FINDLAY - After one covers football for a while, certain habits start to take over.
You watch a play, you take notes.
You check the scoreboard for down and distance. You check the scoreboard to make sure the score you have is correct.
And you check the clock.
So what happens when there is no scoreboard to look at? What happens when the board goes dark?
It happened Saturday in Findlay, where Tiffin University was playing the Oilers. The big scoreboard wasn't working. Any of it.
No times. No score.
And for me, no safety net.
This was the first game I'd ever been to where the main scoreboard wasn't working at all the entire game. And no matter how many times I looked up there, it didn't turn on.
What I didn't realize until I went down to the field was that a smaller scoreboard on the face of the pressbox was working. Before seeing that, I figured the coaches and players didn't have access to a scoreboad either.
"We could [see it], thank god it's on their pressbox right there," Tiffin coach Gary Goff said. "Otherwise, we'd have no clue."
Tiffin had the sideline facing the scoreboard. For Findlay coach Rob Keys [whose team was faced away from the press box], things weren't so easy.
"It was difficult at first, because I looked up and turned around," Keys said. "Just [had to] keep looking over my back shoulder]."
If that doesn't sound annoying, remember that Keys and his staff had to do it over two hours and 35 minutes.
"Late in the first half, we had the two-minute drive," Keys said. "Our offensive coordinator [Troy Rothenbuhler] couldn't see the time either, so I had to keep relaying to him how much time was on the clock."
Goff was asked what would have happened if none of the scoreboards were working.
"If you can't see the clock, scoreboard's not working, the officials are going to come to you and tell you the time quite often," Goff said.
In the press box Saturday, the time keeper relayed the time of scores and change of possessions.
One had to appreciate how smoothly things worked, even without the big board. And the fact that neither coach complained in the postgame interviews also was good. It also made me realize that my job was relatively unaffected. One of the great things about college ball is reporters get a book that chronicles that includes a play-by-play.
So in the end, all was well.
And yet, I'll never be so happy to see Frost-Kalnow Stadium's scoreboard as I will be next week.
Everyone loves a safety net.