There's a great Gertrude Stein quote where she says "America is my country, but Paris is my hometown," and I always loved it, because I could sort of relate to it. It's when you like where you live, but your heart isn't really there. It's how I felt about New Orleans for a long time. I was living in Ohio, and was relatively happy, but my heart was elsewhere … and when I moved here, something just kind of clicked. Ohio is my state … Ohio will always be my state, but New Orleans is my hometown.
Also, I never really gelled with my actual hometown of Grove City, Ohio … also lovingly referred to as "Grove-tucky." It's just like any other suburb. It has an Applebee's. And republicans. As soon as I could, I moved into the city, Columbus specifically … and the areas where most 20-somethings (like myself at the time) live, are mainly near Ohio State's campus. Growing up in and around Columbus, the Buckeyes are obviously everywhere … but when you live right down the street, it can become a way of life. Weekends in the fall are centered around football games, weddings are planned to not interfere with them, certain streets are shut down, the beer flows, and the city becomes a party town. During the week in which we play Michigan (our arch-rival), everyone crosses out all the M's on campus … it's pretty intense.
Up until recently, there was never much in the way of sports in our city. In the past few years, we obtained a hockey team and a professional soccer team, but we've never had basketball or football … we always had to look to Cincinnati or Cleveland for all that. But we had the Buckeyes, so many poured their heart and soul into that. It's why there are so many crazy rabid Ohio State fans, as you will see in the French Quarter over the next few days. Also … it's just tough to be a Cleveland Browns fan. Always has been.
New Orleans is my town, and I am deeply in love with the Saints. But Ohio is my state … and I'll be a Buckeye til I die.
So this is why I've been walking around in a state of bliss for the past few days … my state is coming to my town. The Ohio State Buckeyes are playing in the Sugar Bowl. And living down here, believe me, I've heard it all … as we're in SEC territory. Good luck playing Alabama! I know, I know … Alabama is like, the center of the damn college football universe … but I'm really so very tired of Alabama. Aren't you tired of Alabama? Maybe someone else can win for a change? Strange things happen around here … perhaps a Big Ten team can beat the mighty Crimson Tide, whatever a Crimson Tide happens to be. Or whatever an elephant has to do with that.
But whatever happens, what a season it's been. Before it even started, we lost our star quarterback, Braxton Miller, to injury. And then back-up J.T. Barret, who had been killing it, was taken out during the Big Ten Championship game against Wisconsin … so third-string quarterback, Cardale Jones, ended the season with a 59 – 0 win against the Badgers. A third-string quarterback won MVP. Stuff of legend, for us Ohioans. It reminded me of the classic Woody Hayes quote when someone asked him why he'd go for a 2-point conversion, when he was already beating the other team's (Michigan's) ass, and he said, "Because I couldn't go for three."
Most of fans traveling to the area will probably stick to French Quarter and CBD festivities, but if you want something a little bit off the beaten path, things start off today in Mid City at St. Patrick Park (December 30, 6 pm), with an Ohio State alumni and Alabama alumni kickball game, with an after party at the Mid City Yacht Club across the street.
As for the game itself, I'd love to be there, but tickets are a tad expensive. There will be a Sugar Bowl block party starting at 10 am, complete with a beer truck and a giant screen outside of the Mid City Yacht Club, which is where most Buckeye fans around New Orleans go to watch all the games. Archie Griffin is scheduled to stop by, and Saints players and former Buckeyes like Malcom Jenkins (who is now an Eagle, *sobs*) and Will Smith have been known to drop in. It's the hub for the "Cajun Buckeyes", and they're planning a crazy party for Thursday. It is a wonderful place and one of the owners, MJ Sauer, is an Ohio State alum. All the Buckeye fans that hang out there are friends, even first-timers. I will be there. If you see me, hit me up, I'll give you a buckeye. No, not the poisonous nut, peanut butter and chocolate, of course!
Go Urban! Go Cardale! Go Buckeyes!