By Julie Muhlstein, Herald Columnist
Alex Tarin and Nathan Yocum have plenty in common. Tarin is 31. Yocum is 34. Both are married. Each has a baby son. They even work at the same place, First Baptist Church of Everett.
Then there’s football. When it comes to college football fandom, these guys part ways — big time.
Today’s Rose Bowl game may not be of the highest interest to UW Huskies or WSU Cougar fans, but for Yocum and Tarin it’s the pinnacle of football buddy rivalry.
Tarin, a children’s pastor at the church, is an avid University of Oregon Ducks fan. His team will take on the Ohio State University Buckeyes at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., starting at 2 p.m.
When we talked last week, Tarin was already wearing an Oregon Rose Bowl T-shirt. On his door at work were two Oregonian newspaper articles about Ducks football.
“I always have my Oregon stuff. I’m wearing Oregon stuff right now,” said Tarin, a native of Gresham, Ore., near Portland.
He’s such a fan that on the church Web site, www.fbc-everett.org, the “Meet the Team” photo of Tarin and his wife, Becky, was taken on a Ducks game day at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore. As much as Tarin loves his Ducks, he has nothing on Yocum, who’s just as wild about the Buckeyes.
Yocum, the First Baptist Church student pastor in charge of sixth-grade through high school programs, was still on a holiday visit to Ohio when we talked Monday. His family lives in Grove City, just outside Columbus.
Waiting to leave a message on his cell phone, I listened to a rousing march. When Yocum answered, I learned that his phone’s hold music is “Le Regiment.” The Ohio State University Marching Band traditionally plays the march while forming “Ohio” in a script pattern on the Ohio Stadium field.
Although they’re both loyal fans, neither man is an alumnus of the University of Oregon or Ohio State University. Tarin, the Ducks fan who lives in Lake Stevens, went to Northland Baptist Bible College in Wisconsin. And Yocum, of Everett, attended Cincinnati Christian University. His love for the Buckeyes predates his college years.
“When I was in sixth grade, I started selling Coke at the Ohio State games. They let us do that as a fundraiser,” Yocum said. “For three years, I got to go to all the home games.”
Yocum and his brother, Jeremy, talk often about Ohio State football, and during the games they chat via Skype.
Both Tarin and Yocum traveled to games this year. After Oregon beat the USC Trojans 47-20 on Halloween in Autzen Stadium, Tarin said he was seen on ESPN with other revelers. And Yocum was at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Ind., Oct. 3 for Ohio State’s 33-14 win over Indiana University. “I fly back for a game every year, but it was too hard to get tickets for Ohio Stadium,” Yocum said.
Tarin will watch today’s game at home with family and friends. Yocum won’t be there, he’ll still be in Ohio. He had planned to fly back to Seattle today, but when he made his reservation he forgot about the difference in time zones.
“He scheduled his flight home during the Rose Bowl,” Tarin said. “I let him know, so he switched his flight.”
To each other, both men said, they have predicted that their rival will win. They’re pastors, after all, with charitable natures. “That’s what we say to each other’s face,” Yocum quipped.
“In my heart, Oregon is going to win of course,” Tarin said.
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460, email@example.com.