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Fandom in the Big Ten Conference


As a Gopher football fan, one of the things that I constantly hear from fans of other Big 10 schools is how horrible our fans are.  Not in the sense that our fans are jerks (which we can sometimes be... looking in the mirror, guilty), but that as a whole, Gopher football fans are not loyal. 

It's a pretty tough statement to argue against, but in a lot of ways I think that those of us that are die-hard Gopher football fans take it on the chin because of the collective.  But I digress.  As a whole, I believe Big10 football fans are the best.  No matter what school you cheer for, there is something special about being a football fan in the Big 10.

Look, I'm the only non-lawyer at The Rivalry, Esq (please try to work past the shock.... Imagine my surprise! I'm trying to figure out how they asked me to write here without seeing my resume and doing a background check), so please don't expect a well thought out and bullet-pointed dissertation.  I'm just your everyday average salesguy with a wife, two dogs, and a pickup, who happens to care a bit more than is reasonable about Gopher football.  Anyway, for the laymen out there, I have some, uh, stuff... to say about being a football fan in the Big10 Conference. 

So here is the first few in a series (unlike my lawyer friends here at The Rivalry, I'm not sure how many there will be... if the economy turns around tomorrow, it might just be these) of reasons that being a Big10 football fan is... you know, pretty cool.

  1. The Midwest: In a lot of ways the Midwest is a little bit like Canada... most people have heard of it, most people have a pretty good idea of where it is (north), but most people haven't been there and when you tell them you are from the midwest, the only response you get is: "I don't know how you put up with that cold weather."  But here's the thing, THAT kind of attitude is exactly what makes us great fans.  I sometimes think that people from the Midwest actually WANT people from the south and the coasts to think we are a bunch of podunk, corn farmers who elect pro wrestlers as politicians... it allows us to sneak up on you like a Spider Monkey.
  2. We aren't like you: Let's go ahead and answer some questions that fans from other conferences seem to be stuck on about us. Yes, it gets cold here.  No, we don't spend the entire winter indoors.  Yes, we do eat corn-on-the-cob.  No, we don't all grow it ourselves.  Yes, we like living here.  Yes, we often retire in warmer climates.  Yes, Minneapolis is a real city.  No, Madison, Iowa City and Columbus aren't full of just a bunch of farmers.  And, yes, by the way, we actually do know farmers, some of them are our friends and families, they are proud people, they put food on your tables, we are proud that we can live near them, and yes, they do have electricity, and several of them even have the internet.
  3. The weather: You may be aware this, but it can get cold around these here parts.  And as much as midwesterners are obsessed with the weather, people who aren't from here are almost more obsessed with our weather.  In fact, it's about the only thing they seem to know about us.  It's always funny when I'm in a warm climate for work and I tell someone I'm from Minneapolis and that I actually LIKE the weather here... they just don't get it.  Heck, I'm not sure I get it either.  All I know is I grew up playing football when the leaves were falling from the trees, the air was crisp, and the fans wore parkas.  I can't even imagine watching football in November wearing shorts and a t-shirt.  And the fact is, I don't really want to.  Most of us like it this way.  Sure we enjoy the 70 degree September football Saturdays, but there's something right about a 45 degree day when the sun is shining and your team is trotting out on the field. If liking a day like that is wrong... then baby, I don't wanna be right.
  4. Tailgating: The folks down in SEC and ACC country think they are pretty good tailgaters, and from what I've seen, they are.  But they stole it from us.  It's a well-known fact that tailgating was invented in Big 10 country: Wisconsin (it was actually supposedly invented by Packer fans, but it's still Big 10 country, so I'm claiming it).  Back when we started it we actually used pickups, and we sat on the tailgate of said pickups, eating food and drinking beer.  We don't always use pickups anymore though.  We're still pretty good at it, and we even like to do it (here comes another weather reference) when it's cold outside.  We're a bit sick about it, if you must know the truth.  Case in point: me.  Last fall I get an email from my cousin who lives in Tuscon, and he says he's going to make it back to Minnesota for the Gophers final game in the Metrodome (yes, Iowa fans, I remember how it turned out... that is not the point here), so we decided to fire up a big tailgating event.  So I set out to paint my camper maroon & gold.  I spent many cold November evenings painting my 1963 travel trailer by the glow of my pickup lights.  The morning of the Iowa game we rented a generator, and drove through the snowy streets (just a dusting) of Minneapolis, and parked and began drinking bloody-marys immediately.