On my drive back to Michigan, I wasn’t thinking too much about the blog. I was very content with winning the Championship and the improvements that I saw in the BB team the night before. I was actually thinking about one of my work assignments which is how to become “Best in Class” in a certain JD Power quadrant. I was contently working through a Breakthrough Goal strategy in my head when my wife called to tell me that the Herd was not going to the Bowl I expected. I pulled over and looked at Derek Redd’s tweet on the subject, and tweeted “horrible.” I then drove more, pulled over and sent Hamrick a tweet that read “@TheHerdAD so I drove 14 hours to cheer in the rain…so you can chicken out from playing a Power 5 team??? WOW.” I had a pretty good exchange of messages with Marshall Mark on my tweet. After thinking about Marshall Mark’s points, reading my own words, and thinking about things, here at the Ten Things I Think I Know After Becoming Champions Again (The True Fan Edition):
1. WE ARE : Champions again (don’t worry, I am not going to start a Queen themed blog). The rest of this blog is going to deal with the aftermath of the Bowl announcement and various reactions. But before I get to that, OUR TEAM just won a Championship. Everyone should be happy, right? You guys saw McManus score two TDs as a freshman, right? You guys saw Hewitt have a great game, right? You saw Rockhead come in and make a difference, right? You saw Haig kick four FGs, right? You guys saw Cato’s last game in the Joan, right? You saw the goal post being carried out of the stadium, right? You realize that being champion of any conference is a big deal, right?
2. Spy vs. Spy: First off, I think the split between the Power 5 and the Group of 5 is as absurd as MAD’s Spy vs. Spy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onR7PD3Grc0 That being said, I was disappointed that we chose to play in the Group of 5 runner up bowl. While most of us have been thinking about the fairness of the CFP and the Secret Committee of 12’s power, we need to recognize that there has also been a shrinking of Group of 5 opportunities to play Power 5 teams in bowls. Along with the power grab by the Power 5, Bowls have followed suit. The bowls are now classified as Power 5 and Group of 5 on many websites. In place of the days when the Liberty Bowl and the Motor City Bowl gave a Group of 5 team a shot against a Power 5 team, most bowls have gone the Quick Lane approach of having Power 5 play Power 5. In 2014, there are only four bowls that have tie-ins which give a Group of 5 a shot at a Power 5: Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl (MW v Pac-12), Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl (C-USA v Big10), Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl (AAC v ACC), and Birmingham Bowl (AAC v SEC). In the new absurd Spy vs. Spy paradigm, I think we should have opted to play against the Power 5 team, even lowly Illinois. As a strong representative of the White Spy (Group of 5), we should be taking every opportunity to lob a bomb on the Black Spy (Power 5). During my exchange of messages with Marshall Mark, he pointed out that the season is over and the Access Bowl has already been decided. To quote Animal House (one more time this year): “nothing is over until we decide it is over!!!” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7vtWB4owdE Seriously, I hope in the future, Mike and the Conference make all of our decisions with an eye towards creating a “Body of Work” over the years of beating Power 5 schools when we get a shot. We had a great victory last year against a Power 5. It would have been great to have another win against a Power 5.
3. Not Just Another MAC Team: while I wish we were playing Illinois, that wish as nothing to do with NIU being “just another MAC team.” My criticism of the choice is simply that we need to take shots at the new paradigm. By having the two most powerful crabs in the Group of 5 bucket fight against each other, doesn’t help the Group of 5. Instead it reinforces the paradigm that both of us are second class. While my opinion isn’t always welcome on the board, I still like the MAC. I just wish NIU was beating up on a Power 5 team, and we were beating up on a Power 5. Now we are a sideshow for the entertainment of the Power 5. Luckily, the press seems to be looking at the game differently. It is going to be a good game. Both teams are strong. Hamrick’s comments about playing the best team are probably correct. Unfortunately, many of us had a different definition of what the “best team” actually is. That is why I quickly tweeted to Hamrick. I am sure that is why many people are upset.
4. Holding Myself to My Own Blog Standards: while I still think we should have gone with putting a beat down on a Power 5 team, I don’t know why I was surprised on Sunday when the matchup was announced. In rereading my blogs, I talked about this scenario and the Power 5 vs. Group of 5. In my first blog of the year (September 3, 2014) I noted that “Group of Five Tainting My Thoughts,” (oh yeah…) In my September 9, 2014, blog I talked about “Perspective” (…which appears I may have lost). In my October 21, 2014, blog I wrote about “managing expectations;” specifically, I said “I am excited, but as with many Herdfans, I also realize that we could end up playing a MAC or American Conference team in a lower level bowl”(…oops, I guess I forgot that one too). Probably my best message to myself was written on November 7, 2014, when I blogged: “People will look at the National Champion in years to come, but they won’t be looking at the Poll ranking put out by the Secret Committee of 12. In a year or two, people will look at the final AP Poll, just like they have since 1934” (…oh yeah, that one sounds familiar too…). In my last blog (December 2, 2014), I focused on how a Power 5 program influenced the demise of UAB’s football team. I’ve been thinking about that a lot the past week. While it is not an excuse, I think that event tainted my thinking about which bowl we would choose and why. When I HERD that we were going to pick the best opponent, my mind went directly to a Group of 5 vs. Power 5 paradigm. I wanted to put a beat down on a Power 5 program to punish them on behalf of all the Group of 5 schools. If I would have just re-read my blogs before I started driving back to Michigan, I think I could have managed my expectations better (as I advised everyone to do back on October 21st…oops).
5. Coach Gale: weird night in the twitter and boards worlds on Sunday night. It got really weird when several people, including me, took offense to Coach Gale’s tweet that “Sad there are people out there (obviously not true fans), that instead of celebrating accomplishment of The Herd, complain about which bowl.” In my typical tongue in cheek style, I tweeted back to him that “@MarkGale3 LOL...by my definition anyone who drives less than 14 hour to cheer in the rain isn't a True Herd fan. I am. (wink)” First off, I have nothing but respect for the service that Coach Gale has performed for Marshall. I don’t have any issues with his work product, nor do I have a problem with him tweeting his thoughts (sort of hard for me to do that anyway…). I was just irritated by his tweet. I was even more irritated, by people talking about boycotting the game. This is our team. This is a Championship team. We are all “True” Herdfans, even those who tweet that others are “not true fans.”
6. The Real “True Fan” of the Championship game is: Big City (aka @Herdfansinfo). If you haven’t met Big City yet, he is a great Herdfan. While we have several people on the Board who do a lot of work that doesn’t always get recognized (e.g. Zack, BGA, Wolf, and Dunk), Big City does things that make an actual impact on the games. On Saturday, Big City left the tailgate early to take a box of Thunders Sticks to pass out to the students. Each set of Thunder Sticks had a leaflet that provided information on the board. Before I got into the Joan, I thought that was cool. Once I got into the Joan and watched the kids beat them throughout the game, I realized that this “True Fan” was impacting the game itself. Kudos (I will have to do a shot of Fireball in your honor for this).
7. Horrible Press Conference: If you are fired up, please watch the video of the press conference from Monday: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=msAHCAXJBFg&list=PLeX7RZ22xXGkjQVA3SQ-XFUdRnlUSq4-Y Many of us don’t agree with the Bowl decision. Many of us are offended by Coach Gale’s characterization of “True Fans” and Hamrick’s comments about bad fans at the end of this presser. I am asking all of my blog readers to please watch the video with some sympathy. I don’t like everything that Mike said during that press conference, but please watch HOW he said it. He was shaken. I personally don’t like seeing Mike being so defensive. Mike has done a great job of getting donations and putting forth a vision, which I will talk more about in No. 8. I don’t think Mike intended to offend anyone during the presser. He was just in a very defensive position. I think everyone should cut him some slack and hope he takes this as constructive input. I think he has found himself being questioned and criticized on something that he didn’t foresee. I also think there is something going on that none of us know about. Mike got some sort of pressure from a source that was more than a bunch of passionate Herdfans on Boards. In turn, it wasn't his best appearance. BTW, the only solid performance during that press conference was from Rouse. He was very professional. I can see him being very successful after football as either a coach or as a leader in a company.
8. JD Powers and Breakthrough Goals: most of my real work is centered around what is in the best interest of my company’s customers and how we benchmark ourselves against other companies. The way we have moved up in the JD Powers rankings is that we develop long term breakthrough goals. I think Mike did something similar when he got to Marshall. During the press conference, Mike talks about trying to get 6 wins when he got here; at that point, 6 wins was a good short term goal to shoot for. I think that was the main goal. I think winning a conference championship was his breakthrough goal in a long term plan. I don’t think that the plan or its metrics contemplated having national recognition. Clearly we ran into a problem when the bowl was announced. I am probably way off base, but it could be that the fanbase and the administration were working off of different visions. That happens. I am thinking that Mike should be benchmarking the Herd against Boise. It appears that he is benchmarking the Herd against the MAC. If Mike was running a business, I am sure he would do a Root Cause Analysis and check his intermediate and breakthrough goals. He has received a ton of input from Herd fans, league office and donors. I hope he calms down quickly and enjoys the Herd’s game on the 23rd, ceases to be defensive, and looks at whether we need to raise our goals. (I probably should strike No. 8. I am on a business trip working on breakthrough goals in my hotel room. It is what I am thinking about right now. I apologize if it is off point. Right now it seems relevant to me).
9. Get to Boca Raton If You Can: as a “far out” fan, I often find myself trying to think like a Townie (which I wish I was). From a Townie’s perspective, this is a great Bowl. Unlike a Townie, I have access to almost any Bowl destination. Townies on the other hand, don’t have decent options out of HTS or CRW. Allegiant does provide convenient service to Florida, so everyone should be taking advantage of that. This is our Team. This is a Championship team. Please do not get caught up in the game of what should have been done, or what could have happened if we would have won in overtime against WKU. OUR TEAM, no matter how anyone defines a “True Fan,” is playing. They are a great Marshall team. They deserve all the support that we as “True Fans” can give them.
10. If You Can’t Make It to Boca Raton, Watch and Support OUR TEAM: all season long, I travel to Huntington for the games and one road trip. My family spends Thanksgiving in Huntington each year mainly so that I can go see the Herd play. We go to my wife’s family for Christmas. So no matter how we cut it. I wasn’t going to be able to make it to a bowl anyway (although I did have flights picked out of ORD to DFW that would have allowed me to be with her family, zip off to the game, and back without them even noticing… #pipedream). So I am going to be in a sports bar in Chicago cheering on MY TEAM. This past Friday, I met a cool guy at Buffalo Wings and Rings on 23 N in Columbus. As I went to take a picture of the Marshall sign on the wall, he told me that he was the reason that sign was up. He introduced himself as a former Marshall football player, who organized game watching parties at Buffalo Wings and Rings. If you live in Columbus, give Buffalo Rings and Wings a try. They have good food. A great Marshall sign, and a True Fan sitting at the corner of the bar. For the rest of us, if you don’t live in Columbus, you can’t get to Boca, make it to somewhere that you can enjoy the game with other Herd Fans. This is a special season. Share the experience with other fans. This is a special team. WE ARE…all True Herd Fans afterall. Go Herd!!!
A few weeks ago, while I was fixated on the Secret Society ignoring the Herd, I HERD Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” and got the “Haters Gonna Hate, Hate, Hate, Hate” lyric stuck in my head. Every time I thought about Herd football or the CFP, I started singing that lyric. In other words, I had that song stuck in my head. If you haven’t Herd it yet (aka, you don’t have a teenage daughter) here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfWlot6h_JM Since my last theme went off without any criticism, I thought I would go “mainstream” with the lyrics from a Top 10 hit for the Ten Things I Think I Know After Thanksgiving (FWIW, if you play the song while you read this one, I think it will help… "well that is what people say”):
1. I stay up too late, got nothing in my brain: After you read No. 3 below, you will most likely think I have stayed up too late and got nothing on my brain, but I have been giving Nos. 4 and 5 of ton of thought over the past week. Before I delved into those items, I had a great time driving down to Huntington on Tuesday night. When the Secret Society of 12 announced that we were No. 24, I started honking my horn repeatedly and screaming on I-75 (well until my family couldn’t take it anymore…oops). As I mention in No. 5, sure things didn’t work out on Friday, but we were relevant and still are (just not for the Access Bowl). Maybe I was up too late, but I wasn’t disappointed with Boise being 23. The Secret Society gave us a chance. It doesn’t look like it will work out for us this year, but then again maybe I just stayed “up too late, got nothing in my brain” (keep reading and judge for yourself)…
2. I’m lightening on my feet: thank goodness we still have Butler. When both Devon and Remi went out, how many teams have the luxury of bringing in the third string back to get over 200 yards and two TDs? I’m a big fan of Butler. I hope Devon makes a miraculous recovery and punishes LaTech, but if he can’t it is nice to know we have someone who can rightfully sing: “I’m lightening on my feet.”
3. 'Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play: this is one of the hardest things for me to share in a blog, but I am calling upon Stephen Kopp to save us. Yes, you read it. After giving myself a year off for my anti-Kopp posts, I am now calling upon the man to save us. Before I do so, I would like to share why I was so negative in the past and what has changed both in the landscape and more importantly between my ears. As many of you know, I am a corporate attorney who works on corporate governance issues, lobbying and governmental relations. During the Snyder years, I analyzed part of the reason for keeping Snyder so long was that Marshall had moved from the Board of Regents system to the Board of Governors. With this change, Kopp went from being someone appearing before the Board of Regents to being the equivalent of the Chairman of the Board of Directors of a Fortune 500 corporation. When you are the Chairman, you have to appease and manage the expectations of the voting Directors. In our case, I thought that Kopp tried to pacify the Gibsons by keeping Snyder. In turn, my analysis was that the failure of Snyder was leading to a lack of interest in Marshall overall which impacted enrollment. I still think that is what that happened back in the 2008-09 time period. If Kopp would ever stoop low enough to read my blog, I would like to offer him a public apology. As I discuss in No. 4 infra, things have changed in the landscape of college football since I threw all of my virtual fits. Kopp gets things done. Some of us may not care about the way the sausage is made, but none of us can argue that he suceeds when he is on a mission. So after reading my No. 4, I hope he comes off the bench and gets us into the American Athletic Conference because he’s a player and “…the players gonna play, play, play, play, play…”
4. And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate: in this case, the Haters that I am referring to are the tools who are shutting down UAB’s football program and the rest of the Power 5. My first reaction to the announcement that UAB was shutting down football was which Ragamuffin is C-USA going to bring in to fill the spot. Now I am thinking more about what this means for our future and the rest of the Group of 5. Not surprisingly, to me the real problem is a governance problem. Unlike WV’s move to a BofG structure for MU and WVU, UAB is subject to a Board that is comprised of Alabama grads and supporters. There are some good articles out there explaining that the real reason for shutting down UAB is that they are starting to be successful on the field. While I don’t think it is over, it may be too late. If the bill goes through the legislature to expand the Board that may revive UAB football, it will be too late. The team will have disbanded. The momentum that they fought to build will have ended. This is a horrible situation in which a Rednecked Power 5 based Board has attacked the Group of 5. Now onto what C-USA will do in response: I think that C-USA will be plugging the hole with another Sunbelt team. I am not too excited about that. While our move to the BofG saves us to some extent from a direct threat, times have changed. War has been declared from the Power 5 to all of us in the Group of 5. I think our only hope of escaping this mess ourselves is if Kopp gets involved with the other AAC Presidents. Whether we like it or not, the AAC is the strongest conference in the Group of 5. I hope that Hamrick can get us into the AAC on his own, but Kopp has a record of getting stuff done, and surviving political storms. That is what we need as the Power 5 keeps up its “hate, hate, hate, hate, hate…”
5. Heartbreakers gonna break, break, break, break, break: since most of this blog doesn’t have much to do with the actual game on Friday, I guess you can surmise that I am not thrilled but it is going to be alright. As I drove back to Michigan, I kept thinking about what I was going to say to all of my co-workers when I got back to the office on Monday. At about Kenton, it hit me that if I feel some pressure, just think about what those kids felt. It was a heartbreaker on Friday, but it wasn’t like the Herd rolled over. They just didn’t win. Funny how one loss has affected many of our fellow Herdfans. They just need to listen to this song for about ten thousand times and realize that “Heartbreakers gonna break, break, break, break, break…”
6. And the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake: thanks to Mr. Hamrick’s reseating plan, I now sit in Row 2 right behind the Defensive bench. All year I have enjoyed seeing and hearing what the defensive coaches and players are doing. Until last Friday, I really enjoyed all of the fans around me interacting with the players during the game. We would chant “D…D…D…D…D…” as the player came off the field. We would yell congrats to individual players after big plays. Then WHAM!!! The tone of the fans changed during the game. Fans started yelling at the players. I was especially surprised when people started yelling at Cato. Sure he was having a less than stellar game, but I don’t think yelling at him is going to cure Bill Legg going with Five Receiver sets when we had previously been successful running the ball. I booed the referee relentlessly (I still say Tindal had to have touched the ball on that block), but I didn’t boo or yell at a player. I was a little surprised that others did. I can tell you that this didn’t happen in Row 47, but then again we didn’t have very many people around us either. I don’t mean to condemn the fans, I just wanted to share my disappointment. That being said, in the spirit of this theme: Herdfan…fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake…
7. But I keep cruising, can't stop, won't stop grooving: I am coming into town for the Championship game, but I am literally driving in a couple hours before the game and leaving afterwards. So last weekend was my last real trip to Huntington for the season. This trip was fun. I got to spend some time with my Goddaughter G, two of my nieces, plus my family actually made it down for a second game this year. I got to cheer on my buddy Dave as he ran the Turkey Trot. I got to groove on through the new Hall of Fame on Friday. And as always, I had a great time being with my parents. In short, it was a great trip to cap off a great year. As many of my out of town fellow Herdfans can attest, coming home for football games means more to us than it does to our friends who live there. In the spirit of this theme, the grooving highlights for me were learning about Debby and Rodger’s engagement when they came off the field to show us "the ring", and going to the Cleveland State basketball game with my buddy Nick. Before the game, I went with Nick, his son, my niece and THE SHEIK to Tony’s (fka Giovanni’s) and shared the “BIG LEGURSKY” pizza. I had a lot of fun this year with my parents and friends, but the highlight was sitting in the Cam watching the Herd with Nick. That is a memory I will think about until next September. I suspect the out of towners will understand that more than those who get to live in the Land of Milk and Honey. So until September, I will just have to remember all the crusing, can’t stop, won’t stop grooving…
8. It's like I got this music in my body saying it's gonna be alright: Marshall basketball is in good hands. Sure I sat through two losses over the weekend, and watched the Louisville and South Carolina losses on TV, but I don’t see any losers on this team. I see kids playing hard until the buzzer sounds. I see kids being in the right places on the court. I see hustle and heart. Albeit that I don’t see a true point guard or a single lights out shooter, but I would rather watch this well coached team than a bunch of dysfunctional transfers who can shoot better than these guys, but are not a team. There is some raw talent on this team that is getting better as the season goes on. Right now my favorite player is Sane; he plays hard and has a good attitude. Wrapping up this item in theme: give Danny one more year of recruiting and “ it’s gonna be alright.”
9. Hey, hey, hey, just think while you've been getting down and out about the liars and dirty, dirty cheats in the world you could have been getting down to this sick beat: Other than No. 52’s holds, I am not sure that I can call WKU cheats, but I can call them “Dirty, Dirty.” Wow, I guess those punks are on a mission to make Toledo look classy, geez. I do have a kudos for their fans for actually showing up. If we can't get out of this conference, I think we have found a rival and definitely a "dirty, dirty cheats in the world."
10. I shake it off, I shake it off: The Herd and the HERDfans just need to just Shake It Off. The pressure of the perfect season and making the Peach Bowl has passed. Don’t get me wrong, it would have been great if we would have done it, but we didn’t. It is time for the team and the fans to focus on winning the Conference Championship. We moved into C-USA because we owned the MAC and C-USA at that time was a step up. We didn’t win a Championship when C-USA was a better conference than the MAC. We probably need to Shake that Off too. Saturday the Herd can accomplish something that it hasn’t done in a decade: win a Championship. As fans, we all need to be there supporting this team. Go Herd…shake it off....and be Champions AGAIN!!!
TOO LATE WARNING: If you listen to this song more than once, you are likely to get it stuck in your head. You will find yourself tweeting and blogging about it. In short, you will be ridiculed. But then again, you can just Shake It Off...
I’ll be interested to see what the response is to this particular theme. As we grind towards the end of the season, I may be stretching it with a WWII themed blog, but I am going to give it a try. To keep it interesting, I tried not to get too main stream with both the historical facts and my analogies to the Herd. I especially resisted the temptation to make analogies between Doc and either Patton or Chesty Puller. Anyway, if this theme doesn’t work out, I am going to blame my minster for getting me started down the path towards the Ten Things I Think I Know After UAB (The WWII Edition):
1. Keep Calm: Saturday’s game was a little rough to watch. Face it, the 2014 Herd has spoiled us. After the game, my thoughts turned to it being all over for the Access Bowl. On Sunday, my minister’s sermon included the “Keep Calm..Carry On” sign from WWII. While I am pretty sure it wasn’t his intent, it sure hit home with me on my thoughts about the Herd. Even after a scary stinker like Saturday, we are still being talked about for the Access Bowl in articles and talk shows. Sure we fell to No. 19 in the AP and No. 20 in the Amway Coaches polls. Moreover, I doubt we will get ranked in the CFP this week, and possibly not until December 7th. Until then we all need to Keep Calm and Carry On…WE ARE..MARSHALL after all.
2. Hector C. Bywater: was a naval analyst in the 1920s who is often credited with predicting WW II. On Saturday, as the game unfolded, I kept thinking about Mr. Bywater and Scott Madden, the well-known Seer of the Potty Train Tailgate, who had previously predicted that UAB was our biggest threat this year. Mr. Bywater’s 1921 book “The Great Pacific War” was his only real claim to fame. Now that I have given him some encouragement, I doubt this will be the Seer of the Potty Train Tailgates only prophetic vision….(my apologies to Kraig and Stick).
3. Bastogne: just as the 101st Airborne had to dig in and fight to maintain the crucial cross roads at Bastogne, the D had to dig in and save the day on Saturday. While there were plays made by the D all day (I sit right behind the D’s bench at the Joan, so I wanted to disclose my biases), there are two guys who I think deserve individual WWII analogies (See Nos. 4 and 5).
4. John R. McKinney: is credited with single handedly holding off over 100 Japanese soldiers as we retook the Philippines. While it is a real stretch, I think we could make an analogy to Hewitt’s performance on Saturday.
5. Aubrey Cosens: was a Canadian soldier credited for singlehandedly seized a German stronghold in Mooshoff Germany on February 26, 1945. While he didn’t have to run from farmhouse to farmhouse calling in artillery, Blackmon sure did win the game when he forcefully dislodged the ball for Myers to fall on it for the game winning TD.
6. Fighting Jack: Lieutenant Colonel John Malcolm Thorpe Fleming Churchill was a British Commando who went into battle with a quiver of arrows, a longbow (and not the tasty tailgate treats), broadsword and bagpipes. He has the odd distinction of being the only soldier in WWII to kill an enemy with an arrow. He was also a successful statistician. That was sort of the way I felt about the Herd’s offense on Saturday. Statistically, it was pretty successful, but in reality it was just plain odd. When did you think you would see Cato bumble a handoff to Johnson on the goal line which resulted in Johnson fumbling it out of the back of the end zone? When did you think you would see Jasperse pick up his foot like he was entering a Sumo stance? To wrap up this analogy, I think things looked weird and out of place on Saturday, but it worked out.
7. Lt. Hiroo Onada: I hope this one is off base, but I can see an analogy between the Japanese soldier who surrendered on the island of Lubang in 1974 after spending 29 wasted years thinking that the war was still going on and the UAB football program. Was this the last time we play Puff? I hope not. I have always enjoyed talking to their fans when they come to Huntington. They have a very good football team who gave us all that we could handle, similar to what Mississippi State encountered earlier in the year. I just hope they get over their governance problem and get some representation. Just because one Bryant was good for the state of Alabama, doesn't mean they all are...good luck Puff!!!
8. WE ARE…the Private Eddie Slovik of College football: during the WWII battle of Hürtgen Forest, Private Eddie Slovik was arrested and tried for desertion. He was the only soldier during WWII who was executed for a non-criminal offense. In short, he was used to set precedent and instill duty within the ranks. That is how I am viewing the Secret Society of 12’s treatment of us. I get fixated on the fact that we are being held accountable for a weak schedule, even though: a) UofL chickened out (glad the press and Hamrick are saying that now); b) we didn’t know about the CFP standard when we set the schedule; and c) we can’t control what teams are in our league. Maybe we should consider seeking other league options if this doesn’t work out. But until then, see No. 1 supra.
9. Bletchley Park Exercise: The Secret Society of 12 seems to like to talk about bodies of work, so I thought I would do a little digging into their bodies of work. I think most of us have been pretty focused on Luck’s influence on the committee, but I don’t’ think he is our real problem. After listening to Jeff Long ramble on last week, I took a closer look at his resume and saw that he started his career at Little Miami. I am not saying that he is carrying water for the Redhawks, but biases do come from things in each of our pasts. My next step in my quest to break the Enigma code of the CFP was to look at each of the Secret Society of 12’s bios to see if there was any potential biases that could be used against Marshall and C-USA. While I didn’t see anything that would make me think that anyone would support our conference, I did see two members of the Secret Society who had some ties to the Mountain West. Add that to a member with potential Cryami bias, an Eerdiot, a member whose bio has a typo (it says “retired,” I think we can all agree it should read “fired”), and a member whose bio makes you ask “say what?”, and you have to ask whether the Herd has a shot. Thankfully the press has started to talk more about us in the past week. Let’s hope that this pressure will be successful and we don’t have to wait for the press to “decode” the biases after the Secret Society of 12 announces a Mountain West team gets the Access Bowl slot.
10. Taiwanese Butterflies: after the fall of France, Taiwan took advantage of the weak Vichy government and declared war on the Allies on January 25, 1942. They saw this as an opportunity to take over Indochina. Similarly, the ODU Butterflies took their relatively small stature into C-USA West on Saturday and stirred up the West by declaring war on LaTech. Who would have thought that our opponent in the C-USA Championship game would be influenced by little ODU? So until we put a beat down on WKU and see who wins the West: GO HERD!!!!"
1. Emotional Moment: Since last week was the first time this year my family was traveling down with me and we had friends meeting us in Huntington, I tried to get a jump start on drafting my blog. So on November 13th, I came up with what I thought would be a fun theme: Top 10 songs on the Billboard. As I looked them up and started listening to them, I quickly realized that two of the songs were not going to be appropriate since it was the anniversary of the crash. So I did a quick look at what the Top Ten songs were on November 13, 1970. It hit me hard when I saw that the No. 1 song was "We've Only Just Begun" by the Carpenters. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__VQX2Xn7tI
2. November Ever After: every year I try to learn something new about November 14, 1970. For years, I would watch Ashes to Glory. I'm now grabbing Mr. Greenlee's November Ever After. Mr. Greenlee's book really has me thinking about other aspects of that time, which aren't captured in Ashes or WAM.
3. Turning to the Game: I've blogged a lot about Legg calling too many long balls. Well on Saturday, Cato and company looked like what I expected them to at the beginning of they year. Cato had a great (record setting) day. Froh had a great day also. This is going to sound stupid, but I had to stop myself from thinking that Devon had an off day because he only got 199 yards.
4. Rice-a-roni: it was a great defensive day also. While I think we will be playing LaTech on December 6th, I would like to beat these guys again. My only animosity towards the Owls is based on the fact that the Conference favored them last year in setting the championship game location.
5. CFP: there have been some great things happen on social media and in real media this week related to the Herd being left out of the CFP rankings again. Clearly the CFP committee is scared of what the Herd would do to a Power5 victim on the field. If I had more time, I would like to give props to all of the Herdfans who have posted, tweeted, and put up videos on Youtube. WE ARE a great fanbase. In my typical manner, after I got done spouting off about Luck on Twitter, I started to look at the bios of the other CFP Committee members. I found it interesting that Jeff Long has a degree from Cryami...hmmm
6. Recruits: I run into the recruits almost every trip. I was especially impressed with what I saw this past weekend. My first encounter with the recruits was when we took my friends Art and Dianne to the memorial at Springhill. The recruits were there. Their host was explaining the significance of the events on November 14, 1970, in detail. The second encounter with the recruits was at Marshall Hall of Fame Cafe after the game. While I can't provide any real insight or even attempt to be the poor man's Morpheus, I can tell you that I am very impressed with what we do with the recruits when they are in town.
7. Doc: personally, I think it is great that his name is being thrown around for other coaching jobs. As I congratulated him as he walked through the bar at the HoF Cafe, it hit me that this could be one of the last times I get to do that. I then started thinking about Kayo's famous quote about being a stepping stone for coaches, and the coaches that left for "better" opportunities. I hope that Doc is more like Bobby, when he had the Houston offer, than Parish or Donnan. Depending on his opportunity, I think Doc would be better off staying where he can have Herdfans in a 3/4th full stadium cheer for him than stand on the sideline of a huge stadium with angry fans looking down and yelling at him. Whatever happens, I know that I will always respect what Doc has done here, and I hope he stays.
8. Rabbit Run: I don't think it is any secret that I love Huntington and wish that I could live there. On this particular visit, it hit me that I will probably always be a tourist. Living in Michigan isn't always easy. Throughout the year, I spend a lot of time thinking about going to Huntington during football season. The first trip down is the highlight of each year for me personally. As the season winds down, I am a little sad that my trips are going to dwindle down until next August. I am starting to look forward to going to camping in Gettysburg and Wisconsin next year. I am also starting to realize that I will probably never get to move back home (it has only taken me 24 years to come to that realization).
9. Tourist: since our friends Art and Dianne decided to stay at a hotel, my wife and I stayed at the Holiday Inn at Pullman with them. As I checked in, it hit me that this was the first time that I stayed at a hotel in Huntington. As a frequent traveler, I can tell you that the Holiday Inn is a solid property. I suspect that many opposing teams (not lead by Donnie the traitor) choose to stay there. In my tourist mode, I opted to forego my typical routine. After dinner at the HoF Cafe, we went to the Jockey Club, Elk's Club, and the Union. Each of those has a very distinct vibe. In short, Huntington has a lot to offer visiting fans. They just need to be warned what Tudor's can do to their waistlines.
10. Blogging: I am having a great time blogging, but it does take time, and I feel pressure to get it done each week. I am finding it interesting that after my one year absence, my blogging experience is much different. When I was blogging two years ago, my main interaction with the readers was through comments in the thread that I posted the link and through IMs. Now, most of my interaction comes through Twitter and Facebook. One of the coolest critiques that I have gotten came on Twitter when I was called out for failing to mention Fireball, the Russians in St. Louis, and Big City's Banana Pudding in my previous blog. Well I hope the collage and this mention gets me back on a positive social media karma track. Well it is now, 6:44 am on the UAB gameday. I am going to wrap this up and go into the office to get some work done before the Herd goes to work at Noon. GO HERD!!!!
While I doubt we will get any respect from the CFP anytime soon (at least not until the final poll of the year), I am confident that there will be several post-season awards coming to the Herd. Until those are awarded, here are the pseudo-awards that I am handing out in this Ten Things I Think I Know After Southern Miss:
1. Half-Full Half-Empty Idiom Award (NDSU Related Item No. 1): On Saturday, I did my part to support the Herd. I kept my season ritual alive of having a beer at my favorite local dive bar while the prepared my Wing-Dings and burgers as takeout. While I sat there staring at the glass of beer trying to decide if it and the Herd’s media coverage was half empty or half full, I enjoyed the picture of the latest chalk drawing at Tony’s which my Dad sent to me. I then rushed home to “watch” the game. Once I got home, I was thankful for the Marshall App and Steve Cotton. As I listened to the first quarter and a half, I read the reply tweets from American Sports Channel to my complaint about not getting the game distributed to channels that would broadcast the game. Then I realized that my ire probably should be directed at Fox Sports Chicago for choosing to broadcast the entire NDSU game over OUR HERD (come on, buffalo for buffalo, WE ARE…MARSHALL after all, not to mention in the AP’s Top 25). Once the NDSU game concluded I really enjoyed the ASN broadcast. Even though I think he has stretched his one year with Chad to the breaking point, Donnan is entertaining (the play-by-play guy needs to go though). My only real criticism of Donnan is that he needs to be better prepared. Granted the whole No. 31 tribute is confusing, he shouldn’t have been mistaken about Rouse. Still, it is ASN’s first year. With that in mind, in the second half, as I looked into my second (ish) glass of beer, saw the broadcast situation as being half full.
2. Chris McComas Wannabe Award (NDSU Related Item No. 2): do you remember the IT Marshall grad who applied for the NDSU Head Coaching job last year http://www.idigitaltimes.com/chris-mccomas-north-dakota-head-coach-applicant-puts-madden-and-ncaa-football-primary-experience Looks to me like Mr. McComas applied for the wrong job. Based on Southern Miss’s game plan, he should have applied at Southern Miss. I HERD that Coach Monken was spotted watching this video on his iPad during pregame on the sideline: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Szoo0keHE0 On a serious note, kudos to Coach Monken for coming out and trying to make a game out of it. I still wish Doc would have called an onside kick at the end of the game.
3. Calm Head on the Board Award: goes to W0lfman. As many of us were stunned in the first quarter, W0lf posted in the game thread that we needed to relax and have faith in our offense to put up points. Kudos W0lf.
4. Tide Turner Award: while W0lf was calming the masses, DJ Hunter was laying out anyone and everyone that touched the ball. Cato and the RBs had great days, but it was Hunter that turned the tide. Sure things started out shaky on the first two series, but once Hunter turned the tide, the D followed.
5. Reappearance Award: don’t get me wrong, Cato is having an incredible Senior year. That being said, he hasn’t looked like the Cato that we saw during the previous three years. In prior blogs, I have pointed the finger at Legg’s calling more long passing plays and ignoring Cato and Shuler’s bread and butter under routes. On Saturday, I thought Cato looked like the Cato of old. Every pass wasn’t for 30 yards. After last week’s media blitz, I think we all recognized how much he has grown since he arrived. On Saturday, he reminded us that his game has improved also. Do you remember his running ability in his first two years? While his ball protection could still be improved, he hasn't graduated yet so who knows... Anyway, I can’t wait to see him shred Rice on Saturday.
6. Understudy Awards: with DJ sitting out, we got to see two different but incredible performances from Watson and Butler. While Remi had a great day from a TD perspective (4 total), Butler led the backfield with exciting runs (30 yard and 83 yard TDs) and a game high 118 yards. The best thing that I HERD in the post-game interview was when Doc said that Butler had a couple of great weeks of practice. I think both of these guys bring something out of the backfield: Watson brings some power, while Butler brings the ability to make quick cuts and zoom. While I have nothing but praise for these guys, I sure hope that DJ is back to his starring role on Saturday.
7. Best Play Award: in a game in which the RBs ran wild, Cato looked like Cato again, and Hunter was laying the lumber to anyone and everyone, my "best play" may sound weird, but it was Tyler’s punt out of the end zone in the second quarter. On his first attempt, which was blown dead, I thought he stepped out of the back of the end zone. His second kick was a great punt. For a guy who doesn’t get many punts because of our offensive proficiency, he sure did come in and make the play when he needed to.
8. Apology of the Week Award: goes to me (maybe this should be the Egotist of the Week Award) As ElginHerd pointed out, I was a little harsh with my reaction to Derrick Redd’s article in my last blog. While I haven’t changed my opinion on that particular article as being condescending in tone, I do like Redd’s stuff. Moreover, I realized that in business I do things, such as make donations to the other political party, which could be viewed as wearing sheep’s clothing. So maybe Derrick and I are of the same “ilk” afterall. The dude does a solid job. During the game, I found his tweets of stats to be extremely useful. So I will apologize for the tone of my last blog. Sorry Derrick.
9. Broken Covenant Award: I understand why those not following the Herd can get wrapped up the SOS debate. I’m sure most of us are getting tired of hearing about concern for other teams strategically putting together a cupcake schedule to get into the Access Bowl. The truth of the matter is that we didn’t do that. I don’t see the national press talking about Louisville chickening out so that our dominance over them wouldn’t continue this year. I also don’t see the national press talking about the fact that the Secret Society of 12 should not be discriminating amongst the Group of 5 Conferences. The Big East doesn’t exist anymore; get over it. In case you haven’t seen this line of argument, here is one: http://collegefootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/11/09/marshall-keeps-winning-but-will-it-matter/ Chuck penned a good column on this in Sunday’s HD: http://www.herald-dispatch.com/sports/marshall/x1753182552/Chuck-Landon-Herd-puts-pressure-on-committee Chuck’s makes the point that the bottom dwellers from C-USA are dragging the conference down. On Tuesday, ESPN noted our situation in their 3 Point Stance: http://espn.go.com/ncf/notebook/_/page/3pointstance111214/college-football-playoff-tcu-horned-frogs-marshall-thundering-herd-3-point-stance My point is that if the Conference Champion from C-USA doesn’t matter, then drop C-USA from the Group of 5. Otherwise, shut up and honor the decision to include C-USA in the Group of 5. The SOS is the SOS. If we were in the American, our SOS (whether justified or not) would be higher. The Secret Society of 12 needs to recognize that WE ARE MARSHALL, and SOS or whatever standard you want to keep us down with, doesn’t justify not honoring the Access Bowl slot for the highest ranked Group of 5.
10. Pro-Marshall ESPN Production of the Week Award: goes to 30 for 30 Rand University. While ESPN has been pretty quiet about the Herd’s performance in their College Football Final show on Saturday night and in general on SportsCenter, they have produced two very good pro-Marshall, pro-Huntington productions over the past two weeks. After watching the show last night, I finally understand what “Rand University” is, and I respect Randy for saying that on Monday Night Football and other broadcasts. Sure I wish he would have said “Marshall University,” but that isn’t Randy. In addition to being extremely interesting, I thought the portrayal of Huntington was very respectful and positive. Hopefully, ESPN has something up their sleeves for next week…like an announcement that we are in the CFP Top 25. Until that, or Hell Freezes Over, GO HERD!!!!