DAYTON - Returning to the table at an Arby’s in Jackson, Tenn., mid-afternoon last Friday the wife wanted to know if I had made a new friend.
Kind of, yes.
Decked out in a new birthday-issue Ohio State cap and wearing the T-shirt a lot of my Arkansas fan friends strongly dislike — the one about how sweet it is and a score of 31-26 on the back — my extra sandwich order was placed under the order taker assigned name of "Ohio". Fine by me.
The funny thing was the guy who took the order said that he was heading for Columbus to go to The Ohio State. Since I knew it was six-ish hours to Dayton, and another almost two to the capital of the state I kind of wondered.
Since it was obvious I am a Buckeye fan, the cashier then told me he loved the place and that he was following a relative to Columbus. Really? Yep, the cousin played basketball for the Scarlet and Gray and now plays in the NBA.
The name kind of rang a bell, but football is more of my thing — no, really — but it turned out the guy who took my order is a cousin to Evan Turner. Back at my table with my meal top off sandwich I told the story to the wife and she used an app on her phone to find out that Turner was pretty good, averaged 13.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists over 82 games last year.
Turner averaged 20.4 points per game in his final season in Columbus and 15 per game over his three years.
Back on the road, I’ve decided no more stops in Tennessee and were cruising at a pace that may not have been within the state guidelines when I see a water tower telling me that the town near Interstate 65 was the home of the 2000 Class 3A state champions in football.
No kidding. Seems to me I know a team from another state that was in 3A in 2000 that also won a state title.
Curious, I looked up the score from the Tennessee game. It wasn’t much of one, except to the good folks near the Kentucky line because it was Portland 43, Covington 0.
A few miles up the road I was cruising through Bowling Green when I saw a sign for Western Kentucky University. You know I had my eyes peeled for a motorcycle with an older guy driving and a blond on back.
No such luck.
I also didn’t run into any running backs of note when I cruised through Louisville, but the youngest would ask what a certain smell was.
I said I could get used to it with the kind of success that town had last year with a BCS bowl win, a national title in hoops and the College World Series. Pretty sure it was lost on her.
On to the city from which I sprang forth and the reason for the unplanned venture 800 miles from my home, a Saturday morning funeral for a great aunt — named Glenna no less — after which I asked a cousin if he remembered the game he and I went to for another relative illness-related trip to Buckeye land, long before the current streak of Booneville games.
I didn’t remember Northridge High being the Polar Bears, but how cool of a name is that? Then the cousin proceeds to tell me he hasn’t been back to a game since he graduated. Seems the Polar Bears run plays named Scissors and such and haven’t kept up with the times.
Rather than try to explain the virtues of the office I made a note to self — find a Walmart and procure a shirt.