came to a hard stop on 315 south of the King Avenue exit. A long line of traffic snaked up the hill, around the curve, and out of sight. A shot of adrenalin; I hate being stuck in traffic, and paranoid visions of walking into the shoe halfway though the first quarter stomped around my head.

A half hour later I pulled into a half empty Fawcett Center lot (I always though of it as the Longaberger Lot, personally). Where was everyone? Yes, the parking lot has been remodeled, and an added dimension has been added to tailgating in the form of a long red line, but really. I am pretty sure that if an accident prevented fans from attending a game, there would be tailgates set up in the median of I70.

OOO

Variations on a theme.

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Miami: Blown away

So I was talking to Archie Griffin on Saturday…

Ok. So I wasn’t really talking to Archie Griffin on Saturday, other than introductions, but I did follow him around for a little while, during the Ohio State Alumni Association’s Scarlet, Grey and Green bash Saturday morning. It is pretty cool to watch a legend at work, signing autographs, posing for pictures, making rousing speeches (to the dismay of a pair of Miami fans in attendance). The bash was cool too, powered by a generator burning sunflower oil, stocked with biodegradable everything, from balloons to straws, and stocked with some pretty darn good chicken from, of all places Raising Cane’s.

It is funny, because they were playing the ‘Canes, get it?

playa

For a poisonous nut, he is pretty popular.

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Big Ten Champs: A Look Back

It was quite a time, watching the Buckeyes this season. Started with a skin o’ your teeth, ended with a skin o’ your teeth, with a few blowouts and a heart breaker or two in between. The energy of the USC game was incredible, the lack of it for some of the mid-season foes palpable.

distant

Navy: Everyone was nervous at the end, even the guy in the upper atmosphere.

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Iowa: For the Roses

Danger signs were abundant on Saturday morning. A depleted opponent with nothing to lose, a must-win situation and even the weather. Is it really November? The atmosphere was festive but reserved, more like USC than a Big Ten opponent missing its starting running back and qb.

Making the rounds, I talked to fans to get a feel for the general mood of the populace. Nervous confidence would be the best description of the prevailing mood; we are going to win, but it won’t be easy.

classic

Classic pin.

At one tailgate, a long-time fan told of riding the train to the Rose Bowl, another flipped sausages on a grill as he recounted a half dozen trips to the venerable clash.

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Minnesota: Tradition

I grew up in New Hampshire. I am sure NH is famous for something, but whatever that is, it isn’t college football.  So when I arrived on campus for my first OSU game (Indiana in 2002) it was unlike anything I had ever seen. The tailgating, the colors, the sound and fury of 100,000 people all cheering for the same thing.

After photographing the Buckeyes and their fans fairly extensively over the past 2 1/2 seasons, I have come to appreciate other aspects of Ohio State, mainly the connection it has with its fans and alumni, a connection forged through tradition. Alumni of Ohio State that I have met have passion and pride for their university. Not every school has that. Trust me.

On  a personal level, people have their own traditions, on an institutional level there are others that cast a long shadow. Scarlet and Gray, the Block O, winning. Homecoming wraps them all up, educational and athletic, on a special day for those that have the closest connection, the alumni.

And to be on the court, well, that is pretty special. I spent my morning with the present and past court before watching the Buckeyes take on the Golden Gophers.

To me, the traditions I enjoy the most are aural. From the thunderous entrance of the band as it takes the field to Hang On Sloopy, football and music are intertwined at OSU.  Many fans start their day at the Skull Session at least once during the season, and our collective homecoming day really started to gather steam on the floor of  St. John Arena.

calm before the storm

The band about to make their entrance.

The band gets pumped before taking the floor, still mostly out of sight in the tunnel. They storm into the building to great applause, and give the listener a peak into some of their traditions during the course of the show.

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Wisconsin: Weird

Saturday was one of those ‘tweener games. Not meaningless, but out of the national radar, which makes it vital that the Buckeyes win convincingly. And despite Wisconsin always playing Ohio State hard, unless the Buckeyes hung 70 and a shutout on the Badgers the national pundits would use the margin of victory to point out how lousy the Big Ten is.

So it was a beautiful day in Columbus as I arrived at Ohio Stadium a few hours before the game, having detoured through a few parking lots working on another project, and then making a quick dash back to the Longaberger Alumni House to get my knee pads. I always get weird looks when I don’t bother to take my knee pads before walking back to my car, but it is a lesson I learned early in my OSU shooting career; that rubber-coated concrete down there isn’t nearly as soft as it looks.

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Illinois: Soggy

I once taught a weekend photo class. The three pieces of advice I gave were this; be patient, be persistent, and know your gear. So after last week’s camera troubles, shooting the game with a borrowed camera weighed heavily. Doing so in the rain more so. So I was thrilled when my camera came back from Canon Professional Services. I wasn’t really that happy that it was raining when I woke up on Saturday morning though.

Rolling up the newly freed third lane of  Ohio 315 was a treat, even if it was raining, and I breezed into the Longaberger Alumni House parking lot around 11 a.m. And promptly wondered what I was going to do with myself. The parking lot, normally an epicenter of tailgating, was a bit subdued, with a few tailgaters huddling under their tents.

I worked on a separate project for the Association for an hour or so, and then headed off in the general direction of the stadium.

mist

The ‘Shoe rises from the mist.

As I marched across Lane Avenue I could see Ohio Stadium shrouded in mist. There was just enough water falling from the sky to shroud everything in a light fog, the kind of rain that seems to float rather than fall, unpredictable in direction, sure to find every opening in a camera. Really, despite being a life-giving force, rain can be kind of a pain in the butt some times.

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