Monday, October 29, 2018

week 9 - I got a fever...and the only perscription is more cowbell!

The Bonus Game

With a business conference this week in Atlanta, I was able to plan my annual SEC trip with my Seneca Valley Class of 81 High School Posse to Mississippi State. More on that later. Knowing that I would be in Atlanta, I broke out the DFT “game detector flux capacitor” in search of week night games. The needle went green, and I noticed that Georgia Southern was hosting Appalachian State on Thursday. So, naturally, I made plans to attend another first time school with a meaningful matchup.

Georgia Southern was an FCS DI AA power much like North Dakota State is now, having won 6 National Championships. In 2014 they moved up to FBS Division 1A and joined the Sun Belt Conference. They have fared quite well even winning the Conference Championship in 2014. Georgia Southern is in the town of Statesboro, not too far from Savannah. The football program has been active since 1981 after a 40 year hiatus. The team plays in Paulson Stadium named after a well heeled donor. It was built in 1984 and currently seats 25,000 fans. This would be a special night in Statesboro as they have a big rivalry with App State who also recently matriculated from the FCS to the FBS level. App State was just ranked #25 this past week in the latest poll. This is a rarity for Sun Belt Conference teams.

Tailgating on a Thursday I am told does not truly represent the “GA SO” vibe that you would get on Saturday. However, because it was their arch rival and nationally ranked APP State coming to town, there was no shortage of spirt and excitement. More on the overall experience in the Bieber section below.
Starting with the Top Left and going clockwise, supporting breast cancer, the Eagle Walk, Freedom the eagle, on field action.

The hatred is strong with these two teams as in Texas/OU or OSU/Michigan strong. The student section I am told was as fired up as many a fan have ever seen. Freedom the bald eagle circled the field and landed on his handler’s arm before the game in an imitation of Auburn’s War Eagle. App State All World QB Zac Thomas unfortunately was knocked out of the game early leaving the reigns to two backup QBs who were inept at best. The Georgia Southern D had an answer for every scheme and shut down the powerful mountaineers. Behind dual threat QB Shai Werts, the Eagles put up 17 pts to the Mountaineers 7 pts in both halves. Final score was Georgia Southern 34-7. More on the game in the Bieber section below.

The Main Event

On Friday afternoon, our group linked up in batches in Birmingham (where they do love the Governor hoo hoo hoo) and made the two plus hour trek over to Starkville, MS aka “Stark Vegas”. As is typical for these epic weekends we rented a house through airbnb® in close proximity to the stadium and yep you guessed it, the houses of Worship. It is not a good idea to drive in these towns after being filled with spirits errr…… I mean the spirit. I have been friends with this gang for 40 years now and one of them for almost 50.  Nothing much changes as far as the insults, the stories, the laughs, and the new memories that are made. This group has always been extremely comfortable in their own skin and there is no pretentiousness despite all of us being rock stars in our own minds. We have been doing these reunions ever since matriculating through the hallowed halls of Seneca Valley High School in Germantown, MD many moons ago. Only in recent years did we start holding them over a randomly picked college football weekend, although exclusively in the SEC. This year we were missing one of our core guys who had a crocheting festival to attend in Annapolis, MD narrowly escaping notice from the Bieber committee. The opponent the mighty Bulldogs from “Hail State” would be hosting none other than the Aggies from Texas A&M.

After stocking the house with essentials for the weekend and having our traditional cocktail hour, we made our way over to Dark Horse Tavern and then the Cotton District (college bar corner) for some Friday night revelry. It is a testament to our youthfulness and stamina when we were the last ones standing at the college bars as the closing bell rang. We furthered our endurance by heading back to the house to watch the marathon World Series game until the clock struck 3:30. As the saying goes, “What happens in Stark Vegas, stays in Stark Vegas.”
Friday Night Sights

With kickoff at 6 PM Saturday evening, we awoke mid-morning to a home cooked breakfast by the Anderson Lads, complimented with a batch of Bloody Mary’s to get the horses galloping again. We could not have dialed up any better weather for game day as it was another Chamber of Commerce Day with blue skies and temps in the high 60’s. Shortly after our morning rituals, we bounced over to campus after noon to take part in the event we call tailgating. The main tailgating spot at MSU is set up in an area called The Junction. There was a sea of maroon and white tents covering the space on the south side of the stadium. We anchored at the Faulkner’s True Maroon Bulldogs Smart Ass Tailgate in a prime spot in the junction about 30 steps from the south entrance to the stadium. A cooler of necessities was dragged to their tent for our afternoon hydrating session. We sampled various libations and chow throughout the incredible afternoon. Michelle and Stacey Faulkner were top notch people and hosts to us. More on The Junction in the Ginger section.

The boys from SVHS
Getting the day started.
A father - son moment.
Our hostess with the mostess Michelle Faulkner

Go ahead, I dare you to knock it off!
The match would be played in the venerable Davis Wade Stadium. Wade was built 104 years ago and is named after Floyd Davis Wade who made a generous donation 20 years ago. It is the second oldest FBS stadium in the country. After many upgrades, current seating capacity is 61,000 and is absolutely spectacular inside. In each end zone are two of the most massive video screens in CFB, both panning over 110 feet wide. Several of us who are wiser than some and more clear headed, entered the stadium in time to see the amazing 400 strong marching band and their pre-game performance. They were simply outstanding as this Nerd loves a great marching band.

“We need more cowbell"- If you have ever been to a game at Mississippi State, you know what this means. Over 60,000 fans will ring cowbells all game long. I was wise and brought some field artillery ear plugs and others in our band of brothers provided ear pain medicine that tasted a lot like 80 proof Titos and lemonade. I can hear in my head, the great Christopher Walken saying over and over again “We need more Cowbell!” with Will Ferrell dancing around with his nasty midriff showing. 

We were seated in row 19 around the 20 yard line. For added entertainment, the Texas A&M Yell Leaders and Mounties were directly in front of us. They provided many gits and shiggles for us all game long. If you are not a Texas A&M Aggie, one can be quite amused if you are not clued into what all their hand signals, noises and motions mean. 
There are no words to explain

The Mississippi State Bulldogs are led by their 6’5 Senior athletic QB Nick Fitzgerald who was coming off of a thumping at the hands of LSU last week. Texas A&M ‘s QB is Kellen Mond who is equally athletic. From the start, the Bulldogs jumped out with more energy than the favored Aggies. The Defense inspired by lineman Marcus Swett kept Mond in check all afternoon. The Bulldogs jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead on a pass from Fitzgerald to Stephen Guidry. The Aggies would respond with a touchdown and a field goal to take a 10-7 lead into the locker room. The second half belonged to the team from Starkville as they would go on to score 21 points to the Aggies 3. However, the last score came with a little over 2 minutes left in the game when Fitzgerald broke away for a 76 yard insurance TD. Final score, MSU 28 -TAMU 13. 
Hail State and Hail Yeah!
The Bulldog Defense on the move.

Around the Country

Florida Georgia Line – It seems as though former Hail State head man Dan “Cousin Eddie” Mullen has righted the Gator ship after their surprising early season loss to Kentucky. With Georgia having lost to LSU two weeks ago, this year’s rivalry game was for SEC East Supremacy. College Gameday even made its way for this year’s edition of the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party (It will always be called that to me). Despite the buildup to the game with both teams being relevant again at the same time, Georgia got the W, as QB1 Jake, Fromm State Farm put the Dawgs on his back. In the Big Ten, watch out for the Northwestern Wildcats as they pulled off the upset win over the favored Wisconsin Badgers. The Wildcats are now in first place in the Big Ten West. Up on the Heights in Chestnut Hill, MA, in ACC action, the BC Eagles soared all over the Canes from South Beach on Friday night for another impressive victory. In Big 12 Country, the Oklahoma State Cowboys and their Head Coach Mike Mullet Gundy, who is now in his fifties but still a man, shocked the country by upsetting the heavily favored Longhorns of Texas. Out west in Pac 12 country, Oregon State gets it’s first win of the season by knocking off a sliding Colorado team. Army continues with its impressive campaign picking up its sixth win of the season. In group of five news, San Jose State also got their first win of the year by scoring more points than UNLV, and Houston knocked off previously undefeated USF. In DIII news, Frostburg State scored mandatory retirement age on Hampton by allowing them only a three point shot. 

Ginger Award – Again this new award goes to someone or something for doing something or being something simply “Bad Ass”. Our first winner snuck a five liter keg into a stadium and our second winner was Purdue Superfan, Tyler Trent. This week the Ginger goes to The Junction at Mississippi State. The Junction is Hail State’s answer to Ole Miss’s Grove. While the Grove is in a world unto its’ own in the uniqueness category, the Junction is no slouch. In fact, one may argue that in many ways it even tops the Grove (Did I just commit blasphemy to my Ole Miss friends?). The Junction is aptly named so because years ago the area where it now sits was a railroad junction along with multiple roads all intersecting in that spot. In similar fashion to the Grove, there is a Friday afternoon land grab where Bulldog fans claim their spot for the next day. As we arrived shortly before 1 PM, all tents were up and running and tailgaters were beginning to amass on these hallowed grounds. Tents everywhere, some with live music, some with home brewed kegs, most with flat screen TVs. Various forms of protein and other snacks in every tent. As Ole Miss is known for it’s future Miss Americas the consensus is that Hail State could produce an equal number. This ain’t yo momma’s tailgate! We are talking about ladies dressed to the 9s that could be walking right into fashion magazines. They apparently take great pride in walking the Junction and appreciate being noticed. Now I will stop right there as I value living in my house. The people are just outright friendly. Young people look you in the eye and call you sir or mam and offer up a drink or food without blinking an eye. The sheer size of the tailgate area in my estimation appeared to be a good bit larger than the Grove. Free stickers and cowbells were being given out on sidewalks with high traffic patterns. So, for the second time this year, I have a new entrant into the DFT top echelons of tailgating: Along with Penn State last month, Hail State now joins this rarefied air. Get there soon before the country finds out about the best kept secret in college football.
The Junction.

Bieber – This week the Bieber does not go to one person but goes to an overall experience. The experience was mine, so I am partially complicit in this week’s nomination. As indicated at the start of this week’s write up, I attended the Thursday night game at Georgia Southern. The bad omens started before I ever stepped foot in the state of Georgia. I had requested press credentials as I do periodically for some of the schools I attend. I was denied by the athletic department with the answer that this was their biggest game of the year and thus there would be no passes. Who the hell wouldn’t want a positive write up on DFT? Slightly shaken but not deterred, I decided to soldier on and purchased a ticket online. I had joined the Georgia Southern facebook fan page and had connected with several people who invited me to their tailgates. After driving the 3.5 hours from Atlanta, I parked my car and walked into the tailgate area in search of my new friends. However, after traversing the lot multiple times and stopping to inquire as to the whereabouts of my supposed tailgate hosts, they were nowhere to be found. Thus, the most important reason for me to go to a game would not take place on this night. Next, I went to the ticket office and inquired about exchanging my printout for a real ticket as I have a collection of them. Once again I was denied. Now feeling like a big zero, I decided to head into the stadium almost an hour early. Being somewhat hungry since I sampled no fare at a tailgate, I ordered some petrified chicken smeat non tenders. I chewed and chewed like a dog with a mouthful of peanut butter until the substance was finally dissolving. No sooner did I find my seat, the clouds opened up and the rain commenced. Along with the wind and the dropping temps, the conditions were not ideal when one is not dressed properly. Now it’s time for the National Anthem to be played which is of the utmost importance to me. If you really want to piss me off, don’t stand for it, or don’t remove your hat, or talk to your friends or look at your phone while it is being sung or played.  It just so happens I had the only two losers in the whole stadium who would not stand for the Anthem. I gave them the benefit of the doubt that perhaps they were disabled and could not rise. This option was dismissed as they sure as hell stood the rest of the game a mere 5 rows in from of me. The next time I see this, I will pour a drink on you to ensure you will stand for my country’s anthem. The next part of the Bieberlicious night was simply me, sitting alone in the rain. I am pretty sure people all around me were making the L sign with their thumb and forefinger. Last, I must throw myself under the bus and admit that because of being wet and cold and faced with a long drive the next day, I bailed at halftime to head back to my hotel. So, for all of this, my experience at Georgia Southern will go down as a Bieber experience. My personal experiences are a huge factor in my view of each school, and unfortunately I did not have a great one on this Rainy Night in Georgia ♬♬♪♪

Next Week – Making the 75 minute trek up to Davis, CA for the UC Davis/Northern Arizona Game with parts of the East Bay DFT Crew. Later that evening, there will be a watch party at DB&G for all the big games of the day.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Week 8 - Tyler Strong!

Let's just leave this one right here....
There are two absolutes in the world of ESPN/ABC/Disney Corp: It’s Lebron James’ world and we are all just living in it, and every QB at Ohio State is automatically a Heisman candidate. Is anyone else sick of hearing about every move and bowel movement that Lebron makes? In the middle of a great Purdue game, why do we care about Lebron’s second game as a Laker? Also, Dwayne Haskins, as were the last 5 Ohio State QBs is not that good, nor will he play the position on Sundays but Herbie and the boys would make you think otherwise. Haskins had a few good games early this year against really bad teams. Nuff said. Ahhhh, I feel much better now that I got these things off my chest.

No college game this weekend for the DFT crew but there was plenty of action to talk about. We did attend the Monte Vista HS game against Foothill High which they won easily improving to 7-2 on the season. Saturday, Mrs. Tailgate and I were alerted that there was a TCU watch party in town, so naturally we invited ourselves. I walked in wearing a Sooner hat and playing the Sooner fight song on my phone. Needless to say, I was received like a whore in church. 
Clockwise from the top: Flipped off by a frog, Dan and the Marine's finest, Mrs Tailgate and Julie, opposing Moms.
Around the country – Speaking of the aforementioned Sooners, the Ruffin McNeil Defense was a much improved version since the firing of Screaming Mike Stoops after the Texas disaster. The Defense was stout for 3 quarters with just one quarter of subpar play giving up 27 points whilst Kyler Murray and the high octane O put up 52.  College Gameday finally came to Pullman, Washington for the Wazou – Oregon game. It was perhaps the most spirited Gameday I can recall watching, as the fans on the Palouse have been waiting forever to see this. Wazou led by new campus legend Gardner “The Stache” Minshew pulled off the upset over the Ducks resulting in a wild post-game, storm the field celebration. 

In West Lafayette, IN, on a frigid winter night, the Boilermakers pulled off not only the biggest upset of the year, but an embarrassing beat down of #2 ranked Ohio State. The fans stormed the field in an epic scene that will go down as one of the most memorable games in Purdue history. Kirk Herbstreit who called the game on ABC was finally out of excuses for Ohio State at the end of the game as he was still thinking Santa was coming down the chimney. Continuing in the Big Ten, the fighting Harbaughs marched into East Lansing to play their “Little Brother”. To say there is bad blood between the two teams is an understatement as things got heated even before the game started. In a game that included a lengthy weather delay, Big Bro came away with a 21-7 win. Coaches Harbaugh and Dantoni will not be sending Christmas cards to eachother this year. In the ACC, Clemson ended all discussion that NC State could make it a two team conference by annihilating them in Death Valley. In the other Death Valley in Baton Rouge, Coach O and the LSU Tigers shut down the men from Stark Vegas 19-3. In Group of Five Conference news, Cincinnati dropped its first game of the year to Temple and UCF and USF remain unbeaten. Division III, #4 ranked Frostburg State defeated Montclair to keep their record unblemished.
The Maddalon clan pre-gaming at UW

5th year Senior Ken Reinke celebrating with his new besties at ASU tailgate.

FBI's most wanted were located in Annapolis on Saturday. officer Scarpa gets the credit.

Ginger Trophy -  As noted last week, we have a new weekly feature called the Ginger Trophy, giving acknowledgment to something really Badass. Said trophy is named after our first awardee for sneaking the 5 liter keg (Now Trophy) into a stadium. This week, the trophy goes to Purdue super fan Tyler Trent. He was featured on ESPN College Gameday on Saturday. Tyler is a Purdue Student who is battling cancer for the third time in his young life. He attended the Purdue game Saturday night despite his serious illness and was named honorary team captain.  He even gave a speech to the team in the locker room after the big win. In a world of many “me first” people who complain about little things, keep in mind there are people like Tyler with real issues that stay positive and fight the good fight. For your courage Tyler, you are simply badass and we salute you with this week’s Ginger. Tyler Strong and #Cancer Sucks!

Bieber  Honors – To add insult to injury, not only did Ohio State lose a game this week, they also lost their Team Captain and Star player Nick Bosa to……QUITTING ON HIS TEAM! After suffering an injury several weeks ago, Bosa was told by doctors he could return in December, just in time for the Big Ten Championship game. Instead of heeding the doctor’s advice, Selfish Nicky decided to drop out of school and prepare for the NFL combines in February.  Even with an injury, a Captain still has a job to do for his team and that is lead and lead by example at that. What kind of leader quits on his troops in battle to save himself for something only he sees as more important? I don’t buy the argument that he has to be concerned for his future. Hell, if that was the case, why even have college football? I am so tired of these entitled snowflakes that can’t suck it up and do the right thing. If I were an NFL GM, I would have buyer beware alarms going off all around this guy as he just showed his Jay Cutler/Josh Rosen colors. Nick, you won’t be playing for the Big Ten or National Championship hardware this year but you did earn your first Bieber award. 

Next Up – I am now on the verge of my late season Juggernaut with 7 games over the next 23 days. I will be attending the Appalachian State at Georgia Southern game Thursday night in Statesboro, GA in a Sun Belt Conference battle heavyweight matchup.  On Friday, I will be meeting up with my High School Crew in Starkville, MS for our annual reunion weekend with Texas A&M visiting Mississippi State in an SEC West battle.

Happy Tailgating!