A tale of two Lima families, and how they ended up in Miami for tonight’s national college football championship game …
The shout out
Some things are just understood between fathers and sons. And some things go without saying between husbands and wives.
For dad and the boys, it is all pretty simple stuff:
•If you want respect, you better show respect.
•If you make a promise, you better keep it.
•And the most golden of all golden rules: If you shoot off your mouth during a football game, you better be able to back it up.
With that, we introduce to you a happy Nick DePalma and his just as happy mother, Patty; brother, Michael; sister, Elizabeth; and fiancée Sam Hollar. And then there’s the man who is making them all smile — Tony DePalma,
“I told my dad during the Oklahoma game that Notre Dame would win and run the table to the national championship,” Nick DePalma proudly explained. “Dad started laughing, saying if that happens, he’d take me to see the national championship.”
Tony is a big Ohio State fan and he and Nick have always sparred when it comes to their favorite teams.
“Who would think Notre Dame could win all of its remaining games, especially with Southern Cal left,” Tony tried to rationalize. “Three other teams were even ranked ahead of them.”
Finding himself wrong on all accounts, Tony purchased the tickets. It not only was the noble thing to do, but he surmised it could also be fun.
His next move, however, was perhaps his smartest one.
Husbands have wives, and wives notice things like it is 80 degrees in Florida and in the mid-20s in Ohio. The party quickly grew from two to six.
“Nick and I are taking in the game and the others are enjoying the festivities and sun,” Tony said. “It’s turned out to be a good vacation.”
For Eric Wiechart, the trip and events leading up to tonight’s game are more like a pilgrimage. Few Notre Dames fans in Lima are more passionate about the Irish.
Wiechart attends almost every home game, and this year, even traveled to Los Angeles for the Southern Cal game. But one thing still haunts him: Back in 1988, he didn’t go to the Fiesta Bowl when Notre Dame defeated West Virginia, assuring the Irish of the national championship.
“Our teams were so good back then, I thought I’d have many other opportunities,” he said.
Twenty-four years later, that other opportunity has finally arrived. He and his wife, Cathy, and daughters Ann and Elise, are enjoying every minute of the trip, especially the eight blocks that are roped off along South Beach for all the pregame activities.
“About 15,000 to 20,000 were at the Notre Dame pep rally Saturday night. Mike Golic, Joe Theisman, Tony Rice and Lou Holtz all spoke. Three hours earlier when Alabama held their rally, the newspaper said the crowd was around a thousand,” Wiechart said.
The oddsmakers have Alabama as a 9 1/2-point favorite. Wiechart doesn’t see it that way.
“I know some people are talking about a blow-out, and while it wouldn’t surprise me if Notre Dame did blow out Alabama, I think it will be a close game.”
ROSES AND THORNS: A few this week.
Rose: To Dr. Bonnie Jones, of Delphos Animal Hospital. Its donation to the Lima Fire Department in September of an oxygen pet mask resulted in a pet being saved after a Thursday house fire.
Rose: Chet Walker of Lima said he and his son, Donald, were handed envelopes by three girls just before Christmas. Inside were a $20 bill and a gift certificate for $20 with a note saying Merry Christmas from the Adds family.
Rose: To Kyle Miller, of Elida. His persistence and size (6-foot-5, 260 pounds) has him in the hunt to win a job next year with the Miami Dolphins of the National Football League.
Thorn: To Michael Moore, 21, of Mount Victory. He told Hardin County prosecutors he has never held a job or possessed a driver’s license. Moore faces 24 criminal charges and a maximum 106 years in prison as part of a major theft operation.
Thorn: To Jodi Garber, 31, of Lima. She spat on and bit a guard at the Allen County Jail last week.
PARTING SHOT: “What happened yesterday is history. What happens tomorrow is a mystery. What we do today makes a difference.” — Nick Saban, Alabama football coach.