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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Pasadena, Ohio

Apparently the state of Ohio has quite a few reasons to focus their sights on Pasadena this New Years Day.  Most everyone knows that Ohio State will be playing in the Rose Bowl on Friday for the first time in 13 years, and of course, with that, TBDBITL will be marching down Colorado Boulevard once again. But the Buckeyes won't be the only ones representing the Buckeye State. Also making the trip to Ohio are the Pickering High School Central Marching Tiger Band, making their fourth Tournament of Roses Parade performance; The Ohio University Marching 110; and the Ohio State School for the Blind.

The Ohio State School for the Blind actually works along with Ohio State's marching band; they even have a "Script Braille Ohio" patterned after Ohio State's Script Ohio. See below:

Perhaps the most curious of these selections is the Marching 110. Make no mistake, they are an amazing marching organization that I always enjoy watching. What's interesting is that as a school that plays in the FBS, upon signing up for a Rose Parade performance, they took the chance of setting themselves up for a scheduling conflict. While the MAC doesn't have any New Year's Day bowl tie ins, they very well could have landed themselves in the International Bowl, played on January 2, with a Battle of the Bands that takes place in Toronto just hours after they step off the street in Pasadena. As it stands, they made a trip to Detroit for the Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl on December 26, only to head to Pasadena less than a week later.

But there's something else at play here, and it's not just the title of hardest working band in the state of Ohio. While any marching organization would be foolish to turn down an invite to the Rose Parade, I'm sure somewhere in conscious or subconscious of the powers that be at Ohio was what this could mean as it related to Ohio State. Knowing Ohio alumni, former employees, and many other Ohioans, my understanding is that there's no love for the Buckeyes in Athens. Then, upon accepting the invitation, the folks at Ohio had to know one of two things--either: The 110 would take to the streets in Pasadena, giving them bragging rights, since Ohio State hasn't been there in 13 years; or, as has happened, Ohio State would win the Big Ten but not head to the national title game, leading to a 110/OSUMB showdown in the Rose Parade. It's a win-win if you're at OU. The rest of us win by getting to see these two among the usually outstanding lineup on New Year's Day.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Live [sic] TV

I mentioned before how I tend to get an early idea of UMBC's lacrosse schedule by seeing other schools' schedules when they come out. This year, when the schedule came out, once again, I had a pretty good idea what to expect. Since I live in NC, I was pleased to see four games televised nationally on ESPNU.

Recently, Inside Lacrosse put out a press release talking about increased lacrosse coverage on the ESPN family of networks. So again, I go looking for UMBC's games. It turns out all but one of them, a conference game against Hartford, are on tape delay. So for the other televised matchups--anticipated showdowns with Carolina, Hopkins, and College Park, I have to either keep a watchful eye on scores as the games take place or isolate myself so as to be surprised when watching the gam hours later.

In mostly unrelated news, my two alma maters shared an opponent over the past 10 day period. the ECU women's basketball team was down at USF for the USF Shootout, where they walked away with a victory from my Bulls. Eight days later, up in the Bronx, the Lady Pirates  ran into the UMBC Retrievers at the Fordham Holiday Classic, where the Dawgs handed them their second loss of the season. Not a bad coup for the women's hoops team, especially while our men's team hasn't been given us anything to write home about.

So since I fancy myself a blogger, I suppose I should do something like a year-in-review type post. But I don't have any real angles at hand. To all the folks (ha!) reading this: Any suggestions? I suppose I've got about a day and a half to crank it out. If not, everyone have a happy new year!

Hybrid Wideout

Part of this year's Christmas loot was a long-sleeved Eagles t-shirt, courtesy of my future step-sister-in-law ( that's a lot of qualifiers). She went with the personalized name on back, but she did my first name instead of my last name, and chose to give me the number of this coming year, since she knows it'll be a big year for me (I'm getting married, for one.) The result is a jersey that says Curtis with the number 10. For the Eagles fans paying attention, you'll recognize Curtis as WR Kevin Curtis' last name, and the #10 as DeSean Jackson's. It's definitely a worthy hybrid.

Better video than the last one


Monday, December 28, 2009

Weapon X Returns

As I expected, Brian Dawkins received a warm welcome from the Eagles faithful upon returning to the Linc with the Broncos this Sunday. Video here. (ht: The700Level.)

And since the Redskins offered no help, the stage is set: Eagles and Cowboys at JerryWorld this coming Sunday night for the NFC East Championship. The stakes are high, not just for the Eagles, but for me personally in this one. Trust me.

Who Shot Mr. Burns?

He was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. He was then taken to a better hospital where his condition was upgraded to "alive." -Kent Brockman, from the Simpsons episode "Who Shot Mr. Burns"

Rumors of Urban Meyer's retirement were greatly exaggerated, as Meyer has since stated that he instead is taking a "leave of absence", and if all goes well, he may just be on the sidelines to start next season. In the mean time, offensive coordinator Steve Addazio is the man up front.

It sounds like an amicable system, if the Gators are committed to working with it, as it seems they are. My only questions are the continuity of such a system. On the one hand ,the same key players remain in place. But then, what is Addazio--Head coach, Interim head coach, or seat warmer?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Football Sunday in Philadelphia

First of all, I realize I forgot to congratulate the Villanova Wildcats for winning the Division I football national championship and in doing so, bringing another football championship to Philadelphia.

In pro news, it's a big day in Philly: The day when Brian Dawkins returns to the Linc with his new team, the Denver Broncos. I'm interested to see what the reaction from the crowd gathered will be, but I'm thinking it will be on the cheer-heavy side of things.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


No clever title here. I'm just honestly stunned by the fact that Urban Meyer, the head football coach at the University of Florida has chosen to step down for health reasons. You may remember back over the summer I wrote about how monumental Bill Tierney's departure from Princeton was, but this... wow.

I first must express a sincere concern for Coach Meyer, his family, and his health. Here's hoping that whatever the health issue may be, it is resolved quickly. I wish for him whatever he may desire for his future to hold, whether that be a return to coaching or more time spent with love ones, but most of all I hope that he is healthy.

That said, I can't not mention the immense sports implications here. My very first thought is that it means next year, the Gators will be without Meyer AND Tebow. The loss of Tebow was already threatening to be huge, but Meyer is arguably an even bigger loss. The tandem could be devastating. Naturally, my mind also turned to September 11, 2010, when the Bulls make their first appearance in the Swamp. I will say I'm happy they'll be going through this transition, though certainly not for these reasons.

Another thought that could conceivably be very telling about how rapid the onset of this decision was is one of the other largest questions: Who's next? I would imagine that if this weren't a decision made a very short time ago, Florida's own Charlie Strong, now the head coach at Louisville, would have surely been in the running. So who will be the next head man down at UF? It's certainly a destination job, perhaps moreso than Notre Dame at this point. I know it will be followed very closely by many, including myself, over the days to come.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Hokie Hi, Retriever low

There are some inconvenient truths in the world of college sports. For example, if you play in the America East conference, you can reasonably expect to lose to an ACC team in college basketball. Those odds increase astronomically if your team is 1-9 and your opponent is 9-1. But I can’t say I expected to catch quite the whooping I witnessed live and in person as UMBC played Virginia Tech in Blacksburg and the Hokies prevailed, 71-34..

While I'm sure it's not a stat that's kept anywhere, allow me to note one that I think is fairly telling about the game as a whole: It was with 2:41 remaining in the first half that UMBC's offense finally broke into double digits. We were extremely turnover-prone and couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. Surprisingly enough, though, our defense wasn't too bad, all things considered, but giving them the ball for myriad opportunities certainly didn't do us any favors in that regard. By the end of the game I was hoping we'd either break 30 or break records for our performance--at least then I could say I was there when...

I can't speak much to the Virginia Tech experience, although I wouldn't mind going back. Before making the trip, I talked to a high school friend of mine who is an alum to find out where to grab a bite to eat when I got to town. He recommended several places, and I went to a Champs Sports Bar on Main Street, half expecting to rub elbows with the Hokie faithful and take some good-natured ribbing for being in black and gold. Instead, we arrived around peak dinner time and were the only patrons in the whole place. The food was delicious and it seemed like it would be a hopping establishment, but of course it's three days before Christmas.

The Cassell Coliseum is about half the size of the Dean Dome, and from what I can tell (from my vantage point in the very last row) there's not a bad seat in the house. Again, I can't really judge the audience based on the timing. But I was disappointed that there were no pep band, dance team, or cheerleaders present. I recognize the timing, but even UMBC was able to pull together the key players for the games over break. I know--I was the one on the road from Wilmington to Baltimore on many a December or January evening.

All in all, I think if there's anything we can take away from this game, it's that you can't take anything away from this game. It was horrendous on UMBC's part, but I think, despite our current record, this was truly a fluke on the part of the Dawgs. Here's hoping they pick it up when they get into conference play.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Get them before they get you

The Big Ten has recently announced its renewed efforts to seriously consider expansion. There's fear in the Big East that it could lead to a raid of the conference, much as the ACC did a few years back, as Rutgers, Syracuse, Pitt, and WVU have all been mentioned as potential candidates. Such a raid could be fatal to the Big East as a football conference, and certainly as one with an BCS automatic bid, unless a plan is put together to keep the coffers full.

I'll first state that if I were the Big Ten, none of the schools mentioned would be my first choice. To me, being a Midwestern conference is a crucial part of the Big Ten's identity. Penn State is the one outlier, and some would argue that their piece of Pennsylvania has quite a bit in common with the Midwest anyway. So while they may want to reach further east--particularly if Syracuse or Rutgers can give them some headway into the New York media market--it would dilute one of things that defines them.

To me, Mizzou is the obvious choice for expansion. They have an identity similar to many other Big Ten institutions as a flagship, land grant institution in the Midwest. Their university, team, and band would fit right in. And the conference rivalry they'd lose with Kansas on their western border would be replaced by Illinois to the east.

Still, while the possibility looms that the Big East could be raided, perhaps we should be proactive, not reactive. It is tough because the Big East has more to consider than just football. Fielding an unwieldy mega-conference in basketball makes it hard to think about adding a 9th member for football, knowing that we'd balloon to 17 in basketball. But awaiting a raid and reacting would leave us in the same 8 team predicament we currently have, and there's no guarantee that whoever we add would add value to the conference, particularly if a heavy hitter like West Virginia should be taken.

My thought? Send a care package down to Fort Worth and invite TCU. Granted, it leads to a loose interpretation of the word "East" in Big East, but then again, the Big "Ten" hasn't let mere definitions stand in the way of expanding to 11 and possibly 12. For that matter, TCU's Dallas-Fort Worth neighbors the Dallas Cowboys play in the NFC East, so there's precedent. TCU brings a proven winner in football who would only get stronger in a BCS auto-qualifying conference. They bring fertile recruiting ground in the state of Texas. And they bring the DFW media market, which is the fourth largest metro area in the United States, giving the Big East presence--between football and basketball--in four of the top five metro areas in the US.

Granted, there are challenges. In addition to the struggles of a 17-team basketball league, there's also travel to consider, and TCU would certainly be an outlier. Still, the increased stability for the Big East and the BCS autobid and legitimate shot at a national championship that TCU has lacked makes this a potentially strong move. Let's be proactive, not reactive.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Stealth National Championship

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that both Texas and TCU both win their bowl games, and, for clarity's sake, Cincy loses. Jerry Jones has a big stadium in Texas that won't be in use come January and money to blow. What's to stop him from inviting his state's two undefeated teams to play in a *wink wink, nudge nudge* "exhibition" game a week after the MNC game?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Boise State and TCU to the Back of the Bus

OK, perhaps it's in poor taste  comparing this country's unsavory history with race relations to college football, but Boise State and TCU were certainly put in the "Colored Only" section of this year's BCS. Matching the two of them up was clearly quarantining the schools from non-auto-qualifying conferences so they couldn't get out and infect (read: beat) and of the big boys. 

It's ridiculous, and it's an entirely transparent move to continue to consolidate the power amongst the power conferences. After all, one BCS buster a year makes for a good Cinderella story and great television. Two threatens the very system they swore to uphold.

LaGarrette Blount = Devon Miles

OK, it's a band-nerdy analogy, but follow me on this. Both got in trouble for an on-the-field incident. Both were removed for what was originally thought to be the rest of their season/career. And yet, both were given the opportunity to come back when the stakes were high--Devon for the drum-off at the Big Southern Classic, and LaGarrette with the Rose Bowl on the line.

Let Sleeping Dawgs Lie

UMBC is looking to change its athletic logo, and is currently letting students, faculty, staff, and alumni vote for one of three choices for the new logo. After carefully examining all of the options set before me, I cast my vote--by writing to my dear alma mater and requesting that they keep the current logo.

I don't necessarily hate the new logos; I just don't think any of them are demonstrably better than the current logo. But to me, there are several issues with the thought of making this change.

The first two are procedural. This may or may not be a tenet to logo redesign, but it's one that I believe in, and I personally think is somewhat intuitive. Rule number 1: Go hard or go home. Each of the designs presented features the same design elements as the current logo: The "UMBC" arc with the retriever's head in front of it. IT would seem to me a small change is no change at all. For a contrasting example, I arrived at USF right around the time that they were changing  from the "Iron Bull" logo to the new "Iconic U" logo. This change was significant, and even included a change in the school colors--from green and gold (yellow) to green and gold (tan/metallic). It was truly a rebranding, as opposed to the current proposal which is, at best, a reorganization.

My second issue I hope will not offend anyone. I mean no disrespect to the folks in creative services at UMBC, at least one of whom is a friend of mine. They do great work and always make UMBC look good. But for a logo redesign, I think it would be prudent to go with someone from outside the university; someone who can look at the opportunity to rebrand with fresh eyes and from an outsiders perspective. it may be that the team responsible for the redesign was already quite close to the situation, both as employees and potentially as alumni as well. This could be part of the similar looking options.

That said, I realize that we don't have the easiest logo to overhaul. We lack one identifying characteristic that is utilized in a lot of university logos: A "power letter," or single identifying letter. We are a university of four letters, no one more important than another. Even emphasizing the "BC" highlights the fact that we are the only non-community-college with "county" in our name, not to mention looking like Boston College. It also doesn't particularly help that we are a very specific breed of dog-- a Chesapeake Bay Retriever, and as such our logo being at least a distinctive likeness is important.

Nowhere have I seen it said why there is a need to even change the logo, but if I had to guess, I would think that part of the reason is that they feel the current logo looks too "friendly." Granted, it's not the fiercest, but hey, it's ours. What's more, if that's the concern, there are derivatives of the logo that can be used: Simply the UMBC arc, or an unsanctioned but sometimes used alternate logo: A dog's paw.

This brings me to another point: UMBC has never really utilized a "logo family" concept--that is, several related logos that are derivatives of the same piece. Here at UNCG, where I work, the logo family concept is in full effect; USF supplements the iconic U with the USF wordmark and the bull shield. UMBC really only has the arc as an offshoot.

In each of the proposed new logos, white is a prominent color. While white is used by nearly all athletic programs (often for away football uniforms and home basketball uniforms), the issue comes with the fact that athletically, UMBC's colors are black and gold, while Towson University across town utilizes black, gold, and white. Why would we want to be so close to the school in the Baltimore metro area that is probably the most like us?

The page that shows the options for the new logo also links to logo trends as a means of justification for the change. If the double-stroked text is important as they say (and mind you, the options here are triple-stroked, or perhaps double-stroked and shadowed) why not either stroke in black-gold-black or use the white simply as one of the interior strokes?  The logo trends page also points out that schools are using more cartoonish and proper-colored mascots, which explains the brown dogs on the options. In addition to further serving to de-emphasize our colors as black and gold, this poses a problem for cheap reproduction in the form of one-color imprint t-shirts. I own UMBC shirts that are a one color black imprint on a gold shirt, which suffices for an accurate display of our logo while still keeping the cost down. This is no longer an option when black, gold, white, and brown all need to be incorporated.

Now on to the selfish pieces. As an alumnus, I stubbornly want to see the logo stay as it was when I graduated (though I would welcome a marked improvement). As a donor, I donated a custom bass drum head to the pep band a couple years back and would rather not see it rendered obsolete. And I've got a good amount of UMBC merchandise which, of course, bears the current logo.

Interestingly enough, the page that shows the options also shows the current logo amongst logos from the area and from the rest of the America East conference. In both cases, our logo fits quite well. Why, then, is there a need for a change? While I mentioned in this post a change I'd welcome, I see no reason for that or another change that this point. Still, at the end of the day, I love my alma mater, and I'll support whatever new logo we may have. Here's hoping they hold on to what we've got.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Just like the real thing

I'm watching the Civil War and I'm rooting for the North... Oregon State, that is. I tend to like Oregon a bit--maybe a bit of Stockholm Syndrome from the whooping they handed us in the Sun Bowl--but this is all in the name of Politicking. Oregon State as the Pac-10 champs means that Cincy--who I want to see in the BCS title game--will have defeated a conference champion and Rose Bowl representative. It'll strengthen their resume, and while I don't think anything will propel them into the title game should Texas win the Big XII title game, it puts Cincy in the drivers seat should they falter, provided they can still take care of business against Pitt. Besides, should they go undefeated, beat a conference champ and still get snubbed, it gives the Bearcat faithful something to bitch about, and after all, isn't that what college football's all about?

Champions Live Here

Interesting note: five of the six BCS conferences will engage in de facto championship games this weekend, with  the Big Ten being the odd man out. In the Pac-10 and Big East, Oregon State and Pittsburgh hope to make Oregon and Cincinnati share their crowns while snatching the BCS bids; the SEC, Big XII, and ACC, of course, all have proper championship games. It's an exciting weekend.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

215 is The Answer

It's official--Allen Iverson is once again a Philadelphia 76er. And it's like welcoming an old friend home.

True enough, AI isn't always the nicest person to have around. But the fact is, neither are Philly sports fans.  It's a match made in Heaven. or Hell. or Philadelphia.

Regardless of whether he would have never played another 48 minutes or played on for 48 more years, AI was meant to retire a Sixer. The one year he got in Philly may be enough for him to get his swan song and maybe even bow out gracefully.

This seems to be essentially a cut-buddy situation that both sides know about. I don't think either side has the delusion that AI + Sixers = championship. The East alone is too strong for that, and it would have taken a lot more work from the Sixers in the off-season to even be competitive. But AI'll get to be a starter and get adulation as long as the Philly fans can stand him (and let's face it, even once that's up, there'll be love in the boos), and the Sixers will get the butts in the seats that come along with the last Sixer we ever truly loved. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tiger Pride

Following a 10-0 regular season, a #1 seed, and a first round bye,  A.I. duPont High School stepped into the state playoffs for the first time in 27 years and first ever in Division I.  Me, Megan, and my younger brother James, a fellow AI alum headed down to Tiger Stadium for the game.

The first thing we noticed was the insanity of the entire scene. Parking was no longer available anywhere on AI’s grounds, and we ended up packing with many others in the shopping center across the street. Because of this, I missed all of St. Mark’s pre-game field show, save for what I heard through the windows when finding parking, so I don’t have any band smack from that. Upon entering the stadium, our first pass was in from of the band, where I got to say hello to Mr. Parets, my former band director, and Rich, the assistant director, who I marched with back in my high school days. Mr. Parets made it a point to call up to the band and introduce me as the 1999 president of bands, which was quite well received by a band who, if nothing else, knows the importance of history to this great organization. Similarly, Rich mentioned my cymbal acuity to the drummers who were right up at the front. It was cool and humbling at the same time.

From there it was off in search of seats, of which there were none. We ended up settling into some standing room near the end of the stands, partially obscured by other fans, though we were able to move up when some folks who clearly were unfamiliar with AI football games actually left the stands during halftime.

AI lost the game. The team ran an option offense with no true passing threat, and St. Marks had it sniffed out fairly quickly, prevailing 10-8 in a defensive battle. What was interesting is that in our immediate vicinity were quite a few adults who didn’t seem, at least not based on their commentary, to be the parents of current players, but rather were other adults who had, for whatever reason, hitched their hopes and dreams to AI football. The feeling of desperation and futility from some of these grown men made me feel like I was among Eagles fans, which, given the locale, I probably was. Still, while there was plenty of yelling going on, I was pleased at least that it was directed towards the coach and not towards the teenagers playing their hearts out on the field.

As for me, despite the scoreboard, I had a great time. I saw quite a few folks who I hadn’t seen in years, got to see the Tiger Marching Band perform a field show for the first time in nearly a decade, and got to  once again set foot in a stadium where I spent so much of my high school career. And yes, I watched AI lose a football game, but I had done plenty of that in my days as well. While I’m not a believer in moral victories and truly believed we could make a run at states, it was awesome to be playing football on Thanksgiving weekend.

The loss brings me to an interesting topic however; Generally I don’t believe in curses or jinxes, and I’m certainly not arrogant enough to think that if they do exist, I’ve got anything to do with them. Still, merely by observation, every time I’ve gone to see one of my alma maters play in the postseason, they have lost. UMBC lacrosse lost in tournament games I attended in 2007 and 2009. UMBC basketball lost in their one and only men’s basketball tournament appearance in 2008 in Raleigh. USF lost its first bowl game in the 2005 Meineke Car Care Bowl. USF men’s soccer lost in the Elite Eight at Wake Forest in 2008. And of course now AI football lost a playoff game where I was present. That’s quite an unfortunate track record I’ve got. Still, it won’t prevent me from getting out and supporting my teams whenever I can—here’s hoping I get the chance this upcoming bowl season.

Live from I-70 Westbound

Or rather,  “recorded live”, as the old oxymoron goes. I’m on the way back from the mid-Atlantic for Thanksgiving (don’t worry, I’m not behind the wheel). To continue the TV analogy, this will be a clip show of sorts; a few things I had intended to write about at one point or another but never got around to.

-Several weeks ago, I made my way out to a UNCG club lacrosse game. I know a couple of the guys on the team, and I’m a lacrosse fan,  so I had been meaning to make my way out for some time, but only just now got to it. This particular game they were playing App State and were raising funds for the HEADstrong Foundation.

The club scene was a marked but welcome difference from varsity athletics. There was a decent crowd for the intramural field space where they played, and near as I can tell, it was mostly parent and friends of the players, a decent sized contingent from App, and maybe one or two who just longed for live lacrosse—I don’t know if the guy in the O’s shirt and Hopkins hat was related to anyone, but something tells me he’s a fan of the game.

I always enjoy being with people who are watching their first lacrosse game.  I’ve done it a few times, and one of the first reactions is always, “you mean they can hit each other with sticks?!” This rang true for one of the students in the stands, who later added, “I think this is my new favorite sport!” It was an enjoyable enough game, and it was good to se the guys play for at least a bit (I left early for a fraternity meeting). That said,  with all due respect to all the players on the field who played their hearts out, there’s a marked difference between watching club lacrosse in NC and varsity lacrosse in Baltimore.

-Slightly less long ago, I headed west to Winston-Salem to go to the Wake Forest-Florida State football game. My buddy James is an FSU alum and lives in Charlotte, and I told him if he comes up for the game to let me know and I’d come on over. I was rooting for FSU both because I was there with James and because it helped USF’s strength of schedule—in the grand scheme of things SoS was obsolete for us at that point, but  FSU was already having a down year, making our win against them look weak, so I wanted it bolstered for perception’s sake.

It was a noon game so we hit the lot at around 10 in the morning.  There was a decent FSU contingent there—so much so that James was unable to get tickets through his alumni association and had to buy them through Wake, though our seats in the stadium were still pretty strongly in garnet and gold territory. Maybe it was just the lot we were in, but it seemed the FSU folks were much heavier in the tailgate lot than the Wake folks were. It could be a function of FSU having a stronger football tradition than Wake, or, more broadly, Florida having a stronger football tradition than NC, but the Noles fans came to play. The Noles did the same on the field as well, leaving Winston with a win. The Marching Chiefs, however, did not show up. Wake’s band made a decent showing in the stands, but they committed a cardinal offense on the field: Their show was Spring and Summer (I learned later that they actually did all four seasons, but likely curtailed it because it was senior day and introducing all of the band seniors  cut into their time) and they played several pieces fitting the theme, including Appalachian Spring, Summer of ’69, and School’s Out for Summer. They had announced DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince’s Summertime among the lineup; them playing that consisted not of a band arrangement, but PUSHING PLAY on some sort of playback device and pumping it over the loudspeakers. Seriously?! Not even Hopkins has lobbied for that yet!!

Wake did have a couple of cool traditions. In one endzone is a grass hill known as “Deacon Hill” where spectators can sit out on the hill and watch the game. As we were preparing to leave the game, the announcer game over the loudspeaker to remind folks that anyone who came down onto the field would still need to leave through the stands. James and I both looked at each other to be sure we heard that right, and one of the security guards confirmed for us: They do invite fans down onto the field following each game. This isn’t hop the gate and risk the tasers, this is open invite. I thought that was really cool—the fans are not the enemy to be separated from the teams, but rather a group to be embraced. I don’t know if this is a function of them being a private school, or a smaller school, or in a not-particularly-football-mad area, but this certainly wouldn’t work in some of the more football-mad stadiums.

-Last Friday, UNCG men’s basketball began their home slate and with it their first season in the Greensboro Coliseum. We opened with Clemson, one of four ACC squads who will be visiting the Spartans this season and one of the six on the schedule for this year.

The student scene was electric, at least leading up to the game. In my campus programming capacity, I worked on the Basketball Kickoff Party, a campus tradition in its fourth year which was in transition as well with the move to the Coliseum. It went extremely well, and featured performances from the cheerleaders, dance team, and pep band—all affiliated with UNCG athletics—and Spartan Force Marching Band, a student organization that functions as an independent marching band in an HBCU style.

The atmosphere outside was no less vibrant. Last February 5, when UNCG played a one-off at the Coliseum, and student organizations made the most out of the opportunity to tailgate, despite the weather being below freezing. On a much more manageable November day, they were once again out in force. I only made a couple passes through the tailgate log, but it seemed that good times were had by all. The only problem? Some didn’t make it to the game in time. Still, when all was said and done, the student section was over 2,000 strong—more than student capacity for our entire on-campus gym—and I hope showing up is a tradition that continues in a big way.
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