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Crazed Fan Attempts to See 337 Games in 107 Days

So Miguel Rodriguez has always been a little obsessive about his passions. That's why, for example, he owns approximately 1,600 pairs of sneakers. That's why he posts on message boards and blogs near and far under the moniker "OffTheMeter."

And that's why OTM is currently planning a college basketball pilgrimage that will take him to all 337 Division I arenas over the next three-plus months. I linked to his blog yesterday, but since the journey started last night (Day one: Comcast Center), I thought it deserved a little more attention. Also, he's in desperate need of sponsorship (more on that later), and I can think of few causes more worthy than a man driving himself into the ground and emptying his bank account in pursuit of college basketball fulfillment, so I'm willing to promote this effort to the maximum of my abilities.

Anyhow, this all started last spring. Some of OTM's co-workers were talking about some guys who were doing all 30 MLB stadiums in 30 days. The co-workers were impressed. OTM, who is not easily impressed, was not. He thought he could do something cooler than that.

"I went to lunch," he said, "took a walk, came back and said, 'You know what? I have an idea.'"

This was clearly trouble. The idea was, over the course of a single season, to visit a game at every single Division I arena. The minimum length of time required at each arena would be a full segment between media timeouts, although a full half would be preferable. A bit of math will tell you that this would require about three games a day for more than three months. OTM didn't even know if this was logistically possible. So first, he spent two days printing out last year's day-by-day Division I schedules from Bog friend Kyle Whelliston's miraculously great site, The mid-majority. At this point, OTM had about 500 pages of schedules. He spent four days with the schedules and an atlas, trying to find a feasible way to visit every arena in one season. Gradually he prepared a schedule that got him to something like 300 arenas. Then he found a way to add 10 arenas, and then 10 more. This was enough to convince him that the venture was, at the least, plausible.

So this June, when conference schedules started being released, OTM started printing them off and plotting. (For the record, he says the Big East was probably the worst at putting up its composite schedule in a timely fashion.) Over the summer, he finally told his wife, Tricia Ciaburri-Rodriguez, about the plan. She told him

to create a business plan, which he's been working on since then. Two weeks ago he told her that he had a tentative schedule for the first two weeks of the season.

"She said, 'The money better be in the bank,'" OTM said.

He estimates the entire trip, without in-kind donations, would cost about $65,000. There are a few dead days on which no games are played, which makes this even more complicated. He has a few offers to borrow private jets but needs more. There are two days he thinks would be impossible without a helicopter; one in Louisiana and one in Texas.

Frankly, I still have my doubts about whether it's possible, because you'd need to do a bunch of three- or four-game weekday nights, and so many games start at the same time. I e-mailed OTM to that effect a few minutes ago. This is what he wrote back:

Your voice of reason will not deter me from the Grail. Fear does not exist! No Sen Sei!!!!

Anyhow, until he has sponsorship, he's concentrating on games he can easily get to from his Connecticut home without taking too much vacation time. He flew down for last night's Maryland-Vermont game, since his brother Gabe (another major Bog friend) is an assistant coach at Vermont. (Another brother is Wichita State guard Sean Ogirri, one of the best shooters in Shockers history.) OTM left at halftime last night because he had a 9:30 flight home from BWI. His wife had given him a midnight curfew.

OTM didn't have his schedule in front of him, but he gave me the next few days. Today he's off. Tomorrow he has American-Fairfield (7 p.m.), North Florida-St. John's (8 p.m.) and Sacred Heart-Fordham (9 p.m.). Saturday is Maine-Harvard (1 p.m.), Dartmouth-U-Mass. (5 p.m.), Bucknell-Albany (7 p.m.) and maybe one more game. Sunday is Allegheny-Yale (2 p.m.) and Fairfield-Holy Cross (4 p.m.). That's nine arenas in five days, which is considerably behind the pace. (He's posted his upcoming schedule on the blog.)

Anyhow, OTM has three sorts of sponsorship opportunities available. He's looking for a title sponsor, willing to call his journey the [Your Name Here] Ultimate Basketball Challenge. He's looking for companies that would like some product placemen,; the idea being that his last stop of the day, whenever possible, will be at major schools where he can have advance scouts distributing brochures and merchandise to the biggest possible audience. (OTM is already a master of product placement; he has a Nike swoosh tattooed on his leg.) And he's looking for people who will advertise on his Web site, where he will blog from every game. And if he doesn't get enough money from sponsors?

"I have money in the reserve," he said. "Put it like this, I know enough people. I know I can make it work....If I wasn't from a big city with big dreams, I wouldn't be doing this. That's why I'm called Off the Meter--because, like my wife says, everything I do has to be grandiose."

By Dan Steinberg  |  November 9, 2006; 12:59 PM ET
Categories:  College Basketball  
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