Michigan. Illinois. Montana State. Virginia Tech. Hamilton. Even Johns Hopkins, which wouldn't have a football field if it weren't for their Division I Lacrosse Team.
I've been to the Rose Bowl under the cloudless climes of a perfect 70 degree New Year's Day. I've prayed to Touchdown Jesus from the cold, damp confines of Notre Dame Stadium many times. I watched an All America running back score on an amazing punt return at NU's Dyche Stadium [now $$$ Ryan $$$ Field], years before I met him, married his college roommate, and he became my younger daughter's godfather. I've stood at the symbol of the Secret Seven in the grassy knoll above the field at UVA. I watched Cornell beat Princeton in the Tigers' old stadium and saw Harvard beat them in their new one. I enthusiastically cheered "GO TO HELL CAROLINA!" at Duke, back when the Blue Devils used to win the ACC title.
But I have never been to a University of Texas football game in Texas Stadium. Holy Mother of Pearl.
The Longhorns played the Aggies last Thursday, a rivalry of Biblical proportion, second only to Cain, Abel, and Oklahoma.
On a day already noted for its excess, replete with a 26+ pound turkey and six different pies, Thanksgiving night at Texas Stadium was the ultimate in gridiron gluttony. From the size of the Godzillatron, the largest HD screen in the known universe, to the just-wholesome-enough-not-to-be pornographic Chaps Girls on the sidelines, Texas football is an explosion of burnt orange humanity, juiced to the max by the sound of their own noise, which ricochets nonstop for three and a half hours from one side of the stadium to the other.
In Austin, like the rest of the state, size is everything. The UT band is bigger than a Macy's parade with a bass drum so large they named it Big Bertha. A WWII sized cannon, aptly named Smokey, seems to BOOM for anything and everything. A kick off. A touchdown. A point after. A first down. A timeout. An itch.
Then there's BEVO XIV, introduced to the insatiable crowd with his own music video on the 'tron. He lounges, lizardlike, near the endzone -- 1100 pounds of primetime beef, sporting horns as wide as goalposts, chewing his cud like it was a wad of tobacco, probably stoned on tranquilizers. Even half asleep he is one lean, mean mascot machine.
There are cameras everywhere. Nothing is left to the imagination. Field cameras. Handheld cameras. Fancam cameras. Highwire cameras. If you saw it on the field, you'll see it replayed larger and louder than life on the big screen. When you don't know what to do, look up for High Def instructions the size of boulders.
Everyone stands. No one sits. You can't talk over the noise unless you scream. Sponsor names surround the stadium with all the subtlety of a three ring circus, glowing with backlight or neon. Halftime is a marching band extravaganza, drilled to finetuned precision perfection.
You want scoring, you get scoring. Texas scored against A & M early and often, effectively ending the game before halftime. But no one left their seats until the game was over and the final rendition of the UT fight song was sung.
The eyes of Texas are upon you. . .
Then at an appointed time, the stadium announcer gave the order and all eyes looked southward toward the campus to watch the top of the UT Tower become bathed in orange light, a beacon to the world that once again the Longhorns had won the game.
I'm still vibrating.