I was a freshman at Ohio University in 1994, a season during which the Ohio University football team went winless. The first OU game I attended was a 5-0 loss to Utah State. True story: I got my ticket for free by buying a hamburger at Wendy’s on Court Street. Like
idiots geniuses, my friends and I continued to attend Ohio University football games all four years, and we were rewarded my senior year with an 8-3 team led by head coach Jim Grobe.
While I was a student, OU went a sad 18-28-1 in football (8-12-1 at home.) (The big joke was we were a drinking school with a football problem.) We snapped a 12-game losing streak at home against Illinois State my sophomore year. I stormed the field after the game as students tore down the goalpost, probably out of irony. The athletic department made a very big deal out of warning students not to do it again, and we readily obeyed, as OU didn’t win another home game for almost a year.
This semester I am living in Athens with my wife. More on that here and here. I’ve been to two home games this season, most recently against Norfolk State. I took a lot of photos to document the many ways the game-day experience has changed since the 1990s.
Here we go…
In 1994 university parking lots during football games were barren winterscapes.
In 2012, there are cars entering (as opposed to quickly leaving) Athens on football Saturdays.
In 1994 you didn’t need these because the university was not worried about where tens of thousands of people were not parking their cars.
Times change. In the 1990s the athletic department didn’t mind if you brought umbrellas or even your whole patio set inside Peden Stadium.
Opponent-specific shirts of opponents students had never heard of before six days ago are a sign your program is on the rise.
This is what Tailgate Park looked like when we used to drive my friend Jim’s Celebrity to Peden Stadium on game day. “First ones here!” (Thanks for the photo, Jim.)
Now that exact same field pictured above is filled with people.
This is pretty much the spot where, for years, we tailgated home games with Keystone Ice and JTMs, which may or may not have been comprised of an actual meat substance. Securing that same spot every week was not an issue.
I don’t remember there being portable toilets when we first tailgated. I think we all went behind this tree.
Of course, now they have these things, which are nicer than my apartment.
When my friends Ron and Sarah brought their kids to tailgate games after we graduated, they tossed them in the back of the car with a package of Saltines and half-a-pack of smokes.
Now kids have these things to jump around and accidentally pee in.
Our mascot has done two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, plus some stuff in Libya he’s not allowed to talk about, so not all of the changes have been pleasant.
No, those seats aren’t painted to look like people! Those are actual fans. Credit goes to head coach Frank Solich for building a winning program. This is from the New Mexico State game a few weeks ago.
One thing has not changed. When I was at OU, the Marching 110 got freaky to “New Age Girl” by Deadeye Dick. (If someone has video, I will post it. Here is the original.)
And here is the Marching 110 taking a viral video sensation from YouTube and going full-on Gangnam Style at halftime of the Norfolk State game. The dance in the middle of the song makes it. (You know it’s good when the professional snarkers over at Deadspin like it.)
Still the most exciting band in the land.