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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

[CLASSIC] Getting Ready to Dance

With tonight's victory over #18 Louisville an amassing 12 conference wins with one game remaining, it's beginning to look undeniable that USF will find its way into the NCAA Tournament this year. While I realize it would take everything lining up just so, it's not lost on me that the possibility exists that my alma mater will be lined up for first and second round action right here in Greensboro. I'm reminded of the time my other alma mater, UMBC, made is first and so far only trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2008. Starting (and ending) their dance in nearby Raleigh, I was able to attend, but here, lifted from my LiveJournal with minimal editing, is the recap of the 24 or so hours in which I was That Guy.

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Alright, when I do something, I admit it. I own up to it. And so today, I'm confessing to you:

for 24ish hours, I was "that guy".

I think everyone knows what it means to be "that guy", though few can define it. You can be "that guy" about any number of things, and doing any number of things, and this time I was that guy about first round tickets.

So in case my excitement was transparent, I was a little bit stoked about the fact that the UMBC Retrievers are heading to their first ever NCAA tournament, and even more so that they'll be in nearby Raleigh for the game. So naturally, I was on the horn first thing yesterday in attempts to secure tickets. the UMBC Ticket Office had a pre-recorded message in the morning saying that info wasn't in yet and to check back in the afternoon. Ok, admittedly, I called back at 12 something. That's after noon, right? Same message, I tried back several more times over the next few hours until the message changed.

At some point, probably early in the 3:00 hour, I got a different message. It said that tickets were available to students, faculty, and staff only at this time. Admittedly, this is the point where I pertnear flipped my shit.

OK, so there was a question posed not long ago. It asked what, if anything, you feel entitled to. Frankly, I could think of very little. Well, I felt the burn of entitlement at this point. I'm a proud UMBC alumnus. I'm a 4-year starter with the Down and Dirty Dawg Pep Band. I'm a DONOR, for goodness sakes. How in the world are you gonna shut me out? Especially for some faculty and staff? I know, as a staff member of a university, that I like UNCG well enough, but damned if I should get the chance to go over some blue-and-gold bleeding, bona fide UNCG alum!

So that's when I got buck and decided to attempt to pull some rank. I e-mailed Tom Maier, Associate Athletic Director who oversees the ticketing process and also the pep band, so I actually know him. It was a nice e-mail, but I was pretty insistent that we should hear something for alumni.

And then? I start calling again. Calm down, man! I finally get a person at 4 something, who tells me that later that afternoon there should be some info about alumni. And then I have the nerve to worry if she was just making that up to shut me up!

But true to her word, at 5:36pm, less than 24 hours after the selection special began, the e-mail came through about ordering tickets. So I went ahead and did that and now I'm content.

Patience, Curtis. Patience.

Interesting note: Along with the tickets comes a reception with Dr. Hrabowski at the team hotel. Good stuff! And it actually includes tickets for the entire session, which means we also get to see Davidson-Gonzaga, a clash of the mid-Major titans that may be one of the more anticipated first-round matchups in the tournament.

So Friday, live, in living color, Megan and I will be in the place to be to watch our Dawgs take on Georgetown. A common sentiment for G-town opponents is "WTF is a Hoya?" I'll tell you what a Hoya is: DAWG FOOD!!

They don't call it Good Friday for nothin'.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Rose-Colored Glasses

From the time that any talk begane regarding a playoff in major college football, two conferences, partners towards a common purpose, have remained in stalwart opposition: The Big Ten and the Pac-12. Within the past few weeks, we learned that at least one's position has softened, as Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany put forth a proposal for a four-team playoff. Still, one part of his tune remains clear: Protect the Rose Bowl at all costs.

Indeed, the Rose Bowl has been the lynchpin to any postseason talk for the Big Ten and Pac-12, partners in the bowl game for the better part of seven decades. Since many have treated bowls and a playoff as though they are mutually exclusive, those two conferences have sided with the bowls, and specifically the Rose Bowl. And why shouldn't they? The Rose Bowl first came into existence over a century ago. It, and the Rose Parade, which predates the game by over a decade, have long been synonymous with New Year's Day in the United States. The Tournament of Roses festivities far predate bowl season becoming the corrupt, bloated, moneyed mess that is now is. Still, it's easy to see the Big Ten and Pac-12's previous stance as clinging to a singular event at the expense of progress.

Now full disclosure: I'm an east coast kid. I have no legitimate ties to the Big Ten or the Pac-12 save for a general admiration of the Big Ten's marching, and yet I share their reverence. For starters, I've been there. Not the game, mind you, but the Rose Parade, which I marched in my senior year of high school. In fact, if I may, I'll not-so-humbly point out that at five appearances, my alma mater has participated in Tournament of Roses festivities more than half of the Pac-12 and as much or more than 3/4 of the Big Ten. But it's more than that. The Rose Bowl, as much as any part of college football is about tradition. The parade. The fact that the contractually obligate the network to show at least a portion of halftime. The stubborn loyalty to appearances by those two conferences if at all possible. Even the fact that in a season rife with commercialization and corporate sponsors, the Rose Bowl at least forces theirs to take a back seat, being presented by Vizio as opposed to being the Vizio Rose Bowl. It is no mistake that we know it as the Granddaddy of 'em All.

While I am glad that Jim Delany has reversed course and we're now looking at a playoff option (interestingly enough, I've heard nothing from Larry Scott, Pac-12 commissioner) I am similarly glad that the commitment to protecting the Rose Bowl remains unchanged. In a college football landscape that is seeing century-old rivalries thrown out in the name of the money-grab that is conference realignment, it's nice to know that this stalwart may remain.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


last night, like 99% of the state of North Carolina, I watched the Tar Heels take on the Blue Devils, a fascinating game which was (unfortunately) won by Duke on a last second three by Austin Rivers.

But there was another game going on. In the earlier evening slot, USF played Pitt. Sadly, even knowing that Pitt's having a rough season of late, I made the dangerous assumption that USF was likely to lose. Still, I of course checked the score. told me that Pitt has won, 63-51. I didn't think too much of it and accepted that as truth

This was until later, either in the waning minutes of or immediately after Duke-Carolina. This is when I saw someone mention that Pitt had lost. I went back to the Worldwide Leader, and sure enough it reflected a USF victory over Pitt, 63-51.

What? Was I a bad fan? Had I looked as the score and assumed a USF loss instead of giving my team even a puncher's chance? Was I too wrapped up in one of the biggest rivalries in the country to give more than a glance to my own alma mater?

Turns out, as confirmed by reading over the game's "Conversation", that it was the folks at ESPN who had screwed up and indeed reported the wrong score. It was their screwup, not mine.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Basketball Window

It's probably blasphemous for me to say this from where I sit in Greensboro, North Carolina, but I give basketball less attention than perhaps it deserves.

Don't get me wrong, I love basketball, especially college basketball (though I'm paying a bit more attention to the NBA as the Sixers are doing well). The curse basketball suffers is that of overlap. While I've been attending games all season, there is a limited time that hoops gets the lion's share of my focus. From the start of the season until early January, college football rules the roost. I give the bulk of my attention to basketball following the BCS national championship game--in years that the Eagles are in the playoffs, this delay is longer--but it fades again come mid-February, drawing even at best and sublimated at worst by college lacrosse. Conference tournaments and March Madness bring it back to ride out the rest of the season.

All that said, however, I talked college hoops at the beginning of the season with someone far more knowledgeable than I, Brian Joyce, one of the SEC writers for You can give that a listen here.

Now that I am in my hoops heyday, a few things worth noting. I already said a good deal of my current landscape talking about Coach Miller and the situation here at UNCG. UMBC is, sadly, in the midst of another abysmal season, but USF is--somewhat surprisingly--holding their own in the Big East currently. In big news in both my conference and my state, tomorrow night will feature two big rivalries--Syracuse-Georgetown and North Carolina-Duke. And while Greensboro will not play host to the ACC men's tournament this year (though women's will be here), we do still get some first and second round action (yes, I refuse to refer to the opening round as the "first round") that I may try to attend.

So while I realize some of you have been celebrating for months, happy basketball.

Friday, February 3, 2012

It's Miller Time

You may notice I don't post about the school where I work much. I work at UNCG and am a season ticket holder for men's basketball, but despite seeing that program live more than any other team I follow, I remain silent by design. Why? To some degree, I'm too close to the situation. I work closely with the folks in Athletics, I co-advise the now-resurgent student spirit group, and every now and again I may even be privy to some sensitive information. Moreover though, I make it a point not to badmouth my employer or our students, and I don't think I'm overstepping my bounds to say that until recently, on the subject of men's hoops, there wasn't much to say that wouldn't be construed as such.

Back in December, the Spartans and then-Coach Mike Dement parted ways. Assistant Coach Wes Miller became the interim head coach, and in doing so, became the youngest coach in Division I at 28 years old. Prior to the change, the Spartans had two wins on the season: One against D-II UNC Pembroke, and one that fed the losing streak that Towson only recently broke. While it took Coach Miller a few games to get his legs under him--and, admittedly, a couple of those were games we had no business winning anyway--the Spartans are currently riding a seven game win streak, including five straight at home in the Greensboro Coliseum. While it's not over, and not quite a worst-to-first tale, the Spartans are sitting atop the Southern Conference's Northern Division under Miller's leadership. Watching the team, they have a new energy about them, and attending Spartan games is far less of a funeral and far more of a party. Time will tell if this holds up, or if Miller will be invited to remove the "interim" tag from his title, but right now there is more excitement surrounding Spartan basketball than I've ever seen.
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