Pilgrimage to Ohio’s Mecca

The Shoe

On Saturday I was led in a pilgrimage to Ohio’s own Mecca.  The ‘Shoe.  The House that Harley Built.  The Horseshoe.  Ohio Stadium.

This is one awesomely massive stadium.  It’s not big.  It’s enormous.  On Saturday it was a sea of red.  105,000 red-shirted fans of Ohio’s own Buckeyes.  And I was one of those fans:


I have seen this stadium on television for years.  I’ve watched the Rose Bowl since I was a kid.  Everyone in Southern California does.  And I’ve seen the other bowl games, too.  The Buckeyes were often featured somewhere in that mix.  I always thought of them as one of those oddly wholesome, corn-fed, Midwest powerhouses.  I’m still trying to figure out how a state as far east as Ohio can be considered midwest… but I digress.  But as often as I saw the Buckeyes on TV, they were always “them.”  I was a UCLA fan.  PAC-10 was my conference.  LA’s Coliseum and the Rose Bowl in Pasadena were the big stadiums.

Living in Atlanta for 16 years made me realize that college football is a religion.  But truthfully I never drank the Kool-Aid.  I just couldn’t get excited about being a Bulldog (University of Georgia) or a Yellowjacket (Georgia Tech).  We did get to spend quite a bit of time in Sanford Stadium (UGA) when we volunteered with the 1996 Olympics, and it seemed huge.  But it was itty-bitty compared to where I sat on Saturday.  105,000 people in one place.  That’s more people than most of America’s cities!

Then it hit me.  Holy Crap!  Not only am I SITTING IN “The ‘Shoe,” I am a Buckeye now!  I live in Ohio.  This isn’t just on TV — I’m here!  How did this happen?!?  This guy is largely responsible:


This is Greg.  He took me to the game on Saturday.  He’s got season tickets (a prized and much-sought-after commodity).  And he was the chairperson of the Pastor Nominating Committee that brought the P-Ds to Ohio.  He’s a Buckeye through-and-through.  His son was even in the Ohio State Band (seeing the band in both the stadium and in the “skull session” before the game was awesome!).

So I’ve been to Ohio’s “Mecca.”  Thanks, Greg, for the day — it was cool beyond words.

Go Bucks!

~ by Jeff P-D on September 12, 2007.

7 Responses to “Pilgrimage to Ohio’s Mecca”

  1. It really doesn’t get any better than that…until you’re there when Michigan comes to town!

  2. Jeff,
    Glad you enjoyed the day. I wanted you to experience a day of Ohio State football.

    Mission accomplished.

    Kevin, you are so right. Ohio State and Michigan could both be winless going into their game (which is always the final game of the season) and nothing else woudl matter for either team’s fans but a victory over their arch rivals.

    A friend of ours at church, Tom Hawley, says, “My favorite team is Ohio State and my second favorite team is whoever is playing Michigan.” Guess the last two weeks that would be App State and Oregon!!


  3. Hey, Jeff!
    Allright – you know the Malcoms moved to Ohio from Atlanta, excited to be coming back to the Northeast. Wrong! Ohio is definitely a Midwest state. Pennsylvania is northeast.
    Still, our families live in states right beside each other. We need to get over there to visit y’all!
    Hope you’re well. Love to the girls.

    Oh – We are….Penn State 🙂


  4. Whoa Nellie……….what in the world is going on here? The cold Ohio winter must have frozen more than a few of your brain cells big fella. As a proud Univ of Georgia graduate, and a lifelong Bulldog, I cringed at the blasphemous account of your recent visit to the Horseshoe at Ohio State (what a silly name for a stadium anyway…..but I digress). Hey, what do you mean you never drank the Kool-Aid while in Georgia. That was your first mistake, Real Bulldawgs drink bourbon on game day, after a tall Bloody Mary in the morning, and certainly chased with a few cold beers…….but never Kool-Aid. No wonder you never enjoyed the games…..who likes Kool-Aid anyway? (except our cute little Bullpups who are still in training). I understand if you don’t care for the Yellow Jacket Kool-Aid…..that’s some nasty stuff, likely concocted in one of their chemistry labs no doubt. Kudos to the Ohio State zealots up there for brainwashing you about Northern Football. I had you pegged as a mental giant, but after this sacreligous posting about Buckeye Football it’s obvious that I was woefully wrong. Very sad indeed.

    Well, I gotta run. The Dawgs have a game in two days and I’m already behind in my pre-game preparation. Just needed to stick up for my Dawgs and for all of the Southern Football traditions we hold so dearly down here…where College Football is not just a game, it’s a way of life (and yes, a religion to many).

    Love to the P-Ds. GO DAWGS !!!!!

  5. Yo Dawg! Don’t make me snort milk out my nose when I read replies on my blog! You’re just too funny! And I do remember how much of a Dawg you are. It’s an interesting thing to ponder… I never really became a “dawg” while living in Atlanta. But at least the mascot for UGA isn’t a silly looking person jumping around the stadium with a NUT for a head!!! What’s with this “buckeye” thing??? If you haven’t seen the Ohio State mascot you need to google it — it’s hideous!!!

    I would like to point out an obvious oversight on your part, however. The reason I went to the Ohio State game (a game to which, I might add, tickets are impossible to get…) was that a FRIEND INVITED ME. How many times did you go to Georgia games in the 16 years I was in Atlanta? I knew you for at least 10 of those years. Did you invite me ONCE??? No, you “dawg.” You hoarded the tickets, the games, the tailgating ALL TO YOURSELF. No, I’m not bitter. Just becoming a Buckeye…

  6. Ohh Jeff,

    Sounds like your friend the, Georgia Puppy Dawg fan is a little testy!


  7. Jeff – The world is not small, or flat. It is a huge ball of interconnected, coffee/beer drinking, football loving (whether they admit it or not), folks. So here’s my point. I’m a Buckeye (graduated in 1980) and attended the Rose Bowl game that year (USC beat OSU in a close game). I move to Atlanta in 1990 and you become my pastor a few years later. Then I move to upstate NY, (where most folks love the Syracuse Orange and you gotta respect them for that, the poor people)but I digress. My new pastor here is also a UCLA/Pac 10 fan, like you. Then YOU move to my Ohio, and go to the Horseshoe, and then write about it. I’m sitting here in Skaneateles, with a big cup of coffee, and reading your blog about you going to my alma mater and loving it. Does this strike anyone else as being just a little too weird?

    I’m enjoying your musings. Even those rude comments about the mascot. Hey, did your buddy Greg buy you a buckeye necklace to wear? (Greg – I already like you and I don’t even know you!)

    Go Buckeyes!


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