A tired sports cliché states that the most important game you play is the next one.

The next one is in when the Saint Francis Cougars football team plays at Bishop John D’Arcy Stadium in Fort Wayne.

After that “next game” then he can say that he watched a college football game at every home field in the Hoosier State.

I was standing along the sidelines during the fourth quarter at the Kalamazoo College football game at Trine University on Nov. 16 when a bearded guy that looked like a college professor wearing a Miami of Ohio Sherpa cap approached me. He told me that it was his first Trine game. My first Trine game was THE first Trine game. Tri-State played on the Angola Middle School field; and in its very first game ever defeated Taylor, even fake punting early in the game, deep in its own territory.

David Wintin is the principal at Hauser High School near Hope, Indiana. He coached high school football for 21 years. The high schools in Indiana play on Friday night so he could attend college games nearby on Saturday. For years he had Indiana University season tickets. He was close enough to watch Miami (Ohio), Ball State, Louisville and Cincinnati play. He is a University of Indianapolis graduate, so he would return to watch the Greyhounds strap on the helmets.

He coached a high school player on the roster at Vanderbilt, so he had season tickets there for four years. He once had season tickets to Alabama. After a prep school game on Friday night, he made the trip from southern Indiana to Tuscaloosa or Birmingham. Three times he flew there to make kickoff.

Like any ambitious coach, he decided to beef up the schedule.

He is now one game away from watching a college football game at every home field in the land where there is frost on the pumpkin.

He has seen the massive drum of the Purdue Boilermakers. He has made the pilgrimage to The House that Rockne built. Indiana Wesleyan, an NAIA level athletic program, just started up a football team and he has seen the Wildcats play in Marion.

There is this well-worn sports cliché. Records are made to be broken.

Good luck breaking this record.

Dave has seen three teams play, that unless you have a time machine, you will have a hard time duplicating his game plan.

He has watched the Earlham Quakers on the gridiron in Richmond. Earlham had an NCAA Division III level squad that suffered a record 53 consecutive losses. The college does not have a football team any more.

He watched the University of Evansville go smash mouth in the day. I know there are more bowl games than there are stars in the Milky Way, but in this town on the Ohio River, as far away from Angola and still be in Indiana, used to host a bowl game called the Refrigerator Bowl. Like Earlham, the University of Evansville no longer puts on the pads, but it still has a cool mascot and nickname. The Purple Aces used to wear those quarter-length basketball jerseys way before the era of Under Armour.

He saw a Saint Joseph’s football game in Rensselaer when he was a student at Indiana Central (University of Indianapolis). Rensselaer was a football mecca. In 1956. St. Joe tied 0-0 with Montana State to earn a share of the NAIA national championship at the Aluminum Bowl. The Pumas, another great mascot and nickname, were the Great Lakes Conference football champions as recently as 2009. Not only is the football team shut down, the entire campus was shuttered in 2017. The Chicago Bears held their training camp there from 1944 to 1974. The 1971 movie Brian’s Song was filmed there. For many seasons, the College Football All-Star game was held at Alumni Field.

Don’t tell me how hard it was to secure tickets to the musical Hamilton. Dave has watched the Monon Bell game. Yes, he was featured on ESPN’s College GameDay. The Wabash Little Giants and the DePauw Tigers have been blocking and tackling since 1890; a full year before the two Old Oaken Bucket teams, Indiana and Purdue, were breaking huddle and setting up at the line of scrimmage.

The clock wound down and the home team won 29-3.

I asked Dave, after you see Saint Francis play just off Spring Street in Fort Wayne, what is next?

He has two more home fields to watch in the Big Ten; Lincoln, Nebraska and Rutgers, New Jersey.

I wished him a safe journey back home from Shive Field. He told me that Ball State was playing in Muncie. Kickoff was at 3:30.

He figured that he could make the second half.

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