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Another outstanding weekend of College football that served as a reminder of why the game is so special to us fanatics. We will break down the action shortly but first things first, the Tailgate Update:
The Tailgate was on the East Coast again on business and was able to tie in a visit to the towns I grew up in (Rockville & Gaithersburg, MD) prior to game day and of course miraculously, I was able to partake in some serious Tailgate action and a game at the Naval Academy. Whenever I get back to the area, I try to take a trip down memory lane and drive by and visit many of the places that shaped me as a person (Not speaking about the pubs in Frostburg as my oldest brother would insist). On this trip I drove by all the fields that I played pick up and organized sports on, the schools and Church I attended, houses of many childhood friends, locations where favorite restaurants and stores once stood, the cemetery where my parents are laid to rest, popped in on several old friends that were influential to me during my early years, and visited the house I grew up in until I was 14. I have been by my house on a number of occasions since we moved in 1978, but never had the courage to knock on the door and ask if I could come in and have a look around. On this occasion, something came over me and I was moved to get out of the car and go to the door, I did and I went in. Of course nothing looked the same and everything felt smaller, but it was quite a moment for me as I have had dreams of the house ever since moving away. My sister reminded me that there is a country song by Miranda Lambert called “The House That Built Me”. This song was very apropos for the occasion. Now I can check that off my bucket list. Enough of the old guy remembering his lost youth crap now… let’s talk about some football!
I was joined by all three of the Brothers Donnelly, Chuck, Billy, and Brian and nephews Sean & Joey. This was only the second time that all the Brothers have tailgated at a CFB game together so it was a special weekend for the Tailgate. Brian and Billy grilled up a feast of ribs, wings, and chili cheese burgers. We also had prosciutto & cheese and of course a cooler full of adult beverages. Great stories and tales were retold and family humor was on full display. The weather in Annapolis was great East coast Fall football weather, overcast and a crisp 60 degrees with leaves changing colors. The tailgate lot was festive with Navy fans as well as those supporting the Pirates from East Carolina. Many charcoal flavors filled the air from neighboring tailgate camps. We were also visited by my Fraternity brother from Frostburg Jerry “Buck” Hampton (see pic above of me and the skinny guy with the Gatorade). I even held my nose and sported a Navy hat for the day much to the chagrin of my Army buddies. The stadium was amazing. This being my first time at Navy - Marine corps stadium for a game, I tried to take it all in. I was able to see numerous plaques commemorating many of the great naval battles in U.S. History, visited the different pavilions sponsored by various graduating classes, and viewed the structural magnificence of this compact but perfect cathedral. The flyover by 2 A-18’s, the Brigade of Midshipmen marching in to the stadium in formation, the PA honoring our men and women currently in harms way and the band playing “Anchors Aweigh” made this more than just another CFB game for me. This was America at its best. The game had all the elements of a classic, and Navy battled back from an early deficit to take the lead in the 4th quarter only to lose the lead with less than 2 minutes to go. The Midshipmen had one last chance as they drove down the field and scored what appeared to be the game winning touchdown only to be nullified by the review booth. They then set up for a field goal attempt only to have the kick bounce off the goal post and land harmlessly back on the field as the clock expired. Final score East Carolina 38 – Navy 35. The event was concluded when the players sang the Alma Matter to the student section. I almost forgot to give mention to the one they call “first down Freddy” as he did a little dance ritual attired in his kilt after every Navy first down (See pic of old dude in kilt).
We packed up and headed back to the hotel to catch all the late games after picking up a bag of the best crab cakes anywhere in the world, G&M’s near BWI airport (Seriously, I make a point to go there whenever I am in the area). All of us being Notre Dame fans crammed into my room and watched in dismay as the Trojans and boy Lame (the understudy of my all time favorite snake in the grass Cheat Carroll) managed to turn BK bright red on numerous occasions while thumping the Irish. I have several bets I must now pay off because of this utter humiliation. Even though I had to get up bright and early to catch a 6:30 flight back home there were still many games to keep watching, and I did until 1:30 AM Eastern time. The Michigan State – Wisconsin finish was perhaps the most exciting ending of the year with a controversial Hail Mary pass that resulted in the game winning TD for Sparty and a major upset over the badgers. The other late intriguing game had the Tuberville Red Raiders and the inclement weather stormin in to Norman to take on the Sooners. After nearly a 2 hour storm delay, TTU pulled off the biggest upset of the year hanging on to beat the Brothers Stoops and Boomer Sooner on their home field. Tubberville and the boys were heard singing as they headed back to Lubbock: “OKLAHOMA, where the winds come sweeping down the plains and the Red Raiders embarrass you at home”. Boise had their tightest game of the year as the Falcons from Air Force grounded out over 400 yards of offense on one of the nation’s top defenses on the smurf turf. But good teams always find a way to win even when they don’t play their best. Clemson, K-State, Houston and OK State continued their perfect Cinderella seasons with blowout wins. Andrew Luck and the Mensa boys from Palo Alto answered any doubts as to whether or not they could beat a quality team by harnessing the Huskies and sending them back North whimpering. Cal finally woke up to get a win over the struggling Utes (What the hell is a Ute?). Alabama and LSU have now set the stage for the game of the century on 11/5 as both won in convincing fashion over quality SEC rivals and will enter the game undefeated ranked #1 & 2. However LSU was without star player Tyrann Mathieu as The Honey Badger was caught dipping in the “Honey Pot” down in Baton Rouge last week and was suspended for a game. I can’t wait for this game and truly wish I could be there. We will have live updates on game day from Tailgate vet Alabama Al. Oh yes I almost forgot to thank Coach Neuhisel for his fine work at his Alma Matter. Good luck in whatever new endeavors you seek next year Ricky! Lastly, does anyone think WVU is ready for the SEC after having their bubble burst in the Carrier dome Friday night?
Gripe of the week – My brother Brian pointed this one out: Why do colleges feel that they need to blare out head banger and hip hop music at the game when they have their marching bands in attendance? Personally I can turn on XM radio anytime I want and hear the crap they insist on playing over the speaker system. However, I can only hear the bands play when I attend a game. The marching bands, dorks that they may be, are one of the Key ingredients that make college football special. So as they said in American Pie 2, “Let Petey Play” and the rest of the flute toting band dorks as well. It is their right as Americans to be heard.
A special shout out and props to another Fraternity brother and Rugby teammate Greg “Shock” Shockey as he was inducted into the Frostburg State University Athletic Hall of Fame on Saturday for his prowess on the football field. And to think I taught you everything you know about Rugby Shock!
After 3 straight weekends of Tailgating at different venues, the Tailgate will be grounded and watching the action from the cozy confines of DB&G. Come by and have a cold one if you are in the area!