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!


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