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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Hall of Champions

As a proud alumnus of UMBC, I'm pleased to welcome Tim Hall as the new athletic director. Upon hearing of Dr. Charles Brown's retirement, I was excited for him, a man who has led our athletic department in stellar fashion for two and a half decades, but I didn't know what to expect in whatever man or woman would succeed him in the role. While I don't know a whole ton about him, I'm already pleased with what I've seen. Here's a peek at his introductory press conference.

A few notes:

  • As I've let on before, my career is in student affairs. At UMBC, our athletic department falls within the Division of Student Affairs; I've known Dr. Nancy Young, the Vice President for Student Affairs who leads the video, since my days as an undergraduate when she was over Residential Life.
  • I only just heard of the new events center, but I'm excited!
  • Tim Hall will only need to change one letter from his previous institution - UMKC - to this one. He also goes from one unorthodox mascot (Kangaroo) to another (Chesapeake Bay Retriever). 
  • The default currency for the ceremonial jersey is a football jersey. At schools without, a basketball jersey is likely next in line. I love that at UMBC, it's a lacrosse jersey.
I'm excited for what the future holds for UMBC. From an alumnus, fan, and former member of the Down and Dirty Dawg Band, Welcome, AD Hall.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Show Announcement - The Marching Podcast

Faithful readers, I'm pleased to share with you that tonight, 6/18/2013, at 9pm Eastern, I will be featured in an interview with The Marching Podcast's "Choppin It Up" series. A few months ago, I sat down with Marching Podcast founder Joe Beard and recorded a podcast talking about what I do over here at 80 Minutes and a bit of my own marching past, and that show airs tonight. You can listen to it live at the link below. And don't worry if you miss it - you can listen to the replay at the same link. I hope you enjoy!

Check it out here!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Changing of the Crown

A little insight into the psyche of myself and probably many others out there. When I have something I know I'm going to write about, I get it spinning in my head far before I ever put fingers to keyboard. With this one in particular, I found myself thinking in swears every time it came to mind. I give fair warning this won't be my best work, but I'll at least keep it PG.

Carolina Crown has new uniforms. I hate them.

The new uniforms became common knowledge this past weekend as Crown presented its preview show at Gardner-Webb University. I became aware via the forums on Drum Corps Planet, linked above (both out of respect for the posters whose pictures I'd be stealing and desire to keep my distance from those uniforms). You may say hate is a strong word. It is, and I may soften on that stance, but my visceral first reaction was somewhere in the realm of "Dear God No!"

One of my problems is simply a agree-to-disagree difference of opinion. The red-on-purple of the pants has never been a color combination of which I've been fond. The Red Hat Ladies make it work, but that's about where it stops. There are other elements - the hat style, the 3/4 length sleeves, the asymmetrical collar - that I consider different simply for different's sake, and I tend to be a traditionalist, but again, that's just a difference in design aesthetic. I'd probably find this uniform unattractive on anyone, but your mileage may vary.

My primary issue, though, is what seems to be the uprooting of a major brand element for the corps. Crown isn't the first corps ever to change uniforms - in fact, this isn't even the first time they have undergone a drastic change themselves - but their recent brand has been that of the Cream Team. One small silver lining I see in this uniform is that it reintroduces the purple that they got away from, but by and large, the new uniform shares no colors and few design elements from previous iterations. It's essentially a complete reboot, and while that isn't always a bad thing, it is a significant change.

Another issue I have with the change is that it seems to be a cop out. Crown has risen as high as a second place finish, and need only the slightest change to bring home the gold. Because dark colors hide inconsistencies in leg movements better than light colors, might this be a trick to look cleaner and pick up those extra tenths of a point? I have no clue if that's their motivation and don't want to cast aspersions, but if that was part of the thought process, I will remind them that both Phantom Regiment and The Cadets have gotten it done in light pants.

True enough, this isn't the Cavaliers ditching the trademark green - that would be DCI's equivalent of the Yankees changing their pinstripes. Carolina Crown is a much younger corps, and perhaps at 25, they're having their quarter-life crisis. A fitting analogy would be Tampa Bay's rebrand from the Devil Rays to the Rays, and the color changes that came with it. Still, while I didn't love that one either (for a Bay area denizen, the old Rays style paired nicely with USF Bulls gear) I didn't have quite the design disconnect that I've got with this one.

I'm a Carolina Crown fan, and I'm not doing anything silly like denouncing my fandom over this. In fact, in the grand scheme of drum corps, this wouldn't be the first time Crown has made me like - or at least tolerate - something I wasn't thrilled about, voiceovers and electronics being among them. We'll see as the season wears on how I feel about the uniforms, but I doubt anything will change the fact that I'd rather see them in cream.

Here's another insight into my writing psyche: Sometimes I start out intending to say one thing, and through the process of writing, convince myself of something different. Perhaps I don't hate Crown's new uniforms.

But I damn sure don't like them.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Go B1G or Go Homewood

Looks like the Big Ten is finally getting that highly touted perennial independent they've been after.

Johns Hopkins University will reportedly announce today (here, in fact, if I've posted this in time) that they are joining the Big Ten as an associate member in men's and women's lacrosse. The announcement runs concurrently with the Big Ten's acknowledgment that they will sponsor lacrosse as a conference; the addition brings them to the requisite six teams for the Big Ten's own standards and, more importantly, a tournament autobid.

In doing such, the Big Ten, not the ACC, will be the first of the major conferences to sustain a true lacrosse conference. The ACC's four team consortium will briefly balloon to six for the 2014 season, after Syracuse and Notre Dame join but before the Terps leave, and the Big East will find themselves at six once more after the league split by bringing in Denver (major Eastern metropolis that it is), but one would be hard-pressed to call them a major conference any more.

It was a calculated, power move by the Big Ten. In adding College Park and now Hopkins, they have added instant legitimacy to a lacrosse conference that has yet to form. I don't know if the ACC ever made a play - frankly Hopkins should have been theirs to lose - but the Big Ten reaffirmed that they are an East Coast conference just as much as a Midwestern one. The brand-name-on-brand-name synergy with the Big Ten and Johns Hopkins should be good for the sport, and at least on the men's side, they pair off into nice little rivalry/potential rivalry couplets: Hopkins-UMCP, Ohio State-Michigan, and Penn State-Rutgers. The Big Ten Network gets more product, while lacrosse stands to get more televised games. It even makes me hate the College Park to the Big Ten move a bit less. And to give lip service to the academic side of things, Hopkins is a great fit for the Committee on Institutional Cooperation.

It's a rare major conference move not motivated by football or even basketball.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Stars and Gradients Forever

Soon after the Big East announced that the new name for the contingent that won't retain the Big East name would be the American Athletic Conference, they announced that the logo would be coming soon. I've been looking forward to it, as I enjoy seeing a new conference, especially my own, take shape.

Consider me underwhelmed.

Look, as I've already stated, I've got no problem with The American as our conference name. I also recognize that once you go that route, the use of red, white, and blue is pretty self evident. This isn't what bothers me. Rather, I'm not a fan of the fact that the designer chose to make glorified WordArt with all of the My First Day with Photoshop tricks. "Outline? You betcha. Drop shadow? You're damn right. Gradient? Yes please!" That, with the unnecessarily asymmetrical star (I'd love to hear the rationale here. Is the long arm pointing towards the conferences northeastern beginnings?) makes for what I believe is a weak looking logo.

If you're going to be the American, why not go all out? I don't claim to be an artist; what follows is my proverbial napkin sketch. The sort of thing I'd draw up at a bar to convey and idea and give to someone who actually had the skillset to pull it off. Behold:
You've got stars. You've got stripes. You've got the likeness of Old Glory. And what's more, you've got room for growth. The logo's primary peel off, the Starred A, currently contains 10 stars, representing each of the ten members that will begin play with the league in 2013. In 2014, when the league adds one more (or more accurately, loses two and gains three), an eleventh star can be added at the apex of the A, much as our national flag adds stars when new members join. Finally, in 2015, when The American adds Navy and reached its full (as we know it) capacity, a twelfth star can be added to the crossbar.

That's it. It's simple - most of the conference logos are. Someone with some font expertise could make it distinctive. The Starred A could look sharp on fields and uniforms, especially if adjacent to or opposite the American Flag itself. I would have loved to see the conference go this route.

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