Sunday, September 24, 2017

Week 4 – City by the Bay

As we are prone to make changes each season to our proposed schedule, we called a last minute audible and bailed on our trip to New Orleans for the Tulane/LSU doubleheader (more on that below under Bieber). Our student body left, put us back in the heart of The People’s Republic of Bezerkely for the Cal USC game. As is customary, pre-gaming started at the historic Claremont Hotel deck bar over-looking the bay. It was truly a chamber of commerce moment. We were joined by our honeymooning friends Steve and Carrie Dawson from Danville, PA. After fueling on bacon infused Bloody Mary’s we linked up with the Chris & Paula Kenny Tailgate off Bancroft Ave. A beautiful day by all accounts in the PRB as the town was buzzing with excitement with the hated Trojans riding into town. Pre-gaming was taking place in every nook and cranny in the crazy town with a third of the revelers being Trojans and Trojan gang banger wannabees.

Big day in Berkeley!
The game was competitive as Cal jumped out to an early lead. USC capitalized on a few crucial Cal mistakes allowing them to pull away with a win over the improved Bears 30-20. Sam Darnold has still not looked his best yet this year. Most importantly, the new beer garden experiment inside the stadium is a not so funny joke. Who runs out of beer after 15 minutes? That should be a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. I have volunteered my expertise on taking over this operation.

DFT's first family the Gervolinos enjoying the UNH Tailgate
Around the Country -  Post Berkeley exfil, we landed back at DFT world HQ in the outside man cave for the late game action. Did anyone catch the San Diego State game at Air Force? Apparently, there was a lengthy weather delay. By the time the game restarted there were less than 100 people remaining to watch in which SDSU eked out a victory after a hard-fought battle. On the Blue in Boise, the Wahoos extracted revenge from the massacre at UVA two years ago at UVA with their own annihilation of the Broncos. In the games we were slated to see, Tulane edged out Army 20 -17 and LSU squeezed one out against the Orange from Cuze 35-26 in Baton Rouge. Bama hung up fiddy nine against Vandy’s goose egg in Music City. In the Dawg fight between the hedges, UGA’s Dawgs chewed up the Dogs from Stark Vegas. TCU Horned Frogs leapt into Stillwater and walked out with a resounding win against the OSU Cow Pokes. In Waco, the #3 ranked Sooners took the lowly Bears lightly and escaped with an ugly win. Baker and the running backs played great nonetheless. The Fighting Irish took it to Sparty in East Lansing. Iowa nearly pulled off another major upset only to lose to Penn State on a last second touchdown. Saquon Barkley is a beast. A much improved Purdue team gave Michigan a game but ultimately fell short. NC State knocks FSU out of the top 20 and the playoff picture with a win in Tally. Out west, UW smoked the Buffaloes from Boulder in a rematch of last year’s P12 ship. UCLA and Josh “Jay Cutler” Rosen lose again at Stanford. The Ducks were shot down in Tempe by the Sun Devils. Frostburg State improved to 4-0 with a win over Rowan.

The DFT East Coast crew at the Navy game.

Eagle Tailgaters invading Clemson for a day in Death Valley
The Pifer/Cole Clan pre-gaming at the legendary ESSO club at Clemson
Patti and Brad Phillips supporting the Boilermakers
The conflicted parents at CU v UW game with kids at both schools

Bieber- goes to me and my crew for bailing on a great boy’s weekend in New Orleans. No excuse and we kicked ourselves and felt self-humiliation and shame all weekend over the decision we collectively made Thursday. To add insult to injury, we called out part of our crew last week as Biebers for not joining us in NOLA. We are shamed and hang our heads in disgust. What can we do to shed this horrid label? As of now, we are all looking into the witness protection program so we can avoid the constant insults. We might even be turning into snowflakes.

Next Week – Mrs. Tailgate and I will be hosting a breakfast tailgate at Stanford as the Sun Devils come to town along with Head Devil hisself, Kevin ”OC” O’Connor and his crew.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Biggest Little Bar Town in America and We are Marshall!

After extracting my wingman for the weekend (Brother Brian) from the Columbus, OH Airport we rambled on down the state highway to the hidden gem that is Athens, Ohio for our first stop on another double header weekend. I say hidden gem as most people not from this part of the country know very little if anything at all about it. I had been beckoned by Ohio U Cadre member Ryan O’Connor for the past three seasons to get to Athens for a Saturday game. He said it is hard to explain the magic of the town/school and much better to experience in person. He was not kidding.

We hit town late Friday afternoon, checked into our Ohio U “green and white decorated” hotel and headed into town. Ohio University was established in 1804 and was the first University established in what was then called the Northwest Territory (North and West of the Ohio River). It currently educates over 20,000 students. The campus is situated among rolling hills in the western reaches of Appalachia  with a collection of buildings constructed in the colonial architecture style surrounding the famous College Green. The Ohio Bobcats (just like Frostburg) are part of the MAC Conference and play their home games at Peden Stadium. The “jewel of the MAC” was built in 1929 and has a current capacity of 27,000. Along with the recently completed indoor practice facility, construction for a new athletic building has begun in the North end zone. Current head Coach Frank Solich has been at the helm in Athens for 13 years after a stint as the head man at Nebraska. He has elevated the program as they are a perennial bowl participant and challenge for the MAC title every year.

The town of Athens is well known throughout the Midwest as a place to come for all kinds of different celebrations and soirees. We were advised to have dinner at Jackie O’s and it didn’t disappoint. Great atmosphere and delicious pub grub. Shortly after dinner we met up with our liaison Ryan at The Pub on the famous Court Street. To put it into perspective, the area of commerce on court street is perhaps a ¼ mile long. Within that span, there are 28 bars mixed in with plenty of college houses that were throwing bashes. The vibrancy and feel of Court street was akin to any major SEC college town bar district I have experienced. It also happened to be parent’s weekend, so in addition to reveling kids, there were plenty of parents having a good time as well. For once I looked like I fit in. We also met up at another Court Street establishment called Broney’s with Ohio Booster and our host for the tailgate the next day, Kenny Kerr. After meeting Kenny, I have met my match and now know what I want to be when I grow up. My wingman Brian started yawning like a dying hippopotamus, so before the clock struck midnight we flagged down our Pumpkin to be whisked away from having a perfectly great time.
Young Ryan serving fish bowls of beer

Bald Lives Matter rally in Athens
With kickoff set for noon, we headed over to campus to meet up with our tailgate crew for the morning. Special thanks to Jim Kahler and the Kansas fans for making us feel a part of the crowd. Bloody Mary’s, fried chicken, sliders and even a beer chug live on Facebook were all part of the festivities. The Tailgate scene while not of SEC size and magnitude was spirited and festive. I was wearing my Faber College T shirt as it matched the Ohio green and white colors. I would be repeatedly stopped throughout the day for pictures or just for people to gawk at it. “Christ, seven years of college down the drain. Might as well join the 4@#7ing Peace Corps!”
The Ohio U/Kansas Mixer Tailgate

Thee 110% band was outstanding

The Cat Women doing their thing!
With press passes in hand, we hit the field and were treated to a two FA 18s doing a flyover at the end of the National Anthem. We then watched the Bobcats run through the tunnel and take to the field led by the Bobcat Mascot on his motorcycle. On this day, the Bobcats would be facing Power Five school Kansas from the Big 12, better known for hoops then the gridiron. After watching the first few series from the sideline, I noticed Brian’s ankle bracelet buzzing as he was getting danger close to the cheerleaders. So as a precautionary measure, I strategically relocated us to section 106, 30 rows up in the stands on the west sideline. The Bobcats ran a platoon system at QB utilizing Nathan Rourke and Quinton Maxwell. The duo would consistently carve up the Jayhawk defense with precision passes all afternoon long. The Bobcats jumped out to an early 11-0 lead and never looked back. They out hustled and showed more grit than the bigger Jayhawk squad and earned a well deserved victory with a score of 42-30. Of special note, along with the play on the field was the outstanding Bobcat “110” Marching band. They continuously belted out song after song all afternoon long as it should be for a college game. Major Props to Ryan O’Connor to setting us up with an overall outstanding experience.
The Bobcat leading the team onto the field.

Danger Close!!!

As I mentioned at the start, we would be doing a double header, so off we drove the 81 miles to Huntington, WV to catch the night game at Marshall University. Most people now know who Marshall is after the movie We Are Marshall came out a few years back. The story of the 1971 Marshall team that perished in a plane crash coming back from a game and the subsequent rebuilding of the program. For me, the story goes back to my youth as all three of my older brothers attended Marshall in the early to mid - 70’s for part of their “Higher” Education. Marshall is the second largest university in the State of West Virginia and currently has over 13,000 students. Famous Marshall football players include Randy Moss and Chad Pennington.

We arrived at our lodgings dropped our belongings and jumped in an uber to the stadium. The main parking lot and private lots around town were reminiscent of one large fraternity party as the Thundering Herd faithful clad in bright green had been going strong all day prior to the 6:30 PM kickoff. We were not able to tailgate as we arrived 1 hour to kickoff but were able to absorb the essence and the atmosphere of Marshall pre-gaming.

We got to our seats on the 50-yard line in time for the National Anthem. Joan and James Edward stadium is a phenomenal facility that was completed in 1991. It is U shaped with an athletic building in the west end zone. The grand cathedral holds 38,000 spectators. Brian’s old dorm loomed over the West bleachers. The South side of the stadium fans would chant “We Are” and the West side would respond with “Marshall”. The loud speaker system would play “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC when the Thundering Herd were about to do something momentous.
Brian's old dorm and Miley Bieber riling the crowd up

The Herd out of Conference USA, were hosting Kent State from the MAC. The first half was a scoreless draw until Marshall scored a touchdown in the final seconds before halftime. Marshall would score twice more in the fourth quarter pitching a 21-0 shutout. We got back to the hotel in time to watch the marquis games of the evening. Freshman Tyler King led all running backs with 101 yards rushing and 1 touchdown.
The Brother's Donnelly taking in game 2 of the day

Marshall running away with it.
Around the country It appears Butch Jones and the Vols can’t catch a break after knotting the game up at 20 in the final minute to once again lose to their nemesis the Florida Gators in the final seconds 26-20. How bad is Baylor this year? Choken Rosen of UCLA pulled a Jay Cutler and pouted as he personally gave the game away to the Memphis Tigers in the biggest upset of the day. The men of Troy narrowly escaped the coliseum with a win after taking two overtimes to beat the Longhorns of Texas. Clemson looks as strong as ever after thoroughly dominating the Louisville Cardinals in the ABC game of the week. In the battle of the cloth, Notre Dame beat the Jesuits of Boston College in Chestnut Hill 49-20. I won $100 to be donated to the charity of my choice. Any suggestions? Oklahoma State dominated Pitt once again behind newly anointed Heisman Candidate Mason Rudolph. NIU upsets Nebraska putting Mike Riley firmly in the hot seat. In Stark Vegas, MS. Stingray and the boys were celebrating into the wee hours after the Bulldogs shocked the LSU Tigers 37-7. If you ask coach Ogre what happened, he will simply say “PENALTIES”. Late at night out west, San Diego State knocked off Stanford. SDSU may be the cream of the group of five right now.
The Rector clan pre-gaming in T Town

Still cute even when trying to look mean!

Steve Koreivo finally gets his pic in at Minny Soda game.

The Millings of Auburn with daughter Catherine as part of the Homecoming Court

DFTers James and Kevin pre-gaming at Michigan

Bieber – Goes to two of my DFT loyalist for being in Hawaii this month and missing our pending weekend in New Orleans coming up. My faithful Paisans thought it would be more prudent to take their lovely betrothed to paradise then to play with the DFT crew in NOLA for a weekend. Who does that? I am sure they had a wonderful time getting mani-pedis and man-scaping sessions. You lads better bring you’re a game to Seattle next month!
Chris Desimone and Lou Gervolino in Hawaii instead of tailgating.

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Happy Tailgating!