I've never been shy in voicing my displeasure with the gameday experience at some of the hallowed Big Ten venues across the midwest. Ross-Ade stadium in West Lafayette has been the butt of many a joke over the years, and truly is a horrible place to travel to from an away fan's perspective. Previous diatribes can be seen here and here. But on another unseasonably warm fall Saturday (damn you Al Gore) Memorial Stadium made a run as worst spot on the Big Ten map. They encompass all aspects of stadium crappiness. Limited seating due to construction....check. Piped in music including such cliched wonders as "For Whom the Bell Tolls"...check. Poorly managed volume control on said music...check. Playing the music until moments before the snap...check. PA announcer that announces first downs for the home team as if gaining ten yards in akin to curing cancer...check. Asshole fans with an unwarranted chip on their shoulders...check. Fans talking shit to their opponent even though it's been 24 years since you defeated them in your own stadium...check. Having to turn your body to see the game action due to poorly designed seating angles...check. And as if that weren't enough, ticket misprints and confusing temporary section numbers led to me not getting to my seat until the 8 minute mark of the 1st quarter, though I arrived at the stadium 20 minutes before kickoff. Well done Champaign. Well done. I'm beginning to believe they didn't take away the Chief because of the inappropriate nature of the practice, but because he couldn't find his way in to your pathetic relic of a football stadium.
So there, I said it. Memorial Stadium = 50,000 Courics.
From a "game itself" perspective, I would like to thank the Illini for the timely penalties, turnovers, and sloppy play that allowed us to overcome having no Mike Hart, half of a Chad Henne, and our own pile of dumb mistakes to come out victorious once again. The 27-17 victory, though not satisfying from the "we played well" angle, was enough for me to smile and laugh at the group of Illini fans that started the game with an "Appalachian State" chant, and was enough to stick it a bit to Ronnie Zook. Zook, though he was fired from the University of Florida, still voted for them to go to the National Championship game last year over Michigan, and was the only Big Ten coach to do so. Dick. Screw you and your illegal recruits. Also, now watching the replay of the game from the ABC broadcast, it's also satisfying from the "I hate Musburger" perspective. His anti-Michigan demeanor makes me like Kirk Herbstreit...and Herbstreit is a Buckeye-loving assclown.
A 7pm tailgate is a lot like giving birth. Three full meals. 12 hours of drinking. Cooking, loading, unloading, picture taking, smelling Gar, feeding Cooper....it's all so tiring. But it's worth it, especially when you are riding in and partying with a 40 foot home on wheels. Once again, UMTailgate.com flexed its tailgating muscle with a sophisticated menu, an array of cocktails and beer, and the best damn fans in the Big Ten. God we're good. Thanks to the rest of the five man traveling team for coming along and at no point saying "you brought too much stuff," even though I brought way too much stuff. Hope we can do it again next year. Happy Valley???