Published September 24, 2011http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">
About a mile outside Indiana State's stadium is a bar called the "Fourth Quarter."
Not the Fifth Quarter. The Fourth Quarter.
That probably tells you all you need to know about the success of Indiana State football over the past few decades
But the school best known for being Larry Bird's alma mater has turned into a decent football team under head coach Trent Miles, who is just 9-28 in four seasons but eight of those wins have come in the last 14 games.
Of YSU's four conference road games this fall, three are against the league's three most talented teams: Southern Illinois (Oct. 15), Northern Iowa (No. 5) and North Dakota State (Nov. 12). I'm sure Eric Wolford views this as a must-win if his team is going to make a playoff run because it's going to be tough for YSU to win more than one of those other three games.
With about 10 minutes before game time, there's probably 2,000 people in the stands. That's not much compared to YSU but it's definitely progress here.
"There was this many fans combined at the last three [YSU-ISU] games I went to," said YSU's sports information director, Trevor Parks.
The Sycamores' facilities aren't great but the stadium is OK. It looks a little like Stambaugh Stadium without the east side stands and without all the fancy (i.e. money-making) loges. They have a turf field, a decent video board and a nice, new grass practice field adjacent to the stadium.
They started playing music in the stadium at noon. The first song was Kanye West's "Power." I mention this because it's always funny to hear Kanye songs played over P.A. systems. There are strange pauses at seemingly random places in his sentences. Can't imagine why.
Random observations from the eight-hour drive from Youngstown to Terra Haute, Ind., and beyond.
1. On I-70 west outside of Indianapolis, the brilliant leaders of the state highway department decided to close off two of the three lanes, then continue road construction for 43 miles after you finally get to one lane. This allowed us to go about two miles in an hour.
Now the typical reaction would be for me to say something mean about this, but I'm going to take the high road and give the stupid hicks a break. I mean, after all, it's not like I-70 is a significant highway.
2. There's an RV salesman near Indianapolis named Tom Raper. Oh yes, there is.
3. No Larry Bird sightings so far. Heck, I haven't even seen a man perm.
If you're too young to get that joke, please see the attached photos.
I'd argue that the mid-1980s Larry Bird was the ugliest man in NBA history.
You could also make the argument that Bird is the school's second-best basketball product. Legendary UCLA coach John Wooden also graduated from here.
4. Did you know you can still smoke in bars and restaurants in Indiana? Because I didn't until last night.
My father was a lifelong smoker and died of lung cancer about five years ago. And while I have a good sense of humor about almost everything in this world (particularly Larry Bird's haircut), I'm pretty uptight about smoking. I think cigarettes should cost $5,000 a pack and indoor smoking should be punishable by five years in jail.
5. According to Wikipedia, there are still 11 states that don't have some sort of indoor smoking ban: Alabama, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
Ohio's ban doesn't apply to the Royal Oaks, as I found out about a year ago. Man, that place is a dive.
Good ribs, though. And I don't even like ribs.
6. They're playing Trent Miles' coaches show on the video board and it just goes to show you that no matter where you are, no matter what team you're following or what school you cheer for, the coaches' show will always be boring.
7. Did you know Trent Miles wants to score touchdowns and not settle for field goals? You do now.
8. Press box fare is Beef O'Brady's chicken quesadillas (cold, alas) and Lay's potato chips.
By contrast, YSU's two home game spreads have included pulled pork, barbecue chicken breast, catered pasta (rigatoni and tortellini), pizza, salad, rolls, brownies, cookies, peanut butter pie and a bunch of other stuff.
YSU has the best press box food and the best facilities in the Missouri Valley. No one else is even close.
Heck, I've never even seen a Division I team that compares to YSU in press box food.
9. Those are details you'll only get from the YSU Insider.
10. Play-by-play announcer Bob Hannon is predicting a close game that YSU wins by a touchdown. That sounds about right to me.