This Saturday, the University of South Dakota has a chance to end a dismal football season on a high note with what could be a program-changing upset against South Dakota State.
With a win, the Coyotes could push SDSU out of the FCS football playoff, which would be an unbelievable change of events for a football team and student body who has not had much opportunity to cheer this season.
Even though this is my first year at USD, I have been a fan of the Coyotes for as long as I can remember. Both my father and brother graduated from USD and hold the university in the highest regards.
My grandfather was a kicker for the USD football team, playing with future Baltimore Colt Ordell Braase. My grandmother is also a graduate of USD.
I was also named after former Coyote football player Phillip Meehan — he’s from my mom’s hometown and my mom was impressed by his character.
I have a basketball program in my room at home autographed by former Coyote basketball player Josh Mueller, and I remember dead rabbits and coyotes being thrown on the court at basketball games. I was born to be a Coyote and bred to take the SDSU-USD rivalry seriously.
My dad holds a dislike for SDSU, telling stories of wild rivalry games. He and his fellow students responded to particular vulgar chants from enemy fans with, “What’s your mother do?”
He watched on — and maybe participated — as an SDSU basketball player accused of stealing shoes was bombarded with sneakers as he came onto the floor.
Now I have friends and family at SDSU, and it is those connections that make the rivalry fun. It feels great to win, but it feels better to win against people you know.
It is these connections I have with SDSU that makes me want USD to pull through this Saturday. If this was just another team, I probably would not tune into the game.
If USD wins this Saturday, I will be the first one sending out texts to SDSU folk.
I would not watch 2-9 USD take on 4-7 Missouri State, but I will watch this intensely. I have family pride riding on this one. I want USD to win so I can tell uncle Bob to shut his mouth with a big grin at Thanksgiving.
A win would destroy SDSU’s season. A win would mean the entire 2-9 USD season was irrelevant because we won this rivalry game.
Saturday is South Dakota’s college version of a state championship. The rivalry should not be about hate, but rather about pride.