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Fourth and Long

I had the opportunity to cross an item off my “bucket list” last weekend when my wife, Dawn, and I drove up to Columbus, Ohio to catch the Ohio State-Michigan game. To say the experience was a good one would be an understatement.

It began with tailgating as we joined up with Dawn’s sister, Amanda, and her beau, Kip, at 6 a.m. to begin the festivities. Our group of four quickly became a crowd of 20 as the Bucknutz Party Bus (yes, that’s really the name) picked us up and setup camp in a scene that can only be described as a Buckeye RV Convention.

Tables were unloaded, generators were cranked, grills were lit, satellites were plugged in and multiple high definition televisions were hooked up. I was amazed.

As incredible as the Bucknutz Party Crew was, it was anything but out of the ordinary as all around us similar scenes were abundant. These fine people clearly know how to spend a Saturday afternoon.

After a while we said goodbye to the crew and headed across the river to Woody Hayes Drive where TBDBITL (The Best ____ Band In The Land), Ohio State’s Marching Band warms up at St. John Arena.

This “skull session” as it’s called is performed in front of over 13,000 people. Can you imagine 13,000 people coming to hear Carolina’s or State’s band warm up? Me either.

Before going into the stadium, we walked around and gawked at the people and festivities. I got to have my picture taken with the Heisman Trophy which I have to admit I got more excited for than I thought I would. It seemed appropriate that I was wearing my new Archie Griffin t-shirt (Archie is the only player to ever win the Heisman twice).

Since I’m on the subject of clothes I have to admit that I saw some pretty wild stuff in and around the stadium. I was conservative in comparison, mostly because it was so cold. I did sport a helmet replica wool cap and a buckeye lei.

My Tar Heels were playing Duke later in the afternoon so I kept my hands warm in a pair of Carolina Blue gloves with Ramses stitched on the top.

We finally made our way to “The Shoe” and after buying a blanket (did I mention it was cold), found our seats. The rest of the day seems a blur. I witnessed why the band is considered TBDBITL, it’s a title they earned (although POISON, ECSU’s drumline back in the day would have given them a run for their money).

I screamed and yelled. I learned new songs, many of which I can’t repeat here, but are sure fun to sing with 104,000 other like-minded fans. I watched a competitive football game until the first quarter, and for all intents and purposes Rich Rodriguez’s tenure at Michigan, come to an end.

Ohio State won, of course, so my wife was beyond happy and I must admit so was I. I’m a Buckeye in spirit because my wife has so valiantly supported my beloved Heels. Despite not having grown up a fan of the school or program I must admit to having been in awe of the entire experience. I suggest any football fan experience it.

Next item on the bucket list… Carolina-Duke basketball!

David Friedman is a long-time contributor to the Roanoke-Chowan News Herald. A Bertie High School graduate, he and his wife currently reside in Wilmington. David can be reached via e-mail at dave@gate811.net.