Wednesday, October 30, 2019

I want to know, have you ever seen the rain...coming down

Outlined against a blue-gray October Sky of Ann Arbor, MI, in rode the eight horsemen of the apocalypse: Pestilence, Death, Famine, Destruction, Flatulence, Breath, fungus and Repulsion. Otherwise, this group is known as my gang from Seneca Valley high school, Class of 81 plus one. 
The 8 horseman of the apocalypse

This would be the 6th such year this group or part there of it have assembled for a weekend of college football, tailgating and rehashing old tales that are probably 20% accurate. Newcomer Garth AKA Death for the weekend, was on his inaugural trip with us and received adequate hazing despite his size. He once knocked out a Penn State Linebacker in Ocean City, Maryland with one punch. True Story, I was there and encouraged it.  I have known him the longest since we started elementary school together and played on every childhood sports team available to us. Alabama Al, Tennessee Tony, Maryland Mayer and Michigan McCabe, LTC Jonny Quest and Vegas Timmy also mustered for the occasion once again. The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame would be visiting the Big House of Michigan for the first time in several years. This has been a historical matchup dating back to when Christ was a Corporal. After varying modes of transportation and arrival times, all eight of us assembled Friday afternoon at The Little House, two blocks from The Big House via a Rent Like A Champion weekend rental.  A tight fit for eight grown men, some more grown than others but it made the event even ….shall we say more entertaining.

Friday night, we ritualistically consumed locally purchased beverages and health food from Toarmina’s Pizza watching the World Series and college football on TV. This is the first time we never actually made it into the houses of worship in a college town on a Friday night. Is age catching up with us?  After a night of being awoken by the continuous prostrate parade, as the john was connected to my room, we arose in time for College Gameday on TV. We were treated to another one of Chef Jonny’s masterpieces of a breakfast consisting of fully loaded egg pie, SOS, bacon and potatoes. 

Geezervile USA
After cleanup, we made the one- mile hike in the rain to our tailgate for the afternoon. Upon entering the tents, I was greeted by my nephews Tailgate Nate and ANTIFA Alan and his lovely wife Emily. We would be hosted by Spot 9 Official Tailgate via
Tailgate Connect®, run by the Mortiere family who threw out a polish style spread with the likes that I have never seen before: Pirogis, stuffed cabbage, fresh Kielbasa, meatballs and much more accompanied by a trash can of beer and a bar serving many spirits. The location was just off the south end of the golf course adjacent to the stadium. The torrential rain kept us inside the tents for the most part which were spacious enough but cozy. Toasts were made, shots were poured, anthems were sung, football was watched on TV, and good natured ribbing was directed at me, the lone Notre Dame fan at the tailgate.  Mike Keehan from Frostburg along with his son Kevin and brother Pat met up with us at the tailgate. After hours of brewfesting (as we called it back in high school) and stuffing our faces, two of us trekked over to the Big House for the game past the golf course, which doubles as a tailgate lot on game day. The other apocalyptians biebered back to the house to avoid rain drops and probably sip on some hot chocolate and watch Lifetime movies.

At an ANTIFA gathering with my Nephews and Emily.
The Spot 9 Tailgate. Even they believe in horns down. Flag that Tom Herman!

The Keehan boys on top, never too young to tailgate baby and the Rockville boys.

The Brothers Mortiere holding me upright while doing the horns down!
The Irish came into the game ranked #8 in the country with one loss and Michigan had just experienced it’s second loss of the year the previous weekend at Penn State and was ranked #16. Kickoff was at 7:30 PM Eastern which gave the fan base ample time to get in the spirt of things. With Coach Harbaugh of Michigan under fire for not winning big games, it was imperative that his squad show up on this ridiculously rainy and brisk evening. On the other side of the field stood coach Brian Kelly and the Fighting Irish with hopes of still making the four-team college football playoff. The Big House as Michigan Stadium is called, was surprisingly packed despite the inclement conditions. Michigan and Notre Dame have two of the most storied programs in the history of college football and quite the rivalry dating back more than a century. From the opening kickoff until the final whistle, the Fighting Harboogians of Michigan completely dominated all facets of the game. Michigan QB1 Shea Patterson and a stable of running backs amassed over 300 yards on the ground. The Michigan defense limited the Irish to under 200 total yards of offense. Notre Dame’s MVP of the night goes to their Marching Band who had an outstanding halftime performance dominating Michigan’s Band. I hate to admit but a combination of the miserable weather, fatigue and a lackluster Notre Dame performance drove us to the exits shortly after halftime to return to the cozy confines of our rental house. Final score: Michigan 45, Notre Dame 14. I will be working on de-clogging my arteries after this weekend.
Most excellent Midwest football conditions

Around the country It was a bad overall day for me as not only did my beloved Irish get thrashed, Oklahoma was upset by Kansas State dropping their first game of the year and hurting their playoff chances. Additionally, Army lost to a resurgent San Jose State. My only saving grace was my Alma Mater Frostburg State who picked up their seventh win of the season and secured a spot in the D2 playoffs.  LSU held on to win over Auburn in a rare day game in Death Valley. In my view, LSU deserves to be #1 at this stage based on the quality of their wins.  Wisconsin has been eliminated from playoff talk by dropping their second game in a row to the Buckeyes of Columbus, OH. In the ACC, Louisville improved to 5-3 while dropping the Wahoos of UVA to the same record. I hear the tailgating by the Collision Course Crew was off the hook as usual. Oregon and Utah remain in the hunt for an outside shot at the playoff by both notching victories out west against Cal and Washington State. SMU remains unbeaten by gutting out a hard-fought win over Houston on Thursday night in Houston to lead the group of five schools. In fact, ESPN College Gameday will be at Memphis this Saturday when SMU comes to town.

Brady's Navy Tailgate. Nice "shants" the guy in the black jacket is wearing.
Ginger - Four-time cancer survivor Casey O’Brien on the University of Minnesota Gophers football team wins this week’s top honors. During his Freshman year of high school, Casey was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer. He had multiple recurrences of this awful disease with 14 surgeries along with chemo, only to beat it each time. After his first bout in high school, he switched from QB to placekick holder, to minimize the potential for injury while still being part of a team for a game he loved. Two weekends ago against Rutgers University, he entered a game for the first time and held for not one but two successful PATs. His team mobbed him after the first kick. This is a real life Rudyesque story that will bring a tear to the hardest man’s eyes. He also visits the same hospital in Minneapolis where he spent over 300 nights for treatment. But this time his visits are to be an inspiration to young cancer patients. Damn proud of you for what you overcame and for being so darn badass!

Bieber – Hard for me to even write the words, so better to put the link here for you to read the brief story. Let’s just say that this week’s winner, University of New Mexico QB Sheriron Jones wasn’t just holding Bieber hardware!

Next Week – The Danville DFT crew will be hosting a tailgate at San Jose State when the Boise State Broncos come to town this Saturday 11/2 Tailgate starts at 3, game is at 7:30. We will be in Spartan Village, spot 1. I still have 6 tickets for $80 total. Friday night will be the battle of Danville between our Monte Vista Mustangs squaring off against the San Ramon Valley Wolverines.

Happy Tailgating!

Monday, October 14, 2019

Geaux Above and Beyond!

The boys in the Bayou!

The annual DFT (Danvillians From the Tailgate or Drunk From Takeoff) anchor game landed us in the swamps of Louisiana in the great river city of Baton Rouge. ESPN College Gameday and the Florida Gators were coming to Death Valley for this classic matchup with the LSU Tigers. This would be my second trip to Death Valley with my first visit being the catalyst for me starting this blog eleven years ago. With our posse arriving from different states, continents, planets and on different days and varying times, we all finally connected Friday in BR at the Watermark Hotel. We contributed immensely to the local economy Friday night in the form of purchasing consumptive nourishment and nutrients at establishments such as Chimes and Boudreaux & Thibodeaux. Random dance moves were broken out, new beers and foods were sampled, and practical jokes were played. As is the tradition with this crew, we went home early in order to be fresh for a marathon day of tailgating and a night game at Tiger Stadium. 3 AM is early, right? Asking for a friend.

Friday Night warm up
Up bright eyed and bushy tailed on Saturday, a gourmet breakfast consisting of bacon infused Bloody Mary and a Boudin (pronounced Boo Dan in a Cajun drawl) omelet got me and Doctor Brian right back in the zone. Others wandered over to campus to catch ESPN Gameday. With a kickoff time of 7 PM it is important to get a little tailgating in to absorb the electric atmosphere that is game day at LSU. With 100,000 seats in the stadium it is said that LSU has over 300,000 tailgaters. It certainly appeared to be true on this crisp fall day in the Bayou. This is a professional tailgating atmosphere with people who know how to do it right.

We all reconnected at 11 AM at the famed KOCKA Tailgate run by Officer James Roy on the south side of the stadium in a grassy area with plenty of shade trees. KOCKA’s set up was most impressive: A giant TV theater tent with two flat screens showing games, a DJ tent, a food tent with a giant gumbo kettle pot, beer pong tent and a liquor tent.  Most unique is their “Beer Funnel of Death” which some of us not named Nancy partook in. We also connected with Mike Doyle and his gang which included Freddy Mercury and the Reno-911 cast. We would continue to hang out with these characters for the rest of the day. Many of the regulars from KOCKA made us feel very welcome and the laughs continued.
KOCKA Tailgate

Doing the Bayou boogie

Chicken head Sammy

The crew with our host James Roy
We meandered over to the Bayou Bandits tailgate in the heart of campus at around 3 PM. We were served more gumbo, gator sausage and Abita beers from a triple tap. Whistlepig Whiskey was pouring samples at the tailgate right next to us so naturally we made ourselves right at home. The famed Tiger marching band along with the Golden Girls processed right by our tailgate spot. Beer pong and football were played, but not very well by the participants with the exception of the five-year-old kid with a canon arm. Much of the day was contemplating who would win Bieber and Ginger awards as there was a vast selection of candidates. At 6 PM we began our trek down into the hallowed sacred cathedral that is Death Valley.
The Bayou Bandits Tailgate. Upper right is our host Michael Kleinpeter

Cheerleaders,  Don Desimone, Amy Poehler, grilled gator and Abita Galore

Death Valley at night against an SEC rival is as epic as any of the great college football traditions. If you could only go to three games in your life, my personal recommendation would be Army – Navy, the Red River Shootout and a night game at LSU. If the atmosphere outside the stadium was electric, then I would categorize the scene inside the stadium as a geostorm.  We were treated by the Army parachute team jumping into the stadium with all landing on the eye of the target at midfield. LSU was ranked #4 and Florida #9 coming into the game. Oddly enough, there was a sizeable contingent of Gator fans there to support their team who had just knocked off Auburn in an upset the previous week.
Death Valley at night!
The first half was an offensive tennis match with each team more or less holding serve. LSU Heisman Hopeful QB Joe Burrow carved up the Gators Defense like they were in an episode of the show Swamp People. Florida’s offense was equal to the task opening holes at the line and making short passes that would turn into big gains. This might be the first time in decades I would say that LSU has a way better Offense than their Defense. Even more importantly was the parade of characters in our section that elicited shrieks of belly laughs from ourselves and everyone around us. We enjoyed calling people out and taking pictures of people now named man bun, jorts boy, weirdo fanny pack fool, orange head, nacho cheese in nose man, Amy Poehler and the list goes on. The first act ended with the score knotted up at 21.
The Freak Show
The Gators started off the second half with a drive resulting in a touchdown to take the lead. The air in Death Valley seemed to be slowly getting sucked out. Just as soon as I thought that, the Tigers clawed right back to score two touchdowns while clamping down on defense and slowing the Florida ground and air attack. Behind by seven points midway through the fourth quarter, Florida had its chances to tie the game but could not find their way into the end zone. LSU would score again and deny Florida in the red zone to secure an incredibly well played victory by the score of 42-28. Canes fried chicken and an Uber ride back to our hotel to catch the Boise State blowout while drifting off to sleep for me. Others from our crew were not as adept at navigating their way home and returned after a long struggle. Baton Rouge, we will be back again.

We will be back!
Around the country – in Dallas, TX at the legendary Cotton Bowl, Oklahoma led from start to finish behind a masterful defensive performance consisting of nine sacks and a shutdown of the Texas Longhorn run game. Sooner QB Jalen Hurts accounted for close to 400 yards through the air and on the ground and All American Cedee Lamb had ten catches and three TD’s. The clear upset of the day was watching the UGA Dawgs go down in overtime to a below average South Carolina team. Paul Finebaum will not get his wish now of a four team SEC college football playoff. Penn State set the stage with their ABC white out night game matchup next week against Michigan by beating Iowa at Kinnick stadium. Notre Dame had a much tougher time with USC then most would have predicted, winning by a margin of only three points. Has anyone noticed that Minnesota is now rowing the boat and undefeated?  In the ACC and PAC 12…….well who cares since other than Clemson no one is going to the playoff or did anything special.

Texas QB Samantha Ehlingher
Bieber – When a school announces that they will lift the alcohol ban and start serving beer in their stadium, euphoria usually ensues, and it becomes water cooler talk at the offices all week long. The analogy of this is that beer being served in most stadiums is like going to a nude beach. The anticipation and build up takes your imagination to places never before explored. The excitement is uncontainable. The reality is 98% of what you would see at a nude beach is not only a disappointment, it can be flat out nightmare causing. The same is true for what happened to us at LSU. After acquiring a thirst from the walk that took us from the tailgate to our seats, I volunteered to go grab a couple of cold ones for the good Doctor and myself. In our concourse, there were two small tables set up with one person taking money and the other pouring beer with neither having a care in the world. I entered the line with about 25 people ahead of me. It seemed like years later I finally obtained said suds to return to my seat. During this course of time I went bald and gained 40 pounds. The actual amount of time was approximately 45 minutes. Of course, I was razzed by the people in our section as I missed a good chunk of live action on the field. So, my Bieber goes to LSU beer concessionaires and any other college stadium that says they serve beer in any fashion other than full on concession stands pouring ,massive amounts of golden lagers.

The beer line at LSU Tiger Stadium 

Ginger –  Let’s just leave this here.....this is ginger as hell!

 Next Week -There is a possibility I will attend the Cal v Oregon State game in Bezerkeley on Saturday if they cancel the Antifa rally. I also plan on attending the Monte Vista high school game on Friday night. A special thanks to Tailgate Connect for once again hooking us up with an incredible day.

Happy Tailgating!

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Dixie on my mind....well, sort of!

After spending several days at a work conference in NOLA, I made the two-hour trek east to Mobile, AL on Thursday. The University of South Alabama (USA) Jaguars were taking on Sun Belt Conference foe, the Eagles of Georgia Southern (GASO). I purchased my ticket online for a total of $9. In addition to a cheap ticket, I secured free parking, a free tailgate with multiple food vendors, a free concert and some goodies upon entering the stadium. Score!

Free gating!
The USA Jags play at the famous Ladd Peebles Stadium, home of the Senior Bowl and some other classic annual matchups. The Stadium is 71 years old and built right in the middle of a residential neighborhood several miles off campus. The old girl has a maximum seating capacity of 40,000. Next season, the Jaguars will move into a brand-new facility on campus. The Jaguars have only had a football program since 2009 and became part of  D1A (FBS) in 2012. They are a member of the Sun Belt Conference and have been competitive since their entry.

Both squads were having down years coming into the contest with identical 1-3 records. GASO is traditionally a powerhouse in the Sun Belt Conference and usually competes for the conference’s top spot. GASO is led by dynamic dual threat QB Shai Werts who could play on Sundays but not as a QB. The Jaguars were directed by strong armed QB “Bo” Cephus Johnson. Both teams kept the other off the scoreboard in the opening set. GASO got things going with a field goal in the second quarter only to be answered by a 75 yard touchdown bomb from Bocephus to wideout Kawaan Baker. GASO countered with a TD of their own to take a 10-7 lead into the locker room. The second half was mostly dominated by USA only to allow GASO to march down the field in the final two minutes to tie the game at 24. The game would end in double OT as the Eagles kicked a field goal to out point the feisty Jaguars on this warm night in Mobile. Final score was 27-24.

Less then 10,000 fans came out to watch this great game.
Back on a flight out of Pensacola to Oakland early Friday AM to get me home in time to make it to Monte Vista High School to watch our Mustangs take on the juggernaut that is the De LaSalle High Spartans. It did not go well for Monte Vista but we had an outstanding pre game soiree at Oak Hill Park. Saturday was a day of backyard tailgating with a birthday brunch for daughter #1 with games being watched, and tailgate games being played. To complete my second tri-level trifecta weekend in a row, Mrs. Tailgate and I will be heading to Santa Clara Monday to watch Baker and the Browns take on Jimmy GQ and the Niners.

#1 Strangling me, the pommies doing their thing, the All American couple and the Mustangs and Spartans battling.
Around the country – Friday night in Cincinnati, the Bearcats upended the UCF Golden Knights in a battle of top tier American Conference powers. Deep down in the swamp in Gainesville, FL, the Gators took a bite out of the Auburn Tigers and delivered them their first defeat of the season in a mostly defensive struggle. In Ann Arbor, the fighting Harboogers picked up a win against the Iowa Hawkeyes in a close contest. Pitt scored last in an exciting match against Duke to secure a narrow victory. The Washington Huskies traveled to “The Farm” in Palo Alto and had their hopes of making the playoffs erased by losing to a downtrodden Stanford team. The Oklahoma State Cowpokes galloped into Lubbock to face off with Texas Tech and left defeated on the horses they rode in on. Navy sunk Air Force in an exciting game in Annapolis. In arguably the most exciting game of the day, the SMU Mustangs found themselves down by a score of 30-9 entering the 4th quarter against the Tulsa Hurricanes. ESPN gave the Mustangs a 1.7 % chance to win at this point. Guess what? They came all the way back to tie the game and force OT. In the third OT, SMU wide receiver James Proche made an amazing grab in the end zone to secure the win. And yes, Frostburg State won its homecoming game to advance to a record of 4-1 in their inaugural season as a now Division 2 program. I knew you were all wondering.

Boomer Baley, #1 playing QB 54 and the outlaw boys working on their buzzball skills

She laughs because she got me out for happy hour Saturday away from TV

Sister Eileen entertaining the Sailors at the Navy usual
Bieber – My 96 year-old Aunt Barbara who was a lifelong Green Bay Packers fan passed away in August. Her services were held in Northern Virginia this past Saturday. There would be a mass in the morning followed by a reception/luncheon and more family events. Family members from up and down the East Coast would make the trip to honor this great lady and the amazing life she lived. My angelic sister Patsy and Saintly brother Billy made this a priority and were in attendance for the entire slate of events on this special day. My other less than pious sister Eileen and demonic brother Brian were not as accommodating. First, it was rumored that Brian dressed up in a disguise looking like a maintenance man so he wouldn’t be recognized. Then he slithered into the church back row by the exit so he could make his fast escape along with Beelzebub Eileen. Why you ask? Because they had tickets to the Navy v Air Force game in Annapolis. I would never think of being so inconsiderate as my siblings. In fact, saintly sis Patsy spotted the perps and gave them the stink eye until they did the walk of shame in full view of the congregation to make their way to sit in the front of the church with Saint Patsy and the rest of the family. As the service concluded they made their quick Irish exit and blew off family members and elected not to attend the luncheon and a later family get together. As Karma is a bitch, Brian AKA Magellan got lost getting to Annapolis and detoured through DC and missed the pre-game tailgate. Well at least you both now have some Bieber hardware that will be a reminder of your deed on this day.

Ginger (Badass) – Has anyone noticed the job Coach Matt Rhule is doing at Baylor? Let me go back in time to put this in perspective. A mere four short years ago, Baylor was almost put on the NCAA death penalty for a program that was completely out of control under former head coach Art Briles. Allegations of rapes, assaults, cheatings, beatings and you name it were rampant. Briles was fired and branded with the scarlet letter and would become untouchable for future employment in the college game. The program was hit hard by the NCAA with numerous sanctions. At this time, Matt Rhule had just performed a miracle in Philadelphia by putting Temple on the national map as a team to be reckoned with. Baylor hired Rhule just before the harsh sanctions were leveled on the program. Rhule decided to remain, regardless of how bad the situation looked. Now in his third season, Rhule has the Bears at 5 - 0 and nationally ranked. This is amazing considering this team was hit harder than any other since the SMU Mustangs of the 1980s. He has truly done one badass job in coaching these kids up and recruiting players to come here. For the job he has done, Coach Rhule is this week’s Ginger recipient. I will not be surprised if Blue Bloods like USC, Miami or Florida State don’t come calling for Coach Rhule after the season.

Next Week – Heading back to Louisiana to link up with the Danville gang in Baton Rouge as LSU hosts the Florida Gators. ESPN Gameday has chosen this as their venue for Saturday. With a game time of 7 PM, not only do we have Death Valley at night, but ample time to hit two Tailgate Connect tailgates in the Bayou throughout the day. It was 11 years ago after my first trip to Death Valley that I began chronicling this journey in blog format. My quest began in 2004 but I did not start the writing for four years. Also next week is the Red River rivalry. Be careful not to throw a horns down sign, you might get a red card!

Texas team bonding

Happy Tailgating!