Sunday, November 26, 2017

Week 13 - Welcome To The Hotel California

As part of our family get away to sunny San Diego and the Hotel Del Coronado for Thanksgiving weekend, I ensured that our priorities were in check. The kids drove off to Disney for the day on Friday while I expressed my love for the birthday girl, AKA Mrs. Tailgate with a trip to the San Diego State game. The Aztecs were hosting the New Mexico Lobos out of the ABQ and Breaking Bad hood. Both teams are long time members of the Mountain West Conference. Aztec football has been played since 1967 at Qualcomm stadium, formerly known as The Murph and was shared with the Chargers until they moved to LA this year. It was also originally constructed as a baseball stadium and was home to the Padres until they relocated downtown to their new digs a decade ago. Qualcomm has been the host site for three Super Bowls and is the venue for the Holiday Bowl and now defunct Poinsettia Bowl. The stadium sits five miles from campus and is not known for having great student support. Given that this was Thanksgiving break, students would not be a big part of this game regardless. The stadium holds 70,000 but a typical Aztec’s game will have around 30,000 fans. As we walked around the empty cavernous concourses and stairwells, it dawned on me that a triple homicide would go unnoticed here. I am hopeful that San Diego State will someday soon build an on campus cathedral to provide a true college football atmosphere. Although, rumor has it, if a new stadium is to be built, it will still be off campus. 

A little history involving self and SDSU: In the summer of ‘83, I came out from Maryland to stay with my sister who was a student there. I joined the SDSU summer sevens rugby team and had a blast. I worked out on campus daily and rode a moped all over San Diego like Lloyd Christmas and even considered transferring. Best move I never made as Frostburg had bigger plans for me! The birthday gal and I started our day with breakfast in a cup at McGregor’s sports bar along with chicken wings and fried raviolis. McGregor’s is only a mere few steps from the stadium parking lot. As is typical, I was nursing another mysterious knee injury and it took us 30 minutes as a hobbling DFT was passed by numerous Walmart hoverrounds and cane assisted seniors.

The Aztecs are coached by Rocky Long who happens to also be the former long time coach of their opponent on this day. Under Coach Long, the Aztecs have been relevant in the Mountain West title chase for the past seven seasons. They have also produced several outstanding running backs during his tenure, NFLers Ronnie Hillman and Donnell Pumphrey.  Current stud Rashad Penny leads the nation in rushing and is well on his way to a pro career. On the other side of the coin, the Lobos are coached by former Notre Dame head man Bob Davies who has run into some Bieber Karma as of late. Since he announced he was so proud of his players for taking a knee during the anthem in their game versus Air Force, the Lobos have not won again. In fact, they are having an outright disastrous season.

The stadium was empty on the sunny side with the exception of about 500 brave fans, as most folks crowded the shady half. 28,000 fans paid for a ticket on this unseasonably warm late November afternoon. I have to give high marks to the Aztec Marching Band as they were very noticeable throughout the afternoon. We even got a private concert after the game outside of the stadium. San Diego state behind the brilliant running of Rashad Penny and a stout Defense held the Lobos scoreless in the first half while the Aztec Offense scored two TDs. New Mexico showed some life in the 3rd quarter by kicking a field goal and scoring a touchdown to tighten up the scoring delta. However, Rashad Penny would run for 200 yards while topping the 2,000 yard mark on the season, while leading the hometown team to a 35-10 victory. Back to Coronado Island we went to continue the birthday celebration and at her insistence, we watched the night games.

Is there a better way to say happy birthday?
Around the Country
Saturday, my Sooner daughter and I found our way to an Oklahoma watch bar, The 710 Beach Club in Pacific Beach. There, we were joined by 200 other OU fans to watch the Sooners and Baker Magic shred the Mountaineers 59-31. Great chicken wings, Labatt’s blue and wait for it….. yes Fireball. We also saw the #1 ranked Crimson Tide get rolled by their bitter in state rival Auburn in The Iron Bowl. Bama was not the only top four team to lose on the weekend, as Miami would be upset by lowly Pitt on Friday in a shocker, creating mass playoff chaos. Also on Friday in the War on I 4, the UCF Golden Knights bested USF in one of the most exciting games of the year. I sincerely hope Coach Scott Frost does not leave until after their bowl game. In The Game, Urban outdueled Harbaugh in the Big House keeping the TOSU win streak alive against the maize and blue. Stanford eliminated any hopes The Irish had for a playoff spot by showing them too much Love, as in Bryce Love running all over them in the fourth quarter for a convincing Stanford win. Clemson cut down the Gamecocks in the Palmetto Bowl in Columbia assuring them of this week’s number 1 ranking. Washington dominated their in-state foe Wazzou in the Apple Cup knocking the Cougs out from the PAC 12 title game. In the Mountain West, Fresno upset Boise setting up a rematch next week for the conference championship.  And yes, I am happy to announce that Frostburg thoroughly dominated Washington & Jefferson in the second round of the D3 playoffs. For their reward they get to play Mount Union in the quarters. Too many coaches have moved or been removed, hired or fired over the past few days to comment yet as the dust is nowhere near being settled. A few surprises and many that were expected.

The Iorio clan at Notre Dame, PAC 12 John and new Bestie, Brian, Laurie and Steve O at the Maryland debacle.

My evil daughters enlightening me to day drinking at the 710 Beach Club. Bartender is a walking advertisement!
Bieber- I take a lot of heat from my OU hating friends on supporting Baker Mayfield despite his lapses in judgement. Regardless of what he did, he is a competitor with a heart that has perhaps never been seen in college football. He is a teammate’s teammate and the ultimate warrior. That being said he will not get the Bieber, nor will he ever get it. Instead I want to award it to a long overdue candidate before he abandons his team for good to prepare for the draft. This week’s Bieber was solidified as Josh “Jay Cutler” Rosen once again quit on his team as he was getting “wuffed up by dose big buwwies”. His shirt was torn by a player from Cal on a normal football play. He used that as an excuse to once again fake concussion symptoms and quit on his team. This has been a pattern since he arrived in Westwood as he only cares about himself. He is not a leader. He is not a teammate. He is not worthy of a top draft pick. Look no further than Jay Cutler or Jeff George for what you will get with Prince Rosen. He is only concerned with his own well being. He is uncoachable as well, as this was first pointed out by Trent Dilfer five years ago at the Elite 11 QB camp. He has a very high opinion of himself even though he led UCLA to three years of mediocrity resulting in his coach getting fired. Yes, he has a big arm and can show signs of brilliance, but not consistency, tenacity or esprit de corps. For these unforgivable attributes, he now not only earns this week’s Bieber but has been granted by special vote, entry into the Bieber Hall of Fame. In fact, there is discussion on the DFT Board of starting a new award called the Rosen given to players that exert selfish one-way behavior.

Next Week – We will be watching the conference Championships from DFT HQ. Next live game will be in two weeks as Army takes on Navy in Philadelphia for the greatest rivalry game in college football.

Happy Tailgating!