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.


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.

tiny but strong

Ants go marching…

I dropped my already soggy bags off in the photo hole under the south end and headed up to the press box for some warm food and a dry seat. I chatted with a friend as we watched the team walk across the field and the stands very slowly begin to fill.

Soon enough, it was back down stairs to gear up. It was quiet in the photo dungeon, just a little less chatter as the photographers resigned themselves to shooting a game in the rain. Rain gear was put on or manufactured and one by one we all trickled out into the rain.


The honored two.

The band made its thunderous arrival on the field, to perform the standards and a single script Ohio. The crowd roared as the chosen sousaphone peeled off into the final loop of the small o. As the moment of high stepping approached, the following trumpeter reached out and gave him a good luck pat. I wondered if it was the trumpeter honor to be able to be the good luck patter.


The gleam of wet ‘phone.

As the band formed the giant block O for the team’s entrance, I saw three wet sousaphones line up to form a trio of gleaming wet reflections. I could have used to few hundred more millimeters on my lens, but it was still kind of  a cool photo. I thought it would at least reflect (zing!) the weather, since at the time I didn’t know if it was going to stop raining.

big leg

Thanks for not letting anyone squish me, guys.

Turns out it didn’t stop raining, by the way. When the Buckeyes marched 13 yards down the field, faltered, and rolled out the field goal unit, I began to worry it was going to be one of THOSE games. Lots of action between the 30s or so, and lots of sputtering. I was glad for Pettrey that he hit a 50-yarder, and he was pretty pleased too, but after the second field goal, it seemed to be settling down in to a game memorable only for how little we all enjoyed it.

illi sandwich

Illini sandwich.

little lost sheep

Darn commercial breaks.

During a tv time out, the offense gathered in a tight group, peering through the rain at the tv official, waiting patiently for the game to get started again. They looked thrilled to be there. And then it really started to rain.

brush off

Shedding defenders.

When they gave the game back to the football players, Pryor handed off to Saine and Brandon went on a great little run. It was all of ten yards, maybe, but he shed defenders like he was wearing a Greg Pruitt tear away jersey. He almost shed the guy who finally got him down, too.


Split time hero.

A few minutes later he stepped out of another tackle, on his way to an 81 yard day.

Late in the first half, they passed the Illibuck. The Big Ten is full of these funny trophies, strange traditions that date back a century, dusty and half forgotten. According to one account I read, the Illibuck used to be a live snapping turtle, which boggles the mind. How many old men are running around with 9 fingers, telling their grandkids about how they lost a finger passing the Illibuck?

can i keep it?


Later, I saw a fellow holding the Illibuck in the stands. He looked so proud.


And a good time was had by all.


Mugging. But better than a touchdown.



At halftime, a dozen athletes and coaches recently inducted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame were introduced. Andy Katzenmoyer got a roar of applause equal to his mountainous frame. Following him in line was the diminutive Emma Laaksonen, who played on early OSU women’s hockey teams. She had a bronze Olympic medal under her belt, and she was on the youngest player on the 1998 Nagano Olympic team for her native Finland. She had a fine resume, but the applause dropped to a polite murmer when she was introduced. Funny how that works. It was a football crowd, but it puts in perspective how good across the board OSU athletics are, even semi-obscure ones, like women’s hockey.

feather duster

Rain gear.

The soggy band did their thing at half time, but I went into the photo area to dry everything off a little bit. I had taken a shot of the stands, and raising my lens higher than horizontal by a few degrees had caused rain to splash on my lens. Fun.

The third quarter started with most of us still drying off in the photo hole, and those that weren’t sending photos to their respective organizations headed back out.

sideline sprint

Man of action.

up for grabs

Live ball.


Sanzenbacher lunges.

got away with one.

The stall, and a fortunate no-call.




Between rocks and a hard place.


It wasn’t me.

A one point, Juice Williams, the man who almost single-handedly handed OSU a loss in 2007 (the first time I ever saw OSU lose live) went for a run, was tripped up and landed clear of the pile. Cameron Heyward went over and pushed him down again, presumably to mark him down in case he got up and took off. Juice and his teammates were none too happy for this rough treatment, and Heyward threw up his hands in the universal sign “I’m innocent.” I could see the ref  say “you’re ok” and they went on their way.


And down goes Juice.


Hot potato.


A little something extra, a little yellow flag.

The game seemed to drag a little, perhaps because of the rain, perhaps because it actually did take forever. I was loathe to change lenses on account of the rain. My camera had already ridden first class to the East Coast earlier in the week, and a body full of water, while perhaps cleansing, wouldn’t really do that much for the electronics. The thing about rain and football is that is makes for cool pictures, especially on grass, but it really isn’t that much fun to actually get those pictures.

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5 Responses to Illinois: Soggy

  1. g says:

    especially on grass?



  2. Marty Haas says:

    Great jo Chris !!

  3. Jack the Realtor says:

    Nice job. I used to shoot sideline action, and can appreciate what a difficult day you had at this game. Sitting in C-deck (which we were)was probably a lot easier.

  4. June in WV says:

    Great pictures. The one of the ‘Shoe in the mist is eerily awesome!! And the trumpeter is having too much fun for one person!!!

  5. Jenny says:

    The Script Ohio i-dotter has the privilege of choosing the band members that follow him/her all the way through the Script. So that trumpet player is undoubtably a best friend of the “chosen one”. Go Bucks!

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