Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Big Game

"Dad, look what's on TV.  It's your team, Arizona State," my youngest son said as he was flipping channels.

"Son, its THEE game, the highlight of the year.  They're playing University of Arizona.  It's the most important game of the entire season."

Living in southern California, it's rare when they televise this game.  It was the third quarter and ASU was leading 6-0.  As I watched the second half with my son, I told him about the history of these two rivals.  It got personal for me when my best friend, Wayne, decided to major in chemical engineering in Tucson.  It would be two years before I would transfer to ASU from a community college and I couldn't wait to go to the big game our junior year.  The stadium was packed with red shirts everywhere and they muffled our cheers with their favorite,  "fake to the left, fake to the right, fake the transcripts."  Apparently, some of our players had some blemishes that came to light during football season and Wayne's fifty thousand buddies taunted our small group.  By half time, Wayne had seen enough ASU touchdowns to last him a lifetime and decided to go study, leaving us to revel in our glorious day.

When I asked Wayne to be my best man, we reserved a bunch of seats to fly to my wife's hometown in Iowa.  Wayne wore a tee shirt that read "my favorite team is UofA.  My second favorite team is anyone who is playing ASU."  Our football rivalry continued for years.  As I watched another nail biter last night with my son, I told him about the year Wayne and I wagered an all-expenses paid ski trip compliments of the loser.  That year, the lead changed over and over as the clock ticked down.  At one point, Wayne was on the floor, either crying or shouting for joy, depending on what was happening on the field.  I could feel my heart pounding.  It was the only year in the two schools' history that the game ended in a tie.  We were both relieved.

As my son and I watched the game, I said, "anything can happen.  Most of these games are decided in the final seconds."

Sure enough, with twenty eight seconds to go, UofA tied the game.  An extra point would give them another victory.

"Miss.  Miss.  Miss." I yelled.  Blocked!  It was time for overtime.  Each team scored. Then double-overtime.  ASU scored a touchdown.  UofA followed with another one, an extra point would bring on triple overtime.

"Miss.  Miss. Miss."  I yelled one more time.  Blocked!  Two times in a row!  The crowd was silenced except for one small section of Sundevils that ventured into enemy territory.  I paused the TV to get the picture you see below and sent it to my buddy, Wayne.  He followed up with a phone call and we reminisced.  We each had our own recollection of the game during our junior year.  Wayne said, "I don't remember ever losing to ASU the whole time we were in school.  A quick visit to the internet to look up football history and one more text helped him to recall those buried memories of  Sundevil wins in our junior and senior years.  That's what friends are for, to keep precious memories alive and create new ones.  Enjoy the photo below and keep in touch with your friends, even when they choose to go to a rival school.  It helps build character.

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