2014-01-02 / Sports

Oltersdorfs headed to the Rose Bowl

By Patti Brandt
Of The Enterprise staff


FATHER AND SON Jonathan, left, and Mike Oltersdorf have tickets to the Rose Bowl game on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, Calif. The pair will sit 50 rows back on the 45 yard line. The father and son are Michigan State University graduates — Jonathan in 2007 and Mike in 1973. FATHER AND SON Jonathan, left, and Mike Oltersdorf have tickets to the Rose Bowl game on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, Calif. The pair will sit 50 rows back on the 45 yard line. The father and son are Michigan State University graduates — Jonathan in 2007 and Mike in 1973. Jonathan Oltersdorf was four years old the last time the Spartans went to the Rose Bowl.

That was 1988, and he doesn’t remember. But he’s pretty sure his dad, retired sheriff Mike Oltersdorf, would have made him watch the game on television.

This year will be different as Jonathan, who is now 29, will travel with his dad to Pasadena, Calif., where they will sit side by side in the stands as Michigan State and Stanford face off in the 100th Rose Bowl Game, televised at 5 p.m. New Year’s Day.

“This is better than the Super Bowl. This is better than the World Series,” said Mike Oltersdorf, who graduated from MSU in 1973. “It’s the Spartans. I couldn’t miss this.”


JONATHAN OLTERSDORF holds up the tickets he and his father, retired sheriff Mike Oltersdorf, snagged for the Rose Bowl. JONATHAN OLTERSDORF holds up the tickets he and his father, retired sheriff Mike Oltersdorf, snagged for the Rose Bowl. Jonathan Oltersdorf, a Realtor with Oltersdorf Realty and a 2007 MSU grad, said he is excited about going.

“Ever since we started making our plans I can’t wait to go,” he said.

Jonathan said several father-son duos they know are going to the game, though they’ll be scattered around the stadium as tickets were difficult to get. As of Monday, the popular online ticket vendor StubHub had about 800 tickets left for the Rose Bowl, with prices ranging from $345 to $2,353 each.

The Oltersdorfs, who will sit 50 rows back on the 45 yard line, scored their tickets from Lee Bowen, chair of the Leelanau County Road Commission. Bowen, who said the game just didn’t fit into his traveling schedule, has season tickets, which gave him dibs on tickets to the Rose Bowl.

The tickets cost $185 apiece — a real bargain, Mike said.

Jonathan was in Indianapolis at the Big Ten Championship game on Dec. 8 when the Spartans took down the highfl ying Ohio Buckeyes in the year’s shocker, winning the game 34 to 24. He was texting his dad throughout the game, he said.

“As soon as the game ended he texted me about 20 times,” Jonathan said.

The win was as much of a surprise to Jonathan as to anyone else.

“It’s been a roller coaster year,” he said. “It couldn’t have turned out any better, obviously.”

The senior Oltersdorf said the game is another thing he can check off his bucket list. And good thing.

“Statistically, the way things go I’ll be dead by the time the next one comes,” Mike said.

The Oltersdorfs have attended the MSU homecoming games for the past 11 years. They decided several years ago that if the team ever made it to the Rose Bowl, they would go together.

Jonathan, who graduated from MSU in 2007, said he knew the day would come eventually, but he was pretty sure it wasn’t going to happen while he was a student there.

“While I was in school our football team was horrible,” he said.

That didn’t dissuade him from being a fan, he said. He now sits on the board of the Grand Traverse MSU Alumni Club.

Mike said the one thing he regrets is that his daughter can’t attend. She’s a Spartan fan, but just started a new job in Missouri about six weeks ago and can’t take the time off.

Jonathan’s wife, Jenn, is also an MSU grad and a big fan, though she won’t be going to the game. Neither will his mom and Mike’s wife, Vicki Oltersdorf, who graduated from the University of Michigan.

“Her heart doesn’t bleed green like the rest of us,” said Mike, chuckling that Vicki will go to the Rose Bowl when Michigan does.

“But she roots for us,” said Jonathan, adding that his puppy, a ‘cavapoo,’ is also an MSU fan. How does he know?

“He wears an MSU jersey every Saturday ... You’ve got to start them young.”

The Oltersdorfs left on Monday and will stay a couple of days. While there they’ll get a tour of the city from an FBI friend of Mike’s who is also an MSU alum, attend a pep rally at which more than 10,000 MSU fans are expected, take in the Rose Bowl parade and do a little tailgating.

For those fans who can’t make it to California but want to get off the couch for what may be the game of the year — or decade — Art’s Tavern in Glen Arbor, the Village Inn in Suttons Bay, and Knot Just a Bar in Omena will all have beer and food specials throughout the day.

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