Monday, January 14, 2019

Season In The Rearview Mirror

By all accounts this was a memorable season on and off the field for the DFT Brigade. We had the privilege of watching a young man named Tyler Kent inspire a nation with his courageous fight against cancer which he ultimately succumbed to. We witnessed Dabo Swinney pull a Saban and replace his accomplished starting QB with a freshman named Sunshine that would lead them to another great campaign. The Stache blossomed out in the Palouse under Mike Leach resulting in ESPN Gameday finally gracing the campus in Pullman. Urban was reprimanded in Columbus and feigned health and family issues to once again retire from coaching. The crazy upset of Old Dominion over VA Tech, the fall of the Men of Troy and the rise of the Irish, and the resurgence of Texas were all indelible marks on the season.  We had hurricanes responsible for game cancellations and postponements. The battle between Tua and Kyler for the Heisman and in the playoff game was epic. UCF’s 25 game winning streak finally ended in the Bowl season. The return of the Prodigal Son to the plains of Lincoln, Nebraska provided hope for the Big Red faithful. The Floss replaced The Whip and the Nae Nae as the celebration dance of choice. The fans screamed for a legitimate 8 team playoff system that continues to fall on deaf ears, and lastly, Bama v Clemson IV would end the season once again.

As for DFT, I attended 14 games including the National Championship of which 6 were new cathedrals. Additionally, I was able to attend 7 high school games of the beloved Monte Vista Mustangs.  The epic weekends this year were Penn State with the Dons of Danville and friends, Mississippi State with my high school gang, Bedlam in Norman and Texas with the Snowflakes. Many other great games including  Army versus Navy, Colorado State at Florida and Northwestern at Purdue. We also launched Tailgate Connect and had moderate success for our inaugural year. I became a regular guest on the Sooner Fan Football Podcast every Wednesday night and made many new friends as a result.

Bowl Season for DFT consisted of the Redbox Bowl and the Natty both at Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. Michigan State and Oregon squared off in the former in a 7-6 snoozer won by the Ducks. The Men of Laurelglen received free tickets courtesy of a Veterans group. We did a Bloody Mary and burrito breakfast tailgate as kickoff was noon local time. The new Shot Ski was christened at a tailgate for the first time.
The Shot Ski getting a workout at the Red Box Bowl

Breakfast of Champions

The Natty as mentioned was another matchup between Clemson and Bama. We took in the championship festivities in San Jose on Saturday at the convention center and CFP Hotel HQ. I even shook Maria Taylor’s hand (College Gameday personality). My good friend Danny L scored 2 free lower bowl tix on the 15 yard line for me and the Don of Bettencourt Ranch, Chris “The Finger” Desimone. The Tailgate was hosted by Bama fans extraordinaire the Windsheimer and Jeffrey clans. Cold beer, dogs and a charcuterie of protein and cheeses were served. The entrance into Levi stadium was smooth and concession stands were not outrageously long to grab some essential brewskis. 
Almost Famous on a local TV station with the Windsheimers and Michael Fee

Entering Levi Stadium!

As the entire nation witnessed, the game was a jaw dropping shocker. Clemson jumped out to an early lead on a pick six of All World QB Tua Tagovailoa. Bama responded with two touchdowns and Clemson scored on a bomb to win the first set 14-13. The Crimson Tide opened the second quarter with a field goal to take their only lead of the game at 16-13. And then the Tiger spigots were turned on full blast as Clemson would score 28 unanswered points behind a QB nicknamed Sunshine and a defense as impenetrable as the Death Star. Final score Clemson 44, Alabama 16. Clemson is now 2-1 v Bama in the Championship Game and 2-2 in the CFP overall. Congrats to Coach Dabo Swinney for running a model program and beating one of the best teams Alabama has assembled.
Eagle Fan Chris "The Finger" was lost.
Bowl Season Bieber – The last Bieber of the year goes to the organizers of the Serv Pro First Responder Bowl along with ESPN for cancelling their named game in the historic Cotton Bowl. The game commenced on 12/26 under threatening skies as Boston College jumped out to a 7-0 lead over the Boise State Broncos. A big storm was moving in and lightning struck within a 10 mile radius. As is protocol, the teams were sent to their locker rooms to wait out the lightning. After 90 minutes it was determined the lightning was still a threat. So, the MENSA Elders in charge decided to just outright cancel the game. No effort to reschedule the next day in the unused Cotton Bowl for a day calling for sunny skies. Or what about calling Jerry Jones up to borrow his facility? Boosters, families, friends, bands, cheerleaders all traveled on Christmas Day or earlier to get there.  I for one would be a vocal activist marching on SERV Pro and ESPN HQs if I was one of them that had attended. There was no explanation of efforts taken to somehow continue the game leaving us all inexplicably hanging. For this uber egregious act, you two organizations win the final Beebs of the year.

A designated "Safe Space".
Ginger – The Ginger Badass award goes to my friend Denny Warner who passed from this earth in December. Denny is the Father in Law to two of my close college buddies. Denny was someone who would go to all of his grandkid's sporting events no matter when or where. I reconnected with Denny 5 years ago when we rented a cabin to watch his grandson play football at Hampden Sydney College in Virginia. He was larger than life and was someone that could and did make friends with anyone. He would always send me complimentary emails about my blog and circulated it amongst his friends. I had several visits with him over the last few years where we discussed football, faith, family and solved world hunger. He never let age get in the way of having a great time and set the bar high as someone I looked up to. The first time I met him 35 years ago at his daughter’s wedding we were convinced he looked like the bad guy Victor Matlin from Beverly Hills Cop. Me and my college roommate chased him around the after party calling him Victor only to be swatted away with a smile. Well old buddy, you will be missed and we will all raise a Schaeffer for you when we think of you. You were simply a badass in all the right ways in life.

With Denny and Chris McDaniel in 2014 at Hampden Sydney
Next Year - The plans are laid for the Dons of Danville to have an epic weekend in NOLA and Baton Rouge for the Florida at LSU game. We are up to 20 people at last count.  The Seneca Valley High School gang will be descending on the Big House whilst staying in a little house for Notre Dame weekend in Ann Arbor. The Labor Day Blitzkrieg will consist of games at Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Kentucky and Louisville. Oklahoma travels to UCLA in September and we will be hosting an epic tailgate with our Okie friends and family at the Rose Bowl. There will be others, but these are the ones carved in stone for now. And so now, I enter the “Transfer Portal” of the off season abyss. Be back in August!

Happy Tailgating and a safe off season!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Week 12 - Snowflake Sighting in Texas

Dan and his hatchlings

I embarked upon my annual philanthropic journey of entertaining Snowflakes AKA Millennials for a weekend of DFT. The location that was chosen was Austin, TX for the UT v Iowa State game. I would be joined by my #1 and #2 daughters and a gaggle of their fellow flakes. But first, I attended a bonus game on Thursday night to watch perennial All American Ed Oliver and the Houston Cougars take on the Tulane Green Wave. After soaring into Houston, I jumped in my rental car and met up with Matt “Sooner” Bolt for some light pre game activity at a campus establishment called The Den. After surveying a fairly low key tailgating scene we made our way into the stadium.
Sooner Matt chaperoning me in Houston

TDECU stadium was built in 2014 on the campus of the University of Houston. It is a spectacular compact cathedral with all the bells and whistles that seats 40,000 people. With the Cougars coming off a loss, coupled with a cold night and students gone for Thanksgiving, the crowd was sparse at an estimated 15,000. Our seats were 19 rows up on the 30 yard line. Much to my chagrin, we learned that Ed Oliver would not be playing due to a knee injury, or was he simply saving himself for the draft as he could be the #1 overall pick. However, he did make some noise on the sideline as he had a dustup with Head Coach Major Applewhite over him wearing a parka when it was against team rules. So, in a sense, Oliver did see action that night. The Cougars started strong and finished strong dominating the play from the middle of the first quarter all the way to the final whistle. Cougar QB D’Erik King was running roughshod over the Green Wave until he went down with an injury. Backup QB Clayton Tune picked up the reins and continued with the onslaught. Final score Houston 48, Tulane 17.
The spirited band was ripping it up in Houston!

After a slew of grown up work stuff on Friday, I engaged with half of our crew and we made our way out to the world famous establishment called The Oasis on Lake Travis for Happy Hour with the Hanna family. We did the obligatory toast with the bell ringing at sunset. My last time there was 30 years ago and it has changed quite a bit, but the view is still spectacular as the sun sets upon the massive lake. We vectored into West 6th street for a continuance of our celebration and connected with the rest of our troupe. I played the role of bodyguard for my daughters and their friends as aggressive males were trying out there cheesy lines only to be met with disapproving Dad stares. Against better judgment, our evening concluded much later than I had envisioned.
Most of us did not sprint out of the gates Friday night but the king of the flakes has to learn,

Saturday morning, we awoke and had a batch of those fortified vitamin mixtures of “get the hell up” called Bloody Mary’s at the hotel. Eventually, we wandered over to our Hosted Tailgate put on by Horn Ball Tailgaters Via Tailgate Connect at 2 pm. With a kickoff of 7 pm, we had plenty of time to tailgate Texas style, and tailgate we did! Ryan Lepper has been running Horn Ball for 19 seasons. He has had as many as 2,000 people for some of his largest tailgates. He is able to reserve a 10,000 Sq. ft. parking lot within a 3 wood drive to the stadium. There is a general admission tent and a VIP area. One price, all-inclusive with an open bar, food truck, ice luge, Twin Peaks Girls pouring shots, Corn Hole tourney area, big screen TV with a viewing section, Jenga, DJ, dance floor, disco lights, misters, port a potties and just a damn good overall time. There was even a bachelorette party taking place. By all appearances, they were feeling no pain. Horn Ball is so popular, spirits companies jockey to donate their goods to each home game. The chow from the food truck was top notch featuring sausage wraps and tacos. The Horn Ball group puts a homemade touch to this tailgate regardless of how big it gets and makes you feel a part of it. Ryan went out of is way to ensure we had a great time. In fact, there are rumors circulating of a guy that looks just like me doing ice luge and fireball bag shots along with dancing with his future ex son in law.  I implore any of you that love a great tailgate to go through Tailgate Connect™ and sign up for a Texas Tailgate next season. You are guaranteed a great time.
Gotta love Twin Peaks!

Our host at Horn- Ball Ryan Lepper

Part of our crew.

I am so proud of these girls.

The Snowflake Poster Children

Making friends with the DJ. Look closely.

Having a great time at the Tailgate.

The eyes of Texas are upon you!
We stayed at the tailgate until 7 pm when we begrudgingly left to catch the other reason we came to Austin which was the game itself. By the time we ascended to the top of the stadium to our seats, the game was already well underway. This was my second trip to Darrel Royal Memorial stadium. The facility is gargantuan and legitimately seats 100,000. Capacity was nearly full and the crowd in burnt orange after a long day of pre gaming was simply rowdy and raucous. It must have been the altitude of our seats as recollection of the game itself is a bit foggy. However, with a shot at the Big 12 Championship, #15 Texas brought their A game and the #16 Iowa State Cyclones forgot to get off the bus. The action was thoroughly dominated by Texas with a balanced run/pass game and a stifling defense. The Clones behind much heralded freshman QB  Brock Purdy were anything but their namesake and were simply a storm that fizzled out. The Texas QB tandem of Sam Ehlinger and Shane Buchele led the Horns to a final score of Texas 24 – Iowa State 10. The halftime performance by the 500 strong Alumni Band was absolutely spectacular. 
An iconic view of the UT Tower from the east side of the stadium.

A mix of Horns up and Horns down hand signs.
Longhorns playing some D,

With the game winding down in the fourth, we departed back to the hotel. I as the grown up in the crowd, opted to remain at the hotel watching the late games on TV while the snowflakes once again trudged back over to 6th street for post-gaming. I was very impressed with the endurance of those that went strong all weekend.
Planting the flag at UT.

Around the country - In baseball action or so it looked like, Notre Dame in pin striped pants put a solid whipping on Syracuse in Yankee Stadium winning 36-3. If Notre Dame beats USC next Friday, they will in all likelihood secure a spot in the 4 team playoff. In other baseball action played at Fenway Park, Harvard beat Yale in their ancient rivalry of Yacht Club kids called The Game. In College Park, MD, the Terrapins almost did the unthinkable of beating Ohio State but came up short in OT. MD freshman running back Anthony McFarland ran for 298 yards against ESPN’s 2nd favorite team. Speaking of ESPN, College Gameday went to the campus of UCF in Orlando as the undefeated Golden Knights were hosting 9-1 Cincinnati. UCF provided a thorough beat down to the Bearcats helping to galvanize the opinion that they should also be considered for a playoff spot. Gardner Minshew and the rising Cougars of Wazzu put up 65 points on the Arizona Wildcats. Minshew is now firmly in the thick of the Heisman race with a 7 TD, 490 yard performance. The fighting Mullets from Stillwater pulled off perhaps the upset of the day by beating the flying combovers from Morgantown, WV. It was a real hair raising experience. 
Captain Mullet

Colonel Combover

In the game that is simply called The Rivalry, Lehigh defeated Lafayette 34-3. My Alma Mater Frostburg State won their first round game of the D3 playoffs continuing their perfect season of destiny. Next up for the mighty Bobcats is John Hopkins University on Saturday.
Navy Tailgaters

Spot 9 Tailgaters at Michigan and Mike Doyle and friends.

Mr. OU visiting Terry and Melissa Long in Norman.

Ginger – Keeping with the Snowflake theme, the “Master Mullet” Mike Gundy is always a great interview as you can’t predict what will come out of his mouth. This week’s coach’s presser was not only unpredictable and funny but was spot on in a message directed at Millennials and Generation Zers. Gundy essentially took exception to players who quit on their team and transfer if they don’t earn a starting spot. He went on to say how these two generations are very entitled and that he firmly believes in the snowflake. Snowflakes in college football are no different than the snowflakes we make fun of in our every day world. It was refreshing to see a college coach not cow to these entitled kids and call them out. This is another fallout of the “participation trophy and helicopter parenting” effect on society. Coach Gundy, I got the best trophy from OK State in your classmate Mrs. Tailgate, but your presser was badass and you are this week’s Ginger winner. Take a listen to the abbreviated version:

Bieber - Any other week I would have given former Ohio State assistant coach Zach Smith the award for his bizarre meltdown on twitter calling out former cohort and current Texas coach Tome Herman for doing bad things. However, I have to do my annual gripe on the following issue: By definition, the term Power 5 Conferences insinuates that these conferences are the mightiest and better than all the others in college football. They are the only ones with a clear shot at the prestigious college football playoffs along with Notre Dame. The SEC, the so called best of the Power 5, in particular has a weak end (hehehhe) every year (this past one in fact) where the majority of the team’s scheduled, what Gordon Gee (Bieber HOFer) would call “games against little sisters of the poor”. Five SEC teams played against FCS (D1AA schools) and three other schools had games against intimidating opponents consisting of mighty Rice, UMASS and UAB. And we all want to know, what in the name of Jiminy Crickets was Bama playing the Citadel for? This is ludicrous and the game should not count statistically or toward any W-L record. I am sure that eSECpn network will turn a blind eye to this crime and RPIs and SoS will not be impacted. In fact, Power 5 schools should be dinged in the polls for scheduling these shams of a game. No disrespect to the FCS schools as they have many fine programs, but they are FCS, not FBS, indicating an expected difference in ability. Simply put, Power 5 programs should not be able to compete with FCS schools. I hereby set forth the decree that Power 5 schools should no longer be able to play FCS schools. Don’t give me that crap that is it is good for those schools, as they get a big payment for playing these Goliaths. If that were the case, I would go out and take a million dollar payday to have Connor McGregor kick my ass once a year. These games are boring to begin with, and typically very one sided. They often result in injuries to the FCS team putting a damper on the rest of their season. I also don’t want to hear the argument that “Oh our conference schedule is brutal and we need a down week,” Well if that is true, take a damn week off.  You Power 5 programs who do this annually want to be treated special on one hand but want to play these so called “Guaranteed Games”. So, to the NCAA and CFBP Committee, take heed of my plea and set it into motion. Also, please send me the shipping addresses of all Power 5 schools who have played FCS schools this year so I can send them their newly earned hardware.

Next week – Putting up the Griswold Christmas lights, Thanksgiving, Birthdays and Anniversary will be celebrated, High School playoff game. CFB Games will be watched from DFT World HQ in smoky Cali.

Happy tailgating!