In the quintessential midwestern hamlet of Bloomington, Indiana, existence is filled with all the typical harbingers of another football season. The air is cooler, the sound of colliding plastic shoulder pads can be heard, and a gathering storm of ominous black clouds, occasionally filled to capacity with violent white lightning, inches ever so closer to the weary citizenry.
“You always think there will be more time, but there never is.” The nondescript fan chose to speak on condition of anonymity, fearing that whatever forces were responsible for the last century of Indiana’s Sisyphean pursuit of football glory could easily track down a mouthy complainer.
“The offseason is such a beautiful time to be alive. You can let hope into your heart. There’s no reason to be afraid.
“But almost before you know it, you’ve lost to Wake Forest at home or find yourself two yards away from losing to an FCS team.”
The long-time season ticket holder looked down at the ground, as if expecting it to open up and swallow him on the spot, seemingly not all that concerned if it did just that.
The tears welled up.
“Every year we do this to ourselves. We say it’s going to be different. We tell ourselves how fun the ride will be and it never, ever is. The darkness comes on time every year, even God himself will turn his back. I can feel that ten-point fourth quarter deficit to Georgia Southern in a few weeks as if it were written on my bones the day I was born.”
At some point during the interview, the drizzle started. It would be a few more days before it would start coming down with any kind of noticeable intensity; but for the unfamiliar, the red tinge of blood in each of the droplets was jarring.
The fan pulled out his umbrella, breathed deeply and strained a short smile.
“Fifty-seven days until Hoosier Hysteria.”
In the distance, howling.