Greetings to all University of Louisville alumni and fans traveling to the great Pacific Northwest for this football game against Oregon State University on Saturday. If you are coming with the alumni group then you have more than your fair share of things to do. For those of you coming or for those just asking, 'what the hell goes on way up there anyway?', this is the post for you.
What do you know and why do I care?
I live here (Portland). Thought it would be a couple of years living here on the West Coast and then return to my southern roots. I'm over a decade in now. I don't know when I'll leave. I get homesick from time to time (Derby Week is brutal on me), but this is a great place to live and I love it out here so things could be worse. Also thought others might be interested in what goes on in other parts of the world. If not don't read this.
The one true city in the state (see Louisville). Can't really talk about Oregon without mentioning it. Great city with lots to see and do. Yes, things are a bit different out here, but it's all good. Chances are if you flying in for the game you will come into Portland. Great restaurants/bars/shops, amazing freakin' beer and coffee everywhere, and lots of shall I say 'different' people (hippies, indie hipsters, social outcasts, lots o' homeless folk, yuppies, and everyday joes). True story: Where I work there's a dude who legally changed his name to Strawberry (for reasons of confidentiality this is not his real berry name, but he did change his name to another berry-start guessing). Seriously. Just Strawberry. No last name, but for certain things you have to have a first and last name so his name will come up as Strawberry Strawberry. I can't make this stuff up people. Things that suck here: tax system and lack of jobs.
It rains here all the time.
Kind of. It is quite gray from October through June all along the Willamette Valley (includes Corvallis) and it can rain at the drop of a hat, but we actually get less rain than most places. Never really 'storms' like back home and I've seen lightning maybe twice and heard thunder a half dozen times 10+ years. The kicker is summer. Generally the skies open up July 4th weekend and stays sunny, mild, dry (read no humidity) all the way through the end of September. You just need to take quadruple the RDA of Vitamin D during those other nine months (or copious amounts of alcohol and then anti-depressants to counter the effects-at least in the first year of living here). But you get used to it and ultimately realize it's never too hot and never too cold and that's pretty cool. Oh, if you use an umbrella here you are pretty much saying, 'Hello. I'm from the Missouri here for a convention for my work. Could you direct me to the closest Taco Bell?'.
Who lives here?
Lots of natives (not all are happy about us carpetbaggers), but seems like half the people I know moved out here for the coast, hiking, skiing, fly fishing, music scene, arts, etc. I hardly know any locals. Lots of modern day pioneer types. I remember going into a record shop long ago and the dude behind the counter had a red Louisville t-shirt on. I talked with him a bit, said he was from the Derby City and his dad was a professor at UofL. I asked him how he got out here. His eyes got wide and glazed, he took a deep breath, exhaled slowly and said, 'Man, the wind I guess'. Not an unfamiliar story.
Oregon State University
Great school in a great college town. The school is also the only public university recognized as a land-grant, sea-grant, space-grant and sun-grant institution which I don't completely understand, but it's a very good thing. Look it up. They get tons of research cash there too. It's also the farm school so the Oregon fans love to make fun of it. You know, lot's of inbreeding and redneck jokes that we have all heard too many times.
As said above it's a great college town. Have been there a few times and it has kept it's college town charm (as opposed to Eugene down the road) I think by being off the beaten path a bit (no interstate cuts through town).
Oregon State Football
Long the doormat of the PAC-10 then Mike Riley came in a got things rolling in the late 90s. Dennis Erickson did his magic. They nearly went to the national title game back in 2000. Riley came back. Things have been rolling for quite a while now.
Was very small and dingy until they upgraded a few years ago. It sits right up on one side of the campus. It has that college stadium Erector Set feel to it, but seems to be nice, intimate stadium (from the outside). Have yet to set foot inside, but will report back after Saturday.
Our Kragthorpe Connection
Steve's dad amassed a 16-48 record at OSU from 1985 to 1990 so we both have much love for that family. Daddy inherited nothing to work with, while the prodigal son was given a ton of returning starters from an Orange Bowl win team. Will I ever get that out of my head?
Oregon/Oregon State: What's the Difference?
I know there are a lot of differences, but I'm extremely indifferent to both (though pull for the Beavers when head to head). I just don't care. I really didn't know much about the state or the two big state schools when I moved here. I will say the rivalry is quite heated (seemingly football only) though I would argue ours is more so, but I'm biased. Our two big state schools' histories are different than the ones here, but the similarity lies in the bandwagon. It seems most reg'lar folk are Duck fans. Why? I'm not sure. I've heard all the arguments, but having no ties to either school I just don't get it. The Ducks have has a bit more success since the 90s I suppose (in football and basketball-though OSU has a rich past in basketball-AC Green & Gary Peyton among the stars-and have been very successful in baseball recently). When people say 'our fans are better/cooler', 'Phil Knight', 'we are a better school', 'our school/town is better', 'our girls are better looking' I just kind say OK, shrug my shoulders and lightly agree with whatever fan. They seem about the same to me which drives both sides crazy. It's kind of like when I try to describe the difference between UofL and UK fans out here. They just kind of say OK, shrug their shoulders and lightly agree with whatever I say (though I know I'm right).
Are we like them?
I would say the similarities with Louisville and Oregon State are they are big state schools that compete with a school down the road that (for lots of logical and illogical reasons) gets a lot more attention. Their fans seem very passionate, but not psychotic. Other fans may accuse them of being a bit laid back, but from my point of view they seem a bit more down to earth and reasonable than most. Otherwise, I'm not sure if there are similarities.
What to ask a die hard Beaver fan about.
Chad Joh...I mean Ochocinco's 'student-athlete' career here. I'm unsure as to what is true and what isn't (Bryce Cotton?), but you will get some interesting stories of his brief time in Corvallis.
I haven't been to a UofL football game since my college days in the early to mid 1990s. I can't wait until Saturday. I hope to post some interesting photos and insights after the game. I will be in rare form. I plan on hanging out around the UofL official tailgate area with Dr. Ramsey (though may not pay $40 to enter-steep!), secretly drink loads of beer (PAC-10 is tough on alcohol consumption-sucks), visit with my tailgating Beaver friends, and roll out some alma mater, fight song, and C-A-R-D-S complete with 'body spelling' a la Rob Hickerson...all...day...long.
Did I mention I was excited? That being said I fully understand that there's a very strong chance we could get pounded by the Beavers. I'm resorting to praying because outside of HCCS and a few good position players faith (and love) is about all I have right now. Hope to see some fellow CCers at the game. Track me down. I'll be the one wearing a t-shirt that says 'Mike Rutherford is My Homeboy".
Feel free to ask follow up questions, comment or tell me how much you despised this post.
Go Cards. Beat Beavers.