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Saturday, October 31, 2009

It's gonna be a good weekend

Nothing like a win on a Friday (or Thursday) night to know the weekends gonna be A-OK.

The Bulls got a big one tonight against West Virginia in Tampa to halt the mid-season skid and notch one against a team that's perennially the class of the league but is now 2-3 vs. the Bulls, with two of our wins coming on Friday nights in Tampa. Hopefully this helps us right the ship and we can be competitive for the rest of the season.

I've never talked high school football in here. A brief history of my high school's team: It was standard practice to come to AI football games and leave after the band's halftime show. Tonight was our Homecoming game, and clearly I didn't make it back up to Delaware, but I was compelled to go online and check the scores. Turns out we beat Brandywine 55-0 to improve on the season to 8-0. Way to be, Tigers!!

Also going on this weekend: Game 3 of the World Series tomorrow night from Philly. The fact that this runs up against college football probably affects a surprisingly little amount of people. Sure baseball fans want to see the World Series, but consider the teams competing: the mid-Atlantic and Northeast aren't exactly hotbeds of college football. That, and the teams that do have regional interest there will all play earlier in the day. A game with Tri-State implications, Rutgers vs. UConn, will be played at 12 noon. Other New York schools in action, Syracuse and Army, also play early games. In the Phillysphere, Penn State and Temple (ha!) play early as well. 

And if you're a New York sports fan looking to take a road trip, Sunday in Philly is the place to be. May I suggest setting up your tailgate right between Citizen's Bank Park and Lincoln Financial Field. Eagles play Giants at 1, and then it's Yanks at Phillies at 8. Sounds like a helluva day!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Trunk or Treat!

To continue on the regional theme: I currently live in the South, which, I'm willing to wager, is the region of the country with the most churches per capita. I've lived in NC for over four years now, and before that I lived in Tampa (which I consider my gateway drug to the South). It's been since I've been here in NC that I've been seeing church signs advertise for "Trunk or Treat." I'm surprised it's taken me this long to actually look it up, considering how quick on the google-fu I tend to be, but I've always thought: What in the heavens is Trunk or Treat? I figured surely it was a church attempt to get out of the witches-and-devils view of Halloween, or maybe even the mean aspect implied in the "trick," but couldn't for the life of me figure out what the "trunk" part referred to. I just figured I hadn't spent enough time with my bible and was missing something.

On my way home from work today, I passed one of the churches that's been advertising and saw what most certainly must have been Trunk or Treat. I came home and googled it to be sure that's what I had briefly witnessed and came across this Trunk or Treat article. It describes Trunk or Treat as "a Halloween event that is often church or community-sponsored. People gather and park their cars in a large parking lot. They open their trunks or the backs of their vehicles and decorate them. Then they pass out candy from their trunks. The event provides a safe family environment for trick or treaters."

Well I'll be! Halloween tailgating! Sign me up!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Getting Territorial

I am a native mid-Atlanticker and I wear it proudly. For reference, my personal definition of the mid-Atlantic is the states on the I-95 corridor between DC and NYC; inclusive of DC metro, and exclusive of NY metro. It includes NoVA, DC, MD, DE, PA and all of Jersey but North Jersey, where, in my definition, the Northeast begins. As such, I cling pretty hard to that which I consider to be mid-Atlantic, however rationally.

Utz Potato Chips are a product of Hanover, PA and widely associated with the mid-Atlantic. A clever billboard in Baltimore, for example, depicts National Bohemian's Mr. Boh proposing to the Utz girl. And, of course, Utz is widely regarded as part of the snack food industry in its home state of PA, which includes Snyders of Hanover and Hersheys chocolate.

I say all that to say: When the Phillies take on the Yankees in the World Series, I don't want to see a damn Utz advertisement in Yankees Stadium.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Intercollegiate Athletics at its Finest

I'm not a Potterhead. In fact, to the disbelief of most, I started reading the Harry Potter books and stopped somewhere in the middle of one. I've seen all but the most recent of the movies and enjoy them, and from knowing people who are bigger fans I think I know the general gist of the series, but I wouldn't consider myself a Potterhead by any means.

That said, to use the series' native British vernacular, intercollegiate quidditch is bloody brilliant.

The mental_floss blog wrote all about the Quidditch World Cup, which took place this past weekend. I'll let you read the link for the details, but essentially, 20 collegiate teams faced off in a competition which was as quidditch as you can get without the ability to fly.

Professionally, I work in the field of student activities, and I look forward to the moment a quidditch club walks through our doors looking to form.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Time Is Now

As I've said in this blog before, of my four major "sports" seasons (football, basketball, lacrosse, drum corps) basketball is the sport I follow the least in the off-season. It's not that I care any less about basketball than the others, but to me, basketball is a lot more about the now, where in the others there's so much for me in the antici... (say it!) ...pation.

That goes double for the NBA, because I think I anticipate college ball a little more than pro ball, but I did pay a bit of attention this off-season, and what I saw? Stagnation. The Sixers were a playoff team last year (which I realize is no huge feat in the NBA), but in the off-season, when the big players in the East were making moves, the Sixers were decidedly quiet. The Cavs added Shaq. The Celtics added Sheed. The Magic added VC. The Sixers? Added a new logo--which, by the way, was the old logo. OK, so we did add a new head coach, and I'm looking forward to the Eddie Jordan era, but let's be honest--he's a Rutgers alum.

That said, as we speak, I'm watching the first game of the season, as two of the Eastern conference players, Cleveland and Boston, battle it out. The season is pregnant with possibility. Anything can happen. The time is now.

Monday, October 26, 2009

But who needs New Jersey anyway?

The World Series is set, and it will feature the two largest metro areas on the East Coast, just over 90 miles, and nearly the entire state of New Jersey. It could tear the state in half.

No big loss.

My allegiances in this World Series are simple. Let me share with you two simple truths:

1) I am a Boston Red Sox fan.
2) I grew up in Wilmington, Delaware.

So yes, I will be rooting for the Phillies to repeat as World Series champions. You'll note that I say I'm rooting for the Phillies, but never claim to be a Phillies fan. I'm a Sox fan and don't intend to change that, but as a fan of Philly sports in general I of course want to see them do well.

That said? It's almost like a tease. The Phillies are the one Philly team that isn't my primary team in its respective sport--I don't follow hockey, but in a pinch I'd identify as a Flyers fan, and I definitely ride with the Eagles and Sixers. So for all of the city's sports success to go to the Phils does little to satiate my needs.

But I'll take it--especially at the expense of the Yankees.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Groundhog Day

GOTDAMMIT BULLS!!! Different year, same result. USF went up to Pittsburgh for a noon kickoff with Pitt, and we got run out of the Steel City to the tune of 41-14. Once again USF football nets a big OOC win in September (though the FSU win is no longer quite as lustrous) and once again we roll over once conference play begins. And once again, we're off to a 1-2 conference start, this year having beaten only Syracuse.

In the interest of not having to flag this blog for "adult content", I"m just going to say that I'm sick of this mess and spare you the profanity-laced tirade I'm prepared to embark on.

To be somewhat fair, I will note that Big East didn't do us any scheduling favors, lacing our October slate with consecutive games vs. Cincy, at Pitt, and vs. WVU. Each of those games is entirely winnable, but as two of three have shown thus far, they're also entirely losable. Especially by the Bulls, in the month of October. I'm starting to fear October as a Bulls fan like I fear the NFC Championship Game as an Eagles fan. But in either case, we need to get over that to actually be something. Unless, as I've half-jokingly suggested, we start stacking our non-conference games in the month of October. I don't know what it is, but it needs to change. I'll feel a whole lot better if we can manage to beat WVU on Friday night in Tampa, but I'm not holding my breath.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Let me make one thing clear:

Cincinnati is not a potential BCS buster.

I'll say that again.


Cincinnati plays in a BCS auto-qualifying conference. Lord knows I'd like to see them drop two (or one in a favorable tie-breaker scenario) but should they run the table and be one of only one or two teams to do so, they deserve to play for a national championship. Period.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Looking ahead

Around this time each year, I find myself feeling compelled to look forward to UMBC's lacrosse schedule for the coming spring. Perhaps fallball whets my appetite. Perhaps I've figured out that this is about when things start coming out. Maybe, just maybe, this is when USF football schedules its annual skid and I have to find something to look forward to.

Herein lies the rub: It'll still be over a month until our schedule is released. So I get a little stalkerish. Whenever teams release their schedules, I look to see if UMBC is on it. Last year, I had pieced together nearly all of our schedule before I first got confirmation via the Inside Lacrosse Yearbook. While I want to see our schedule, my ultimate goal is to see if the Dawgs'll be anywhere within easy reach, which essentially means Duke, Carolina, VMI, or in a pinch, UVA.

So far no big surprises: We'll be at Princeton this year as the second half of a home-and-home, and continuing to play Towson. The big one is that Carolina will be coming to town, which leads me to believe we'll probably be down this way in '11. The Carolina game is actually the first game of our spring break here, so if we make the trip up north, I may catch that game at UMBC. Maybe I'll just ride Carolina's team bus up.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

On the sporting landscape, there are a few times throughout the year that could deemed the most wonderful time of the year. Bowl season and March Madness immediately come to mind. But this past weekend certainly gets an honorable mention. Here's why:

-College football and the NFL are in full swing
-The NHL is getting underway
-The NBA is wrapping up the pre-season
-League championship series are taking place in MLB
-College basketball practices begin with Midnight Madnesses across the country
-College lacrosse is playing fallball
-NASCAR's Chase is at "home" in Charlotte
-Major League Soccer is in season

Essentially, every major sport in this country (and a few less-than-major ones) is in some form of action this weekend, and a lot of it is action with implications.

Friday, October 16, 2009


One final thought about last night's game against Cincy. Coach Brian Kelly is the real deal. What I think impressed me the most is that he had two quarterbacks with completely different skillsets who played in last night's game, and his offense completely changed looks, barely skipping a beat.

Inevitably, someone will offer Kelly a considerable amount of green to take an opening this off-season. As much as I don't look forward to losing to Cincy year in and year out, I hope Kelly sticks to his druthers and builds them into a powerhouse. As he said recently, Cincinnati is a top ten team, but not a top ten program. I think that if he continues with them, they can be both.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

They are who we thought they were!

#8 Cincinnati walked into Raymond James Stadium this Thursday night. And much to my chagrin, they walked out with a W.

I knew they were coming in highly ranked, unbeaten, with a Heisman hopeful at the helm and a quick pass attack that ran the risk of baffling our usually strong pass rush. They got the better of us, but not how I was expecting.

Pike (who, by the way, looks like he touches little children... just saying.) gave us the offensive attack that I expected, but I was quite impressed with Cincy's defense. "What if"s and "If only"s don't get you far, but I will note that Pike's offense, while potent, was one dimensional. Honestly, it was backup Collaros who came in after Pike was injured who truly picked us apart. He made us respect the run--both from him and his backs--and set up the passing game well. It's possible we could have figured out Pike, but again, who knows?

BJ Daniels looked a bit more like the redshirt freshman he is than he has in the previous two games. That's not a knock on him, but unfortunately, it's not necessarily what we thought we'd be looking at at this point in 2009. That said, he gives me a lot of the same cardiac arrest that Grothe did--did anyone else find them yelling at him to throw the damn ball away?! And yet actual misfortune in the form of sacks and turnovers didn't come often, at least not from his ill-advised scrambles.

Cincy's a damn good team, and I hope that either a) they lose two and USF wins the Big East, or barring that, b) they run the table and head to the national championship, where the Big East hasn't had representation since the exodus of Miami, Virginia Tech, and Boston College.

As for USF, we have yet to have a winning record through our first two conference games since joining the Big East in 2005. Each year we've started 1-1, and in each year but the first, we'd continue on to at least 1-2 before rebounding. Here's hoping we can pick up the pace next week and win at Pitt to get off to a better start.

Thursday night games are an interesting beast. First off, they make it really hard to concentrate and get anything done at work on Thursday. Win, and you're riding high on Friday, and sitting content by the Saturday games. Lose, and you've got a few more days to fester, though the Saturday games can help drown your sorrows and give you something to hope for as you root against teams ranked ahead of you to hopefully soften the plummet. Either way, you either fear that the pollsters forgot your win, or hope that the pollsters forgot your loss.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Eye of the Tiger

I'm watching the LSU-Florida game, which is easily the most anticipated game of the weekend. With the Bulls off until Saturday, I've adopted this as my must-see game of the weekend (which isn't to say I didn't watch several others as well). I don't even have a dog in this fight, I'm just hoping for a damn good game, and so far is has not disappointed.

I've got a decent sized TV and a pretty average sound system, but man, you can feel the energy from the stadium! It just makes me think of the fact that some day, when I'm independently wealthy (riiight...) there are a whole lot of stadiums I intend to one day visit.

I've always had a bit of a soft spot for the Golden Band from Tigerland. I think part of it has to do with my past as a Tiger myself (from high school) but they definitely put an exciting product on the field and in the stands. Every time I hear them play Neck though, I can't help but wonder if someone snuck across town to Southern to commandeer that tune.

Deja Vu

As your leading source for parallels between USF and UMBC (what can I say, it's a niche market) I'm sad to report that UMBC soccer is continuing to look like USF football of the past couple of years. I already mentioned the loss to UVM to start the conference slate 0-1. After winning vs. Stony Brook during the week, we just today dropped one vs. UNH, which means that despite starting the season 9-0, we're 1-2 in conference. Let's step it up, Dawgs! Meanwhile, USF has only had one conference game thus far, and it was Syracuse, so it's not beyond me that USF could very well stagger into the same fate. Cincy on Thursday under the lights at RayJay will be a hell of a test.

And now, for more yin and yang: On the offensive side of USF's premier Fall sport, we recently lost quarterback Matt Grothe in his senior year to an ACL injury. on the defensive side of UMBC's premier Spring sport, lockdown defenseman Bobby Atwell will be returning for his senior year after an ACL injury. Atwell could very well be starting his year of competition as we speak; UMBC lax is up outside of Philly right now competing in the 3rd annual Nick Colleluori Classic, where they'll play both Hofstra and Villanova today.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Different School, Same Tricks

This past Saturday, when USF opened Big East play at the Carrier Dome, I was a little nervous. Sure, it was Syracuse, who has been a cellar dweller in the Big East for a few years now, but the past two years USF has gone through the OOC schedule like gangbusters only to fall flat when conference play came around. So much as I'm trepidacious of the NFC championship game as an Eagles fan, the beginning of conference play caused a little anxiety for me as a Bulls fan.

We did, however, make it through the Cuse game. It remained a little close for comfort throughout the first half, but the Bulls pulled away in the second half. We're now 1-0 in conference and have a bye this week on our way to a Thursday night showdown with #8 Cincinnati.

UMBC, however, didn't fare quite so well. After starting the men's soccer season an unprecedented 9-0-0, they walked into Vermont, who at the time were a paltry 0-6-3. It was the Catamounts who walked out the victors, giving them a 1-0 conference record and starting the Dawgs off at 0-1. Here's hoping we don't go on a skid a la USF football the past two years. We get the first chance to redeem ourselves tomorrow night at home under the lights against Stony Brook.
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