By Paul Sykes
Darrell the Mountain Man is headed down from Hartford to see his Connecticut football team take on Louisville this Saturday. He may be one of the most fervent football fans I’ve ever met.
I ran into Darrell at a U of L-UConn game in 2005. Several of us made the trek toÂ Storrs. It was cold and wet that night, we arrived several hours early for the game and set up for tailgating. The charcoal grill was welcome. This bear-sized, bearded man came upon us and welcomed us to Connecticut.
Long white hair flowing, a beard the length of his face. He looked every bit the mountain man. He hung with us until it was time to enter the game, recounting stories of past UConn games.Â Michael Bush ran for 120 yards that night and Hunter Cantwell subbed for an ailing Brian Brohm in a 30-20 win for U of L.
I made the trip back to UConn in 2007 with a different group of people. We were terribly late arriving to that contest because of a late start and bumper to bumper traffic. Midway through the third quarter, I feel this thump on my shoulder and Darrell is standing there grinning at me. We talk for a long while. I had a seat open next to me and he took it. Louisville lost that night 21-17, largely the result of a “fair catch” incident.
Darrell came to Louisville in 2008 and brought reinforcements. Several Husky fansÂ enjoyed Cardinal tailgate hospitality with us.Â They had driven straight through from Hartford, slept several hours at a local hotel. I met Darrell’s son that trip, just as big as his 75-year-old Dad and blessed with the same photographic knowledge of Huskies football.
I didn’t make to Storrs last season. Darrell let me know about it. I reiterated the offer to come down andÂ tailgate with us. He doesn’t carry a cell phone, and only uses the computer to keep up with UConn football. He has similar contacts at other Big East schools, estimating that he has attended 250 games on the road. No friends at West Virginia, however. “Those yahoos are the epitome of boorish behavior and no class,”Â he’ll tell you.
Drive safely if you read this, pal. We’ll have the grill fired up and a beverage waiting when we hook up Saturday morning.