Hobo Day 2008 marks new beginnings

Ariy-El Boynton

Ariy-El Boynton

Hobo Day is rich in tradition. From the one month club – the men’s beard growth and women’s leg hair growth competition – to Weary Will and Dirty ‘Lil (Hobo Day royalty), the bonfire, Bum Olympics, Cavorts and plenty of blue and yellow all over campus, it is easy for all to get into the Hobo mood.

This year, though, one would need to take a quick glance and realize all is not the same for Hobo Day.

The parade route will not go Downtown for the first time in recent memory. Also, the weekend’s marquee event, the Hobo Day game will not end in a tie, which has happened five times in the 95 game history.

This Hobo Day game will be the first that will pit a team from the South against the Jacks. Sure, SDSU has played the University of South Dakota 31 times (SDSU leads USD 17-11, with three ties), but this is the first time the Jacks will take on a team from the southern part of the U.S. The game will also be against a Football Subdivision (FCS) top-10 team for the first time in school history. McNeese State is ranked sixth, according to the FCS Coaches’ Poll for the first time.

For better or worse, the move to D-I from D-II will change the athletic side forever. This year, the buzz at the game may be increased due to SDSU being playoff eligible. With a win over McNeese State, the playoffs chances for the Jacks will increase dramatically.

In 2009 and ’10, fans will not be treated to in state “rivals” for Hobo Day games, such as Yankton College (first opponent in 1912; SDSU won, 6-3) or Augustana College (SDSU leads 7-1 in Hobo Day games). Rather, SDSU will play FCS powerhouses University of Northern Iowa Panthers (2009) and Youngstown State Penguins (2010).

A SDSU win is probable against Wichita State (Kan.), South Dakota Tech, Missouri-Rolla (SDSU leads 1-0 against all three), but with the Jacks facing tough foes in UNI and YSU, it shows that the university is scheduling top-notch opponents for the biggest one-day celebration in the state. Fans may also need to pay a few extra dollars to see these Jackrabbit games compared to the past years, but you get what you pay for.

The football team is not the only team to compete on Hobo Day. The cross country team will host the annual SDSU classic. The team always hosts a party at a local eatery in celebration of the meet. The meeting may be postponed, with the game at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium being an afternoon affair.

In the meantime, fans can see a team that is perfect in the league so far in the women’s soccer team. On the outskirts of Brookings, fans can make their way to watch soccer under the lights against Western Illinois on Oct. 3. The day after, fans can catch Southern Illinois on Oct. 5 in the wrap up of the long weekend of games hosted by SDSU.

While the new teams have shaken up long-standing traditions for SDSU, the main reason for Hobo Day has stayed intact. The good men and women of SDSU will celebrate being Jackrabbits with other Jackrabbits.