Wildcat Fan
Diary 2004


Wildcat Fan Diary Revisited

In 2003 a reader nicknamed NationalChampionsSomeday (a Medill alumnus and rabid NU fan) wrote a two-day fan diary, recalling his thoughts and encounters at the Ohio State game in Columbus.  His account has a permanent page on this site, and can be found among the 2003 review pages in the Features section.

After the landmark victory by the Wildcats over OSU in 2004, I asked NationalChampionsSomeday to write another entry for his "Wildcat Fan" diary.  He accepted, and you can read his new afterward here.

Saturday, Oct. 2, 2004

Noah knows me. At least by face. Even when it's masked in purple and white paint.

Mr. Herron, he of the winning touchdown, recognized me when we saw each other on the field Saturday night. I think he remembered me from my trip to Ohio State last year, during which I walked into Ohio Stadium unfettered the day before the game and got to cheer the players as they came in to take a walk around. (My visit to Columbus is chronicled in detail on this site.) I also talked to Noah in April before the spring game.

On the field Saturday night I also got to congratulate Baz, Pickens and Dominique Price. I had talked to Pickens’ folks before the game; I hugged his dad on the field.

But I can't go on without making two admissions. First, this Medill grad had a key fact wrong as I celebrated on the field. “Not since 1972!” I seem to recall shouting more than once. Oops. 1971 had been the last year we beat the Buckeyes.

The second sin is more egregious.

I doubted.

After the blowout at Minnesota and the Herron/Walker subplot that followed, I was afraid the ’Cats wouldn't come out the way they did against the Buckeyes in the Mark Philmore-got-screwed game at Ryan Field in 2002. On the way to the stadium Saturday I lived up to my persona and played my assigned role by yapping about an upset to some Buckeye fans in front of a house. But my heart wasn't in it like it was in Columbus last year.

In a strange way, though, my skepticism was comforting me: My hunches and gut feelings often turn out to be wrong.

And I flip-flopped to optimism too early. With the ’Cats driving effectively, I was envisioning a 17-3 lead at halftime. Then Baz threw that pick. Later I said the Buckeyes looked like maybe they didn't have it together tonight. Then they got that 49-yard completion into double coverage.

At one point my season-ticket partner — let's call him AppellateCat — admonished me to knock off voicing such thoughts, as Wildcat setbacks were following each one. “Will you shut up?” isn't verbatim, but it's the gist of what he said.

AppellateCat also reminded me to note here that Willie the Wildcat was among the bouncers on the north goalpost after the game. Not me. I was too busy looking for players so I could act like a groupie.

As for my face, credit my wife with the artwork. And as for those who think 37-year-old men are too old for that, I'll point out that at Wildcat Alley before the game a cheerleader complimented the look. I don't recall a cheerleader ever speaking to me in my four-plus years as a student.

I heard on the radio Tuesday morning that the Bush-Kerry race is a dead heat. I know this isn't a political forum, but let me say this:

Noah Herron for president.

Go, ’Cats!!

NationalChampionsSomeday poses briefly with OperaCat before
resuming his quest to parrrrrr-tay.

Wildcat Fan Diary: Michigan

NationalChampionsSomeday continues his road diary, this time recounting his trip to Ann Arbor to watch the Wildcats take on Michigan in 2004.

Wildcat Fan Diary: NationalChampionsSomeday Bleeds for the ‘Cats

My horoscope in the Detroit paper Saturday morning read in part, “Watch your back and be careful what you say to whom.”

I don't go on these trips to be careful what I say. But that's not what drew blood. I’ll get to that.

On Friday morning I picked up a friend we'll call TampaCat at Midway Airport. TampaCat is highly averse to cold weather, as evidenced starkly by his profane reaction upon getting out of the car in downtown Chicago to pick up AppellateCat for our lunch trip to Buffalo Joe's in Evanston -- perhaps TampaCat's favorite restaurant of all time.

We ate and visited Campus Gear, where I wanted to get one of those not-quite-as-bad-as-Don-King purple wigs that makes you look almost like you have cotton candy on your head. No dice. I settled for those Game Faces N-Cat logos and an N flag for the car.

We dropped off AppellateCat at home -- he couldn’t make the trip due to the nine-months-pregnantness of his wife -- and headed out. TampaCat, who went to law school at Michigan, led us to Krazy Jim’s Blimpy Burger for dinner and then to The Full Moon, a good bar downtown. Our cohorts UroCat M.D. and StLouisCat arrived late in the evening.

I woke up early Saturday morning and headed downstairs in my purple T-shirt and N-Cat logos on my forehead and both cheeks, hoping to incite some friendly banter. But TampaCat was right about Michigan fans: Disappointingly, they’re just not that boisterous or confrontational. I couldn't even get a rise from the NU fans waiting outside the hotel for the shuttle. What the….? If a 37-year-old man can go out in public with N-Cat logos on his face, the least people could do is high-five me.

Anyway, we got to Michigan Stadium and took our seats in Row 94 behind the south goalpost -- two rows from the very back of the stadium. One thing I noticed: I don’t know if it’s like this for every game, but the logistics surrounding how the Wolverines came onto the field prevented the ’Cats from making a similar charge. They were consigned to simply coming out of the tunnel and taking their place on that sideline. Northwestern did bring the marching band, which was cool.

During the game I engaged in some public service. Because we were at such a bad angle to the sticks, I took it upon myself to stand up and give the first-down signal when the ’Cats achieved them. One guy behind me didn't want such charity: I don’t remember his exact words, but early in the game he said something along the lines of “I’m gonna hurt that guy before this game is over.” It reminded me of the time in college when I went to Chicago Stadium to cheer on my beloved Minnesota North Stars against the Blackhawks. Gesturing on my part prompted a guy to say “Lose that finger, kid, before I turn those glasses into contacts.”

My sparring partner for the afternoon was a fun Michigan guy. He kept saying “Kellogg” and variations of the word “spank” -- prompting me to ask him something like whether he thought this was an S&M club.

We all know what happened on the field, and our post-game socializing was tame -- so tame it involved a couple of us inexplicably spending a lot of time in the flagship Borders. I recommend Scorekeepers, but I’d avoid the Touchdown Cafe, where the service was shaky (making me feel less guilty about forgetting to have us leave a tip) and we were harassed by some Michigan blowhard.

Sunday morning I had to get those N-Cat logos off my face. The washcloth didn’t cut it, so I attacked my cheeks with the toothbrush the hotel provided me the day before. (I forgot to pack toiletries.) The scraping drew out tiny drops of blood.

Hence I indeed actually bled for the 'Cats. Hope to see some of you Saturday at Ryan Field. Thanks for reading!

-- NationalChampionsSomeday