About 11 years ago, I was walking through the now-defunct Long's Bookstore in Columbus, Ohio, looking for a black Ohio State Buckeyes hat to wear to a game.
I walked past the bargain bin and did a double take. I just laid my eyes upon the perfect hat.
Black. Ohio State logo. The little plastic rip-and-tear head size tag. And, let's not forget the price tag...$5.99. Like I said, perfect.
I pulled out my credit card and bought three.
(In hindsight, I wished I would've bought more.)
The first hat was lost around 1998 by a solo gigantic wave during a drunken, night excursion at Hunting Island, South Carolina.
The second one was pitched into the trash after Ohio State defeated Miami in the BCS National Championship in 2002.
The third one is now a nasty shade of brown from the wear and tear of five continuous years of blood, sweat and tears. And although I still wear it proudly, I'll be the first to tell you that it's seen its last days.
That's why I finally broke down and told my wife-to-be that if Ohio State wins the National Championship tonight, I'm going to finally pitch my old hat into the trash and begin my search for a new, black Ohio State hat to wear triumphantly into my 40's.
Hell, I may even buy three and start the whole process again.
The hat is one of many reasons that I've got that bittersweet taste in my mouth as I count down the hours to tonight's game.
To be honest, I really haven't touched base too much on the Buckeyes making it to the National Championship game since it was announced in early December.
For one, I thought the Bucks postseason game was going to be played out against USC in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day.
Maybe I'm still shocked. Maybe I'm hesitant to say anything at all.
Maybe I'm thinking about 41-14.
Yep I think that's it.
Word around the campfire was that OSU Coach Jim Tressel had the Ohio State video guys make DVD's for the Ohio State players to take home and watch. You can see a snippet of it right here.
Word around the campfire was that the players were dead silent as they watched the DVD together the first time during a team meeting.
"Ouch. Point taken, coach!"
In a funny anectdotal story written by Tim May in today's Columbus Dispatch, LSU Head Coach Les Miles said his team was going to watch the movie 300 to get psyched up for the game.
As for the Buckeyes, senior right tackle and co-captain Kirk Barton was asked yesterday what movie he and his teammates might take in on the eve of the game.
"Film," he said.
"Game film," he said.
Well played sir. Well played.
In any event, I'll be at The Winking Lizard in Peninsula drinking beer, eating wings and rooting on the Buckeyes with my good friend (and fellow, former OSU scoreboard operator) Eric.
Oh yeah, my brown Ohio State hat will there too.
Hopefully, playing it's final swan song on top of my head.