Security in Athens, Ohio today seemed to be as penetrable as prosciutto. In anticipation of the contest between Wyoming and Ohio, we executed our usual pregame walk around the stadium. Upon realizing that we had arrived on the side opposite of our seat assignment, I asked an usher if we could reach the other side of the stadium by going around the back way. With a blank look on her face, she pointed toward a rather desolate fenced in alleyway and replied, “I’m not sure, give it a try!” Confused, we followed her instruction, and as we passed the back doors to a concession stand, we realized that we had been led into the security/service entrance. Shortly after, we stumbled upon the entrance to the Wyoming locker room. Additionally, we were already inside the stadium and no one had taken our ticket! To make matters even more unexpected, Wyoming head coach, Joe Glenn, appeared from around the corner, came up to me, and asked, “Do you know which way is east?” Poor guy didn’t realize that he just asked directions from the most directionally challenged person on the planet. Mildly stunned from these events, I stuttered, “I’m not sure, but can I get a picture with you?”…
Having lived out in Colorado, I grew to like Wyoming football and planned to root for the Cowboys against Ohio. However, when I came to Peden Stadium, I bought an Ohio t-shirt to wear while taking pictures inside the stadium. Of course, I was wearing it when I bumped into Coach Glenn, but had a Wyoming t-shirt slung over my arm. So, after he graciously honored my request to have our photo taken, I turned to him and said, “Hey coach! You are going to love this!” I pulled the Wyoming t-shirt over the Ohio t-shirt and Coach Glenn turned to me saying, “Oh, you are a double!” I laughed and we took the picture. He asked me what my tie to Wyoming was and I explained that I had lived in Denver a few years back, which really didn’t explain anything. Even though I felt a bit stupid, Coach Glenn thanked me for my support with a large smile on his face. While this event transpired, I couldn’t help but be in awe of Coach Glenn’s generosity. During a moment when he should probably be heading into the locker room and giving his team an inspirational speech, he is taking a small moment to appreciate and chat with a loyal fan. I knew that his fan friendliness is well-known, but this interaction well exceeded my expectations.
Evenly matched teams hit the field for this afternoon contest and although this matchup didn’t exactly make the national marquee, it provided loads of thrills. Ohio took an early 23-6 lead and it looked like the Bobcat fans were going to head home happy. But, the second half belonged to Wyoming. The Cowboys charged back and with just over two minutes remaining and down 33-27, they faced a fourth and goal from the five. Peden Stadium pushed the decibal level up and the sizable amount of Wyoming fans began chanting “WYO! WYO!” from the corner of the stadium. Quarterback Karsten Sween hit Michael Ford over the middle for the winning score and the Cowboys escaped 34-33.
As the Cowboys exited the field in celebration, I slapped fives and shook hands with the players and suddenly my saga with Coach Glenn continued. Leaving with his players, Glenn pointed me out and exclaimed, “Hey! You are wearing the right shirt!” I chuckled and snapped another photo in awe that he would even take the time to express that he remembered me. We left via the service entrance and saw Coach Glenn hugging his quarterback, Karsten Sween. The situation made for a great photo, so I took a few and as I turned to leave, Coach Glenn stopped the conversation with Sween and pointed at me again exclaiming, “Hey turn around, this guy wants to take a picture of us!” I just couldn’t believe the graciousness he expressed towards Wyoming fans. Overall, a combination of bad security and good timing made for an extremely memorable day in Ohio.