Sunday, September 16, 2018

Week 3 - Mother Freaking Nature

Swamp Creatures

Sometimes the best laid plans are just not meant to be. I packed up the DFT suitcase and flew to Fort Lauderdale for a week of work in our U.S. Office. The plan was to head up to North Carolina Thursday for the BC at Wake Forest Game and then catch the UCF at UNC game Saturday and a possibility of also seeing WVU at NC State. I was to meet up with a large assortment of family, friends and new instant buddies. Mother Nature had other ideas as she cast her spawn named Florence toward the coast of North Carolina keeping all but the very bravest away and in the process cancelling 6 Division 1 A games for the weekend. Faced with this conundrum and in possession of that rare hall pass to go play for the weekend, I broke out the DFT game tracker and saw that the University of Florida had a home game on Saturday versus Colorado State. I had never been to “The Swamp” and thought that was a more than adequate plan B. I called my old work mate Steve “Nerdcell” to join me who I had last caught an American college football game with on the continent of Australia two years prior. He obtained his hall pass within 30 seconds and was a go. We are already planning for the next time a college game will be played in Ireland and England, so we can claim the rare distinction of possibly the only people to catch games on 3 continents.
My newest Besties!

Steve picked me up Saturday morning after a night of reconnecting with my old high school buddy Jeff Brunner and his wife. Needless to say, DFT might have stood for “Dan Feeling Terrible” at that point. We pulled into campus and set up camp under shade trees and joined in with a group of Gator and Colorado State fans that were parked next to us. Due to the extreme heat and humidity, it was recommended we stay well hydrated, so we complied by making an Arctic cooler bag full of Yuenglings disappear. We kibitzed with a group of spirited people that were all Colorado State grads and shared stories and laughs. They even had their own Dazed and Confused version of Mathew “All Right All Right All Right!” McConaughey in their mix. 
Planting the banner in The Swamp

The boys from Fort Collins

After breaking camp and mooching a shot of spirits in route to the stadium, we joined the cattle call to gain entrance to the “The Swamp”. As we neared the gate, a loud security guard called out “ YOU COLORADO STATE FANS, MARIJUANA IS ILLEGAL IN FLORIDA. DISPOSE OF IT NOW!!!!. That got a collective chuckle from the masses.

Florida is one of the few “Blue Bloods” of college football schools I had not yet crossed off my list. The Gators have a more modern tradition of greatness going back to the late 80’s with Emmitt Smith as their star running back followed by the Steve Spurrier era which garnered the Gators a National Championship in 96. The Gators followed up in 06 & 08 with 2 more Nattys under now disgraced coach Urban Meyer. Many great players have matriculated through Gainesville along with Emmitt Smith such as Danny Wuerful, Tim Tebow and the ole ball coach hisself, Stevey Superior back in the 1960s.
The Swamp in all it's glory
Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, named after a former well-heeled alumni is known throughout college football as The Swamp. The Swamp is said to be one of the loudest stadiums when at capacity in all of college football. Unfortunately for us, it was perhaps 60% full for this game. After the Gators lost for the first time in 30 years to Kentucky last week, it appears the fans decided to make a statement by sitting this one out. Originally built in 1930,  The Swamp has a current capacity of 91,000. The most famous in game tradition is the Gator Chomp. When the Jaws music comes over the loud speakers, the fans break out in unison doing the Gator chomp by extending their arms vertically and horizontally and bringing their hands together and speeding up as the music does the same. I have no rhythm, so I refrained from partaking. Another ritual at the end of the third quarter is when the song We Are The Boys From Old Florida is played and the fans, arm in arm sway back and forth in alternating rows. I was able to accomplish this without messing our section up. The Florida Marching Band was large and loud throughout the day, however we heard less of them and more of the annoying piped in music. This is rare in the SEC as the Bands usually dominate the sounds. The student section in the sun baked side of the stadium looked to be at best half full.
Never smile like a crocodile.....
Knowing this would be a hot Florida day, I made sure our seats were on the shady side of the stadium in the upper deck with a great view of the action. The first quarter of play was fairly even with a few mistakes by each squad. The Gators’ size and speed started to wear down the scrappy Rams in the second quarter and went into the locker room at half with a 28-3 lead. At halftime, we were visited by my Frostburg classmate and wife of a fraternity brother, Karen Langrehr and her daughter Rachel who is a student at Florida. It is always good catching up with old friends just to remind me how much I have forgotten. Colorado State started to make a game of it with a touchdown and a couple of long drives in the third quarter, but Florida was just too deep and significantly better in the 4th quarter as they ran away with the game. Final score Florida 48, CSU 10. Back to my airport hotel for a zero dark thirty flight to the West Coast.
Catching up with the Langrehrs.
Around the country

Get over it people, Alabama is just damn good this year as they went into Oxford and had to show mercy on the Rebs, pounding them 62-7. Colonel Reb was crying. In what appeared to be the game of the day, the LSU Tigers went into Jordan Hare and clawed out a win over the Auburn Tigers on a last second field goal. Coach Shrek in the post game field interview was heard saying “come on Donkey, One Heartbeat!”. In Jerry World, Ohio State without Urban for the last time this season took down a good TCU squad. Further down Interstate 35, the Longhorns put a Texas size whipping on the Men of Troy in a 2005 National Championship rematch. In the game I missed that was not cancelled, Boston College beat Wake Forest to improve to 3-0. Syracuse beat Florida State for the first time in forever. The mighty OU Sooners behind Center Fielder Kyler Murray went up to Ames and claimed revenge over the Cyclones for last year’s upset. In Stillwater, Mrs. Tailgate’s Cowpokes rounded up daughter #1’s Broncos and handed them their first defeat while remaining perfect on the season. I normally don’t mention Kansas, but since they annihilated Rutgers for their second win in a row, I had to write about them. Wisconsin joins the list of pretenders as the BYU “Book of Mormon” prayed upon the Badgers in Camp Randall for a massive upset. Hawaii traveled all the way to West Point only to be defeated by Army. This may be the longest road trip of the season with the Rainbow Warriors changing 6 times zones. 

Just a reminder, if your school beats an FCS school or an irrelevant group of 5 program, I won’t be mentioning you. However, when you lose to these programs I will gladly print prose about it. Just ask Chipper at UCLA, The Hermanator at ASU and John Smith at Oregon State as all three led their squads to defeats against inferior Mountain West Conference opponents Fresno, San Diego State and Nevada. Scott Frost and Nebraska losing to the other Men of Troy, as in Troy University and Nerdwestern giving the Akron Zips their first win over a Big Ten opponent in 124 years. Sadly, what is going on with Arkansas as they also lost to North Texas out of Conference USA?

Bieber – Those teams that Copy Miami’s Turnover Chain. Last year, the University of Miami started an original concept: after every time their team forced a turnover, the person who was credited with it put a big chain around their neck on the sideline as a reward. It was cool, original and unique. This year, in a world of non-original, me too people, we are seeing a plethora of copycats. Boise State started the Turnover Throne, as in Royal throne. Florida State came up with the Turnover backpack, however, it was last seen on their opponents’ backs. FCS Kennesaw State has the Turnover Plank and Oregon has the Oregon chain. Tulane has Mardi Gras style Turnover Heads, Memphis the Turnover Robe, and Louisville with Turnover Gloves with a belt. So, you’re not cool, you’re not original, you are simply copycat stains on the napkins of life. Find something else to placate the mindless with.
Navy tailgaters

Last week at OU v UCLA

The Major from his Trojan Perch at Texas

The Bostic's view form their seats at Happy Valley
Miscellaneous Since I did not have an article last week, I wanted to acknowledge the passing of Florida State Great Burt Reynolds, the Bandit himself. I was fortunate enough 5 years ago to attend a game at Tallahassee where they honored Burt at halftime. I even did a remake of his famous bear skin pose prior to that game. RIP to the leader of the Mean Machine.

Next Week – I will be back home for a Monte Vista High School football tailgate and game on Friday night with family and friends. Saturday will be a backyard tailgate to watch Army play OU. Also, there will be weeks when I do not write a recap if I have not gone to a game. I apologize in advance, but it is not as inspiring to write if I don’t attend a game. Next road game is Ohio State at Penn State in 2 weeks.

Happy Tailgating!

Monday, September 3, 2018

Boiler Up and Fireball Down!

As is customary for the past four years, I begin my season long journey with my college buddy Jim “Tubby”, “Otis”, “Cousin Eddie” Devine. The past few years we were able to pull off triple headers but this year my vital organs and family said otherwise. We settled on the marquis matchup on opening night, a Big Ten smash mouth battle between Purdue and Northwestern in West Lafayette, IN. Prior to the  football related festivities, I was instructed to grab lunch at the famous Triple X Family diner. Now if that is not a diametrical confluence of two worlds in a name, then what is? I am a sucker for places that have been featured on shows like Man vs Food or Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive ins and Dives. This place was on the latter and I was sold when I saw that they actually take the steak and grind it up in the kitchen to make their burgers. I had to partake, and it met my expectations.

Triple XXX Diner

We loaded up the styrofoam cooler with necessary liquid accoutrements, accompanied by Cousin Eddie’s giant stack of homemade sliders with “reeeeeeeeeeeeal tomato ketchup Clarke!” and headed to our tailgate spot. We were invited to join my high school classmate Patti Lorette Phillips at the Jones Family Tailgate, a mere 20 steps to the entrance of the south end zone. The buffet line consisted of the aforementioned sliders, pulled pork BBQ sammies, mac n cheese, and an assortment of other calorie conscious scooby snacks. It was awesome catching up with Patti as she is that person that has done a great job organizing class reunions and keeping in touch with many of our classmates. We rehashed old class gossip, and “where are they now” and “who have we lost” conversations. We also insisted that when there was a Boiler Up! cheer we toasted with that red hot candy tasting juice that cousin Eddie calls the elixir of life.
Boiler Up and Fireball down!

We met the patriarch of the family, Charlie Jones, class of 49 who was nattily dressed in a suit with a Purdue tie while enjoying a Bloody Mary. Charlie, a young 93 year old with all his dark hair still told me several stories about the school, the history, and his involvement through the years. I said to him “Charlie, you have been coming to games here for 75 years, what is your best memory?” He paused, looked me in  the eye and then waved his hand around the tailgate crowd and he said “This is. It’s the people”. With a look of satisfaction, he took a sip of his Bloody Mary as people lined up to say hello to him. It was reminiscent of the scene from the Godfather as they came to kiss the ring. The Drum Corp even came by and played several numbers for which I am told is out of respect for Charlie. I was honored to meet this legend and his daughter Jennifer and her husband Gary Katona who were gracious hosts. Prior to heading into the stadium, we were treated to an up close and personal performance by The Purdue All American Marching Band as they paraded by our tailgate spot. In true Big Ten fashion, the band was large, talented, and spirited, and we applauded heartily.
Frostburg's finest with the legend Charlie Jones

Patti and the big heads!
Ross Ade stadium is in it’s 95th season of existence. Current seating capacity in the horseshoe shaped structure is 57,000. Named after two original benefactors, the stadium has witnessed some amazing history. Purdue likes to call itself the Cradle of Quarterbacks with the likes of Len Dawson, Bob Griese, Drew Brees, Kyle Orton, Mark Hermann, and Jim Everett just to name a few that played their college years at Ross Ade. I would estimate that there were 48,000 in attendance Thursday night and the place was electric. The student section was most impressive as almost all of them stayed until the end. It helps that beer is served in the stadium, good incentive for the kids.
Tailgate Connect on the job
Entering the stadium, our seats were in the south end zone strategically located near the all important Beer Garden. Prior to kick off we enjoyed a performance by a jump squad parachuting onto the field with various flags including my favorite; the American flag. I was tapped on the shoulder by a young man two rows behind me and he asked if I had served? When I said yes, he thanked me. That moment again made me proud to be an American. Regardless of what team you root for, what your political stripes are, race, religion or creed, at that moment it reinforced to me how College Football unites us all. I know, cheesy but true.

Northwestern jumped out to a quick 14 - 0 lead in the first quarter as they looked bigger and better prepared to play. Both teams won Bowl games last year and are poised for strong seasons. These are not your father’s Wildcats and Boiler Makers. Purdue was not going to lay down and get steamrolled as they battled back to tie the score at 14 behind the play of true freshman wide receiver Rondale Moore who accounted for both TDs. Northwestern would dominate the second quarter by putting up 17 more points to Purdue’s 3 taking a 31-17 lead into the locker room.

Purdue narrowed the gap by scoring a touchdown and a field goal in the second half. In the fourth quarter with the Wildcats holding on to a narrow 4 point lead, with an apparent stalled drive that would result in 4th and long, Purdue D lineman Lorenzo Neal made a crucial mistake. After the whistle was blown with the running back wrapped up, Neal log tossed the kid about 5 yards resulting in an automatic first down allowing NW to run out the clock and walk away with a 31-27 victory.

The last chuckle of the night was while walking out of the stadium when I spotted a golf cart with a driver in it and offered him $20 to get us out of the sea of dejected humanity to an Uber friendly pick up point. He drove us to our host’s hotel a mile away where we caught our chariot to Denny’s for a 1 AM Grand Slam breaky.

Around the country

As Saturday came about, we opted for a backyard tailgate to watch the later action. In the ABC game of the week, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Michigan Harbaughs renewed their ancient rivalry for the first time in four years. The Irish prevailed with a dominant defensive performance keeping transfer QB Shea Patterson in check all night. The QB debate at Bama is settled, it’s Tua not Jalen. Just let Michelle ask that question if you want his opinion. In a  defensive battle, Auburn was just a bit better than the Huskies from Seattle and walked  away with a 6 point win. In Charlotte, in a much anticipated battle, WVU left no doubt they were the better team against Tennessee and their new Coach Pruitt. The Kyler Murray era at OU began with a resounding beatdown of the Lane Train and his FAU Owls in Norman on Saturday. Miami was no match on the Sunday night game for the fighting Ogres from LSU as the Bayou Bengals devoured the Hurricanes. On Monday night in Tallahassee, the Hokies gobbled up the Seminoles in a lopsided win.  In more provincial news,  Monte Vista High School put up double nickels to Analy’s “O no you dit int” on Friday night. Frostburg State won its season opener against Stevenson college. Also, former Frostburg State All American defensive lineman Niles Scott has secured a spot on the San Francisco 49ers practice squad. Should he get called up, you may finally see me at one of their games.

Monte Vista high school representing

Bieber – This week’s honors goes to two so called college football fan friends of mine and part of the local DFT crew. The first honoree, a suspected communist sympathizer Alan “Futbol” Campbell was purported to be seen at the Scottish games in Pleasanton, CA sipping scotch and wearing his Che Guevara t shirt. This was on Saturday during the seminal day of the opening weekend of college football. He later was caught tweeting about a Manchester United Futbol game. He has since taken the offensive tweet down. The second goes to known anarchist Dave Quilici who was found in Portland, Oregon all weekend attending Antifa rallies or Free the trees demonstrations. When Dave was contacted, he had no idea it was even opening weekend of CFB. He was last seen hitchhiking back to Cali on I5 sporting new dreadlocks. In other news, the local East Bay Chapter of DFT is looking to fill two recently vacated spots in its ranks. We only seek loyalty as the main characteristic.

Next Week – Nada, zip, nuttin. The following week, a Carolina double double at Wake and UNC.

Happy Tailgating!