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Saturday, December 20, 2014

B4: 2014 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl

Which team's the home team? While the Marching Aztecs won't even have to alter their gameday routine in Qualcomm Stadium, Naval Base San Diego ensure the Midshipmen will have plenty of support as well. The Marching Aztecs and Naval Academy Marching Band will square off in the Gaslamp district the Sunday before the game in the annual Gaslamp March and Battle of the Bands.


San Diego State:

B4: 2014 Boca Raton Bowl

Marshall and Northern Illinois may very well be the class of the group of five conferences - Marshall rode most of the season undefeated and hoping to play in a New Years Day bowl; Northern Illinois rang in 2013 doing exactly that in the Orange Bowl.

Northern Illinois:

B4: 2014 Miami Beach Bowl

BYU's bowl picture tends to keep the Power of the Wasatch pretty firmly rooted in the western US, but they're headed down to Miami this bowl season. The last time they headed east of the Mississippi? The 2001 Liberty Bowl, played in the home of their foes, Memphis' Mighty Sound of the South.



B4: 2014 Raycom Media Camellia Bowl

The South Alabama football team and Jaguar Marching Band are both only five years old, and they're heading to their first bowl game this year, making the short trip up the road to Montgomery to take on the Falcon Marching Band of Bowling Green.

Bowling Green:
South Alabama:

B4: 2014 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

There should be no surprise as Broncos go marching onto the blue turf in Boise, except that it's not their normal home team, but rather Western Michigan's Bronco Marching Band, who will meet the Air Force Academy's Flight of Sound in this year's Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

Western Michigan:

Air Force:

B4: 2014 Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl

The Colorado State Marching Band and the Marching Utes get to come down off of their respective high horses to meet in the Las Vegas Bowl. No really- both Fort Collins and Salt Lake city sit at elevations over twice as high as Vegas' 2,000 feet; fitting, as both schools are charter members of the Mountain West.

Colorado State:


B4: 2014 Gildan New Mexico Bowl

UTEP's Marching Miner Regiment and Utah State's Aggie Marching Band just missed being conferencemates - Utah State joined the WAC in 2005 as UTEP departed for Conference USA.


Utah State:

B4: 2014 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl

At this rate, it may make sense for the Pride of Acadiana to set up a satellite band room in the Superdome. This is Louisiana's fourth straight trip to New Orleans; this year they'll be taking on the Nevada Wolf Pack.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Memento Mori

Memento Mori - Remember you are mortal.

Announced just over a week ago, the University of Alabama at Birmingham is ending its football program, effective immediately. The program began in 1991 and began playing at the I-A (FCS) level in 1996. The program was closed citing lack of financial viability.

Elsewhere in the story - how large a factor it played depends on who you ask - is the fact that UAB, as part of the University of Alabama system, shares a Board of Trustees with the campus in Tuscaloosa. You know, the one that's currently entering the inaugural College Football Playoff as the #1 seed. Said Board is heavily populated with Bama alumni, not the least of whom is its president, Paul Bryant Jr., son of legendary Crimson Tide coach Bear Bryant. While the finances may have looked bleak, it seems something else - ensuring resources head down the pipeline to Bama unimpeded - may have been afoot.

Certainly, my heart goes out to the fans, students, alumni, and supporters of that program, but most importantly the players and coaches. While many may simply remember UAB football's 23 year existence as a momentary blip in the sports history, I have a different memory of the Blazers: That of conferencemates. I attended USF in the Conference USA days and have memories of playing UAB. And because our pasts were once intertwined, I'm hit with the gravity that it's not too improbably that we may again be kindred spirits. UAB and USF share a lot of markers: Young programs in have-not FCS conferences that are part of a state system with strong programs. Add to that our current underperformance on the field, and it's not hard to see shades of our own mortality. 

UAB became the first I-A/FCS program to shut down since nearly two decades ago, in 1995, when Pacific closed its doors. It's entirely possible that they won't be the last.

Twelve Drummers Drumming

Years ago, I began what has become a holiday tradition for me: Donating a pair of drumsticks and a drum pad to a child in need during the holiday season. I had dubbed my act Give a Kid a Drum, and while it's really only been a personal practice, I thought I may at some point reach beyond just myself and involve others.

Last year, holiday shopping was such that my wife happened to be over near our local Guitar Center, so I asked her to pick up my annual gift. Apparently when she told the staff in the drum room what she was getting it for, they thought it was a pretty cool idea, and it gave me the idea to potentially involve them in growing the gift.

In preparing to ask for help, I wrote up a quick summary of the newly renamed Little Drummer Project (the original name was a direct ripoff of another charity in this area). I headed over to the Guitar Center here in Greensboro to ask for their help - not a donation mind you; my original thought was being able to leave a box and a flyer in hopes that those engaging in their holiday shopping may feel compelled to join me in giving. I spoke with Josh in the drum room, and after running it by his higher ups, they came in with more than was asked - they were able to donate 12 pairs of drumsticks! I, in turn, donated these through the Salvation Army Toy Warehouse and 12 children will have the opportunity to wake up to a new pair of drumsticks on Christmas morning. Sorry, parents?

Huge thanks to Guitar Center Greensboro for joining me in the spirit of giving this holiday season. If you'd like to join as well, consider giving drumsticks, a drum pad, or other music-related gifts to your local charity.