Sunday, September 10, 2006

Televised Football Provides Social Link

There I sat. "Ohio State" blazoned across the chest of my T-shirt. My red block O ballcap fitting snug. Next to me sat my advertising colleague, Harsha, with a burnt orange T-shirt with a white cow's skull on it.

We both came to Texas Tech to join the advertising faculty. Last year Harsha was finishing his Ph.D. at Texas, and I was on faculty at THE Ohio State University. And here those schools were playing football in perhaps the biggest regular season football game of the season. No. 1 vs. No. 2.

Beer was consumed. Trash was talked. Points were scored. Well, by the Buckeyes at least. Har!

Identification is a powerful force. It is one of my pet interests, and it always comes to mind in moments such as these. Graduate school makes it difficult. I have degrees from New Mexico State, Kansas State, and Indiana University. I am loyal to -- and identify with -- all three.

So there I sat cheering the Bucks. Yes, I left OSU. But a couple of the players were in my class this spring, and I met Heisman hopeful Troy Smith during a research project. So I identify with those guys. By the way, that was NOT a helmet-to-helmet hit by Jay Richardson!

Intermixed with overzealous smack talk on Harsha (sorry!), I watched the ticker. K-State finally figured out how to score. Yeah! Indiana barely rallied to top Ball State. Weak! And the Aggies' rally against the University Near Mom fell short. Ugh!

When the Bucks finally iced the silver spoon Longhorns, we immediately flipped over to the Texas Tech vs. UTEP game. The betting line on this game was 7 points all week, but to listen to the homers on Lubbock sports radio (they over identify), the Red Raiders were destined to win by at least 10 touchdowns.

Having followed the Miners as of late -- although they are a hated rival, the school is just 45 miles from NMSU -- I knew they would put up a fight. When you are a small school, and a ranked opponent comes to town, you give it your A+ game.

Now a room full of Tech faculty -- and recently adopted Ph.D. student extraordinaire Wendy Maxian -- were on the edges of our seat. The only one in the room to actually hold a degree from Tech, director of the Institute for Survey Research Joel West, had been listening to the entire Tech Game with a earpiece radio.

As I might have expected, UTEP took it to overtime. A career long field goal had to barely careen in off the upright to push Tech to victory. Never one to under-identify, I jumped up and down like Tech had won the national championship and I had been branded with a Double T at birth. So what if I've been here only 10 weeks.

A little more Buckeye smack for Harsha, and then it was time to head home after midnight for the first time in years.

Good times had by all. Football and identification.


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