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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Week 12 - War Damn Eagle!



Tailgate Update – On a cold blustery night in Northeast Ohio, I along with just a few other brave souls ventured to snow dusted Kent State University to witness the lowly Golden Flashes take on the even lowlier Miami of Ohio Redhawks (FKA Redskins) in a MAC conference contest. Kent State University is best known nationally for the incident on May 4th, 1970 when the Ohio National Guard fired on a group of radical college protestors wounding nine and killing four. CSNY later released a song titled Four Dead in Ohio that further memorialized the events of that fateful day.


 


I was able to do the May 4th Memorial Walk on campus prior to the game. It was a seminal moment in our nation’s history at the peak of the counter culture movement during the Vietnam War. Protestors and professional poop disturbers gathered to demonstrate against President Nixon’s recent admission of invading the nation of Cambodia.  During a four day long protest, the demonstrators had set the campus ROTC building on fire and rampaged through downtown Kent. The Governor called in the National Guard at the behest of the mayor of Kent. On Day 4 of the protests, 28 members of the Guard fired 60+ rounds from their M1 rifles striking 13 people of which four would die. Many view the Kent State incident as the day the Vietnam War came home and was also the flashpoint for the Watergate scandal and ultimately Nixon’s resignation.

The iconic Kent State photograph
Both Kent State and Miami have produced a number of NFL stars and future HOFers, none bigger than Jack Lambert from Kent and Ben Roethlisberger from Miami. Kent was coming off of the MAC conference championship and a Bowl appearance last year; however they along with Miami have been mired in a tough season. Not much of a Tailgate as the subfreezing temps kept even the heartiest of Ohio fans indoors for the 8 PM kickoff. I engaged in text gating with friends and family as I popped open a couple of icy cold 40s in my rental wagon in the stadium lot. This way it ensured I was not pre gaming it alone. 

The saddest attempt at Tailgating yet
Dix Stadium was opened for business in 1969 and currently seats 25,000. I question that stat as it is one of the smallest Division 1 A (FBS) stadiums I have been in.  Or maybe it was the fact that there were less than 2,000 fools joining me on Senior Night for the Golden Flashes. Heck probably half the crowd were the families of the players. Nonetheless, it was an entertaining game as Miami gave Kent everything they had in the first half. That was the problem, they should have saved some of it for half two! Kent State has a nice running game with a power back and a speedster sharing the carries. Kent ended up winning 24-6. I had the pleasure of talking with an 81 year old super fan named Clay who attends all the Golden Flashes’ home games. He was the other guy in the stands along with me.


Kent State's stadium

Big Crowd

Frozen Blogger
   

The main event for the Tailgate was perhaps the game of the year in Auburn on Saturday. The Tigers (War Eagle) were facing off in the South’s oldest rivalry against them Dawgs from Athens, Georgia.  This would be the 120th time the two have squared off. I was joined for the weekend by my college roommate  Chip “Supersize Me” Hayden.  Much to the chagrin of his wife, he was allowed to come out and play for the weekend. The planning and communication in arranging  Chip’s weekend pass was much like the poor guy in the State farm commercial talking to Jake in his Kakis on the other end:




After a night of philosophizing, sampling distilled spirits and regaling each other with exaggerated tales of our lost glory and youth, complimented by a UFC cage match in the hotel room, we arose to the noise of jackhammers in our heads. There is a reason most sane souls avoid their roommates from college as they mature. We rolled into Auburn and stopped at a pub called 1716, named after the score of one of the most famous Auburn victories over Bama in 1972. The Tigers were down 16 – 3 when they blocked 2 successive punts and returned them for scores to win 17 -16. We would be meeting up with our Tailgate Host Doctor Matt Sheffield shortly, but taking his medical advice we engaged in a bloody mary revival session at 1716. Our situations improved dramatically. 

Doc and his crew have been tailgating in the same spot for years and have a wonderful catered spread brought in. The funny thing is, Doc is a UGA alumni but his daughter is an Auburn student now, and his high school kids will be attending both schools next fall. Talk about a house divided. The chow line included jambalaya, chicken wings, steak and chicken sliders, meatballs and about 20 other things I can’t pronounce.  Of course no Southern Tailgate is complete without bourbon that was provided by Doc’s brother in law Anderson. Doc had told me that “you know Dan, Tailgating is an art form in the SEC.” Word! Heck, they write books about this stuff. The campus was amazingly festive as there were tailgate tents set up on every piece of grass available as far as the eye could see. Music playing and chants of “War Eagle” could be heard at every gathering. This is one of those perfect unfettered Tailgate campuses without storm troopers making revelers miserable. 
 
Dan, Doc, Chip & Anderson


Auburn has a tradition rich history in football with two national titles, numerous SEC championships, three Heisman trophy winners and too many All Americans to count.  The two most famous football alumni are Cam Newton and Bo Jackson. Okay on a mere technicality of earning a diploma, Cam Cam is not officially an alumnus. 


We scored tickets from a fine upstanding young entrepreneur in front of legendary Jordan Hare stadium. Our seats were west side upper deck on the 10 yard line. Jordan Hare is named after legendary Auburn coach Shug Jordan and Clifford Hare who was a member of Auburn’s first football team. The cathedral was built in 1939 and has a seating capacity of 87,000+. It is as beautiful of a stadium on the inside as I have ever been too. Auburn has an incredible tradition where they release a live Eagle in the upper deck of the stadium fifteen minutes before kickoff. The Eagle soars around the stadium and lands in the middle of the logo at midfield with 87,000 people all chanting “War Eagle” upon the landing. The faithful were charged up for the 2:40 PM Central time kickoff. Both bands at full strength were belting out tune after tune. One Tiger fan behind us blurted out “I’d rather have an aneurysm than be from Georgia!” That should give you an idea of how serious these folks take their football in the SEC. This would be a game for the ages.
 
Where's Waldo err Baldo?
In Jordan Hare Stadium
Auburn quickly took control of the game and dominated both sides of the ball in the first half. Georgia QB Aaron Murray and All World running back Todd Gurley were rendered completely ineffective. Auburn took a 27 - 10 lead into the locker room. The teams traded touchdowns in the third quarter and then things got interesting, very interesting. Georgia behind the aforementioned  Murray and Gurley and a rejuvenated defense made a ferocious comeback. With 1:49 left in the game, on 4th and goal Murray scored on a controversial go ahead touchdown.  You could feel the air being sucked out of the stadium. Georgia now had a 38 -37 lead. The obnoxious Georgia fan wearing his womanly visor five rows in front of us was just having a grand old time now.  However, he forgot there was still ample time on the clock. Auburn, with their backs against the wall on fourth down from their own 27 yard line had their prayers answered. What is now known as the Immaculate Deflection or the Prayer in O’Hare, Auburn QB Nick Marshall released a poorly thrown ball down field into double-coverage. Two Georgia defenders deflected the ball up in the air only to have it snatched up by streaking Auburn receiver Ricardo Louis for a 73 yard touchdown.  The eruption in Jordan Hare could be measured on the Richter scale.  Visor boy was suddenly quiet. 
 
And those twins!!!!!

The twins behind us in unison with the band started singing Bon Jovi’s   Living On A Prayer.  Did I say “And those Twins”? Georgia had one last shot only to be denied by Auburn. Final score: Auburn 43 – Georgia 38. 


 


As is the Auburn tradition after a win, we headed to Toomer’s  Corner where the students toss toilet paper into the old oak tree. However the tree is no longer there (Thank you Mr. Updyke) so they rolled anything else they could in the vicinity of where the tree once stood.   
 

Around the Country - On Wednesday night while I was chilling at Kent, the nation got to see Northern Illinois and their star QB Jordan Lynch match up against Ball State in a MAC conference heavyweight fight. Jordan Lynch is the real deal and NIU deflated Ball in the final set to win by 21. In Death Valley, SC on Thursday night, the Clemson Tigers put up a double nickel on the Rambling Wreck from Georgia Tech. Friday night, UCLA was impressive in reining in the Huskies in the Rose Bowl. If you have not seen the latest sensation, check out two way UCLA freshman Miles Jack. The kid is a beast. These were all fantastic week night games leading into the main act of College Football Saturday. On to Saturday in the ACC, Duke upsets Miami for their 8th win of the year. Duke takes control of the ACC Coastal Division with the win. Will we see the Cameron Crazies grace the gridiron now? Cutcliffville perhaps in Durham? BC becomes Bowl eligible with a win over NC State and the Terps knock off VA Tech in a mild upset. In PAC 12 action, USC upsets a lethargic Stanford in the Coliseum. Pat Haden, please take Coach Ogre’s resume seriously.  He has the men of Troy playing ball again. Arizona State bedevils the Beavers with their 8th win of the year. The Ducks bounce back with a paddling of the Utes.


In Big 12 action, the Oklahoma State Cowboys lasso the Steers from Austin in grand fashion. Baylor outshoots the Texas Tech Red Raiders 63 -34 in Jerry World. In the Big Ten, Sparty goes to 9-1 by shucking the Huskers. These boys can play some defense. Ohio State continues to roll over the lowly Illini. I say lowly because the Illini Student section could not even complete the letter I in the stands:
Pretty sad sight for the Illini
 Down in the SEC Bama slugs it out in Stark Vegas with a pedestrian 20 -7 win over the other Bulldogs. The Gamecocks and the Ole Head Ball Coach score another win against his alma mater and former employer from the Swamp. Boise wins their final home game of the year setting themselves up for a rematch with Fresno State in the conference Championship next month. Teddy Ballgame and the Cards shutdown the Cougs from Houston in an AAC brawl.


Beiber Award –for no other reason than the sheer ridiculousness of the dude’s rug in the picture below. Unfortunately I think Mr Updyke from Bama also poisoned this guys roots and this is what he is left with. As I was getting chilly,  I thought about snatching it off of his head and wearing it to warm up a bit.

Dude, there is something crawling on your head.
Next week the Tailgate will drop anchor at San Jose State for their battle against Navy Friday night.

Congarats to Joey Kernan of Hamden Sydney for wining their big rivalry game against Randolph Macaon
 Happy Tailgating!
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