The best non-football thing at the Ohio State-Akron game today was the enormous, hearty booing that greeted a promotional announcement for Big Ten Network. BTN, as you know, has been playing tough with cable companies, so fans who did not have a satellite dish did not get to see the OSU-UA game. It was nice to see that the savvy Buckeye fans recognized BTN's villainy, which in addition to boos prompted cries of "Greedy!"
I will note, too, that the boos came in a stadium where fans were for the most part courteous about UA. (The game announcer asks for courtesy, and a card handed out on behalf of Bob Evans says "we cheer for a good play and respect the visiting team" and "we use pleasant language and never boo.") Which doesn't make its many getting-loud traditions any easier to bear, of course.
And, yes, there were occasional remarks, even in the section where we sat with other clusters of UA fans. But even the comments were good natured; when a Buckeye fan behind us asked if there were any Zips fans were there, the bride -- who is also a Buckeye fan, but not today -- raised her hand. The guy grinned and made clear he meant no harm.
So the boos about BTN were all the more telling.
Since this was our first appearance at a Buckeye home game, the bride and I were enthralled by the sheer Buckeye-ness of it all. Walking into a restaurant Friday night and seeing almost everyone dressed in red. Turning on a local newscast Saturday morning -- Hello, former Cleveland newsman Marshall McPeek! -- and seeing McPeek with a scarlet tie and his co-anchor in a red OSU shirt. Walking outside the hotel parking lot early Saturday morning, to see half a dozen people clustered and singing OSU songs.
We had picked our hotel because it had a stadium shuttle, but after considering the traffic, we opted to walk the mile and a half to the stadium. We were hardly alone, with lines of people -- this about two hours before the game -- and vendors along the way selling T-shirts and buckeye necklaces. (When we got near the stadium, we also saw some genuinely vulgar anti-Michigan shirts, as well as Michigan stickers meant for putting in your toilet bowl.) On and on we snaked, then through the stadium itself, to find the visiting-team-fans section below one end zone. (Not prime seats, to be sure.) As I've mentioned, there were plenty of OSU fans scattered among the UA fans, but at least you could see blue and yellow in spots. Looking out toward the horseshoe, and the sea of red, was stunning. Sure, those overhead shots on TV make it look like a big crowd. But that's not the same as seeing it as a swarm of individuals, all with one focus for the afternoon.
The band was good, though the bride was disappointed by Script Ohio, done in two different formations facing different sides of the field; she had hoped for the big, single Script Ohio in the middle of the field.
TV, by the way, never really conveys how noisy it can get. UA, which had plenty of difficulty calling plays a week earlier against Army, struggled even more with the OSU fans at full volume.
But, as you know, UA had its brief period of glory, scoring first and holding the lead into the second quarter, trailing by a mere 3-2 at halftime. If only they had had an offense. ...
All right, so maybe that's too optimistic. UA still put up a fight, which is mroe than the Browns did on Sunday.
As for the game, it was hot and overcast, and soon enough the rains came. The bride and I had anticipated this, picking up a couple of low-priced OSU ponchos the night before. Not that it kept us entirely dry; plastic protection from the rain created a hot little sweatbox. But we enjoyed the game, and the spectacle, and stayed around into the fourth quarter, when Ohio State was firmly in control and fans of both teams were making their exits.
Seeing drivers battle on the way to the stadium, we were glad we walked. We also got past some of the chaos by walking back -- although the sun was now out and the steam was rising off everything and onto us. But we made our way back to the hotel, happy at the way the day had gone. The night, of course, was a different story. But that's in another post.
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