Welcome to the Big Ten

I love college football.  It is really the only sports season that gets me excited.

I have been spending my Saturday afternoons and evenings in college football stadiums since I was a little girl.  My Daddy started out taking the family to Virginia Tech football games (back with VT in the Big East and horrible but the games were fun) years ago.  It became one of my favorite things to do with my Daddy.  He never encountered a game he wasn’t interested in watching.  So, I owe my college football habit to him, not a bad thing to inherit.

I went to college at UVA where I was introduced to the treasured Southern concept of football parading as a cocktail party (but it is pretty there).  Finally, I made my way to UT, where I was introduced to real college football – the SEC.  Yes, I know, many will not agree, but we will just have to agree to disagree.

Even though I have seen football at its most rabid and crazy (SEC, particularly if LSU is involved), I still carry with me the traits of a good UVA fan.  I don’t travel.  Until now.  UVA visited Indiana University this season and I was there.  Of course, I only had to travel the 3.5 hours from FW – so I did not over exert myself.  I will not go into the details of the game, other than to say that UVA won despite giving up a 20 point lead in the second half.  I doubt any UVA fans were surprised. Sigh.

This was my first Big Ten stadium experience and I learned a few things.

Big Ten fans are nice and pretty well behaved.  I had the occasion to tailgate with a group of total strangers, we shall call them The Boys from Chicago.  The Boys from Chicago were neither Hoosier nor Cavalier fans.  They have decided as a group to see a game at every Big Ten stadium and this year it was IU’s turn.  They welcomed me to their tailgate, which featured a television, kabobs, burgers, cornhole, and comfortable chairs.  It was a good thing, because my tailgate consisted of a Starbucks iced decaf mocha.  Weak, I know.   

In the Midwest the beanbag game called “cornhole” in the South is called “bags”.  Who knew.  It kind of makes more sense as “bags”.   I am going to try to take that South.

The fun tailgates are in the grass.  Most of the non-season ticket holders are found across 17th Street in grassy lots.  The lots directly across from the stadium are filled with screaming, dancing, and beer throwing students.  I drove passed this spectacle (with my mouth gapped open) and thought it was a mosh pit at a concert.  I had not seen such.  Needless to say, I drove on and found a nice quiet lot.  Luckily, that is also what The Boys of Chicago did.  Although, they seemed disappointed that they could not get a space in the midst of the college-kid-football-frenzy.

These are the remains of the college-kid-football-frenzy. Yikes.

The only thing more odd than a slow fight song played to the tune of Auld Lang Syne (UVA’s fight song) is a first down ritual involving the mimicking of cow milking (hello IU).  Seriously, at every first down there were thousands of people performing cow milking gestures.  Interesting, but not necessarily pretty.

The Marching Hundred marching band is quite fabulous.  I love a marching band. However, it has a long way to go to rival The Pride of the Southland Marching Band at the University of Tennessee.  I especially love a marching band when there are fire batons involved.  There are lots of fire batons in the SEC.  IU needs some fire batons.

Indiana limestone is a big deal.  I had no idea.  Turns out Memorial Stadium at IU is also called The Rock and the students section is referred to as The Quarry in honor of that Indiana limestone.  There is actually a big rock at one end of the field placed there by a former coach who has since passed away.  Now the rock carries his name.  Very nice and respectful.  I like that.  The stadium is pretty and castle-like.  Of course, it is not Scott Stadium – I do love a colonnade – but it is still pretty.

Fanny packs are fashionable.  I realize this probably shows my age, but I was unaware that fanny packs were acceptable substitutes for pocketbooks and backpacks. Fanny packs were all over the tailgate area and the game. Some were sequined, some were emblazoned with IU’s name, and others were just plain fanny packs.  When I was 18 to 25 I would not have been caught in the bathroom with a fanny pack on.  I am not sure there are enough sequins to make a fanny pack pretty and I love sequins.

I really like Bloomington, Indiana.  It is a fun, open, happy little college town.  Not too far from the big city and not too far from happy hillbilly country.  You can’t beat it with a stick.  It is pretty.

My first Big Ten experience was outstanding.  I can’t help but compare the experience to the college football experience at UVA and UT, which is unfair.  It is like comparing apples and oranges.  IU and Bloomington has a lot to offer. I will go back even if UVA is not there.  It is a worthwhile and fun spot and a great first stop on my Big Ten tour.


71 thoughts on “Welcome to the Big Ten

  1. Big 10’s good; I’m just glad you’re not an ohio state fan. My cousins went to UVA and VT, so I can understand those 🙂 So glad to read an awesome post talking up college football to NFL. I’m a WVU fan and while I currently have no idea in what conference we’ll be playing in the next few years, all I know is Saturday night is gonna be nuts in Morgantown (we’re playing #2 LSU- like you said: it’ll get rabid and crazy).

  2. I discovered Big 10 football years ago, after moving to Madison, Wisconsin. One thing that still puzzles me (and has been exacerbated by the addition of Nebraska to the conference) is why so many of the teams’ main color is red. In a Wisconsin-Indiana game, how is a fan to know which other fans deserve a Sprite shower, if everyone is wearing the same color?

  3. To truly experience being part of the Big Ten, someday you’ll have to come to a game at “The Big House” aka University of Michigan Stadium. In Michigan it’s well-known that if someone is talking about going to “the big house” they mean Michigan Stadium. However, in most other states, “going to the big house” means you’re going to …prison. Once there, you’ll get to see and hear the best college marching band in the country, hands down.

    Glad that your “Big ten” (which is actually the big 12) post got you Freshly Pressed!

    • HG – I can’t wait to get to visit the U of Michigan stadium. I have seen many-a-game at the University of Tennessee, which battled briefly with Michigan for the country’s largest college stadium. So, The Big House is definitely on my short list! Thanks for the note and the congratulations. Please do come back and visit again. SG

  4. Ahhh thanks for your post! I’m an IU alum, so you made me nostalgic for my glory days. Even though I’m a city girl now, I rank Bloomington as one my favorite places. Nothing beats it in the fall. So colorful and gorgeous.

  5. As a transplanted southerner who went to University of Michigan for grad school, I have to second (third?) the Big House. Lots of tailgating with lots of good people. There’s nothing like being is a stadium with 110,000 of your closest friends!

  6. Until now, the other “reds” have been of no consequence. With the arrival of Nebraska (BIG RED) you are going to find out what true RED means. (Actually, it’s scarlet and cream, but whatever…)
    I, too, am a college football devotee and the Cornhusker’s move to the Big 10 means this transplanted Nebraskan will have a chance to see some REAL college football on TV out here in the land of (yawn) nice little colleges with football teams of no consequence. The Big Ten is prettier with the red (SCARLET!) of Nebraska!

  7. When you have the time, try the U of Iowa. 70,000 folks inside the stadium and another 30K outside. Probably like many places in the Big 10…lots of friendly folks, tons of food and beverages and the only team wearing BLACK & GOLD (like the Pittsburgh Steelers). Have fun!

  8. Loved looking at the pictures and reading your blog. Nothing compares to big time college football. I barely watch TV during the year but when football season rolls around I am often glued to the set. I look forward to reading more about your visits to the other stadiums.

    I am from the Pac Ten (now 12 and staying that way last I heard) and my best football experience was being part of the Miracle at Memorial my sophomore year.

  9. Well I suppose I should jump in and represent Penn State. You haven’t quite been to a stadium til you’ve been in Happy Valley during a “White Out!”

  10. Great post, it reminded me about everything I love about college football. Though if you’re planning on touring Big Ten stadiums, I hope you don’t leave out Happy Valley. Nothing can beat hearing 100,000 fans chanting “WE ARE…” “…PENN STATE” in person.

    • I used to go to PSU games all the time with my then-BF. Even though I’m so very anti-PSU these days, you’re right that it’s an experience like none other to hear that! And maybe the Creamery isn’t all that bad either – is that place still around?

      • The Creamery is still there in all its ice cream glory. They actually expanded it a few years ago so it’s like an actual store/ice cream stand and added some outdoor tables and chairs.

  11. Indiana-Bloomington is a nice enough place, but it’s not a football school by any stretch of the imagination. You have to go to Penn State, Michigan, Wisconsin, or Ohio State if you wanna see a real Big 10 football crowd (and I hate to admit it as a Wolverine, but the Big House is probably the weakest experience of the three)

  12. Sorry dude…I’m from Indy and went to Ben Davis so football pulses through my veins…! I have an IU degree but have it simply because I went to IUPUI and couldn’t choose my school to grant me with my degree. What I am leading to you have probably already guessed…and that is Purdue. Purdue is where it is…not IU. Sorry but IU has to beg people to attend it’s games with all the ads! Purdue knows you will come because of their excellence.

  13. Really enjoyed your post and pictures. I’m a Hokie and my husband is a Hoosier; we love watching college football, too. I’ve been to IU for a basketball game but probably won’t make the trip (we live in New Hampshire now) back for football. Sounds like a great day for you!

  14. Glad you enjoyed!! I am an IU alum, Class of ’96. Bloomington is a great town!! Even though IU is not known as a football school, games are usually a really fun experience!

  15. Hey there. I stumbled across your blog while surfing other sports blogs. This is very well written and informative! It’s a fresh new perspective on sports and I like it a lot!
    Not to be without a shameless plug, but I also write a sports blog! outsidepressure.com. I notice that you have a ton of traffic on your site, and was wondering if you’d mind chatting a little bit about how to increase mine.
    Again, great blog, and I hope to hear from you soon!
    Outside Pressure

    • Andy –

      Thanks for the note and your kind words. The reason my traffic was so high the last day or three was because the Big Ten post was Freshly Pressed. I do write about sports but my blog is really a mixed bag of various experiences I have in the Midwest. I am going to check out your blog! Thanks for the link.


  16. I am a HUGE college football fan myself (as I went to Virginia Tech) at the start of reading your blog I thought, “I love this girl she loves hokie football” then my smile faded as I read you attended UVA (boo!)….never did understand how you guys drank wine at a tailgate 🙂

    Nice post! 🙂

  17. I am a huge Tennessee football fan so I can appreciate a long day pre, during, and postgame! Great blog on the ins and outs of college football at Indiana. Sounds like a must stop for any college football fanatics.

  18. Nice blog. How long since you left UVA? They have a pretty good band now, too, not that sorry excuse for a pep band they used to have, but a real bad. I guess they figure they have to have something since the football team is a two-decades work in progress. LOL

    • Thanks! I have been away from UVA for over 10 years now but was a season ticket holder until I left VA this year. I am not a huge fan of the marching band and their capes, mainly because I like tradition and we traditionally did not have a band. Having said that, they sound pretty good and I do love a marching band. Thanks for your comment, please come and visit again soon. SG

  19. Pingback: Boiler Up! | It is pretty.

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