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Friday, September 25, 2009

The Woman Up Front

As you well know, when it comes to college sports, I talk mostly about my two alma maters, USF and UMBC. This weekend, there's no shortage of things to talk about. USF football is trying to break into a yet-to-exist "Big 4" in the state of Florida, while UMBC men's soccer heads to LaSalle in hopes of improving their record to 9-0. But I also work at UNCG, and not only are we in the midst of our FallFest/Homecoming weekend, but we've got some other big news.

UNCG has a new athletic director. Long-tenured Nelson Bobb left the institution at the end of this past school year, and after a comprehensive national search, Kim Record is our new AD. Record was most recently at Florida State as Sr. Associate AD, and from what little one can glean from an introductory press conference, she seems as though she's going to be a great fit for our University and its present and future growth.

Record joins the ranks as one of 29 female ADs in Division I. It's worth noting that UNCG was founded as a women's institution, first co-educating in 1963, and that our current chancellor is the second female chancellor in school history, immediately preceding our first. Of those, only 3 are at schools in BCS conferences--Maryland (whose AD Debbie Yow used to run UNCG's booster club), Arizona State, and Cal.

Some other interesting breakdowns of this group of 29: 15 are at schools with football (5 are FBS, while 10 are FCS). Five are at HBCUs. And interestingly enough, five are right here in North Carolina, in the UNC System. NC Central, Charlotte, UNC Wilmington, UNC Asheville, and now UNCG all have female ADs. That's 5 out of 16 schools, and not all of them are D-I. Way to be, NC!

So welcome to UNCG, Kim Record! We've got a great thing going here. Damn it feels good to be a Spartan!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Ocho

USF's past couple of games have been lower-profile, so watching them on TV hasn't been an option. So this Saturday, I was getting score updates by text, as I always do, while at a marching band competition. I saw we won 59-0, and was pleased that we did what I feel we should against a I-AA opponent. Little did I know at the time that an injury had occurred that would end the college career of the face of the program, Matt Grothe.

You hate to see anyone get injured, much less in the career-ending manner, but certainly it being Matt Grothe, a young man who has given so much to our program, particularly stings. I have no doubt he'll continue to provide leadership off the field, but I'm sad--perhaps for no one more than Matt himself--that he will no longer be on it.

Matt Grothe is the all-time total offensive leader in the Big East, having surpassed Pat White earlier this season. He's been known to be USF's leading passer AND rusher, and will undoubtedly be missed behind the line of scrimmage.

Waiting in the wings is redshirt freshman B.J. Daniels, and he's got a steep hill to climb right out of the gate, when the Bulls head up to Tallahassee to take on FSU, fresh off of a takedown of #7 BYU. It's anyone's guess how this game will go, but this may be Daniels' opportunity to start a career as a giant-killer. After all, Miami comes later in the season, and next year, in what will be a matchup between a Grothe-less USF team and a Tebow-less Florida, B.J. will have a leg up on whoever succeeds Tebow. And we've still got an entire conference slate to go this year. I'm confident that should this team do what it sets out to do each and every year and win a Big East championship, Grothe will be a huge part of that title, regardless of whether or not he's the one slinging the ball.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Mission vs. Tradition

Yes! I'm not gonna lie, when I knew I was going to be talking about BYU vs. Florida State, I started thinking of a moniker in the mold of "Catholics vs. Convicts" for a matchup between a traditional Florida powerhouse and a school with religious affiliation. Mormons vs. Meatheads? Churchies vs. Cheaters? Native Americans vs. Manifest Destiny [c'mon, Seminoles? Westward expansion of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints? You love it, nerds.]? Finally it hit me: Mission vs. Tradition.

BYU is on a mission. Not just for themselves, but for every little guy who wants in. For every onlooker who wants to thumb their nose at the system. BYU's mission: An undefeated season and what will be the most legitimate shot any team from a non-BCS auto-qualifying conference has ever had. Many, myself included, are watching with bated breath. And their next big BCS conference roadblock is Florida State.

Florida State has a mission of their own. the Seminole lost a tough one to their archrivals Miami to start the season, then had a too-close-for-comfort game against the Gamecocks... of Jacksonville State. BYU will be a gut check and a chance at a victory over the #7 team in the nation and what could be the springboard for a return to their traditional prominence.

The two clash in Week 3.

I've honestly got reasons to want to see both win. For FSU, they're on USF's schedule this year--next week, in fact--and I want them to look as strong as possible to get the most mileage out of a USF victory (or close loss, for that matter). I could also stand not to see them come into next week's game full of piss and vinegar after losing this weekend and starting the season 1-2. No, I'm not above rooting for FSU to be all fat and happy on a BYU hangover and be surprised when the Bulls come to town. We'll be on the road in Doak; I'll take advantage.

On the flip side, I'd like to see BYU keep living the dream and scaring the BCS powers that be. at #7, with a win over Oklahoma and potentially FSU, as well as TCU and Utah still to come on the schedule, the national championship game is a potential reality for BYU in a manner that it never has been for a non-auto-qualifying school in the BCS era. I'll be the first to admit, as a Big East alum, I find the Mountain West's continued cries for relevancy--often at our expense--annoying, but I can't deny the real deal. I'd love to see them take it all the way.

Plus I've got quite a few friends who are BYU alums. Though to be fair, I've also got several who are FSU alums/fans, and then others who are FSU rivals/haters. So the friend comparison is a bit of a wash. It may be a gametime decision who I'm pulling for, but one thing's for sure: I'll be paying attention.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Welcome to the Dawg House

UMBC alum and pro laxer Drew Westervelt was featured on Inside Lacrosse showing off UMBC's athletic facilities and campus.

In somewhat related news, UMBC men's soccer is off to a great start, notching a win against Baltimore's wrong black and gold (Towson) to improve to 5-0-0 on the season. Once again, Go Bulls!

And in completely unrelated news, I'd like to give a shout-out to Reser's Fine Foods. They are a west coast property, so I'm sad to say I haven't actually tasted their stuff, but they ran a contest on Facebook where you were to post a picture of yourself tailgating. I submitted a picture of us tailgating at NightBEAT this past year, and I got a set of folding tailgate chairs out of the deal. Good stuff!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I had been awaiting this past Sunday since the schedules came out: Eagles vs. Panthers in Charlotte, a mere hour and a half from my home in Greensboro. I had talked to a bunch of friends to see who was in, but by the time I realized I had to go the StubHub route and pay a little more for the tickets than the casual fans were thinking, it just ended up being me and my boy Ian heading down the road.

I picked him up just past 8am to get down to the lot around 9:30 to begin tailgating. IT was the perfect day for it--low 80s, sunny day... I was reminded that football season is the most wonderful time of the year. We pulled into the lot next to some boisterous Carolina fans who feigned disgust at my Eagles attire but were quite soon wonderful hosts. We acknowledged that this is one of the most wonderful days of the year, football was back, and at least for the time being, both of our teams were undefeated. They were down from Kernersville (not too far from where I live). On my other side, up pulled a couple more Eagles fans who had made the trip down from Virginia Beach. Our plot was just me, Ian, and soon my boy James who lives in Charlotte and came over to hang out, but very quickly us and our two neighbors were one group. Such is the neighborhood of tailgating.

While I came to love sports up north, I came to love tailgating in the south. I'd like to think I put out a pretty decent spread nowadays--I've gotten pretty methodical about packing up the ol' Honda Civic, I've got a nice assortment of foldable chairs, and even added a pop-up tent to the array. I've also graduated beyond mere burgers and dogs and started throwing a few more things on the grill. This time around some more creative things on the grill. This time around featured skewers with steak, shrimp, and peppers in addition to the burgers and dogs.

That said, I can readily admit that this here Yankee is still an amateur. Our Panthers fan neighbors had perhaps THE best ribs I've ever tasted--I watched them fall off the bone on the grill--as well as some amazing potato salad. And there was no fancy equipment involved either. They had a propane grill about the same size as my Old Faithful charcoal one that's been seeing tailgates since grad school at USF. These guys just knew what the hell they were doing, and again, we were all generous with the food. I aspire to be that guy with the awesome food at the tailgate one of these days.

Eventually, it was game time, and we packed up and headed up to the stadium. It was a fairly short walk from our lot; it was probably longer once we got into the stadium and trudged our way up to section 548, row 26. There was actually a pretty sizable Eagles contingent both in the lots and in our section and elsewhere throughout the stadium, so while we were clearly the road team, it felt like a bit of home. It was nice to have enough folks to strike up a rousing chorus of "Fly Eagles Fly" after each score.

And score we did, with no small help from the Panthers themselves. Eagles won easily 38-10, with the vast majority of those points coming off of turnovers--5 INTs and 3 fumbles accounted for 28 points, if I remember correctly. It got to the point where the Panthers fans were booing Jake Delhomme (wait, I thought only we Philly fans boo our own?) and the loudest cheers of the day came when his backup trotted out to lead an offensive series. Overall it was an enjoyable game to be an Eagles fan, save for injury to McNabb.

I heard tell from a coworker of mine that someone on a local radio show was talking about how he saw firsthand how rude the legendary Philly phanbase is, but honestly, I didn't see it. I did see a couple Eagles fans being escorted out by the police (which evoked, I'll admit, cheers of E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES! from the Eagles fans in the surrounding area) but I saw the same with some Panthers fans. I think there was plenty loud, boisterous support, and maybe we didn't cower as much as we should have in an opposing team's stadium, but at least from where I was sitting--and our area was pretty evenly mixed, so there was plenty of opportunity for interaction between Eagles and Panthers fans--I didn't witness any assholian behavior.

I will say however, that got DAMN we can be annoying. Yes, we pretty much outnumbered the Panthers fans by the time the game was over, but there only so many E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES!! chants that are necessary.

All in all, though, helluva day. If only I could make it happen more often...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A word to the wise:

If you're filming what's probably the most well-known marching maneuver in all of college sports, do your homework so you don't get whacked with a sousaphone.

Start watching at 2:40 and see the the "i" isn't the only thing that gets dotted.

Friday, September 11, 2009

In Remembrance of 9/11

As the country reflects on the events of September 11, 2001, I think it's appropriate in this blog to acknowledge one way in which the day was commemorated back in 2001.

On November 17, 2001, Auburn University and the University of Alabama would meet in the Iron Bowl, their annual rivalry game. What happened at halftime made history. For the first time, the University of Alabama Million Dollar Marching Band and the Auburn University Marching Band took the field together in a showing of the unity of the American people.

I've expressed before my view on mass bands: In most cases, I don't like them. Regardless of how buddy-buddy two programs may be, the fact remains that on game day, you are supporting teams that are lining up on opposite ends of the field, and, at least in game sense, you are enemies. But that was one of the things that made this performance that much more meaningful. These weren't just two teams that happened to be matched up with one another for one night of football. These are schools that hate each other 400 days out of every 365 day year. And yet, their two bands came together for something larger than themselves in a showing of unity.

I wish it was possible to find on Youtube or somewhere, but I do have it on mp3, and I'll leave you with the words that introduced the two programs:

"Ladies and Gentlemen, today is a special day in Iron Bowl history and the great state of Alabama. For the first time, our two great universities share the field at halftime in an unprecedented event and come together as one as we pay tribute to the greatest country on Earth in a salute to America. Under the joint direction of Kathryn Scott and Dr. Rick Good, the University of Alabama Million Dollar Band and the Auburn University Marching Band open with the Theme from 2001, a year in our nation's history when we put aside our differences to stand together in support of our great country, the United States of America."

Monday, September 7, 2009

And we're back!

Welcome to those who made their way over from the link The Bull Gator! If you're not already reading his blog, definitely check it out. If you're a Bull or a Gator, the connection is obvious, but even if you're not, there's still quality sports coverage and enjoyable reading to be had.

College football's opening weekend took off just as I expected, and it was glorious. I got up for the start of College Gameday and was pleasantly surprised to hear Big & Rich leading off the show. I mentioned the fears of the Chesney song in the last post, and after having heard it on Thursday night I was even more afraid. Instead, it seems they're leaving Big & Rich for the opening and using "This Is Our Moment" as a commercial lead-in, which I can support.

My fiancee chose to excuse herself from the house and spend some time with a friend of hers while I gorged on college football. My future brother-in-law was in an out of the room, but largely, the big screen was all mine. This was also my first full football season with HD--I got it hooked up in early January, just in time for the BCS championship game last year.

A good deal of my early day was spent bouncing around, though I spent a significant amount of time watching our conferencemates Syracuse with their new point guard quarterback Greg Paulus. They're actually looking pretty good, and suffered a tough loss in OT. I also watched a good deal of tOSU/Navy, and Wake Forest/Baylor (after looking for UGA/OK State and being reminded that "regional action" = ACC here). In the prime time spot, I was relegated to Gamecast for the Bulls game (no love, Time Warner Cable) and I started watching BYU and Oklahoma in the House that Jerry Built before switching to the game The Man told me to watch, Bama-VT. Clearly I should have stayed in Arlington.

Sunday I got to embrace the one thing I miss the most watching college football on TV: Halftime shows. I headed west to Winston-Salem's Bowman Gray Stadium, home of the Winston Salem State Rams. It's Aggie-Ram weekend, the weekend of the annual matchup between the Rams and the North Carolina A&T Aggies. Both HBCUs play in the MEAC and are both here in the Piedmont Triad, with A&T here in Greensboro. The related festivities include a battle of the bands that featured four high schools and three college bands: WSSU; Livingstone College from Salisbury, NC; and Shaw University from Raleigh. The three college bands are all HBCUs and march in a traditional, high-step show style, but the high schools were evenly split between traditional style and corps style.

This made for an interesting dynamic. It's been my experience that it's fairly rarely that these two worlds intersect, and for the most part they don't know quite what to make of one another. See also: corps style kids and the movie Drumline. In this case, it was a traditional style crowd who didn't know quite what to make of the two corps style bands that were there. For that matter, neither did the host, a local on-air personality at the hip-hop station. I should clarify that the "battle" is really for the court of public opinion, as there is no declared winner, but it was clear which way the crowd was leaning.

True enough, once upon a time, I had no particular love for corps style bands. After growing quite a bit and particularly since becoming a DCI fan, I've come to respect excellence regardless of what style it comes in. That said, I will note that corps style bands are more likely to have judge-pleasing as their focus, while traditional style bands are more likely to have a crowd-pleasing focus, and my bias remains for traditional style.

Another interesting point: One of the high school bands there, Harding University High School form Charlotte, marched in the Inaugural Parade, and their pre-show included a letter from President Obama. I smiled smugly knowing that there's a high school band up in DE with a similar letter.

Back to Monday and college football action. Cincy beat the piss out of Rutgers, which I, for one, was glad to see. USF doesn't have any true rivals. I hold mental good natured rivalries with WVU and Louisville, but I just plain don't like Rutgers. I'm sure this clip has something to do with it.

I just watched a helluva game between FSU and Miami and a heartbreaker for the Nole faithful out there. And watching the game, it looks like USF really needs to be ready for September 26 and November 28 to escape one or both of those with a win.

A brief look at fall news for my other alma mater: UMBC men's soccer seems to be doing well, and as a USF alum, it amuses me that our leading scorer is Andrew Bulls. Go Bulls!

Finally, I think I conjured up some bad mojo with that Rutgers clip. Let's hope this clip here clears the air.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I can feel it coming in the air tonight...

As if on cue, the temperature here in NC dropped a good 15 degrees this Monday. Gone was the oppressive heat that had plagued the south throughout most of the summer. It's been positively gorgeous these past few days, and the multi-day forecast tells me it's set to continue for the foreseeable future, though who knows if it'll go back up. The temperature drop could be caused by any number of things, and could mean any number of things, but to me, it only means one--football season is almost here.

I've got a pretty solid slate ahead of me for opening weekend. I may rise from bed at a decent hour on Saturday morning in anticipation of the season's inaugural College Gameday. I'll likely be inseparable from my 42" all day, watching my first full football season in high def. On Sunday, I get to work with another part of this season's desires--there's a Battle of the Bands going on in Winston-Salem as part of Aggie-Ram weekend. And Monday, it's back in front of the TV for Labor Day action, including several of USF's 2009 foes--Florida State and Miami, and conferencemates Cincinnati and Rutgers.

Speaking of College Gameday, reportedly Kenny Chesney has been called upon for the 2009 theme song, much to the dismay of the folks at EDSBS. Now full disclosure: I'm a little biased because Chesney is a fraternity brother of mine, but I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt and reserve judgment until I actually hear the song. After all, I'm not in love with Big 'n' Rich, but their rendition isn't half bad. Besides, whatever you put in that slot will get automatic cool points for being a harbinger of college football.

It'll actually be several weeks until I get to see my Bulls in action. Our early season slate features two IAAs and recent callup Western Kentucky, so TV's not clamoring for them. That said, they're on ESPN360, but that's a tease, since that's not available from my cable/internet provider.

Likely before I get to lay eyes on the boys in green from Tampa, I'll be seeing my boys in green from Philly down in Charlotte to play the Panthers in week 1 of the NFL season. Me and my boy Ian are heading down there, and a few of my friends down in the QC may be coming by to tailgate with us as well.

Speaking of the tailgate, I feel the need to share this because some things just need to be shared. Today's weather brought me out somewhat unexpectedly to the grill. I grilled up a steak I had purchased yesterday from the New York Butcher Shop here in Greensboro. I'd like to think I'm pretty nice with the grill, but I give all the credit to the cut of meat itself. This was the kind of meal you have to tell people about. And I just did.
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