This post is sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 2011.
The Fourth of July is behind us, and with that, the ramp-up to college football season begins. This week, this site and most other SB Nation collegiate sites will be posting a series of articles about college football fandom. The various posts, under the theme of "where I come from," will be a fun opportunity to discuss what it is to be an IU fan and a college football fan. As you have read above, these are sponsored posts, but they will provide a great opportunity for community participation here, and also will provide some interesting reading at other SB Nation college sites. I highly encourage you to participate in the comments. For those of you who are reading but haven't signed up for an ID, note that you can comment immediately, and the ID you use here will work at all SB Nation sites.
The first topic, as the headline suggests, is about where it all started, and I think it's an interesting topic from an IU perspective. We are, indisputably, a basketball school, and those of us who support the football team through thick and thin (mostly thin) can find ourselves doing battle even with other IU fans and alumni, let alone the opposition. I grew up in Indiana, but not as an IU fan. My main memory of IU football from prior to my enrollment in 1992 was the almost-dream season of 1987. IU beat Michigan for the first time since 1967, and then went to Columbus and essentially ended the Ohio State career of coach Earle Bruce with a 31-10 win at the Horseshoe (the first and still only time that IU beat Michigan and Ohio State in the same season). The first time I recall going out of my way to watch an IU football game was the 1987 game against Michigan State in East Lansing, a game that essentially would determine the Big Ten championship and the Rose Bowl bid. IU lost, and hasn't really come close to contending for a conference title since.
That 1987 game didn't really constitute a full conversion for me, but my respect for Bill Mallory's disciplined program continued, and once I decided to attend IU there never was a doubt that I would purchase student tickets and support the program. The 1992 season, my freshman year, ended with a 5-6 record, but I attended all of the games, and the next season I joined the Marching Hundred, which added a more direct connection to the team. That 1993 season, an 8-3 regular season record followed by an Independence Bowl loss to Virginia Tech, was the last hurrah of the Mallory resurgence, but it's probably what really cemented my status as a hardcore IU football fan. IU was 7-1 on November 1, and we dared to dream about the Rose Bowl. A 7 point loss to Penn State and a 6 point loss to Ohio State ended that dream, but the memories from that season--a win over Iowa, a 10-0 win in the snow over a ranked Michigan State team--formed the foundation of some nice memories for the mostly lean years that have followed. II knew I was hooked when I was sitting in my dorm room listening to the IU-Penn State game on the radio, way back in the days when not all Big Ten games were televised. t's not always easy to support the football Hoosiers. Indifference and condescension abound, even among alumni. Still, for me, the question is, how could I not? It doesn't seem fair to support the basketball program, with its top 10 tradition, and then bail on the football team because of its underwhelming history. As disappointing as the outcome usually is, I still look forward to Saturdays in the fall.
I'm sure that you readers have a wide range of experiences. What's your story?