Posted: Sunday September 11, 2005 5:32PM; Updated: Tuesday September 13, 2005 4:46PM
Notre Dame-Michigan and Texas-OSU in one day? You had me at 'Chinedum Ndukwe.'
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
John Walters chronicled his adventure from Ann Arbor, Mich., to Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday for an epic college football doubleheader. This is the first of three parts; follow these links to read the second and third installments.
What type of birthday gift do you give a guy who, at the age of 39, has never owned a home, a car, an insurance policy of any kind, a wedding ring and, as his co-workers might attest (at least between the months of June and September), a pair of long pants? Well, if you cannot find a bottle of "Grow Up" pills, the next best thing to do is to ask him what he wants.
This is what I (the aforementioned sufferer of Peter Panorexia) wanted for my birthday, which falls on Sept. 10: to visit the last two great college football stadiums where I had yet to see a game, to watch my alma mater play, and to see the most anticipated college football game of the year. All on the same day.
As it happens, it was easy. When I first realized a few months ago that Michigan would host Notre Dame and Ohio State would host Texas on the same day, I thought that it would be awesome to attend either game. Then, when ABC spokesman Mark Mandel informed me that Notre Dame-Michigan would kick off at noon and that the Texas-Ohio State game would be a prime-time contest, I went straight to Mapquest. Ann Arbor to Columbus? 192 miles. Definitely do-able.
I screwed on my Blutarsky "Did we give up when the Germans attacked Pearl Harbor?" face and marched resolutely into the office of my boss, Chris Stone. I was prepared for an entrenched battle (with much whining on my side). Instead, Chris said, "Have fun." Perhaps he still felt guilty for having assigned me to cover the NCAA men's basketball tournament play-in game in Dayton, Ohio, each of the past two years.
Now that I had my boss's blessing, I needed a wingman. I recruited a college buddy, Dave Fink, a two-time finisher of the Hawaii Ironman who lives in Indianapolis. Dave is getting married on Oct. 22, and we already have a bachelor party planned for him later this month. So this Big Ten crusade would not exactly be his last hurrah as a bachelor.
"How about a 'second-to-last hurrah,' Dave?" I asked.
"Dubs," Dave replied, employing my college nickname, "you had me at 'ChinedumNdukwe.'"
And with that, we were off.
But, really, how much persuasion would any fan need? Look at the numbers. Entering last weekend Texas, Michigan and Ohio State were rated (and, in one case, overrated) 2nd, 3rd and 4th in the AP poll. Notre Dame, rated 20th, had people buzzing with its surprisingly easy 42-21 win at Pittsburgh the week before, and with the arrival of new coach Charlie Weis.