Monday, September 28, 2020

September In The Reaerview Mirror


To say the least it has been a strange opening month of college football 2020. Let’s begin with the alleged postponement of the season by four of the conferences, including the Big ten and PAC 12 (more on this later). Those that did kick off starting Labor Day weekend have played in front of empty seats or at best 25% capacity. Little to no tailgating nationwide and games being cancelled mid to late week when teams come down with sick players or a number of whom have been in contact with sick people. We have seen a number of star players opt out for the season and then some boomerang back on bended knee. And yes, “Lil Man” Tate Martell has transferred once again because he seems relegated to being a third stringer wherever he goes and he has daddy issues.

So where are we now? Well at this point last year I had already been to six college games, 3 High School and 1 NFL. This year, big goose eggs so far. Most Saturdays have been spent at DFT World HQ with a few select diehards watching games, having adult beverages and partaking in my new bad habit of smoking cigars at the firepit. The SEC finally got off the mat this past weekend for their conference only schedule. The ACC, Big 12, American Athletic Conference, Sun Belt Conference, Conference USA and a few Independents have been playing sporadically since Labor Day. Just this past week the Big Ten, PAC 12, Mountain West and MAC conferences all announced they would start up on varying dates beginning on 10/24 with six – eight in conference games only.

This week – We saw my beloved Oklahoma Sooners throw one up to an inferior team in Kansas State as they are prone to do each year. However, this Sooner team is just too young and inexperienced this year to challenge for a coveted spot in the college football playoffs. Last year’s champ the LSU Tigers saw their dreams die on their home turf of Tiger Stadium as they were upset by Mike “The Pirate” Leach and his Mississippi State Bulldogs. In Lubbock, TX, the Texas Tech Red Raiders took the Texas Longhorns into OT before ultimately succumbing to them, after the teams scored a combined 119 points. The Miami Hurricanes now led by QB D’erik King put a shellacking on the dysfunctional Florida State CrimiNoles in what was the ABC game of the week. Alabama rolled over Mizou and Baylor delivered a severe blow to Les Miles and the basketball school from Lawrence, KS. The undermanned VA Tech Hokies defended their palace in Blacksburg against the invading Wolf Pack from NC State. It was actually a good old-fashioned ass kicking is what it was.

Young Cristian Luciano(R) enjoying his first Baylor game
Son of Army buddy Buck Oxendine on a recruiting trip to my Alma Matter, Frostburg State

Bieber – None other than Little Man Tate Martell. Tate first burst onto the scene three years ago on Netflix’s acclaimed documentary QB1 as the brash, cocky quarterback at high school powerhouse Bishop Gorman from Las Vegas. After high school he went to play for Urban Meyer at Ohio State. He redshirted his first year, didn’t sniff the turf his second year and did the hardship transfer his third year to Miami who had a bad QB situation. Surely he would step in and play and be the cause de celeb in South Beach, right?  Wrong he rode pine last year and was relegated to third string to start the season this year. So once again our protagonist does a stage left exit from Miami to destination unknown. I can only think that his Dad was in his ear giving him all this good advice he has been getting. Along with the good advice, he gets September’s Bieber hardware. Props to the Martell clan.

Oompha Loompa Martell

Ginger -
Graduate transfer QB KJ Costello who was mediocre at best at Stanford, made the jump to Stark Vegas, MS this year to play for the aforementioned Mike “The Pirate Leach, also in his first year there. KJ in his first SEC game walks into one of the most formidable stadiums in the country, home of the reigning National Champions the LSU Tigers. What does he do? He light’s up a young but athletic Tiger Defense for an SEC record 623 yards while leading his Bulldogs to an epic upset. It was rumored that the Pirate, also known as a QB whisperer, had been whispering his shallow musings into KJ’s ears the past month. The results speak for themselves. For this badass feat, KJ Costello is the winner of September’s Ginger award.

LSU does not want more cowbell!

Next up
- There is talk that a few of us may go to Columbia, MO on the weekend of 10/17 to witness the Mizou Tigers battle the Commodores of Vanderbilt. This is unconfirmed at this point though. A big part of me feels that I will be cheating the schools that I visit for the fist time if I go this year and not during a normal year. Nonetheless, I am getting stir crazy and really need to get my fix in.

Happy Homegating!


Sunday, August 30, 2020

2020 Season Primer


Usually by this time each year I have already sent out my annual “welcome back DFT Nation” blog post with a flavor of optimism. However, with the uncertainty facing the season, and more so our country, I have been lacking proper motivation to begin this ritual. Rona, the burning of our cities, hurricanes, fires, murder hornets … I think I hear the first four trumpets of the revelation. However, this  blog has never been about politics and has been a place where all of us can escape our differences and focus on college football and tailgating. This year, I promise it will remain as such, unlike ESPN which insists on being a voice for political discourse. This makes it hard for many of us to truly enjoy the game we love.

I originally had a lineup of 12 road games, including a trip to Ireland for Notre Dame v. Navy and a few local games for a total of 15 games. I was also looking forward to watching our local high school football team play and my daughter cheer them on for her senior year. Well, that isn’t happening in Cali this fall . So, I am faced with a very skinnied down DFT lineup this fall. Two Power Five conferences (Big Ten & PAC 12) and two Group of Five Conferences (Mountain West and the MAC) have all canceled their seasons. We are also uncertain of how many fans can attend the games of the schools who, at this point, have decided to play. More importantly, tailgating may be off the table at many schools. Here is a link with the latest information on this subject.

Where does all this leave me? In addition to a plethora of backyard tailgates for some marquis games, I am planning on finishing off the SEC and the Big 12 this year with games at Missouri, Kansas and Kansas State. Additionally, North Dakota State is hosting Central Arkansas on 10/3, and I plan to attend and tailgate. If the country is still in tact in December, I will make my pilgrimage back to the city of brotherly love for the pageantry of the Army Navy game. I will post my schedule when things firm up but for now, it is very fluid.

Off-Season Ginger – goes to my brother Chuck who we lost in May after a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. Chuck was a Marine combat veteran and an avid Notre Dame fan. He was one of the first followers of this blog 13 seasons ago and always encouraged my writing about the sport we both loved. Your fight and ability to stay positive was an inspiration to all who knew you. We will win one for the Gipper this fall in your honor big bro and hoist one up at a tailgate. Simply put, you showed us how to ride tall in the saddle this past year and face whatever was thrown at you. 

The Donnelly Six with Chuck on the far right
                          The Donnelly Six with our big Leprechaun Chuck on the far right.

Off-Season Bieber - Rona. You screwed up college football for all of us, you invisible virus! No other words needed here.

Next Week – We will be watching games and barbecuing in my backyard on Saturday evening. The first FCS game was played last night, and the first FBS game will be this Thursday night.

Happy Tailgating!


Monday, January 20, 2020

Season Recap

Greetings DFT Nation, 

My apologies for going dark since the Thanksgiving weekend recap, but life got extremely busy. So, let’s recap what happened:

LSU, Ohio State, Clemson and Oklahoma won their respective conference championships and made it to the CFB playoffs. The Pac-12 got left out as Utah was scalped by Oregon in Santa Clara. Clemson edged out the Buckeyes in a great comeback win, and sadly, Oklahoma forgot to get off the bus as LSU boat raced them in Atlanta. It was more of the same in the Natty. After Clemson got off to a fast start, the LSU Tiger machine kicked it into high gear and laid waste to the team in need of a more realistic tiger mascot. Congrats to LSU, as this was truly one of the best seasons any team has had in years. In the FCS, North Dakota State won their eighth national championship in the past nine years. The amazing part is this is the third coach they have done so with. Props to West Florida and North Central for winning the division II and III championships respectively. For the first time in years, I was not able to make a bowl game or Army/Navy due to circumstances beyond my control.

My season in the rearview mirror:

13 division 1A college games

8 new cathedrals

7 epic road trips

8 Monte Vista High School games

2 NFL games

This was the lowest amount of college games I have attended since 2014, but an overall large number of all levels of football games attended.

We also saw massive growth with our Tailgate Connect business this year. Thanks for helping spread the word.

Next season I will close out the Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC with games at Illinois, Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri. This will leave the ACC as the only power five conference that I have not conquered. In 2021, that will be my focus. As of now, it looks like my quest of attending a game at all 130 division 1A schools will be completed by 2023 or 2024, God willing. I am planning on making Hawaii my last venue. We will do that tailgate up huge and all blog followers are invited to attend. Planning will commence in 2022, and I will need a committee of volunteers to help with this. Other games next fall will include the University of New Mexico – now that the Ass Clown known as Bob Davies is gone, it is clear for me to attend, Ball State, Cal Poly and at least one other random Group of 5 school. It is # 3’s senior year of high school, so I will be staying a little closer to home.

Season Ginger Champ – To all those that are battling cancer this year, which there a number that are near and dear to me. Keep kicking its ass and remember Cancer Sucks!

Season Bieber Champ – So many to choose from, it is a Bieber overload. But I am going to have to give it to the Snowflake brigade that protested at the Harvard/Yale game, delaying it by an hour.

See you all again in August.

Happy Tailgating!

P.S. Thank you to all the loyal readers of this blog. I continue to do this for you.