Monday, August 14, 2006


They're on Grass

It's time for a little anecdote, boys and girls. This tale comes from the mouth of my stepfather, who was many things but certainly not a liar. I believe the following events to be true, although it is entirely possible that they're a tad bit old-man-exaggerated.

Dennis (my stepdad) played high school football at Wooster High School in Wooster, Ohio, a midwestern steel town of the 1950's. He was a highly touted and gifted tailback for the varsity squad, talented enough to accept a track scholarship to Southern Illinois University. If you've ever met anyone from Ohio, they will almost always take your conversation, whether it is about nuclear physics, soap operas, or the fact that The Dukes of Hazzard is the best television show of all time, and they will turn the topic into the importance of Ohio high school football. "It's like could rob the town blind during a game..." Their football self importance rivals the natives of Texas, Florida, and everywhere in between. Save it, Brutus.


That being said, the players take it as seriously as anyone. I don't recall the name of their rival high school, but it was the week of the big game and it was an away game for Wooster. Dennis, a couple of his buddies, and a stolen bottle of whiskey broke in to their rivals' stadium the Wednesday night before the game with several gallons of kerosene. They used the fuel to paint an enormous "W" on the field that faced the home sideline. It was so grandiose, in fact, that it stretched from one sideline to the other. It had been relatively wet that week, so they felt little to no remorse when they left the field unattended moments after setting the "W" ablaze.

This is small-town middle America in the 1950's, and word traveled quickly. It was apparently a huge deal and even made the Friday morning paper. Dennis will tell you it was because the other team was so demoralized, but Wooster left the stadium victors, winning an away game on a field that boasted a gigantic black "W." Football, rivalry in particular, kicks fucking ass.

You may realize that this situation is not entirely unique. The annual Virginia class war between the UVa bluebloods and the toothless thug wonders from Tech featured a similar prank, although not as spectacular. Some drunken Hokie faithful broke into Scott Stadium on the eve of last year's game and vandalized the home team's large orange "V" by adding a lopsided "T." Ground crews are a little more advanced nowadays, and they were able to remove the stain using scrub brushes and eventually green paint. I hate both schools, but that freaking rules.

My favorite turf defacement story comes from the TCU-SMU rivalry. During the halftime show, the visiting SMU Mustangs marching band formed a large "M" and held their positions. Three months later, as the Texas winter took it's toll on the playing surface, a bright green "M" appeared. The SMU band geeks had each smuggled winter rye seeds on to the field and dropped them during the aforementioned routine.

Something needs to happen to Arizona Stadium this fall. I'll leave it up to the Sun Devil faithful to figure out exactly what, but I'll suggest one thing: flame throwers.

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Just flame throwers? I was thinking maybe artillery. One of my fondest memories is storming the field at their place after the 56-14 beatdown in the Rose Bowl season in 96. Ain't nothing better than stomping your rivals.
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