Sunday, November 6, 2016

Week 10 - On The Boulevard

In 1986 the SMU football program was handed down what has been dubbed the ‘Death Penalty” by the NCAA. The punishment consisted of cancelling the entire 1987 season and subsequently the 1988 season was also not played. SMU had experienced a meteoric rise from the mid-1970s through the mid-1980s. The famed “Pony Express” of running backs Eric Dickerson and Craig James led the team into a national powerhouse and formidable force within the old Southwest Conference. Out of nowhere, SMU was landing recruits that normally went to Texas or Texas A&M or even Oklahoma. Along with this phenomena brought the scrutiny of the brown shirts. After multiple hand slaps from the NCAA on recruiting violations, the hammer finally came down in 1986. It was the testimony of a former player that led the investigators to the more egregious infraction of using a so called “slush fund” to pay the kids. Bread crumb trails led all the way to the Governor of Texas’s office who sat on the SMU Board and had some complicity in the matter. The penalty is considered by most to be the harshest punishment ever dished out by the KGB. The program has never really recovered and went twenty years before it made its way back to a bowl game in 2009. The Southwest Conference is no more and the old Cowboy Stadium and Ownby Field where they once played are both gone nor do they use the Cotton Bowl anymore. What is still there is a Texas size passion for Mustang football with loyal supporters and students.

SMU has a storied history of peaks of greatness in the 1930s, 1940s and of course the first half of the 1980s. Doak Walker was a three time All American for the Stangs after WWII. He was a do everything Back who also kicked and punted. Other household names that graced The Hilltop were Kyle Rote, Dandy Don Meredith, Forrest Gregg, and Reggie Dupard. SMU claims three national championships from the days when as many as three teams may have also been crowned the kings of college football.

Nowadays the “Stangs’ play their home games in the beautiful Gerald J Ford Stadium (It’s not the former President Ford, but rather a well to do alum) on campus which is referred to as “The Hilltop”. Ford Stadium was completed in 2000 and has a seating capacity of 32,000. Heisman trophy winner Doak Walker is honored with a statue and plaza outside the stadium. The stadium sits on the same spot as the previous stadium named Ownsby field. SMU is part of the American Athletic Conference along with fellow SWC Alumni Houston. SMU is a private school in Dallas founded in 1911 and has slightly under 12,000 total students. It is known in Texas as the lucky sperm club school.
Doak From the Tailgate?

The area outside the stadium that has gained quite a reputation for tailgating is simply known as The Boulevard. Tailgate ostentatiousness and creativity rivals that of the legendary Grove at Ole Miss. The similarities were brought about by the school’s chancellor back in 2000 who had been at Ole Miss previously. Southern Living magazine voted the Boulevard as one of the top tailgating venues in the country. This writer and reveler does not disagree. Joining me on this week’s adventure were the West Point Wiggins clan and my cousin Bob, AKA Cousin Eddie. With food and drink vendors on The Boulevard, we opted to stroll gate and take in the whole scene and mooch when necessary. However, upon seeing a keg at the Christian Ministry tailgate, we were offered a cup only to find out it was root beer. They saved themselves a few cups. It also happened to be homecoming so there was added vibrancy to the scene and much pomp and circumstance, along with homecoming floats and marching bands. 

Planting the banner on The Boulevard

We strolled down The Boulevard observing all the unique rigs, bars, tents, bands, and even a full scale dance pavilion. We observed the tent where a large number of recruits were brought in for the day. I hope they like the tailgate scene because the on field performance was not a deal closer. There were food trucks and beer vendors as well if you were strollgating as we were. 

Once in the stadium, we had seats on the 40 yard line row 18. We paid only $9 for each ticket. For the coin toss, former President George W Bush was present. He lives in the hood nearby and probably heard I was on campus and wanted to hang with me. Ford Stadium is a bowl with two levels and a grassy knoll in the south end zone that young kids seem to enjoy and conspirators still talk about. There is also a giant scoreboard in the south end zone. There are no bad views from anywhere in the venue. Unfortunately, fans arrived late and were gone after halftime (I almost thought I was at Dodger Stadium). With the Stangs giving a lackluster performance on the field, the student section was the first to vacate and resume the party. It appeared as though the team had also vacated at times as Memphis provided a Texas size whooping the likes that had not been seen since Santa Anna overran the Alamo. The cheer and spirit squads did their best to keep the fans engaged, the band was small but attempted to make some noise. They also put on a decent halftime show accompanied by the alumni band. The miniature Mustang only got to run the field once after SMU’s lone touchdown on the day.
The grassy knoll
Enjoying the day at G Ford!
The Mustangs on the move
Around the nation – This week of college football could be referred to as "beat down" week as no less than 14 teams scored 50 or more points while holding their opponents to insignificant totals. Perhaps these losing teams are taking this mannequin phenomena a bit too far as they are literally standing still as the opponents run by them. 

Hail State beating A&M making the Playoff Committee appear incapable of making the right choices once again. Larry Culpepper, the Dr. Pepper vendor extraordinaire will be called in to get them squared away.  

Larry knows best!

UCLA v Colorado – in my bonus game of the week, Colorado won ugly beneath the flatirons in Boulder by beating a sinking UCLA team 20-10. Since I have previously written about Colorado I won’t recap the entire event. I can only say that with the additions and renovations over the last four years, it is one of the most beautiful stadiums in the country now. However, on-campus tailgating is down to a bare minimum in the University’s effort to reduce the moniker of “party school”.

The Buffs on the rise under Coach mac
LSU v Bama –Yawn!!! This one was like dating your sister. No offense to my family and friends in West Virginia or my sisters for that matter. After three scoreless quarters, Freshmen QB Jalen “Make it Hurts so bad” led the tide to ten 4th quarter points for a 10-0 win.

Joltin Joe and crew at Death Valley, LA
Nebraska v Ohio State – Nebraska will once again sink into oblivion and have become a non- factor in the chase for the BIG Ten hardware after Ohio State put up double nickels on them in the Shoe.

Arkansas chomps down on the Gators proving the SEC Least to be a joke this year. Wishful thinking from sports writers wanting them to be good but they could not compete with the best non power five schools. Sorry, I love many of your schools, but your on field product just ain’t cutting it.

WMU remains undefeated after slaughtering Ball State in Muncie on Tuesday. They are the highest ranked and only undefeated non power five school remaining. Check out the MACtion for the next 3 weeks as games are played Tue, Wed and Thur!

The Carluccis and crew at Muhlenberg, PA game and tailgate.
Eagle tailgaters self medicating before the Lamar jackson show

Bieber – Cousin Bob was a contender for multiple Bieber like moves throughout the weekend however he came in second. The winner this week is Joe Mixon. Once again this talented yet entitled Sooner, has shown a side of himself that will call into question his character. Young Joe is most famously known for punching a woman before his freshman year. This time the infraction was much less egregious but is still Bieberlicious enough to get our attention. This past week, the studious Mixon was returning to his car in an on campus parking lot. Upon arriving at his vehicle, young Joe had been given a parking citation. Apparently this didn’t sit well with him so he grabbed the ticket and located the parking attendant Nazi. After the proper salutations, he proceeded to rip the ticket up in front of the attendant. I am sure Joseph was perturbed as it did not matter to the attendant that he was a star running back on the Sooner squad. The campus po po were called in, King Bob was notified and upon his decree Joe was forced to sit out this week’s game against Iowa State. It was good for him to stay back in Norman while his mates were all in Ames, Iowa Thursday.  It gave him time to listen to all his Bieber songs in his iTunes collection. One more nomination and Joe will be considered for Bieber Hall of Fame honors.

College football Playoff if the season ended this week:

Bama, Michigan, Clemson and UW. Get over it East Coast Bias, UW is damn good. The argument that they don’t play anybody or that their non-conference schedule is weak doesn’t hold water with me. Bama, Clemson and Michigan all played patsies this season too. None of the power conferences are great top to bottom with each having three maybe four legit teams max. My second tier group waiting for the first four to fall include Louisville, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Frostburg State.

Next week I will be attending the Penn game versus Harvard in Philadelphia at historic Franklin Field Friday night, and Navy versus Tulsa in Annapolis on Saturday. For you Marylanders and Frostburgers, please stop by and tailgate with us before or after the game. Just bring some good stuff to contribute you bunch of mooches.

Happy Tailgating