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WOSTER: Offering 'anti-hype' on the big game in Brookings today

Terry Woster

Time was I wrote sports for a living.

That was decades ago, in the age of manual typewriters, three-carbon copy books, hot lead and proofreading correction lines upside-down and backwards in the back shop just before the final Sunday sports page went over for good.

Even so, I was pretty good at it, and I'm diving back into sports writing just long enough to join the thousands of folks who are commenting on the resumption of the State-U football series.

South Dakota State University, for those of you who only landed here last week from Mars, hosts the University of South Dakota in a college football game today in Brookings. The two teams haven't played each other in football for something like nine years.

They split off when State left Division II for the next level. A few years ago, the U followed suit, so the two schools are Division I teams now.

Coughlin-Alumni Stadium is the site of the game. It's a storied old venue, with real grass on the field and real sun, clouds, wind and/or rain and snow in the open air. On a mild, sunny fall day, it's a marvelous place for a college football game. Sportswriters of old would wax poetic about the atmosphere at Coughlin on the perfect fall afternoon just before the opening kickoff.

Coughlin was almost brand-new when I transferred to South Dakota State back in 1963. I've seen a ton of football games there over the years, and that must mean I've seen any number of State-U games.

I only remember one, and that was as much for the day as the competition. It was 1985, and the U came into Coughlin ranked something like No. 1 in the country in Division II. I recall that State won the game, rather handily, in fact, although I don't remember the players or the plays.

I remember how crisp the clipped grass looked under the bright sun. I remember how a few puffy marshmallow clouds drifted lazily overhead in an otherwise ice-blue sky.

So, that's the State-U I remember. I guess I'm not hyping the rivalry resumption in any meaningful way, huh? OK, let me take a different approach.

When State and the U weren't competing with each other in recent years, some writer pushing for renewal of the series wrote in one story or column something about the State-U competition being what the people -- maybe the writer even said the taxpayers -- of South Dakota wanted.

Most of the taxpayers in the state probably want lower taxes, higher incomes, better returns on investment, new cars, remodeled homes, a cabin in the Black Hills, a yacht in the Bahamas or, you know, freedom from government intrusion.

I was never sure how many of them demanded a football game, or a basketball game, or even a dual track meet -- which actually would be something worth wanting, because both State and the U have some incredible track and field athletes.

They have really good athletes in other sports, and some incredible students who are not in organized sports. I just like track best.

Sorry, I'm the anti-hype again. Here we go: This contest about to be played out on the natural turf of Coughlin-Alumni Stadium is the Game of the Century in South Dakota, the one they've been talking about for years, the sporting event that, half a century from now, will have 10 times as many people saying they witnessed it as the stadium could possibly hold.

Were Howard Cosell alive, he'd be handling the color commentary, that's how huge this is going to be.

And -- wait for it, wait for it -- assuming all went well, I am in Brookings at the moment you're reading this. That's right. Game of the Century, and I'm in town.

What? Oh, no, I don't have tickets to the game. I don't even have an old press pass. What I have is a primo ticket to the Brookings High School play, "Seussical the Musical."

When I saw that State-U game in 1985? I didn't have a granddaughter in theater. Sorry. I'll catch the score of the big game in the sports pages.