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Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Flesh is Weak

I'm not sure I know what my end game is. The end of the season? Until the league has made whatever I determine to be progress? Until Kap is employed? Until the Eagles make the Super Bowl and I ultimately backslide? Or am I done for good? At this point, I don't yet know. -Taking a Knee, September 2017

WELL, WOULD YOU LOOK AT THAT

The Eagles are in the Super Bowl, and my NFL boycott is over, or at the very least taking a one game hiatus. I haven't watched my team play a snap all year, and the first will be in the Super Bowl. 

I could start reconsidering and rationalizing why I've decided to go back.  The truth is I've given it some thought over the course of the season, but the answer here is far more simple. My team's in the Super Bowl. I told you that from jump. I even briefly considered not watching, convinced that I was the curse and that they'd do better if I didn't, but I'm certain I've not been granted that level of cosmic sway.

And now? While there's no question to my Eagles bona fides, I'll feel almost bandwagon having not watched this team all season. Looks like I gotta brush up on my own team.

Fly Eagles Fly.

Monday, January 8, 2018

You Can't Always Get What You Want

But if you try sometimes, you might find you get what you need.

Running a site that is so intertwined with my personal interests and passions, it's sometimes hard to tell where 80 Minutes of Regulation ends and Curtis begins. Still, when I conceptualized the trip to Atlanta for the College Football Playoff National Championship festivities, it was an 80 Minutes trip. I'd document it. I'd gather "content". I even paid for it with some of the tens of dollars I've made running this place. With that idea in mind, I was on my way.

I'll note that when I updated the tagline to "The Cadence of Gameday," it was to more accurately reflect the site's offerings. Still, I know and embrace the fact that marching bands both began as and remain my wheelhouse. The trouble? There were no bands to be had.

It was a combination of the plans I made and the assumptions I made with them. When I booked the trip nearly a year ago, I intended to be there through the night of the championship itself (though attending was never an option). I'd embed myself in the championship weekend experience, checking out all that it had to offer, but most of all the bands. A four night stay was trimmed to two, but surely they'd make a weekend of it, and there would be plenty of chance, right? Nah.

My closest analog was getting to sneak a peek at SEC's fan central a month prior, also in Atlanta. That event featured pep rallies for both teams on Saturday. However, Saturday for that event was also gameday. The big pep rallies for tonight's national championship were this afternoon, not over the weekend. So while there were plenty of activities planned for the weekend, the marching bands were not among them.

It's a huge oversight, in my opinion. If I may quote myself from an earlier piece where I suggested that any championship bid worth its salt would include a parade in the plans:
The national championship festivities should be a culmination and celebration of all that is college football, and that includes marching bands. Without them, all you have is a minor league Super Bowl.
With  all that exposition, you may think I had a less-than-great trip. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The highlight was was getting to catch a live show of the Solid Verbal. While I've spoken about them before, they're one of my favorite pieces of college football media. The live show didn't disappoint, and in addition to everything both hosts bring, their guests included ESPN's Adam Amin, Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples, and SB Nation's Spencer Hall and Jason Kirk, all of whom I've come to appreciate individually and in association with the show. Ty recognized me by name as a long time listener (and occasional writer-inner); my only regret is that at the postshow at the bar, I ended up down on the far end (and perhaps more engrossed in the Falcons game than I have been in the NFL all season) and managed to completely miss hanging out. Next time, I suppose. That said, I did manage to experience and enjoy perhaps the most on-brand beer for me: Cadence, a Belgian dubbel by Georgia's own Reformation Brewery.

Elsewhere in the Cadence of Gameday, I got to check out the Tailgate Plaza outside of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, featuring various brand activations, not the least of which being the Nissan Heisman House. Media Day gave the opportunity at a fly-on-the-wall peek in at some of the media interviews of Alabama and Georgia players and staff, and Fan Central featured more activities in an inside venue. I even got to hoof and Über my way around Atlanta some, including revisiting the Flying Biscuit Cafe that I had enjoyed years ago, and catching Waffle House on my way out of town.

It'll likely be quite some time before I make it down for a championship weekend again - though I wouldn't rule out a Peach Bowl trip, with or without a playoff -  but I had a great time this year, and hope to do it again.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

From FOMO to Followthrough

I love it when a plan comes together.

A year ago, I felt a Fear of Missing Out as the College Football Playoff national championship took place on my Bulls' home field. I had lukewarmly considered attending and never actually followed through. I decided that a year later, I'd do my best not to make the same mistake.

I made a hotel reservation. No real commitment - fully refundable.

I solidified plans.

And here I sit, in Atlanta, the weekend of the national championship. I won't make it to the game - I won't even make it past the weekend, but I'm down here in the hoopla.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2018 College Football Playoff National Championship - Alabama vs. Georgia

One corner of the country gets to chant "SEC!" regardless of who wins in the most SEC championship game since Alabama and LSU met in a rematch at the end of the 2011 season. This game has the added element of being in the home of the conference championship game. While the two have never met in Mercedes Benz Stadium, both the Million Dollar Band and the Redcoat Marching Band got to scout their venue this season - Alabama in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, and Georgia in the SEC Championship.

Alabama: 
Georgia:

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Bulletproof Glass

The greatest trick the College Football Playoff ever pulled was forcing me to cape for C.Florida.

Two weeks ago in Atlanta, North Carolina A&T capped off a perfect season with a Celebration Bowl victory over Grambling. With the win, A&T earned the right to be called a champion.

When UCF tries to complete their perfect season on New Year's Day in the same venue, they'll have no such opportunity.

The Knights have already grabbed their brass ring, a consolation prize at best: The New Year's Six berth that comes with being the highest ranked Group of Five champion, and a shot at SEC runner you Auburn. Some would argue it's a no-win game for Auburn, but I find it similarly fruitless for UCF: Lose, and they were supposed to; win, and meet excuses about how an unmotivated Auburn didn't want to be there.

But what the Knights don't have is a shot at a championship. No Group of Five team does - at least not as a single year accomplishment. Houston came closest, chasing a bowl victory over FSU with an early season win over Oklahoma. But even an undefeated 2016 campaign by the Cougars would likely have served only to put them in the conversation, not the playoff itself. That slim chance was only a function of getting Oklahoma on the schedule, the likes of which is increasingly rare for high caliber Group of Five programs. It's not just a glass ceiling - it's bulletproof.

Three years ago, the MEAC and SWAC decided that instead of an autobid to the FCS playoffs, their champions would meet in December to crown the HBCU national champion. The SWAC ended its relationship with the playoff in the '90s in favor of a conference championship game, and the MEAC now sends its champion to Atlanta, though highly ranked runners up are still eligible for an at-large bid. Seasons that would have once ended in an early round playoff exit now had the opportunity for glory in a championship of meaning.

The system we currently have still keeps this opportunity from Group of Five schools. The common refrains are that "they ain't played nobody!" and "there's no way they're going defeated with [insert Power Five team]'s schedule!" - qualifiers that create an unbalanced narrative. After all, if you're going to mythically burden them with the schedule, you must also arm them with the resources these programs wield. For my money, I'm taking UCF with Auburn's budget over the opposite.

The fear of letting a deserving UCF - and to be clear, the language of the College Football Playoff is "best," not "most deserving" - is that it would result in a blowout of an overmatched team. Nothin prevents that from happening with the current setup - Just ask Ohio State, Michigan State, or FSU.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Bowl Bands: College Footbal Playoff - 2018 Allstate Sugar Bowl

They meet again! Clemson and Alabama go for the rubber match, this time in a national semifinal instead of the championship game. While the Tigers have the home team designation as the #1 seed, the Crimson Tide know New Orleans and the Sugar Bowl well.

Alabama:

Clemson:

Bowl Bands:College Football Playoff - 2018 Rose Bowl Presented by Northwestern Mutual

The Granddaddy of 'em All hosts a pair of Sudler Trophy winners for just the second time this century and the first time in a dozen years. Oklahoma last marched down Colorado Blvd. in 2003; UGA hasn't played in the Rose Bowl since World War II, and the Redcoats missed the trip due to travel restrictions, leaving Pasadena City College to march halftime in their stead.

Georgia:

Oklahoma:

Bowl Bands: 2018 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl

Auburn last played in this very stadium as the fell to Georgia in the SEC Championship game. Undefeated UCF, who rebounded mightily from a winless campaign two seasons ago, ran into the bulletproof glass ceiling and attains the Group of Five's highest attainable honor: A New Year's Six bowl berth.

C.Florida:
Auburn:

Bowl Bands: 2017 Capital One Orange Bowl

Undefeated late into the season, ACC runner up Miami and Big Ten runner up Wisconsin are tales of what could have been this season. The Band of the Hour will march out of their home tunnel, while the Badger Band, in all of their postseason trips to Florida, has never played in the Orange Bowl.

Wisconsin:

Miami:

Bowl Bands: 2017 Playstation Fiesta Bowl

This year's Fiesta Bowl matchup will feature spats for dayse as the Husky Band of Washington takes on Penn State's Blue Band. The historically band friendly game is looking to rival even the Rose Bowl as sponsor Playstation brings the programs together (admittedly to promote a game, God of War).

Washington:

Penn State:
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