On October 7, I was afforded the opportunity to step back into the broadcast booth for college football, which happens every so often in my present line of work. My match-up had a Top-25 team on the road against a perennial powerhouse finding their way through a bit of a down year, but still receiving votes in the polls despite a 1-3 start to the season. Worlds collided as I called UW-Stout against UW-Whitewater football for the first time since I left my hometown for southern Wisconsin.
I spent nearly three years as a UW-Whitewater student, from the fall of 2005 until the spring of 2008. Driving in, I recognized some of the buildings I had attended class, while others had popped up well after I left, including the University Center in the middle of campus, which was a crater when I attended Whitewater for school. Certainly a nostalgic drive into the thick of tailgates and eventually Perkins Stadium.
If you've never seen Perkins Stadium, it sits neatly among the slow-rolling hills of southeastern Wisconsin, providing a truly Midwestern backdrop to any of the thousands of fans in attendance. Even on a cloudy day, it is easily one of the top sight lines in the entire state, and ranks up there with Platteville (where the hills roll a little faster) and La Crosse (Granddad Bluff, the best view in Wisconsin).
UW-Stout is the college I covered the most while I worked in Eau Claire for over a decade. UW-Eau Claire at the time was handled by my broadcast mentor, WBA Hall of Fame broadcaster Mike Sullivan. UW-Stout rotated through several people but I was always there to fill in the gaps (and still am, but mostly for basketball). Over the years I got to know the coaches and administration pretty well, and even though I never attended Stout, I probably know the campus better than some of the actual students.
So, to be able to take in a game between the schools was for me, personally, a pretty nice afternoon.
The game itself played out as expected: Two really strong defensive teams slugged it out, the difference in the game dictated by turnovers and field position. More than that though, I got to see names on the rosters that I haven't read since they played in high school, and it got me back to covering the WIAC day-to-day and recognizing all of the outstanding high school athletes this state produces in football, and how some of them end up staying home to compete in the best D3 conference in the country.
For one afternoon, it was great to take in a fantastic college football atmosphere, and bring myself back to my roots in broadcasting.