Being a sports fan from a small town in Connecticut, I was excited about the prospect of seeing some decent and spirited college football when I enrolled at Ohio University in 1975. I knew it wasn't Ohio State, though most in my hometown, when they heard where I was going, told me, "Go, Buckeyes!" Still, I thought Saturday afternoons at Peden Stadium—about three football fields from my West Green freshman dorm—would be loads of fun.
This is an article from the Oct. 15, 2012 issue
On the day of the first game I asked my roommate, Dave Johnson, from a farming community near Columbus, if he wanted to walk over with me. "Nope," he said. "I'm watching the Buckeyes." In those prehistoric days, the four-story dorm had one television—in the basement. I stopped there about a half hour before the Bobcats kicked off. The place was packed, 30 or 40 kids glued to Ohio State. So I went by myself to the game, a mundane affair against Ball State or Central Michigan or some other Mid-American Conference team. The stands were maybe half full, and I soon found out why even that many students had shown up: the Marching 110. At Ohio U the rollicking rock 'n' roll halftime show was the thing. I don't remember what they played that day, but they were loud and fun. And when they were done, 80% of the students left. The second-half crowd reminded me of my high school games.
What a letdown.
During my years the team went 16-27-1, and I fell in line with my classmates. We went to the stadium to hear the Marching 110 fire up "Get Down Tonight" by K.C. and the Sunshine Band (that's one I remember) or some such funky jam, and danced away. Then we'd file back to the dorm, leaving the Bobcats to trudge through a second half in front of family and friends.
Earlier this year, I had a chance to speak with the quarterback, Tyler Tettleton, after the team's victory over Penn State—it is a weird world when, in one calendar year, little OU beats Michigan in basketball and Penn State in football—and I told him that I hoped the team was good enough to keep students around after intermission. "They stay now," Tettleton said. Times have changed.