November 2011


Well, I made it to Michigan.  I made a stop in South Bend, Indiana to visit Notre Dame Stadium.  For college football fans, it’s not that dissimilar to Mecca.  A one time pilgrimage to, perhaps the most sacred ground in college football.  I am by no means a Notre Dame fan, but I do have a healthy respect for what Notre Dame has accomplished and the place it holds in college football history.  South Bend is roughly on my way to Detroit, so I thought it would be more than worth the time to stop and take it all in, and it was well worth it.  I don’t know if I’ll ever get to see a game there, but I can say I got to go inside the stadium and walk around it, and that alone was an experience that I will remeber for a long time.

I made the rest of the way to Detroit, about 3 hours later than I had hoped, but there, none-the-less.  I was greeted warmly by my good friend Jay and his pup, Chongo.  We chatted for a few hours before turning in for the evening and heading to Ann Arbor to take in the Nebraska/Michigan “game”.

We left relatively early for the game, which kicked off at noon, local time.  It took me a while to figure that out, because I was so used to Central time (which is part of the reason I was 3 hours later than I thought I would be, I didn’t account for the change in time zones, otherwise, I’d only have been 2 hours late…).  We got to Ann Arbor about 2 hours before the game started and found our way to our tailgating spot.  We had parked about a 20 minute walk on one side of the stadium, our tailgating locale was about 20 minutes on the other side, so yeah, 40 minutes to find this place.  It was great, very hospitable and welcoming.  There was a pretty large number of Nebraska fans there, which shouldn’t come as a huge suprise, considering Nebraska fans travel as well as they do.

The game itself was a bit of a dud.  Nebraska had their opportunities to make a game of it, but it just didn’t happen.  That happens at times, but how often do you get to experience something like Nebraska/Michigan for the first time?  Not very often, and for that alone, it was well worth it.  The Michigan fans who were around us were extraordinarily hospitable.  In many ways, it reminded me of Lincoln, just the colors and stadium were a little different.  But the atmosphere and attitude of the fans were very similar.  If this is the way it’s going to be, it’s going to be a great relationship.  It could become the way Nebraska and Oklahoma used to be: Respectful, competitive and meaningful.

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It was the summer of 2010. College athletics was all a twitter with rumors, innuendo and minutiae. Conference realignment was all the rage. Texas A&M was going to go to the SEC (which the would do a year later), Missouri was going to the Big 10 (which they didn’t do). The entire Big 12 south was going to up and join the Pac-10 (that didn’t happen either). A lot of the lesser football powers in the Big 12 and beyond were scared they’d beleft out in the cold, or worse, the MAC. But the one school you never heard anything about Nebraska, nothing one way or another. Nothing, that is until they left. And leave they did, so did Colorado who bolted for the Pac-10. Both of these moves made sense for both schools and it began an avalanche of uncertainty and shuffling and change and greed.

As it turns out, I have good friends that live in Detroit, Jay and Liz Taylor. That’s close to the University of Michigan and Michigan State University. I called him (or perhaps texted, I don’t really remember) and told him that the first time Nebraska plays a Michigan team, I was coming up. Since July I’ve been saving my pennies and nickles to make sure I could afford it when the calender turned and, well, Saturday is that day. And I’m coming up. Right now, I’m in Davenport, Iowa. I loaded up the rental car with lots or red clothing (or at least clothing that indicates I’m from Nebraska), a 12 pack of Cherry Coke and Fresca and an absurd amount of home made beef jerkey and set out on my way to Auburn Hills, Michigan. I’m not quite halfway there, in Davenport Iowa. Tomorrow I travel the rest of the way with only one side trip, which I’ll detail tomorrow (hopefully with pictures!).

I was hoping to have an exciting story or a funny anecdote to share, but it was really a fairly routine trip. Nothing super crazy happened, which is probably for the best, though I did make a stop at Chick-fil-A, which is always a must when leaving the state of Nebraska. For now, I’m going to get some sleep so I’m fully charged and ready to go for the drive tomorrow.