poses briefly with OperaCat before
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
diary. He accepted, and you can read his new afterward here.
Oct. 2, 2004
Noah knows me. At least by face. Even when it's masked in purple and
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
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.
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
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
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.
resuming his quest to parrrrrr-tay.
Fan Diary: Michigan
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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!