Jul 17 / Rob

CAA Cancels Football, But JMU Leaves the Door Open

There will be no CAA football in 2020. While the official announcement hasn’t been released, multiple media members confirmed that there will be no league competition this Fall. However, reports immediately followed stating that JMU intends to move forward and play if the FCS playoffs are on. As of this morning, Elon is doing the same and Delaware and Towson are considering it.

At first glance, this seems unusually bold for JMU. The school has a well earned reputation for “monitoring the situation” and proceeding cautiously. Maybe this is actually the exact result of careful monitoring and preparation, but the quick reaction surprised many fans. What was not shocking, was the way the news was interpreted dozens of different ways. Predictably, the pro FBS folks viewed it as a sign that JMU was going to load up on FBS games and begin the process of leaving the CAA forever. Fans from other schools who won’t be playing this Fall declared it reckless. But the majority of fans seem to be completely lost and unsure what comes next.

It’s important we don’t ignore the caveat in this scenario. JMU said it will pursue scheduling as an independent, if there will be FCS playoffs. To me, that makes this seem like more like a contingency plan, than a clear decision to proceed. And that’s great. It’s the smart move. This is not a case of JMU ignoring the pandemic and deciding it’s fine to put players, coaches, and fans at risk. It’s not negligent or a blatant disregard for safety. In fact, it’s probably the opposite. It’s recognizing that things change rapidly, it’s still only July, and it would be wise to have a plan in place, should there be an opportunity to play safely in a few months. JMU is a program built to compete for championships. It needs to be prepared if the championship is going to take place.

Now if the JMU admin came out and said “we’re playing football no matter what,” I’d be concerned. There are far too many unknowns right now. Without know what the Covid numbers are going to look like in a few months, it would be kind of crazy to make that decision today. But the admin also would be failing to do its job, if it didn’t prepare for multiple scenarios. And there still is a scenario where a significant number of teams can play this season. Thus far, two FCS conferences (Ivy and MEAC) that don’t compete in the playoffs, and a third (Patriot League) that typically only competes in round one, have shut things down for the Fall. The rest are all in play. While it seems incredibly likely that the playoffs will eventually be cancelled, they haven’t been yet. JMU should be ready.

We’ll see where things stand what JMU does down the road. For now though, it seems crazy to rush to judgment. It doesn’t do anyone any good to start throwing darts at the league office or administration of any individual schools. My personal feeling is that this was a rare sign of strong leadership by the league office. Due to travel logistics, certain states having quarantines for visitors, and the fact that some schools probably just don’t want to play, it was never going to be a “normal” season. The league did a good thing by pulling the band aid off now and freeing the schools to do what’s best for them. As fans, none of us have all the facts. JMU shouldn’t be slammed for creating a contingency plan and schools in different situations, shouldn’t be slammed for sitting the Fall out. It’s a scary situation and I’m still doubtful that JMU will play games. For now though, it’s nice to have some football to discuss during a time when distractions are sorely needed.

Jul 3 / Rob

3 Sports You Probably Don’t Know Are Dangerous

Millions of people love sports. They are a form of entertainment that brings individuals together and employ thousands of people.  

But do you know that sports can be dangerous? In most of the sports, players are usually risking their life, unlike when playing casino games such as Baccarat.     

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Apr 8 / Rob

JMUSB Pod: Quarantine Season With Jamie Mottram from BreakingT

We hope you’re all safe and sound wherever you are. During this time of COVID-19, we’re spreading our wings a bit and trying to dive into other interesting non-sports topics on the pod. Our goal is to bring you some fun conversations with JMU folks doing interesting things, running businesses, or standing out in some other way. We thought there was no better guest to kick things off with than our friend and fellow JMU alum Jamie Mottram.

In this episode we talk to Jamie about his career in online sports media and his transition to become CEO of BreakingT, a company documenting history one t-shirt at a time. Jamie explains the BreakingT business model and how he and his colleagues have been able to capitalize on sports’ most memorable moments in real-time. It’s a neat look behind the curtain of a company that’s turning out some awesome merch. Give it a listen.

As always, thanks to our sponsors Pale Fire Brewing and Mossy Creek Fly Fishing. Stop by the brewery for a beer and let them know JMUSB sent you and you’ll go home with a free pint glass. And swing over to the fly shop, tell them JMUSB sent you and they’ll hook you up with some cool stickers. Support small businesses folks!

Mar 21 / Rob

Why We Like the Mark Byington Hire

Mark Byington was hired to replace Louis Rowe as the Head Coach for JMU Basketball. Byington has coached Georgia Southern since 2013 and led the Eagles to a record of 131-97. He’s a Virginia native who won a state championship as a player in Salem, before moving on to UNCW where he was a three year starter. After college he had a few gigs as an assistant, with the majority of his experience coming under Bobby Cremins at College of Charleston.

Hiring Byington was unexpected, with rumors only starting to circulate that he was a candidate yesterday. And admittedly, he’s not a guy we were tracking or that familiar with before this. After digging into things a bit though, we’re really excited about the hire and on the bandwagon. Here are three reasons why.

He’s Managed a Rebuild

If you’re not very familiar with Georgia Southern basketball, that’s probably because it’s Georgia Southern basketball. The program is a bit of an afterthought at a school that has tremendous support for a successful football program. (Sound familiar?) When Byington took the job there in 2013, the school had a total of 37 wins in the prior three years. He turned things around to the point where the Eagles won 20 games in each of the last three years. That’s a big deal at a place like GSU, a school that hasn’t had much success to speak of since the early 90s. While we’d all like to think that JMU is a sleeping giant, the reality is that the program needs a coach who can rebuild it from the ashes. And Byington’s success at GSU shows he can do that. He’s not a guy who inherited a high performing program and kept the trains running. He took on a difficult job and made it work.

He Was an Apprentice Under a Great Coach

There are different pathways to success. Some guys bounce around serving as assistants at multiple programs. Others dig deep and settle in at one spot. The benefit of spending significant time as an assistant in one place, is it can give assistants a chance to learn how to manage all aspects of a program, in ways that go beyond Xs and Os. Byington had two stints as an assistant at College of Charleston, with the longest lasting 5 years. During that stretch, he worked for Bobby Cremins, a guy who not only won at CofC, but completely rebuilt Georgia Tech and Appalachian State as well. Byington was right there by Cremins side. He played a huge role in recruiting and was largely responsible for helping secure CofC’s only 5-star recruit, Adjehi Baru from Richmond.

JMU Committed to Him

For the past 20 years, JMU has shown tremendous support for athletics as a whole. Football is the obvious example, but it’s far from the only one. Men’s basketball has been a bit of an outlier though. The athletic department never seemed to be on the same page with Matt Brady, and even forced him to coach as a lame duck one season. Lou Rowe was a great guy, but in hiring him the school was giving him a shot to develop, rather than committing resources to a guy with a track record of success. JMU is reportedly giving Byington a 6 year deal with a $375,000 annual base and $75,000 of supplemental pay. That sort of contract shows JMU is all in. And while fans might want an immediate turnaround, the 6 year contract also indicates that JMU probably understands this might take time. But JMU finally is paying a market rate for a coach. And giving him a beautiful new arena to coach in. The school is all in on Mark Byington and JMU hoops. And so are we.

Mar 20 / Rob

JMUSB Pod: Quarantine Season With Coach O

While we all do our part to help flatten the curve, Todd and I are going to try to push out a little more content. It’s fun for us and hopefully creates a positive distraction for many of you. Our favorite guest, JMU Women’s Basketball Coach Sean O’Regan, agreed to pop on the pod and discuss the abrupt end to the season and how the program is moving forward. And just like we always do with Coach, we talked a bit of NBA hoops. Give it a listen.

As always, thanks to our sponsors Pale Fire Brewing and Mossy Creek Fly Fishing. Stop by the brewery for a beer and let them know JMUSB sent you and you’ll go home with a free pint glass. And swing over to the fly shop, tell them JMUSB sent you and they’ll hook you up with some cool stickers. Support small businesses folks!

Mar 17 / Rob

The 5 Things Most Likely to Be Found in 90s Dorms

These are interesting times we’re living in. Like everyone else, we’re adjusting to the temporary norm of social distancing. We need a healthy distraction and figure we’re not alone in that regard. So we’re gonna get back on the blogging horse and crank up the podcast engine. Given that sports are on an indefinite hiatus though, topics might get a little out there. Which brings us to this. Here’s a list of the 5 things you were most likely to find in 90s college dorm rooms.

Cheap Plastic Cups

90s kids loved plastic. Especially when it was formed into screen printed mugs and cups. At JMU, these often took the shape of the insulated mugs with lids. I can’t remember the exact details, but I think they were branded with some sort of “JMU Recycles” tag line and they were supposed to replace disposable cups. The intent was noble, but frankly ahead of its time. Because nobody in the 90s cared about recycling or waste reduction expect for the hippies playing hacky sack at Ped Plaza or the ladies of AST. In any case, these “insulated” mugs kept your drink hot for approximately as long as took for you to fasten the lid. Hydro Flasks they were not.

In addition to insulated mugs, dorms were littered with awful plastic beer stein mugs. They were most likely souvenirs from JM’s. They were also the most deceptive piece of drinkware on the planet. A full 6 inches high, but with a false bottom so that they held approximately 3.5 ounces of cheap adjunct lager. What a bargain.

And if a dorm room didn’t have one of the above, it was sure to contain dozens of cups and mugs adorned with sorority letters lovingly crafted by someone’s big sis. I can’t find the exact numbers, but I swear that at one point, 43% of Harrisonburg’s economy was directly tied to puffy paint and the sorority pledge period.

This Aiwa Stereo

State. Of. The. Art. This thing was boomin. Two tape decks, a disc changer, and detachable speakers. A single machine enabled you to dub your favorite bootleg of a DMB show from the Floodzone, or play the latest CD you grabbed at Town and Campus Records (Midnight Madness for new releases!) downtown. 90s technology at its finest.

A John Belushi “College” Poster

Animal House is a classic. But there’s no reason that this poster should have been as ubiquitous as it was. I swear they must have snuck it in with some acceptance letters or included it pre-hung on dorm room walls. Pretty much every bro who liked to crush beers had it on his walls. Except for stoner bros who had the Bob Marley equivalent. You know the one.

Glow Ball Candles

Prior to moving to JMU, I think my entire candle usage experience fell squarely into one of two categories, Advent and power outages. Yet, I somehow got swept up into the pseudo-psychadelic decor trend and had a bunch of these weird candles all over every dorm room I ever lived in. And I was not alone. You’d kind of expected it with the kids who came to college with a brand new “Skeletons From the Closet” CD and a desire to reinvent themselves as Deadheads. But it wasn’t just them. And I still haven’t figured out why. The candles “glowed.” I think that means they were candles.

Shirts Commemorating Parties With Questionable Themes

We get it. Much of what we considered harmless fun as college students, is exceedingly cringeworthy with the benefit of hindsight. There’s no telling how much more advanced we’d be as a society today, had 90s college guys spent as much time studying as they did attempting to differentiate the exact same playbook of liquor + beer + themed costume + pretzel dancing to Breakfast at Tiffany’s into some massively differentiated party. But we can’t change the past. That’s what they (we) did. And there were receipts, in the form of 90s theme party t-shirts, to prove it. In every dorm you were sure to find drawers full of shirts memorializing such life changing events as the Pimps and Hoes, Dirty Old Men & School Girls, White Trash Wine & Cheese, Heaven and Hell, and Jagermeister Toga parties.

Mar 16 / Rob

How Outdoor Activities and Sports Benefit Children

The way kids are brought up today is very different from how it was done some decades ago, but one of the most alarming contrasts is the way to which it is being spent indoors. Many reasons contribute to this behavior. This include; the emphasis on scheduled activities and achievements, increased in time for kids to spent interacting with electronic devices like video games and finally, the lack of safe outdoor places to play. All this has raised concerns about sun exposure. However, there are benefits associated with kid’s enrolment in sports that every parent should know.

read more…
Mar 16 / Rob

Sports for Kids Who Don’t Like Sports

Not all kids are into team sports and that is just normal. Children who don’t join team sports oftentimes end up being the better athletes as they become adults. As parents, you must try various activities and sports for your children. Keep your children active and find out which physical activity are they passionate about. There is no reason to force them into joining a team structure. 

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Mar 10 / Rob

JMUSB Pod: Rowe is Gone

JMU and Louis Rowe “mutually parted ways” yesterday. It was a move that most people saw coming. Rowe was a great Duke as a player, a terrific role model for the young men he coached, and by all accounts, one of the truly good guys in the world of college basketball. Unfortunately, none of that translated to wins as head coach of JMU. Rowe departs the program with a record of 43-85 over four seasons. This past year, his team finished dead last in the CAA with a 2-16 record in league play. That’s just not good enough.

As you might have noticed, we haven’t been to active on the blog for a while. Much of that is just due to other things taking precedence. We’ve been at this for 10 years and after a while, it’s hard to prioritize writing about whatever is going on in the world of JMU sports, over some of the other things in our lives. But it’s also due to the fact that JMU basketball’s struggles left us at a complete loss. Call us fair weather fans if you must, but that’s not it. We’ve pushed through the past 9 years writing plenty about a program that has been woefully short of high points. We know how to handle disappointment.

After watching JMU fail to make much progress through the first three years of the Rowe era, and the wheels coming completely off this year, we just ran out of gas. We loved Rowe as a player. And we wanted him to succeed probably more than we wanted any other JMU coach to find success. Rowe is the epitome of a JMU Duke. But it just was not working as a coach. At all. And the idea of pointing out the obvious game after game had zero appeal to us. So we waived the white flag and decided it was better to say nothing at all, then to constantly bag on the players and coaches, or lie to ourselves and everyone else by trying to act like the ship was not sinking.

Now Rowe is gone and the Dukes will be coached by someone else next season. We’re pretty torn up for Rowe and the his assistants who are now out of work. But it’s the right move for the future of JMU hoops. Rowe is still a great Duke and a person we admire greatly. We hope he finds success elsewhere. His players are better off for having him in their lives. It’s time to turn the page and get ready for a new coach though.

Anyway, the latest episode of the pod is more of that, plus some discussion about the passing of the legendary Challace McMillin. And then we take the edge off with a more light-hearted OT discussion about our favorite coaches from television the movies.

As always, thanks to our sponsors Pale Fire Brewing and Mossy Creek Fly Fishing. Stop by the brewery for a beer and let them know JMUSB sent you and you’ll go home with a free pint glass. And swing over to the fly shop, tell them JMUSB sent you and they’ll hook you up with some cool stickers.

Mar 8 / Rob

JMU Loses a Legend

Sad news for the JMU family today. Former JMU Football Coach and Dr. Challace McMillin passed away suddenly at the age of 77. McMillin was the guy Uncle Ron called upon to lead the upstart JMU football program all the way back in 1972. He went from literally recruiting students from class registration lines to join the team, to leading the Dukes to the only undefeated season in program history just three years later. He served as head coach from 1972 to 1984, helping transition the school from non-scholarship football, to DIII power, to the 1-AA program that laid the groundwork for the success we all know today.

McMillin retired from coaching in 1984 with a record of 67-60-2. He was just getting started however. He went on to serve as a kinesiology and sports psychology professor, a position in which he impacted countless students. All too often we look at wins and losses as the sole measure of success for coaches. McMillin was successful using that yardstick, but going solely off his football accomplishments would be selling him short. He was a fixture on campus and around the program long after his time as coach ended. If the measure of a man is the number of lives he impacts, then McMillin lived an extraordinary life. The mere fact that players, students, an alums spanning 40+ years have taken to social media to express how devastated they are over his passing and how grateful they are for the way he impacted their lives, shows you what type of man he was. Rest easy coach.