May 4 / Rob

Dominick Richards Earns Invite to Redskins Minicamp

dominick richardsFormer JMU offensive lineman Domick Richards will be given a chance to defy the odds and make an NFL roster. He announced yesterday that he was invited to participate in the Washington Redskins minicamp. If he performs well, he could be signed as an undrafted fee agent for the preseason. These types of minicamp deals/tryouts don’t often lead to a spot on the roster in the Fall, but as Leicester showed us, anything is possible.

Richards played center at JMU and started all 12 games as a redshirt senior last season. He was also recognized as All-Conference Academic team and recently was named to the National Football Foundation Hampshire Honor Society. He anchored an offensive line that helped the Dukes average 44 points and over 520 yards of offense per game.

Richards is the only JMU player to be picked up by an NFL squad this season. Fans were hoping Vad Lee would get a shot someplace, but he hasn’t thus far. We have no clue if it’s due to his injury or the perception that he’s a “system quarterback.”

Congrats to Domick. We’ll all be pulling for you.

May 1 / Rob

Avenge the Mascot Challenge Debacle by Voting for The Founding Fathers

AJ DavisWe’re dating ourselves here, but bear with us. Years ago, the Duke Dog qualified for the Capitol One Mascot Challenge. We don’t remember the particulars, but it was some sort of bracket to determine the best mascot in college sports. There was an online voting component and Duke Dog crushed. And we mean he absolutely ran away with the vote. He lapped the competition. Without going back to research it, we’re pretty sure he got 459,374,119 more votes than the next closest competitor. And then he lost.

He lost because Capitol One had completely rigged the stupid and utterly worthless competition implemented some unusual scoring procedures that minimized the impact of the fan vote. It sucked, but it proved on thing beyond any doubt, JMU people are the best at stuffing online ballot boxes for fellow Dukes.

While we’re not over the Mascot Challenge debacle, we believe we have a way for JMU to avenge the travesty and flex its online voting muscles. We need to get out and vote for The Founding Fathers to qualify for The Basketball Tournament (TBT).

Who are The Founding Fathers and what is The Basketball Tournament? First up, The Founding Fathers is the name given to a team of JMU Basketball alums who are trying to qualify for TBT.  Former JMU Basketball Manager, Joe Kuykendall, along with former Video Coordinator Kevin Albright, assembled the team. It aims to compete in the Northeast Region taking place in Philadelphia this July. So far, the roster is made up of Ron Curry (2016), Rayshawn Goins (2013), AJ Davis (2013), Julius Wells (2012), and Kyle Swanston (2009).

This is the second year TBT has been in existence and it’s a pretty cool idea. It’s a 5 on 5 hoops tourney open to 64 teams. It’s free to enter and anyone over 18 and willing to forego amateur status is eligible to compete. This is not some random local tournament for weekend ballers though. For one thing, most teams will feature former college and pro standouts. For another thing, it has a $2 million grand prize.

So anyone can enter. But here’s where it gets interesting. Teams will qualify for the bracket based on the number of online votes they receive. Which is where you come in. The Founding Fathers need help. Help in the form of online votes, which is something of a JMU specialty. In order to play in Philly, they need to be one of the top 12 vote getters in the Northeast Region. Before you go any further, you need to VOTE NOW.

This is guaranteed not to be some Capitol One Mascot Challenge screw job folks. There’s no other factor to consider for a tourney bid. If The Founding Fathers finish in the top 12 for the Northeast Region, they’re in. It’s that simple. There will be no random other “factor” that leads to a Duke Dog Mascot Challenge like catastrophe. So get out and vote for The Founding Fathers. And encourage everyone you know to do the same.

May 1 / Rob

He Has No Connection to JMU, But Man Are We Pulling for Eric Striker

Eric Striker has absolutely no connection to JMU football. He played linebacker for the Oklahoma Sooners and was good enough to earn All Big 12 and All America honors. Like many college players, he hoped to hear his name called during the NFL draft. But he didn’t.

After the final picks were made, he gave this amazing speech to his family and friends who’d gathered to follow the draft with him. It’s hard to watch a guy fight back tears like that, but at the same time it’s pretty damn incredible to witness someone with such wisdom and perspective.

We said that Striker has no connection to JMU football, and he doesn’t. At the same time, his experience as a standout player from one of the true power programs in college football gives us even more appreciation for the Dukes who’ve beaten the odds to make an NFL roster. The odds of anyone playing on Sundays are pretty steep.  That holds true if you’re Eric Striker from Oklahoma, and even more so if you’re Deane Marlowe, Daniel Brown, Earl Watford, Arthur Moats, or anyone else from JMU.

Striker signed with the Buffalo Bills as an undrafted free agent. Since we’re saps, we’ll be rooting like hell for him to make the team. And hoping that more JMU Dukes continue to defy the odds and play in the NFL as well.

Apr 28 / Todd

Dukes NFL Hopefuls

Vad runningAs the NFL draft kicked off tonight, we thought we’d touch on this year’s small class of Dukes with realistic hopes of playing at the next level. With no disrespect intended towards any other JMU players that may be working their butts off, there really only appear to be two guys with a shot at being picked up by Sunday evening – QB Vad Lee and OL Dominick Richards. Neither player seems likely to actually be drafted, but as we say every year, being signed as an undrafted free agent (UFA) by a team with a need that actually wants to bring you in is WAY preferable to being snagged late by a team that may not have a spot. If you’re looking for examples you need only go back to last year when Dean Marlowe was signed as an UFA by the Panthers and went all the way to the Super Bowl and Daniel Brown was brought in by the Ravens and after bouncing around a bit, got a real shot late in the season when the depleted Ravens’ WR corps had a need for a guy that had learned the system back in camp. It’s also nice to know that Richards and Lee are two of the best all-around Dukes we’ve seen in years and will be just fine no matter what happens. Check out this article on Richards and this great piece by WHSV on Vad’s comeback from injury and hopes for this weekend and beyond:

http://www.whsv.com/content/sports/Vad-Lee-The-Comeback-377364911.html

Apr 27 / Rob

Pumping the Breaks On JMU to MACtion Speculation


emu stadiumNews broke a few days ago that Eastern Michigan University (EMU) faculty and students officially came out in favor of the school dropping FBS football. They made their voices known by publishing a report stating that “getting rid of Division I football is a moral imperative – it will save students money and lower student debt.” Of course long before the report was published, students, faculty, and alums had voted with their feet by simply not going to football games. EMU’s season high attendance last year was a whopping 6,513 when Army came to town.

What does this have to do with JMU? Well, as soon as the news broke that EMU might be exiting the Mid American Conference (MAC) for football, eager JMU fans saw an opportunity for the Dukes to finally make the leap to FBS football. There have long been suspicions that while JMU “passed” on the Sun Belt, it is standing by ready to jump to the MAC, CUSA, or nearly any other league. Whether or not that’s a common belief of everyone in the administration or not is up for debate. Regardless, it doesn’t seem to matter because EMU is not dropping FBS football.

The university President and Board of Regents firmly stating their intent to keep FBS football is a good thing for the hundreds of EMU fans who care and several thousand others who randomly attend games because their is nothing better to do in Ypsilanti, Michigan in the Fall. It is less encouraging for JMU fans who finally saw a window of opportunities for the Dukes to exit FCS football once and for all.

We have no clue whether or not EMU leaving the MAC would mean JMU got the call up. Logic dictates that JMU is probably the most well suited FCS school to make the leap in terms of resources and support. With TV revenue declining for all but the P5 leagues however, the flavor of the month seems to be a shift to regionalized conferences. In that sense, a school like Youngstown State might get a call from the MAC before JMU should a slot ever open. Or maybe UMass would be suddenly welcomed back into the fold.

Here on JMUSB, I’ve shied away from the FCS vs. FBS debate, and largely let Todd weigh in on the topic. I’m slightly less concerned on the matter, but mainly am just sick of worrying about something that we clearly have no ability to influence.

While I get the decision to pass on the Sun Belt, I’ve actually advocated for a MAC move in the past. Admittedly, I arrived at that position with virtually no analytic rigor. For some reason I just thought some of the schools were a good “fit” for JMU. Dig into the numbers however, and it seems like there might be a case to be made that the MAC isn’t really much different than the Sunbelt. My reluctance to get behind an FBS move full bore, has always been that the perceived low ROI. The thing is though, with JMU’s $40M+ athletic budget, the powers that be either calculate ROI differently, or they fail to consider it at all.

Regardless of where you stand, recent developments show that conference movement is not dead and will probably never die. That could be a good thing if you’re holding your breath waiting for JMU to move. It could also be recipe for massive frustration with an admin that appears content to wait around forever looking for the perfect fit.

Apr 24 / Rob

CJ Sapong Is Having a Pretty Damn Good Season in MLS


CJ Sapang scored again for the Philadelphia Union this weekend. The goal, as seen above, put the Union up 2-0 over NYCFC and moved them to the top of the table in the Eastern Conference. It’s still early in the season, but the JMU soccer alum, is off to one hell of a start. Through seven matches, Sapong leads the Union with 4 goals. That total also puts him in the top 5 of MLS goal scorers.

Last year was a rough one for Sapong. He battled injuries on the field and was also arrested for DUI. Despite those set backs, he managed rally and score a career best 9 goals. This season, he’s on pace to blow past that total.

His efforts have not gone unnoticed. In fact, they’ve lead to some folks calling for Jurgen Klinsmans to call Sapong up for US Men’s National Team Duties. And the calls for CJ are being led by none other than Taylor Twellman. Sapang has previously played with the USMNT only during the January session, which is never really the “A team” and usually a chance to give below the radar players a look-see.

While the seemingly tenured USMNT striker Jozy Altidore has battled injuries this year, he still has yet to find the back of the net in 5 games of action. CJ’s supporters rightly point out that he’s scoring at a greater rate than Jozy, but also has improved by leaps and bounds holding the ball and creating scoring opportunities for his teammates. Of course, performing in MLS doesn’t always equal a call up to Klinsmann’s squad (cough, Benny Feilhaber, cough). If CJ keeps improving like this, Jurgen is going to need to give him a shot.

Apr 24 / Rob

Around the Horn With JMU Spring Sports


The school year is winding down and most Spring sports have hit their stretch run. Here’s a couple quick links to catch you up before you blink and it’s all over.

The softball team can’t be stopped. Well, except by the Rocky Mount Fire that is. Mickey Dean and the ladies just keep on rolling though. They’ve moved all the way up to 6th in the national polls and are sitting at 39-3 after taking 2 over Delaware. Also, vote for Jailyn.

The JMU women have played a tough out of conference schedule, managing only 4 wins against 7 losses. Thankfully, the Dukes have taken care of business in CAA play going 5-1. They knocked off Towson today, to capture the regular season crown and the secure the #1 seed for the conference tournament.

Brandon Withers took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning against College of Charleston and the Dukes held on to win 3-1 and in the three game series finale. JMU is 17-23 on the season thus far, but they’ve shown some promise. Considering the state of the program when head coach Marlin Ikenberry took over, there’s reason to believe he’s the man to turn it around.

College of Charleston men’s golf team ran away from the field to win the CAA Championship and earn a bid to the NCAA Tourney. The Cougars nearest competitor was 22 strokes behind. Of course JMU was that second place finisher. There was no catching the Cougars, but overall JMU had a heck of a tourney. Congrats to junior Ryan Cole for finishing tied for second after shooting -3.

Finally, we’re probably going to queue up a specific post to hype this, but a group of JMU basketball alums have created a team and are trying to gain entry to The Tournament. ICYMI, The Tournament is a 64 team basketball tournament open to anyone. 64 teams will gain entry based on the number of votes they receive. Once in, the teams will compete for a $1 million prize. Ron Curry, AJ Davis, Rayshawn Goins, and Julius Wells are the Founding Fathers and they need your vote. Go here to vote now.

Apr 18 / jmusport

Guest Post: JMU Football Spring Game Notes

spring gameOur buddy Michael made the trip down to the ‘burg on Saturday for the spring game. He agreed to let us post his thoughts on what was looking good, and what wasn’t. Give it a read and then give him a follow on Twitter at @Michael_2Clutch

Saturday was the perfect day for football and a sign for greater things to come for the Dukes. In front of 2500+ fans, JMU hosted their annual spring game and for the first time, allowed tailgating on Godwin field.

Here’s the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly from the 58-39 Purple (defense) victory:

Good:

  • Sr Khalid Abdullah and rJr Cardon Johnson are an elite tandem and Coach Houston is looking to go fast. JMU showcased a two-back formation utilizing both potential all-conference running backs which will be deadly for defenses. We are 4 deep at the position as Taylor Woods was difficult to tackle and the speedster, Trai Sharp, looked equally impressive. JMU will continue to run the up tempo no-huddle spread under new OC, Donnie Kirkpatrick.

read more…

Apr 17 / Rob

Megan Good Pitches Second Perfect Game in JMU Softball History

Megan GoodToday was a good day for JMU softball. In fact it, you could say it was a Megan Good day. (ed. note: please pretend you didn’t read that sentence and we’ll pretend we never wrote it.) The team won, because that’s what it does. This particularly victory was especially sweet because it came as a result of sophomore pitcher Megan Good’s perfect game though. That’s right. For the second straight season a JMU softball pitcher has tossed a perfect game. Last year it was Jailyn Ford’s turn. Today, Megan Good had the honors, striking out five and not allowing a single base runner in the five inning 8-0 win over Drexel.

The win was the 7th ranked Dukes’ 37th on the season, agains only 3 losses. Amazingly enough, the Dukes have stormed to that record despite playing only 6 of their 40 games in the friendly confines of JMU’s Veterans Memorial Park. Going anywhere and everywhere to take on, and beat, all foes is how you crash the Top 10 party as a mid-major ladies and gentlemen.

The Dukes now enter the stretch run of the regular season with 6 of their 8 remaining games at home. Then it’s onto the CAA tourney, before hopefully hosting a few more games in the NCAAs. With arms like those of Megan Good and Jailyn Ford in the circle, this team could go a long way.

Apr 14 / Todd

Dukes in the Draft!

sb rankingsSo while we all hold onto hope that Vad Lee and/or Dom Richards will be drafted in the NFL soon, there were a few other Dukes drafted today in other sports. First, Jazmon Gwathmey was picked 14th overall in the WNBA draft, as the second pick of the second round by the traditional powerhouse San Antonio SilverStars. For those that followed the golden age of Kenny Brooks (the greatest Duke ever who just reminded us that JMU has given up on life by not offering COA or figuring a way out of the CAA), we know this honor for Jaz was truly earned and in no way surprising.

However, what we didn’t know was that there’s a new 2016 National Fastpitch College Draft. Yup, that’s a pro softball league that’s actually been around a while and we were excited to see Senior Pitcher Jailyn Ford went third overall in round one to the Akron Racers while Senior offensive star Erica Field went to the USSSA Pride (Kissimmee, FL). This is pretty cool even if we have no idea how this is possibly a full-time job. But it seems like 5-6k for a 3 month season plus housing. Tempting to keep playing right out of school but since you’re required to live in the team area, this could certainly have an impact on any “real-job” possibilities. But in any case, we’re still hoping these two active legends can lead the 7th (that’s 7th nationally people) ranked Dukes to greater glory while they’re still wearing the purple and gold this spring!