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Monday, September 30, 2013

Marching Covered

I've been known to call out a marching-related article that I believe mailed it in, but I was quite pleased to see that a recent article in Rolling Stone didn't do that at all. In what they bill as "Ten Mind-Blowing College Marching Band Cover Songs", the foundational music magazine takes a foray into halftime, highlighting quite a few pop tunes that got field time. many of which I would've included myself, has I written such a list.

A few notables: I loved Temple's arrangement of All of the Lights since I first laid ears on it. Chris of All Subjects Everything fame said early on that he'd love to hear this particular Kanye tune coming off of HBCU horns, but having heard a few arrangements, I'm not sure anyone's done it quite like the Diamond Marching Band. Thrift Shop was the pop tune du jour during the end of this past pep band season, and who hasn't wanted to play a little Cee-Lo after a bad call from the refs? The Marching 110's rendition of Gangnam Style one one of the early viral hits, the likes of which spawned Amazing Happens Every Saturday.

On the flip side - by no means bad choices, just not my cup of tea - I'm not a big fan of the drop the beat, drop our instruments, and let the loudspeaker take over that that Michigan State did. And expecting Blurred Lines to find its way to a lot of fields this fall, I came across Jackson State's rendition early on, and to my surprise, the Sonic Boom of the South's rendition was a bit too marcato for my tastes, though it works better on the field than it does in the stands.

And then there's the University of Michigan's Beyonce medley. For a band so steeped in tradition, they're certainly changing the game with a modern take, using resources available to them in the Big House and truly embracing the Under the Lights of their big game. Their beginning, Destiny's Child's Lose My Breath, is particularly fitting: The tune starts with a drum riff borrowed from a Michigan Marching Band cadence.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

...Especially in Athens

I may have to amend the "Amazing Happens Every Saturday" tag to append "Especially in Athens", as I find myself recognizing the Marching 110 yet again.

Admittedly, I didn't even know of Ylvis' The Fox until both of my parents, independently, sent it to me as a song my daughter may like. And yet, I turn around, and Ohio's already all over it.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

BOTR Game of the Week, 2013 Week 5

I'd really love to take this week to highlight the Boombox Classic. Jackson State's Sonic Boom of the South and Southern's Human Jukebox is always highly anticipated, and I know the Marching Podcast - hosted by Jackson State alumnus Joseph Beard - will be covering it this week on the 90 Degree Show. Unfortunately, with no media coverage, there'll be no way to see this one live outside of Baton Rouge. And while the other band from Baton Rouge has typically been good for a feature, I cannot seem to confirm or deny if the entire Golden Band from Tigerland is making the trip between the hedges. So instead, I'll head north, as will the road band.

Last year, the victory over Oklahoma was Notre Dame's high water mark and when serious national title contention talks got louder for more than the folks who will say it every year because they're Notre Dame. This year, Oklahoma heads up to South Bend, and they're bringing the Pride with them. Recent controversy notwithstanding, it'll be a dual Sudler matchup between two historical football powers in the relative shadow of the College Football Hall of Fame. Thanks to the complete media coverage of Notre Dame via NBC, we should be able to see both halftime shows, as home Notre Dame halftime performances are typically available on


Notre Dame:

Friday, September 27, 2013

Strange Bedfellows

One of the biggest games this weekend features the Central Florida Knights, and I'm not sure how I feel about it.

On the one hand, there was a time, as a member of the Big East, that I believed in rooting for one's conference. This was in the days when we were the sixth of six power conferences. Every win bolstered a fragile national reputation, while every loss was a national "tolja so" from the Big Least crowd. In short. we all we got.

Ordinarily, a high profile matchup like UCF - now a member of the conference that's now called the American - vs. the SEC's South Carolina should send conference-backing into a tizzy. This is, after all, the opportunity to make a splash on the national stage, and it's pretty much at no cost. If UCF loses, it's because they were supposed to. If they win, it's huge. And yet, color me underwhelmed, even unsure of my rooting interest.

Here's where the difference lies. While my previous conference rooting was an act of survival, at this point, the die has been cast. UCF beating the Gamecocks won't change our lack of access after this year any more than Louisville's performance in their one and only year as a member of the American will. Rooting for UCF does me no earthly good, other than providing an interesting outcome on a fall Saturday.

But there's one other piece. We're supposed to be rivals. Long before we were conference mates, long before we had even met on the gridiron, it was ordained that USF and UCF are rivals. It makes logical sense. The two schools are of similar size, similar age, battle for the "best of the rest" after Florida's Big 3, and sit about an hour apart in central Florida's two principal cities. Maybe it's a corollary of the fact that I'm not from Florida and only lived there during my time at USF, but I don't feel it. Our only football meetings each resulted in a Bulls victory, including a 64-12 mollywhopping, and while I don't want to lose to them (spoiler alert: We're going to this year. Hope I'm wrong) it's more in the vein of not wanting your little brother to kick your ass. Now that we're conferencemates, a rivalry will no doubt continue to grow, but for the reasons stated so eloquently by the folks over at Voodoo Five, I can't get too up for it, at least not in games that don't involve my team. There is the minor storyline of our divergent paths that would be highlighted if they beat South Carolina while we get whooped by Miami (again, hope I'm wrong), but frankly, I can be upset about my team's plight in a vacuum.

So with the forces at play here, a lukewarm conference against a lukewarm rivalry? Let's keep it interesting. Go Knights.

High Notes 2013 Week 4

Earlier in the week, they received their 22.5 inches of hardware that's what she said? but the most recent Sudler Trophy winners were not content to rest on their laurels. While the Third Saturday in September hasn't meant what it once did when Tennessee was providing more competition, a rivalry is a rivalry, and the Gator Band came to play. While I didn't see a ton of the game, I did see and hear that even with the visiting Pride of the Southland there, the Pride of the Sunshine put in work.

From oranges to apples, my open playbook high note was the Apple Fest in Bethabara Park in Winston-Salem. I love fall for more than just football and marching band, and it was good to see the apple celebrated when folks tend to rush the pumpkin the moment Labor Day hits. As you may guess, the Apple Fest featured all sorts of apple treats, fresh picked apples for sale, BBQ (because North Carolina) and among the activities the racin' pigs of the Hogway Speedway.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Cut it out.

Courtesy of
For my day job - the one that pays me - I work with student organizations, specifically fraternity and sorority life. For those who aren't currently on a college campus, you may not be aware that it's National Hazing Prevention Week. I had pondered posting about it anyway, referencing some of the higher profile band hazing incidents of the past. Sadly, there's fresh nonsense to talk about.

Thirteen members of the Texas State Bobcat Marching Band, all from the drumline, are currently suspended and facing charges of hazing following an incident that involved blindfolding and alcohol consumption under the guise of "initiation".

Somewhere, someone is dismissing this as "harmless" or "minor". I couldn't disagree more. First of all the forced consumption is dangerous enough on its own. But as much as I'm typically not a fan of "gateway" or "slippery slope" arguments, incidents of hazing do tend to escalate. This activity is along the same continuum that has taken lives, and it's not ok. Fellow band folks: It's not making you play better. It's not making you bond better (except perhaps in the Stockholm syndrome or shared trauma senses, neither of which is healthy). Your putting yourself, your fellow students, and your organizations in jeopardy. Stop it.

Speaking of "harmless" - it pains me to no end that each year, usually around NFL training camps, major sports media folks (looking at you, Worldwide Leader) make light of the hazing that takes place aimed at league rookies. This is part of the norming that makes others thing this sort of thing is ok.

Elsewhere: Cornell men's lacrosse is suspended from fall ball due to hazing, or as the report succinctly codifies it:"presence of a culture within this group of treating new members as less than equals."

In closely related news, earlier this week I saw the Marching 100 for the first time since their return, via their video from the MEAC/SWAC challenge. There numbers looked a good deal closer to, well, 100, and they were marching just three drum majors. I'm sure they will return to full strength in time, but their decimation is of their own doing.

Professionally, I'm quick to point out that while mental images and assumptions surrounding hazing often point to Greek life, the problem extends beyond that community. And while I feel it is important to challenge those assumptions to put hazing in the proper framework, it brings me no joy; frankly, I wish it were a culture that were much smaller.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Not OK

The new band director at Oklahoma seems to be getting a vote of no confidence from many associated with the university. Justin Stolarik, the new director of the Pride of Oklahoma, has come under fire for changes that have been made in his brief tenure in Norman.

The criticism actually began prior to Stolarik even starting at OU The previous director, who served on the search committee, stated that he could not endorse Stolarik if he were the choice. In speaking with OU Daily, Gene Thrailkill seems to indicate that he feels the hire was done in a shady manner, not following what seemed to be standard procedure for search committees. Instead of an open vote, committee members were asked to e-mail their recommendations to the university president.

There is a lot at play here. First of all, it's actually quite pleasing that the university president has the final say in the hire of the band director - it shows that the institution considers a high level marching band a top level priority. That said, it also shows that the changes that Stolarik has made off the bat are the will - explicitly or implicitly - of the president. The Daily article indicates that there are donors, voting with their dollars, who sought change in the Pride's performances. Now that those changes are being made, Stolarik is taking flak from current and former band members and supporters.

Having seen both pregames, it's really just a matter of taste, though I can see why those who had an attachment to the previous iteration are none too pleased with the change. However, the issue seems to be just as much with the changes made as the man hired, or perhaps the manner in which he was hired. It's worth noting that Stolarik was selected over an internal candidate, and he was previously at Wisconsin; a lack of respect for the Badger Band and their national reputation in the band community is clearly at play here. There's no telling how Stolarik's station at OU will progress, but one thing's for sure, it's an unenviable position.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

FCS Gameday

The Delaware in me - and if you know me, you know there's plenty - feels compelled to weigh in on today's College GameDay, headed to Fargo, ND for a matchup between Delaware State and North Dakota State. This may be one of the oddest GameDay matchups ever.

The selection seems to appear at the nexus of two realities: A desire to honor the FCS level, specifically the two-time defending national champion North Dakota State Bison, and a weak slate of games at the FBS level. While that's noble, I'm not sure they'll shake the weak slate problem by attending this game, which is likely to be among the more lopsided GameDay matchups. The two-time defending national champions will take on the winless Hornets. In FBS terms, that's Alabama versus South Florida this year.  More than the inequity on the field, though, the crowd is likely to be exclusively Bison fans. Typically, because of the high profile of the game, visiting fans have a presence at GameDay. I even - very briefly - questioned if the Approaching Storm Marching Band would travel from DelState. But the trip from Dover to Fargo likely takes roughly six days and involves at least one transfer by stagecoach. And simply playing the demographics: DelState is an HBCU, albeit one of the more diverse ones, and the black population of North Dakota weighs in at a meager 1.2%. Combine this with the Hornets' relatively small alumni base, as a smaller institution, and the fact that even if you factor in non-alumni local fans, Delaware ranks 45th in total population (which still eclipses North Dakota's 48th) and you're not likely to se a whole lot of red and blue in Fargo.

I'm glad GameDay is giving FCS some burn, but it seems to me that if they are driven by the game or even the stories, they may have picked a different game, even from NDSU's slate, like the matchup with Northern Iowa. But given what's in front of us now, I'll be rooting for the improbable and backing my home state.

BOTR Game of the Week, 2013 Week 4

From the football standpoint, it's hasn't gone unsaid that this week's slate is particularly weak. It's not the strongest marching slate either, thought last night's Clemson-NC State matchup might've been worthy of inclusion. Instead, I'm going to betray my own east coast bias and take this week's matchup out west to the Holy War as the Marching Utes pay the Power of the Wasatch a visit.



Mighty Unsound Policy

There has been a bit of controversy brewing this week about the fact that in the matchup between the University of Maryland-College Park and West Virginia in Baltimore, the Pride of West Virginia will not be performing on the field. The issue is this: The Terps have a standing policy that at home games, the visiting band does not do halftime. While it is off-site in Baltimore, this is still a home game for the Terps, and they still make the rules.

Let me first say that from a band nerd perspective, I find this disappointing, but at face value, it's no big deal. There are plenty of reasons, and a variety of circumstances, that may prevent the visiting band from performing. Miami has stuck both Florida and Florida State in front row seats for the flyover on their last visits to south Florida. Other halftime priorities like Homecoming, donor recognition, or even Dr. Pepper pass for tuition type deals carve time out of an already finite halftime, potentially eliminating potential for a visiting band. So I'm not disappointed that West Virginia isn't getting to perform, but I find the blanket policy troubling.

When College Park announced the move to the Big Ten, I thought it was a bad cultural fit in many ways, but one of the primary mismatches was the band. I was - and still am - of the opinion that in a conference where 10 of the 12 current members hold Sudler Trophies, adding the Mighty Sound of Maryland and the Marching Scarlet Knights dilutes that tradition. This policy also flies in the face of what is - with little exception - a tradition of mutual respect among the bands in the conference. I don't know exactly how or why the policy came into being, but they certainly won't be making many new friends among their new conferencemates if it continues into the coming year.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

High Notes, 2013 Week 3

I really try and mix it up for this series, but there are times, especially in weeks where I don't watch a ton of football, where a repeat candidate is the only option.

When you're the reigning national champion, you get a lot of TV time, and you tend to get favorable edits. I'm certainly not claiming that that's what's propping up the Million Dollar Band, but man, are the mics attached to their bells? They come through loud and powerful on the air. Of course, the football team's excellence gives them plenty of opportunities to play, but it's clear to me that much as the Crimson Tide put in work, so does the Million Dollar Band. This week, they walked into another top notch band's house and asserted their will.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Amazing Happens Every Saturday

But here's the thing: Amazing happens every Saturday on football fields throughout the country, and a lot of it happens when the game clock isn't running. Amazing happens in a variety of marching styles, with a variety of musical offerings, and it happens largely out of the view of television cameras, and sadly, also out of the view of live spectators who take the opportunity to grab a beer instead of watching what's going on on the field. October 11, 2011

You may recall I debuted Amazing Happens Every Saturday last year, based on the fact that while some marching band shows transcend the field and go viral, there truly are amazing things happening each and every week. The early part of the 2013 season provides a few examples:

Michigan Marching Band - From Ann Arbor With Love

This was Michigan's show from back in Week 1. Playing music from the James Bond films is by no means a novel concept, but this particular show involves the university president, a nefarious plot involving their archrival, and Michigan Stadium's video board. It's the first time I recall seeing a marching show get this multimedia. If you've been following step shows put on by historically black fraternities and sororities over the past decade or so, you've certainly seen the art form evolve to include video, and with most stadiums having some form of jumbotron, the same evolution in marching music is a real possibility. For the record, while I enjoyed this show, I'm not sure how I feel about this becoming a regular occurrence. Call me a traditionalist.

Oklahoma State Cowboy Marching Band - Beatles

Typically, the shows that go viral have some element of pop culture involved - the latest pop tune, dance move, or a literal drill set that anyone can latch onto. While this show uses the music of one of the most popular bands of all time, what sets is apart is that it's just so well done. It's musically sound, and the drill is curvilinear for those who want it, literal for those who need it, and throws in some doses of school spirit, lest we forget why we're there.

Friday, September 13, 2013

BOTR Game of the Week, 2013 Week 3

The Best Damn Band in the Land is headed west, and it's not even bowl season.

Despite being one of the most recognizable bands even by those who care little about halftime, Ohio State's marching band has factored very little into Band on the Road posts since they began. For that matter, I haven't spent a ton of time on west coast bands either, mostly because my east coast bias runs a mile wide. But this week, TBDBITL's trip to Cal gets the nod because it's a particularly interesting matchup.

A big part of the reason that Ohio State hasn't gotten a ton of burn is because they haven't been great at updating the band calendar with travel, but I realize now it's also true that there hasn't been tons to say. The trip to Berkeley - and the band's doing in a good deal more than that while out west - is TBDBITL's first out-of-conference trip since Ohio State played Texas in 2006 down in Austin.

Moving a band with hundreds of people and hundreds of pounds of freight in the form of instruments doesn't come cheap, and doing it several times a season - especially over great distances - requires significant financial commitment. As OSU blog uncovered back in May, Ohio State is making that commitment. It's worth noting that keeping up with the Joneses in the SEC was a major impetus; as you'll note from this and previous years' Band on the Road, the SEC's fall dominance extends to band travel. With this commitment, you can expect to see Ohio State's band at more major out-of-conference matchups.

And as for the band across the field? The Cal Band is no slouch either, and in fact owes some of its present form to Ohio State. The two bands wil join forces during pregame for a mass band National Anthem. Between Script Ohio and Script Cal, both bands will also remind us that cursive isn't dead.

Ohio State:


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

High Notes, 2013 Week 2

Saturday evening provided two notable games, for both similar and differing reasons.

Both of the prime time games this past Saturday - West Virginia at Oklahoma and Notre Dame at Michigan - were Band on the Road matchups featuring a pair of Sudler Trophy winning bands. Particularly notable was WVU's trek into the heart of their new conference, the first, to my knowledge, since joining the Big 12 last year. Both bands sounded great in what I caught of this game, and despite an Oklahoma victory, I don't even recall an unnecessary abundance of Boomer Sooner.

The second game, Notre Dame-Michigan, already came with acclaim, being both the host of College Game Day and subject of my own Band on the Road Game of the Week. I didn't expect to be disappointed by this game, but I was, to the fault of neither of the bands. I'll explain. I don't think that tradition needs to be the enemy of innovation, and I honestly think it's cool that Michigan has started the "Under the Lights" games that to this point have featured Notre Dame. I'm not alone at giving the side eye to the SEC-style shakers they've adopted, but to me that's a minor transgression. It's deciding to play Seven Nation Army over the loudspeakers with two Sudler bands in attendance that I cannot excuse. Apart from the slight to the bands, it's just such a - dare I say it? - NFL thing to do. Bands or no, if you can't get 100,000 people to make some noise without the most hackneyed jock jam this side of Zombie Nation, you're doing something wrong.

Woo pig sooie?
In the spirit of the expanded playbook for High Notes, I'd also like to recognize the East-West BBQ Fest that took place this past weekend in downtown Greensboro. I had some great ribs from Porky Chicks out of Arkansas (pictured above), but I found the real treasures among the vendors.

I typically enter marketplace areas intentionally tight fisted, and I'm sure my budget thanks me, but I'm actually looking back at two things I should have picked up and may still yet. The first was Delwood's BBQ, from right up the road from me in Summerfield. I may have previously told you I don't particularly care for Eastern NC BBQ, or at highest praise it sits well below Lexington style, which I've grown accustomed to here in the Piedmont. But Delwood's sauce was determined to make a believer out of me, and his sauce is one I'll pick up without hesitation the next time the opportunity presents itself. The second was Covington Vodka, made in North Carolina from yams. I'll admit I was both skeptical and intrigued, so much so that I made it a point to get a wristband and come back around for a tasting. While they were selling shots, I opted for simply the tasting, and while I'm not typically one to sip vodka, I'd gladly nurse a glass of Covington.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

BOTR Game of the Week, 2013 Week 2

Conquering Heroes. Waking Echoes. Victors Valiant. Shaking Down the Thunder.

If what most know as your fight song is actually the trio to a full march, it's pretty safe to say you are college football and marching band old money. Since the discontinuing of the annual Notre Dame-Michigan matchup, there has been some debate as to how much of a rivalry the game is. But while the rivalry can be debated, the tradition of either program cannot.

While it's not yet the final consecutive matchup, this will be the last in the Big House until the series restarts. The better than 100,000 assembled in Ann Arbor will get to see two great bands under the lights.

Notre Dame:


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

High Notes 2013 Week 1

Another year, another round of high notes recognition!

Now in its fourth year, High Notes is a recurring theme (nearly) every weekend of football season. When it began, it was simply to acknowledge a college marching band who had a particularly notable performance that week. While an inexact, subjective science, I attempted to explain it a bit in the first year. Last year, fearing the series may get a bit stale, I opened up the playbook to include other gameday joys such as pageantry, food, beer, and tailgating. As you know from the previous post, I've got all of the above in spades, so this week, I'll stick to the marching.

While mostly positive, I do have a bit of a mixed reaction to the Mighty Sound of the Southeast, though I think it is at least partially location based. I did have trouble hearing them at times, but I will acknowledge that I was in the biggest, loudest stadium that I've been in, was seated as far from the band as I've ever been, and did not have the instrument bells pointed in my direction, at least while I was in the stands. I was also easily able to see flaws in the drill, but again, I had a bird's eye view of the first show of the season. During halftime, I could've used a bit more dancing in their pop tunes. It's possible they were, but if it didn't sell to the cheap seats, you weren't doing enough.

Despite all of the criticism - and granted, it's fairly nitpicky - I generally enjoyed the Carolina Band. But I came to a new appreciation late in the game. After a lightning delay cleared the stands a good deal in the 4th quarter, I made my way down to the band and was able to experience their full power. At least one of their downs tunes felt a bit like home, and it's worth noting that their current director is a fellow USF alum:

I was advised that a tradition worth sticking around for was their Amazing Grace closer, and I certainly was not disappointed.

Honorable mention for this weekend goes to the UNC Charlotte drumline. While football did not begin for them with a marching band, their drumline certainly fills the void and pleases the crowd. At 25 pieces, they provide the power to rock Charlotte's brand new stadium, and their beats are long on groove, making them easy for the fans to get into.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Holiday Weekend

It's Labor Day weekend, certainly, but with all due respect, that distinction pales in comparison to the one I wish to commemorate: The return of college football.

I will first address the elephant in the room: Yes, my alma mater USF played competed had a game scheduled this weekend. That is the last I intend to speak of this matter.

That said, I've had an excellent weekend celebrating and enjoying the sport's glorious return, including two live games. You may have noticed that I'm not yet in season form of giving you the Band on the Road Game of the Week before the action begins, but I assure you that will follow, and with this action-packed weekend, you're just going to have to forgive me.

The weekend began Thursday at noon - certainly a favorable quallity in any weekend - as I headed south with my friend Eric to Columbia for the North Carolina-South Carolina game. I made the decision earlier in the year that since the first game of the season was so close, I'd look to head down. I reached out to Eric, who is a South Carolina alumnus, and not surprisingly, he was down for it.

The trip down included a meal at the Palmetto Pig. If you find yourself in Columbia, I definitely recommend it. You had me at "All you can eat BBQ", but beyond that, it's damn good. We headed to the stadium and found ourselves a tailgate spot by the railroad tracks prior to heading into my first game in an SEC stadium. My StubHub-purchased seat was probably closer to the Goodyear Blimp than the field, but it was actually an excellent vantage point for the action on the field, the sizable jumbotron, and the Columbia skyline.

The action got underway with South Carolina's vaunted 2001 entrance, and the stadium was at a fever pitch to start their team's 2013 campaign. Sandstorm kept the crowd going, and they really had no reason to let up, except perhaps for the fact that while it wasn't a blowout, the outcome was never really in doubt.

In a move that I'm sure surprises no one, prior to purchasing my ticket I attempted some recon as to where the home and visiting bands sit. The folks at SB Nation's Garnet and Black Attack were able to help - one of their writers is a former Carolina Band member - but I already had my ticket at that point. My end zone locale was acceptable for the Mighty Sound of the Southeast, but the Marching Tar Heels, or rather the pep band contingent that they sent, were out of my line of sight and too small, physically and sonically, to be a factor from what I could tell. The home band was difficult to truly appreciate as well, but I attribute that largely to the location of my seat, as well as the crowd noise that a stadium of 80,000 can produce.

The weather was brutal - the heat index was probably still pushing 100 long after sunset - but the game pressed on into the 4th quarter before it caused a break in the action. A thunderstorm suspended play midway through the 4th, and we were told to seek shelter, either in the stadium or elsewhere. Many, no doubt with the game's inevitability in mind, took the opportunity to head out; those of us who stuck around were rewarded with our pick of seats upon the restart. I, of course, headed down to the band section and got a much better representation of what they had to offer (as well as some video) from up close and personal. I stayed through their Amazing Grace/America the Beautiful closer before departing and ultimately hitting the road back home to Greensboro.

The weekend hadn't officially started yet, but it was far from over. After being home on Friday, it was an early start on Saturday to head down to Charlotte. My friend James works at UNC Charlotte and invited me to join him at their inaugural football game this weekend I gladly accepted this opportunity to be there as history was made and Charlotte began its program.

A noon kick meant breakfast tailgating. I made what turned out to be the right move and packed the camp stove instead of the charcoal grill. We found a fortuitous spot that was about a mile's walk along the greenway straight to the stadium. It wasn't a stadium lot, nor was it signed for tailgating, but we postulated, correctly, that as long as we were low key, we wouldn't have any problems. Indeed, Charlotte-Mecklenburg's finest rolled right by us with but a nod. After eggs, bacon, bagels, and beer, we headed on over to the stadium.

The lines for the student section entrances were quite long, and while less daunting, there was quite a crowd at the general entrances as well. Indeed, the game was a sellout, and I believe tickets were pushing $200 on StubHub. We entered well in enough time for the pregame festivities, which featured the UNC Charlotte drumline (they don't yet have a marching band) cheer and dance, and, of course, 15,000 screaming fans, rabid for football to come to UNC Charlotte. Also on hand were members of the only other football team the school has ever seen, a team that played in 1946-48 for the Charlotte Center of the University of North Carolina, which would go on to become Charlotte College and eventually UNC Charlotte.

The 49ers got on the board in less than a minute, scoring on a pick six, and took early control of the game. They ultimately went on to defeat the Campbell Camels 52-7 in an excellent inaugural performance against the in-state foe and fellow Division I squad. The crowd, especially the student section, thinned in the second half, certainly due in no small part to the lopsided score and the brief rainstorm, but I'll admit that both felt good in the late August heat.

One thing that was nicely nostalgic: I have no particular affinity for UNC Charlotte, but it sure felt good to be at a football game amidst a sea of green again. While Charlotte's institutional colors are green and white, gold is often used as an accent (due in no small part, I'm sure, to the 49ers moniker) and it was really reminiscent of a USF game. To think, just 16 years prior, folks had the same experience at old Tampa Stadium to welcome the Bulls into being.

After hitting a local wing spot and again returning home to Greensboro, there was more football to be had, and it continues into tonight as FSU and Pitt cap the weekend. Welcome back, football. Don't ever leave.
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