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Cardiac Spill: Serious Journalism

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Or, “why I couldn’t make it to your tailgate.”

Sure is beautiful out here sometimes.

Regular readers know that while it’s not really “my thing,” I have been good for some real, down-home serious journalism over the past two years. From whether script helmets makes a team better, to whether Bojangle’s is good eats, to whether the Pitt happy the football, this brand has time and time again worked tirelessly to provide you with the answers for which your soul has begged.

To that end, I decided a while back to prepare the absolute, definitive preview of the upcoming game at Oklahoma State. I was going to get deep down, to the absolute core of Oklahoma State, and really understand this game from both sides. Real journalists would handle this by contacting their analogues from the other fan base, trading interviews, watching game film, analyzing statistical breakdowns, et cetera, you read, you know what they do. But I’m not a real journalist, and I’m not here to be rational.

Originally, the plan was just to visit Stillwater in the lead-up to the game, ask some questions, and learn some facts and figures for sharing. But anyone who knows a trucker knows that it’s pretty unfulfilling to drive somewhere one day only to drive back the next. And for somewhere you’re probably not going to visit too many times in your life – BS states like South Carolina, Indiana, or Oklahoma – you definitely want to give yourself the time to explore a bit and see more than just the usual tourist traps. My rule of thumb is to spend at least double the travel time at the destination. It takes roughly sixteen hours by car to drive from Pittsburgh to Oklahoma. That’s a three day drive for most people, so to make the trip worthwhile I’d have to stay in Oklahoma for at least a week. At that point, it was cheaper just to move there.

So I did.

I moved to Oklahoma.

I moved to Oklahoma two years ago.

(Actual license numbers fuzzed out)

HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

I KEPT THIS ON THE LOW FOR TWO DAMN YEARS, MAIL ME TROPHIES

DO YOU KNOW? DO YOU KNOW HOW LONG I’VE BEEN HOLDING THIS IN? DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE TO HAVE REMEMBER TO SPEAK IN EASTERN STANDARD TIME, AND TO CROP CLOCKS OUT OF SCREENSHOTS, AND MAKE SURE LOCATION SETTINGS ARE OFF? DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE A FRIGGIN’ COLLEGE BASKETBALL BLOGGER AND NOT MENTION THAT I BORE WITNESS TO THIS GLORY IN PERSON? AND THEN THIS RELATED MISERY JUST TWO DAYS LATER??

DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD IT IS TO DESCRIBE WHAT I DO TO PEOPLE WHO BARELY REMEMBER PITT IS A D-1 PROGRAM?

...hoooooooo

Wow.

This feels, like, 80% as good as Saturday did.

You probably have some questions right now. And if you don’t, I’ll back up for a moment and quote what I said that time I covered a Pitt State game, which, in retrospect, really should’ve been a hint:

Feel free to speculate about how this all actually went down. (...) Do I actually just live in Oklahoma, like an idiot in some book? (Am I secretly former Pitt and current Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams? Am I former Pitt and current Oklahoma City Blue forward Talib Zanna?) Was I just coincidentally visiting Oklahoma and had a very conveniently timed free day? (...) Is "Pitt Basketball Shouting" a single outlet of an elaborate network of weirdos? (Are my spies everywhere? Am I behind you right now? Did you check to be sure?) Do I just have a friend who lives in Oklahoma who did most of the legwork for me because he owes me a favor? (Was the favor that I let him use my mailing address so he could apply to jobs in the Pennsylvania/Ohio area? Would it have been easier for me to register a PO Box in his name, instead of having to deal with all his stupid junk mail every day?) Is this whole piece just completely made up? (Where'd the pictures come from, then? Maybe the friend take the pictures, but then I made up all the talking-to-people parts? Maybe Photoshop?) Have I intentionally not listed the actual reason I was in Oklahoma? All of these are equally possible.

I’ll throw in a few additional questions for the book club discussion later:

  1. Did I actually do this for the reasons I said I did just now?
  2. Was I lying to you about anything then?
  3. Which parts are lies?
  4. Am I lying now?

To this, I’ll only say that everything is wrestling, and I am everything. But I’m gonna be at the game Saturday, so take from that what you will.

Anyway, Oklahoma. Been here two years. Started writing for Cardiac Hill a month after I got here. Got a job, developed hobbies, made friends, and even had a girlfriend one time for like a month. (I left her, because I’m a broken machine what doesn’t deserve to be happy, but that’s why I do this!) Life’s weird, and makes weird turns, but I never forgot why I came down here in the first place: to over-prepare like no one has over-prepared before for a non-con football game between the fifth or sixth most prestigious programs in their respective conferences.

I didn’t just live here for two years…

I made connections with people who have kickass tailgates!

There’s an official Pitt tailgate this Saturday, but that’s for el turistas. I made friends with a native guide and will instead be at some kickass old-money tailgate on Saturday, and then an even more kickass new-money tailgate. I’ll be sure to put my Snapchat somewhere.

I attended an OSU basketball game!

Gallagher-Iba Arena is wonderful, in that it’s pretty much the Pete, except its steeper, because it was built before building codes were invented. The arena was totally empty because everyone had given up on Travis Ford by this point; I have been told that in better days, it is an impossibly loud place to play in. I missed that, but that’s okay, because I feel like I learned something at Oklahoma State.

I attended OSU!

…and those things are SQL and Visual Basic, because to really get into the head of the OSU fan I took nine credits of computer programming at an OSU satellite campus. I’m actually now one course away from a programming certificate from OSU-OKC. Incidentally, that’s why I have a working OSU Student ID! It’s not good for much, but, again, if you’re going to do a road game you do a road game right.

On the downside, I didn’t actually watch that much Pokes football. How could I? The games were on at the same time as ours. But I did learn so much more:

On Sports

  • You can recognize the statement “college football is big in Oklahoma” as truth without much other information, but you can’t comprehend it until you’ve lived in a state like this. I’ve tried a dozen times to come up with a dumb “OKAY SO IMAGINE THE STEELERS WERE BASED IN AMBRIDGE AND THE EAGLES WERE BASED IN THE SOUTH HILLS AND THEY’RE BOTH PENN STATE AND THERE’S NO CITY OF PITTSBURGH”-type metaphor, but I know the subject matter too well at this point and the whole thing just falls apart immediately.
  • However, “Sooners or Cowboys?” “Pitt Panthers” can easily be summarized as “Catholic or Protestant?” “I worship a goblin who lives in my dreams.” I’ve had both conversations out here and gotten the exact same reaction.
  • Buddy Hield good, Russell Westbrook good, Kevin Durant badman, and Steven Adams is, indeed, the GOAT. He was even at a coffee shop near my office one time but I thought it’d be weird to go down there just to gawk at him so I never met him and we never became best friends.
  • We hate the ACC Saturday noon kickoffs, but the Big XII schools are plagued by what here are 11am kick times and boy oh boy (oh boy) do they absolutely hate this. Luckily, Saturday’s game is at 2:30pm; this would mean I don’t have to start drinking until after work on Friday, but I’m on a weeklong bender. 39-42!
  • They kind of need this win more than we do, because I am a being who feels empathy, the afterglow from last Saturday has in no way subsided, and because the oil bust just killed this state. On the upside, watching oil industry types feel the pinch makes me feel justified my decision to work primarily in the field of genre-defying novelty twitter sports fan fiction.

On Food & Drink

  • The Primanti’s Award for “the one place that’s recommended to death for visiting fans” goes to Eskimo Joe’s, a tee shirt store that has a side gig as a bar-and-grill type of joint. Second place goes to Hideaway Pizza, but just the one in Stillwater, not any of the other ones. I’m not sure there is a third place - I got some diners recommended to me in the category of “only go once you’re blasted drunk,” but I write a family column, bub.
  • I got neighbors who are Okies, so I got neighbors who are hunters, and that’s how I was introduced to motherf**king elk queso. Such an evocative phrase, “elk queso.” Sounds like gibberish. And yet it’s real, and it’s basically just queso with bland meat in it.
  • If you go to a restaurant and recite Mike Gundy’s I’M A MAN promo verbatim, people will know what you’re doing, and you will not be kicked out. When I tried it last year, I even got free dessert!
  • Coming down for the game? Want craft beer recs? RoughTail, Choc, Coop. Yeah, sure, Prairie is the prestige beer, but that’s Tulsa. Also, Shiner turns up here at nearly the same frequency as Yuengling does back east, which is cool, because

Shiner is better.

On Similarities

  • Pitt and Oklahoma State as actually having roughly the same number of fans. However, the Pitt/Penn State relationship admittedly has a “regional” feel, whereas the OU/OSU dynamic feels more 50/50 – this, despite the Penn State/Pitt series being historically fairly even, while the Sooners have won Bedlam 85 times out of 110. This is partially because Penn State has more fans than nearly everybody, but I can’t help but think that if we were the Penn Tech Panthers things would feel fairer.
  • We have “Pitting,” they have the “Poke Choke.” I’m starting to think every fan base remembers its losses and thinks they’re unique in their misery. I’ve met Texas fans who think they’re blighted.

Miscellaneous

  • Oklahoma is just diet Texas, and Oklahoma City is just small Dallas. And when I say that to the Okies, it pisses ‘em off nearly as much as when I call ‘em “Okies.”
  • If you’re staying multiple days, the state fair is happening! You haven’t lived until you’ve seen mutton busting live.

That’s all I got. This has been time well spent.

In conclusion, I can’t get these two years of my life back, and this was a bad decision. But now that our business is wrapped up with Oklahoma State football, I am ready to

OH COME ON