Oh, Weary Wil and Dirty Lil, how far you’ve come.
It was just a few years ago when you and I would walk from the lightly treed parking and tailgate area just north of the field, and bring beers (disguised, of course) past a set of scrub trees to the fence at the north end of the football field to watch the Jacks beat up whatever dog of a team happened to be suckers enough to visit the Rabbits at home.
Did the Jacks always win? Of course they did. At least that’s how I remember it. I bet you do, too.
I‘d estimate where I stood is now the Dykhouse Student-Athlete Center. No longer a scrubby set of trees backed by the flags, tankards and pickups of the tailgating field.
But of course, you know that.
And that’s not the only change.
I remember the year I piled onto a bus and rode it to the border with North Dakota, to join in the christening of a new rivalry with the North Dakota State University Bison, replete with a border marker for a trophy. It was a new hatred then, replacing our loathing of the University of South Dakota Coyotes. Now, Wil and Lil, I’m with you in hating both Red and White and Green and Gold.
It’s a bigger, fonder hatred, with plenty of room for all comers.
You know it better than I, Wil and Lil: Things don’t get worse. They just get bigger.
Now there’s Jackrabbits swag in stores in Sioux Falls, fancy new jerseys for the Hobo Day game from a cutting edge sporting goods maker and new football stadium construction plans.
These changes aren’t new, Wil and Lil, as you well know. I remember coming back from a year studying in Egypt, and was surprised to see backpacks sold with the SDSU logo on them. That wasn’t common then. But it was a long way from the old-timey collegiate sweaters from decades past.
My last year on campus, you two had to ditch the Bugs Bunny style jackrabbit and instead become an iconic trio with a fiercer, less Hollywood-trademarked rabbit.
Now more than ever, South Dakota State University, its alumni and students have institutionalized the Big in Big Blue, and I couldn’t be prouder.
Wil and Lil, I’m not sure your current companions on campus will know the smallness of the big place they go to classes. They might not realize that what they have has a prairie largeness that previously was only imagination, that what they hold as mundane is a triumph of will and willingness to become ever more.
But they and I do know one thing: You’re here, always –walking amidst us as spirit and heart, wherever we roam.
Speaking of roaming, if you ever putter the Bummobile down the dusty highway to Wyoming, look me up and tell me about your latest Hobo Day, and how all your Jackrabbits made you proud once more.
And if I make it back to Brookings, I’ll bring an extra couple of beers for you both.
Meet me at the fence line.
Jeremy Fugleberg was editor of the Collegian from 2006-2007. He finished his last SDSU class in 2008, earning a double B.S. in mass communication and political science. He is now the interim editor of the Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune. His daughter Alaina is five years away from becoming a Jackrabbit.