Tag Archives: college football

The Big 10, the Big 12, the Pac 10 and our way of life

We all know the recent machinations realigning some of the major conferences in college athletics are all about money. We take cherished “amateur” sports associated with our institutions of higher learning and milk them for every dime. How quintessentially American.

I don’t actually have any particular beef with finances driving universities to seek a better deal. But I lament that these conference reorganizations tinker with the structure of this country’s social organization.

As someone who has moved around the continent, I’ve found that people — men, anyway — tend to identify and categorize themselves by college conferences. I grew up in Big 10 territory, and my concept of the Midwest was the states fielding teams in the conference.

My wife, who still hasn’t accepted the incursion of Texans into what is at least for now the Big 12, grew up in Big 8 territory.

We’ve lived many years on the West Coast, and we’re fully aware we’re in Pac 10 territory.

But now Colorado, a team based east of the Continental Divide, is joining the Pac 10? And Nebraska enters the Big 10?

It’s going to take a while for my brain to rewire itself accordingly.

In my heart, I still believe that college conferences should be such that students of one school should be able to hop in a car and drive to another campus within the conference for a football game.

I suppose Cornhusker fans are hearty enough to drive from Lincoln to Columbus and back on a three-day weekend. But I can’t see a Colorado fan having enough time to make the drive to Seattle or Berkeley.

Oh, sure, they can fly if they have enough money. But a college road trip should be a road trip.

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Alabama defeats Texas to win the national championship

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The final: ‘Bama 37, Texas 21.

Did I watch? Not a play. But I listened to the last several minutes via ESPN’s streaming radio feed.

No, thanks. I’ll pass on the chips (Fiesta Bowl 2010)

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On my television screen, the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl tonight looked more like the Ugly Uniforms Bowl.

As one of my Twitter buddies pointed out, TCU players looked like walking eggplants. And although the pants in this photo appear orange, on my screen the Boise State players looked as if they were slathered in salmon mousse.

The only thing that would have made it worse was if the game had been played on Boise State’s hideous blue turf.

Wisconsin Badgers throwback cap

College football season kicks off Saturday, and to celebrate the annual rites of fall I present this late 1970s banded mesh-back cap. In the late 70s and early 1980s, this was the predominant college cap style.

In fact, I’m hard pressed to remember any college caps from that era that didn’t look like this one. As a graduate student at Marquette University in Milwaukee, I had a Warriors cap in yellow and white. I picked up this red and white beauty on the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison in 1979.

My girlfriend and I drove over to Camp Randall stadium on a Saturday to watch the Badgers play Indiana. Becky (now my wife of 28 years) took this picture before the game, and I got photos of her wearing a Wisconsin cowboy hat and Badger mittens.

The game was a snoozer — a 6-0 Wisconsin victory — and most of the action was in the stands. This was the “Mad City” era of the Portage Plumber and the Pail & Shovel Party, the guys in student government who wanted to replace the parking meters on campus with bubble gum machines. The student section of the stands was big on “body passing,” a sort of movable mosh pit where students were hoisted on the upraised arms of others and passed up or down row after row.

UW Athletic Director Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch had recently banned the activity, and the ushers were quick to squelch any attempt. At one point, the message crawler on the scoreboard said, “Elroy thanks you … for not doing … you know what.”

I absolutely loved this hat. I kept wearing it for years, even when the plastic insert in the brim had cracked into a hundred pieces. I can’t remember in what closet purge I reluctantly tossed the hat out. If I had it today, I’d tip it to Bucky and the Badgers.

Loose on the Palouse with a WSU ball cap

As my wife heads to Portland, Ore., my thoughts turn to:

  1. What am I going to eat for the next five days?
  2. Hey, I bought a ballcap near Portland a couple of years ago!

Not just any ballcap. This was a genuine Washington State Cougars cap, an early 21st Century Nike model with stretch-to-fit elastic in the back.

I bought this cap when I joined my wife at a conference she was running at a resort — The Resort, in fact — on Mount Hood. Having lived in Seattle for four years, I should have known to pack a hat for the rainy Pacific Northwest. But no.

Which made for a great opportunity to buy a new cap at the shiny new Fred Meyer department store we passed on our way up the mountain. Freddy’s had lots of choices if you were an Oregon or Oregon State fan. There were several Washington Huskies caps, too, but just one lone Wazzu lid.

In my cap calculus, you score extra points for buying against the grain. So donning a Cougar cap smack in the middle of Duck and Beaver territory made perfect sense. Washington State probably has the smallest fan base of all the Pac-10 schools, and that’s all the more reason to root for the Cougs.

The overwhelming number of U-Dub grads and students in Seattle was often hard to bear during my Seattle years, and I enjoyed my annual visits to the WSU campus immensely. Driving through the hills of the Palouse was always a thrill, so backing the Cougs seems right.

Although this cap is sport-agnostic, I bought it in September and thus consider it a football cap. This post makes three consecutive red caps, and I promise to insert some contrast in the next post.

In the meantime, what the heck am I going to make for dinner?