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.
Variations on a theme.
Not feeling overly inspired by the expanse of fresh, but empty pavement, I headed toward the stadium. Foot traffic was already heavy, and I ducked out of the way into the lot by French field house, where the sight of three shining Block O flags flying over the lot caused me to pause.
Around the other side, in a slightly higher strata of tailgate (the closer to the stadium, the more extravagant the tailgate, generally) a pair of youngsters challenged a slightly older crowd to cornhole.
I ducked into the skull session and waded through the crowd. After a few moments I had a better idea, and set off toward the stadium. It was a nice sunny day, and feeling in a traditional mood, I decided to figure out how to shoot the band coming into the stadium from above, where I had seen a crowd gather to watch the Buckeyes enter the ‘Shoe to take on Iowa.
Except I didn’t know how to get there. I had to go around to the side to get in, get my bags searched and tagged and then find a place to stash it. The photo hole would do, since I usually put it there anyway.
I marched down the sideline, around the end zone, up a short flight of stairs, up another, much longer flight, and then a really long flight of stairs, until I was stopped by a fence.
A fence with no holes. I had never been in the stands before, so I didn’t know the lower bowl was separated from the upper decks, and never the twain shall meet. Unless you jump a fence.
Cozy. Just you and 105,000 friends.
I stood there a while, mulling climbing the fence, and turning around to look at the view. There were no ushers in the doorway nearest where I was standing. The nearest were a few sections away, and didn’t appear to be paying much attention to me. But I didn’t know what price would be paid if I were caught committing such an egregious offense. At the very least someone would be mad about it, and probably come across me as I was straddling the fence in what would likely be a very undignified position. I take at least the perception of professionalism very seriously, so I went back down to almost field level.
It was kind of neat to be high in the bowels of the stadium. Up a winding ramp and through some arched doorways I found what I was looking for, a balcony that presented a Where’s Waldo-esque view.
And then I waited. Because that is what I spend most of my time doing anyway.
Finally, I saw the glimmer of brass through the trees, and the Ohio U Marching 110 came thundering into view, making quite a commotion. A short time later TBDBITL came into sight, with a bit less swagger than the 110.
Class on the hoof.
Then again, they don’t really need swagger, they are TBDBITL. I saw one drummer pound on the stadium with his sticks. I looked around the internet, but I couldn’t find anything about that particular tradition.
Listen to the Marching 110 enter the stadium. It is long, but at the end you can hear the drums echoing inside the stadium.
Listen to the Pride of the Buckeyes enter the stadium.
Back down the ramp, through the band and down onto the field. After gearing up, I found a spot to watch the team rush onto the field. After the Marching 110 was done, I was suddenly surrounded by green and white band members, who seemed really into watching the Ohio State band.
As the band got ready to split to let the team through, I saw a guy shading over the line that keeps the photographers at bay, and then a team official started wandering around in my general viewing area. I began to feel like someone was going to block my shot, a shot of Brutus running onto the field holding a flag. As the band parted a while blur shot across my viewfinder, and I cursed under my breath. Brutus and his escort were filling the frame when another white blur appeared. And tackled Brutus.
Mascot can’t tackle either.
What the what? Had the Bobcat gotten into the catnip (nyuk nyuk nyuk) or even worse? The good news is that Brutus shrugged him off and left him headless on the ground, but ol’ Rufus was not to be deterred, tackling Brutus in the end zone a half minute later. They tusselled, and I could tell despite his good natured visage, that Brutus was not happy about the proceedings. Finally some kind of official escorted the addled cat away. Brutus flexed.
The Rufus/Brutus debacle set the tone, in a way. The best stuff happened early, and then everyone wished they could just go home and take a nap.
That is not to say there were not exciting moments. Moeller went up for a fine pick, and the touted Posey vs. Posey matchup was won early by the junior Posey when DeVier stiff-armed his older brother, Ohio corner Julian. To be fair, Julian did wrestle him out of bounds.
The Ohio defense just did not have much say in the game early. And, as usual, I was a touchdown repellent, with most of them going opposite where I was sitting. Two did go my way, but were rather undramatic, with Stoneburner catching a short pass and Herron kind of tumbling in, hidden by defenders.
Such is life.
Shortly before half I looked up and thought ’34-0, already?’ Games where Tressel feels sorry for the opponent don’t usually get out hand that fast, do they?
Where is Rufus?
I had a long week leading up to the game, including late Friday night high school football. I left the house without breakfast, thinking I would grab something in the press box before the game. But rather than miss the team coming on the field, I stayed down, figuring I would grab something at half time.
I was shocked and dismayed to find not a single shred of bar-b-cue, not a sliver of hotdog or brautwurst. So it was a McDonalds McFlurry for lunch. Oreo flavor. It was all that was left.
To justify my trip, I went into the press box to take an picture out the large expanse of glass. The band was doing cartoon tunes, and as I looked, a large anvil dropped across the field. It had to be something to do with Warner Bros, because they sure loved the Acme brand everything.
Ross Homan picked up an interception early in the third quarter in a convenient spot for me to take his picture, arched over, snagging an errant pass. Considering the number of touchdowns I have gotten good shots of this season, it appears this is my season of turnovers.
Near the start of the third quarter, the band always plays Hang on Sloopy. But this time, the OU band started up with something, and by the time the timeout or whatever it was that prompted the tune, was over. Thus, no Hang on Sloopy. “You ruined hang on sloopy!” someone bellowed from the lower bowl. I don’t know if it was on purpose, but it seemed the second act of disrespect of the day.
No one arm can contain him.
The second half stretched on and on. A safety, for which I had too much lens on, and a touchdown added a few sparks of excitement, but for the most part, it was Pryor playing keep away with moves that would have left Johnny Musso breathless.
Meanwhile, the Bobcats were throwing the ball around, trying to turn the ball over, and sometimes succeeding.
Come on boys. Almost diner time.
After what seemed like a quarter and a half, I spotted Tressel clapping on the sidelines. Hooray, he yelled. Only 11:56 left in the third quarter!
The fourth quarter, by the way, was only notable for the number of people dressed as empty seats that began to show up in the stands. That is not to say that I had nothing to do. I have a nice list of players to photograph, and games like Saturday’s give me plenty to shoot as the depth chart starts to overflow out onto the field.
At the end of the game, I stood behind the cheerleaders because I wanted a picture of arms holding pom poms doing the Carmen Ohio cheer. So I lined up, lined up my arms and pom poms, and suddenly they were backing toward me in a hurry to form a circle. My life flashed before my eyes. Next time I will just stick with the players.
There are always a few spots on the calendar that are not circled with quite the same enthusiasm as others. Those, of course, can be the traps. Two years ago Ohio almost derailed the Buckeye express. This year, it wasn’t even close.
Now you can do several things:
Join the OSUAA.
View a photo gallery of the game.
or you could become an OSUAA fan on Facebook.
You could like me, because who doesn’t like a liking?
Or you could take a look at last season by looking at previous posts.