Sep 26 / jmusport

Guest Post: Revenge Against the Phoenix

Hart won last week’s prediction contest and earned the right to guest post. Here’s a little something he put together to get us all ready for this Saturday’s game.

Revenge against the Phoenix.  It sounds like a good movie title or, rather, a good title for a bad sci-fi movie.  I am not a fan of make believe and story time when it comes to entertainment. Let’s stick to what is real – sports, sports, sports.   Fierce competition, Winners and Losers, objective results, let’s find out who is the best. ‘Merica! Speaking of ‘Merica, shout out to our youngest, Chase, who is stationed at the Coronado Naval Base in San Diego.  He is living the dream in sunny SoCal while committed to making the sacrifices necessary to defend our country. Freedom ain’t free y’all.

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Well, Lightning struck twice and somehow I was lucky enough to win the JMU SportsBlog prediction contest again so I get to write the guest blog inserting a bunch of random thoughts and meaningless prose.   Since I am on fire I will throw out this Saturday’s Powerball lottery numbers 1,3,13,34,35 and 21. Please submit 10% of your winnings to the Hart retirement fund. Thanks in advance.

Just a little Conference monologue

It seems the collegiate athletic atmosphere is ripe for JMU to FINALLY make a move to the promised land.  The administration has been teasing us for a decade while former FCS peers have moved up to compete at the highest football level.  JMU said no to Conference USA. JMU said no to the Sun Belt conference. JMU hasn’t made advances towards the MAC. These conferences were all considered not good enough for picky JMU.  Well, good enough is finally here. UConn announced its departure from the American Athletic Conference AAC this Summer and the conference is down to 11 football teams. This is a big boy football conference with exactly the types of universities JMU should align with.  None of them are the state flagship school, but many are a very loud second fiddle in their state: Cincinnati, Temple, East Carolina, Central Florida, South Florida, Memphis, Houston, Navy, SMU, Tulsa, & Tulane. What is JMU’s all-time football record against these teams?  6-3. That’s right kids. This program already belongs even before investment into 22 additional scholarships and other necessities for FBS football.  It is easy to see that there would be a short transition from FCS power to competing at the top of the AAC. Throw in 4 OOC games a year similar to what former peers are getting now and you would see UVA, Va. Tech, ODU, and Richmond/W&M on the schedule too.  Conceding that JMU will never get into a Power 5 conference, the current opening in the AAC is the best case scenario for JMU to move up. If president Alger can’t get all sports into the AAC, then a great plan B is to get only football into the AAC. CAA football is separate from the CAA Olympic sports and it would be an easy separation if needed.  Throw in the fact that the AAC has already shown the willingness to take partial members with Navy (Football only) and Wichita State (all sports except football).

The AAC has a huge, long-term 12 year $1 Billion media contract with ESPN which provides the financial stability everyone is looking for.  The AAC commissioner, Mike Aresco, worked for CBS and ESPN previously and mostly in the negotiations for and the broadcasting of college sports.  In short, he is well connected. Guess who else has worked many years at ESPN with college sports programming. JMU Alum Lee Fitting, that’s who. Can you say JMU to the AAC?  All the puzzle pieces make sense and have fallen into place. Grease the skids Lee! Do your duty for the Dukes of JMU! Check out the numerical sequence for his personal impact… 2015 College Gameday at JMU, 2017 College Gameday at JMU again, 2019 JMU to the AAC.   It is science.

Commish Mike Aresco quote from July 16, 2019 – “People have my phone number. If somebody is interested in our conference, we’d listen. Someone interested in us who could enhance our strength and brand, we would consider it.”   Hopefully, Jeff Bourne is having a daily good morning call with his new best buddy Mike Aresco.

Travel tip of the week

For those who love seeing new places, be intentional and schedule a vacation to Israel (Spring or Fall, not Summer because the desert areas get too hot).  We love seeing different countries and how people live across the world, but our April trip to Israel was top notch. It is a very small country and you can see most of the inhabitable land in less than 2 hours drive East to West and maybe 4 hours drive North to South.  The variety of geography and climate is tremendous in such a small land area. The Mediterranean Sea, snow capped Mt. Hermon, the most productive agricultural acreage in the world, the Dead Sea 1400 feet below sea level and on and on. It is worth the money even though there is a next level hate there with Muslims, Christians, and Jews all claiming the small country as their Holy Land.  There has never been peace there and there never will be for that reason. IMO, it was very, very interesting to see the dynamic up close and personal where you could absolutely feel the tension. For us the coolest part of the trip was walking exactly where Jesus walked. It doesn’t get any more powerful than that and the words of the Bible come alive when you are standing where it all went down 2000 years ago.  The Hart recommendation is to add Israel to your bucket list, you won’t regret it.

This week’s opponent – Elon

Ok, Revenge against the Phoenix this Saturday is necessary to heal JMU nation from last year’s huge upset.  Elon was a massive 28 point underdog last year, but pulled it off with a +2 advantage in turnovers and then a tipped, immaculate reception on the game winning drive seen at the :22 mark of this video clip.

Amazingly, Elon only converted an anemic 1 of 15 on 3rd downs and still won the game 27-24.  Pedestrian QB Davis Cheek completed just 16 of 32 passes and 6 were on Elon’s 16th and penultimate possession.  This is a once in a lifetime type anomaly.  We should not see a repeat this week and JMU’s defense will dominate.  The Dukes are giving up hardly anything on the ground at 69 yards rushing per game which ranks 3rd in the nation.  This spells big trouble for Cheek who survives on play-action passing to be a serviceable QB.  Without an effective running game, he gets exposed for having inadequate passing skill to get it done.  The rumor is that JMU’s elite CB Rashad Robinson will be back from his injury which makes things even more bleak for Elon.   On the defensive side of the ball, the Phoenix are bad this year giving up an average of 30 points per game. If they try to load the tackle box with defenders as expected, JMU could and should have a field day throwing quick, short passes to the perimeter.  JMU WR’s Riley Stapleton and Brandon Polk have no match on the opposite side of the ball. That’s for sure.

One year after the upset, coach Cignetti has been hired away from Elon and is now roaming JMU’s sidelines at $425,000 per year.  This game should not be close, but Cignetti certainly will not run up the score. He was the leader for not only the players on Elon’s current team, but also the new Elon head coach and multiple remaining assistants worked for him.  He intimately knows the strengths and weaknesses of every player on Elon’s roster and it should be a no-brainer gameplan for him. It is, however, his chance to prove that he can beat yours with his and beat his with yours. It is his chance to show that coaching matters in college sports.  In fact, the coach = the program. At hiring day, he stated that JMU significantly underachieved going 9-4 last year and a new sheriff was in town to rectify the situation. He immediately set the expectation at Championship or bust. The road to the FCS National title goes straight through and over Elon as well as other middling teams in the CAA.

Prediction time

I always like to check with my wife for her thoughts on the outcome of the upcoming game of the week.  Her profound and eloquent answer this week was “I don’t knoooooooow”. Exactly, I don’t know either. Nobody knows.  That is one of the reasons why sports are so great and riveting. We could see another once in a lifetime upset like last year, but I’m not expecting anything of the sort.  JMU has control of this one by halftime and Cignetti plays nice in the sandbox so his former players/coaches don’t get too embarrassed.

JMU 34

Elon 13

Go Duuuuuuukes!


The Beer of the week doesn’t fit into JMU SPORTSBLOG’s penchant for niche craft beer, but I stumbled into it at Outback Steakhouse a year ago and now it is my fave. Introducing Sam ’76 a mass produced “craft” beer from Samuel Adams Brewing Boston, MA. It is a hybrid ale and lager that is tasty while not being too heavy on the ol’ stomach.  Just as stated in their advertising campaign, it is crushable. Sam ‘76 – I CAN TASTE MY BEER! Please Bridgeforth Aramark beverages manager person, add Sam ‘76 to your gameday can menu. I will commit to buying one every game. (as part of the deal, must stop ridiculous giant X marker on hand)

And while I’m at it, now is a good time to support building a public Beer Garden in the new Atlantic Union Bank Center.  Other College arenas have already done this. Git-r-done. Beer = $$$ and happy people. JMU sports fans are showing in Bridgeforth stadium that they know how to imbibe in line with James Madison’s vision of yore.  If you ever visit his Montpelier home, check out the gigantic size of his wine/beer cellar. Or refer to his colonial platform promoting beer manufacturing among the Founding Fathers.  Madison wanted to form a national beer brewery in 1809 and appoint a Secretary of Beer to the presidential cabinet. That’s right, Secretary of Beer.  Who wouldn’t want that cushy job? Although Congress didn’t agree with the plan, it was clearly an ingenious idea 200 years ahead of its time. Let’s get this thing done right on the campus bearing his name.  Based on construction photos, it looks like there is plenty of room in the basement of the new Atlantic Union Bank Center to fit brewing equipment. Instead of Sam ’76, let’s start cranking out some James ’09 and all of America’s problems will be solved overnight.

p.s. on a related stadium beverage note, Mrs. Hart is not happy with the elimination of Cheerwine from the soda fountains in Bridgeforth stadium.  Fix it or else! Happy wife = happy life.


leave a comment
  1. Deacon Danny / Sep 26 2019

    Well Done! Go Dukes & Go ‘Merica!

  2. Deez / Sep 26 2019

    The Atlantic Union Bank Center will serve beer. Football was a pilot project for alcohol. Good times are ahead of us!

  3. CJ / Sep 26 2019

    Even more than Elon, the team I’d really like for the Dukes to open up a good can of whoop-a**on is Colgate. We owe them big time.

  4. Robert L Bailes / Sep 26 2019

    what nonsense.

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