Confessions of a Wally at large in Greencastle

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I recall Nov. 10, 2007 being a nice day — 50s, sunny, calm. 

It wasn’t the kind of Monon Bell Classic for which you wear layer upon layer in hopes of still feeling your toes in three hours.

Yet I donned multiple layers so that somewhere, deep below my jacket and Banner Graphic polo, I could also wear my favorite Wabash shirt.

As the new Banner sports editor, I made it no secret that I had graduated from the rival school to the north, but I didn’t let my fandom show. 

I was a journalist, after all. We’re supposed to be neutered as fans.

So I stood on the DePauw sideline with my hidden Wabash shirt, watching kids I’d followed all year wearing old gold and black, while kids I didn’t know at all wore my beloved scarlet and white. 

I didn’t cheer, didn’t feel too much. I just watched, enjoying one hell of a football game. 

So as a DePauw freshman kicker nobody knew lined up for an almost laughable 47-yard field goal attempt late in the fourth, I was struck by something: The writer in me had taken over. I was more interested in the story that rested on Jordan Havercamp’s untested foot than I was in my alma mater beating its archrival.

When Havercamp’s field goal easily sailed between the uprights for a 24-21 DePauw win, I was overjoyed to have a great story to write. 

It was an interesting realization to have just a few short years out of college. As a Wabash student I had hated — I mean hated — DePauw. If you ask, “Why?” I don’t have a good answer. DePauw’s a fine school — my number two choice out of high school. 

But it’s a rivalry, and that’s just the way it goes, especially when you’re a passionate, naive 19-year-old. I imagine it’s the same way at DePauw or at IU, Purdue, Duke or North Carolina — anywhere there’s a heated rivalry.

The hope is that we all grow out of such pettiness, and I believe moving to Greencastle and becoming the local sports editor accelerated that process for me.

There are great people in this town, at this university and in the athletics department. Once I came here, I was free to see that.

I got to know former football coach Matt Walker and really liked him. Basketball coaches Bill Fenlon and Kris Huffman are great people and great interviews. Since I now work in news, I don’t know Bill Lynch as well, but my interactions with him have been nothing but positive.

DePauw Media Relations Director Ken Owen and Sports Information Director Bill Wagner have been invaluable colleagues and sources for the last eight years.

I’m blessed to be associated with two great schools. I wouldn’t trade my Wabash education and experience for anything. I remain a proud supporter of my school.

On the other hand, Greencastle is where my wife and I chose to make a home and raise children, and DePauw is a big part of that. The culture and opportunities the university brings to this town are not present in most Indiana towns. 

So, in getting back to the Monon Bell, I have a confession to make. I really hope the Tigers win in 2016. Seven years is too long. I was at Wabash in 2001 when the team ended a five-year drought. That seemed like forever. 

I’ll never stop being a Wabash fan, but I’m a bigger fan of the rivalry. The health of that rivalry is dependent on things changing really soon.

I’ll still be wearing red next November, but I’ll actually be cheering for the kind of “classic” we haven’t seen in a few years.

Jernagan is currently the Assistant Editor of The Banner Graphic