MediaStrike Banner

Sunday, November 25, 2018

What A Sport

Oh, college football, you strange, magnificent, maddening, amazing creature.

A critical mass of fans just got done watching a game that went seven overtimes, with 91 points scored after the ultimately losing coach was doused in Gatorade prematurely.  In the stadium, Collin put it best:

Lacking the SEC Network, both in general and here in my hotel room in Baltimore, I "watched" via ESPN Gamecast and Twitter updates, hanging on every refresh. Nothing captivates like college football.

The sport is not without its idiosyncrasies. Unlike any other sport, nearly half of the teams will end their season with a win, thanks to the one-off nature of nearly every bowl game. And unlike any other sport, nearly half of the teams have no viable path to a championship, regardless of their own performance. The former fact is kinda cool. The latter is a travesty.

College football also provides the greatest opportunity for a financial disincentive for winning. Hypothetically, Texas A&M could have cost its conference millions by winning the game, likely knocking a now three loss, previously seventh ranked LSU down in the rankings. Realistically, they could still catch a New Year's Six spot, the void could be filled by a conferencemate like Florida, and even if not, the SEC is flush with cash anyhow. But consider: A week from now, Texas could end any hopes for a Big 12 spot in the Playoff by defeating Oklahoma. Or worse, Memphis could beat UCF, dropping them not only from the playoff spot they've got no chance at, but from the New Year's Six entirely, as the Mountain West champ would then likely be the highest ranked Group of Five champion. More than a decade ago, Pitt defeated West Virginia in the now-defunct Backyard Brawl to cost the Mountaineers a spot in the BCS championship game and the Big East the millions that came with that appearance and the only possibility for an appearance for the conference following the departure of Miami and Virginia Tech. In no other sport can one so directly work against their own self interest.

This sport, man.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

The Greatest

The Greatest Homecoming On Earth just got greater.

Earlier this month, North Carolina A&T's homecoming added a new element. Dubbed "The Battle and the Blowout," the Friday night slot typically reserved for the step show became a combined step show/battle of the bands, featuring A&T's Blue and Gold Marching Machine, and their homecoming opponent Norfolk State's Spartan Legion. While there was never a question as to whether I would attend, I was intrigued by how exactly they planned to combine the two.

For those who don't know, by day I'm a fraternity and sorority life advisor, and for far longer, I've been a fan of the art of stepping, so I was there for the combo. Still, it was clear from stepping into the arena that no one, myself included, was there for the step show portion. And if that was the sentiment throughout the arena, it was twice that where I sat - the "Heathen Section," with The 5th Quarter's co-founder Christy and many more 5th denizens.

After entrances, A&T began the opening salvo in a move that seemed counterintuitive but well planned. By playing first, the Aggies let Spartan Legion call their shot in the first volley, and the green and gold definitely brought it. The set up for the round was two volleys, so with a A&T/Norfolk/Norfolk/A&T format, BGMM ensured they'd use their home field advantage to bat last.

Then there was a commercial break, or rather step performance. The bandheads took it as exactly that, so much as hitting the concession stands and freshening up drinks. We would receive just three such impositions - Phi Beta Sigma and Sigma Gamma Rho competing, and Kappa Alpha Psi in exhibition.

To A&T's credit, they were committed to the seamless integration of bands and stepping, and planned their programming accordingly. In the section battles, both Golden Delight (auxiliary) and Cold Steel (drumline) put together programs that followed a step show style format, with Golden Delight using a NASCAR theme and including video as so many step shows do these days. Spartan Legion either didn't get the memo or chose not to play along, instead bringing what they would to any matchup.

To the Greensboro (and bandhead) crowd, Blue and Gold Marching Machine was a known commodity, but I think the consensus was pleased and even pleasantly surprised with what Spartan Legion brought to the table, both in that event and throughout the weekend. One of my favorite renditions from them was of Lucid Dreams, which got some burn in the media, social and otherwise:

While there's no doubt A&T's homecoming game will always feature a battle of the bands as long as there's another band in the stands, a format that brings it to a standalone (or mostly alone) ought to remain a GHOE mainstay.

Monday, November 12, 2018


Last night, The Philadelphia Eagles played the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football. Living in the market of another NFC team, it was one of the few times I could be sure I could catch the Birds in action, and again Dallas, no less.

Not only did I not watch, I checked the score with the Eagles down a score in the 4th quarter, and couldn't be bothered to turn it on or check the final score, not knowing of the loss until this morning.

I spent last season without the NFL, before predictably backsliding once my team made, and ultimately won, the Super Bowl. As this season began, I casually lifted what had been an out-and-out ban of the league, wearing apparel once more and catching pieces of the occasional game. I don't have a solid reason why I let the league back in. Perhaps the time off wasn't sustainable. Maybe it's because Kap's getting paid, even if not by them. Maybe it's because for all of the NFL's ills, my team's all right. But the shift had already occurred. An already well-worn path had calcified. I spend my Saturdays focused on college football, and spend my Sundays also focused on college football, further aided by Solid Verbal and Best Week Ever episodes that air Sunday recaps. So while the NFL is not completely gone, it's been significantly deemphasized.
discussion by