Every space in the parking lot of Fitzgerald Stadium was numbered, 1 to 400, to allow campus police to easily identify anyone who wasn’t a member of the athletic dept or a VIP to be quickly and efficiently towed. Even on game days, the general public had to park elsewhere; the only way to get a space was to be a member of the football team or to rise up through the ranks on the managerial side.

One space, which would otherwise be #297, is not numbered. No one is quite sure why this is; the earliest mention of such a space is from the 1970s, shortly after the lot was constructed, so it may have been a simple oversight. But from that quirk of fate, a sinister and elaborate legend has grown up around that space.

A player who parks in that unnumbered space, it holds, curses the team to lose the next game.

Painting a number wouldn’t change the essential nature of the curse, the players hold, and as such it is left unmarked as a warning. Obviously not all the players believe the legend, but the pivotal 1986 game is always held up as a counterexample. Edward Mack, who would go on to win three Super Bowls as a professional player and found the influential father-son “Mack dynasty,” was nearly late for the game (due to a tryst, the tale has it). Forgetting the legend, he parked in the only available spot…and the Fighting Pottawatomie (later the Grizzlies) were defeated 12 to 40.

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