Oct 9 / Rob

Guest Blogger: Away Games, Program Evolution, and Playcalling

Frequent commenter M@ won last week’s prediction contest and is this week’s guest blogger. Here are his thoughts on fandom, the evolution of the JMU football program, and of course, playcalling. Like we do with every guest blogger, we offered to plug any other blog, twitter account etc. M@ politely declined and instead asked us to put in a plug for Autism Speaks, which happens to be one of favorite charities. If you’re looking for a great charity to support, please check it out and consider making a donation. Thanks!
I had a hard time coming up with a subject for this post.  And since indecisiveness is a virtue (as far as I’m concerned), I decided to write about everything.
Fun at away games: I have been to away games at Duke, UNC (twice), Maryland (twice), Virginia Tech (Three times – including watching Michael Vick flipped end over end…into the endzone), FedEx Field, Liberty (twice), Richmond (too many to count), William and Mary (too many to count) App State (twice) and ODU.  I may have gotten some of those counts wrong, but I digress.  Overall, I have enjoyed every one of those games; win or loss, rain or sun and no matter what the final score was.  Representing your team in enemy territory is a unique experience.  I am always respectful of the home team, sportsmanship counts, but visiting these other venues and seeing the way people tailgate and the general atmosphere is eye-opening.  And as much as I love to rub it in to Virginia Tech fans, they are among the greatest fans I’ve encountered.  Even after we won and were exiting the stadium (after the security guard made the band stop playing) we heard nothing but “Good Game” and “Way to Go” from the fans.  Virginia Tech knows how to put on a football game.  Lane Stadium is impressive.  The Pre-Game Tailgating is phenomenal and the fans are great.  I will continue to wish them luck and prosperity…as long as it isn’t against JMU.
Not so much fun at away games: UNC has been my worst experience.  Nothing but trash talk and gloating.  How small-minded and unsportsmanlike do you have to be as a mid-tier FBS team to gloat about beating an FCS team?  They didn’t do well those years.  I like to think the football gods smote them for the fans’ bad sportsmanship.  On the other hand, maybe they just aren’t that good and beating JMU is the highlight of their season.
Nice Hat: Yes, I count the number of times people compliment me on my hat.  Twice at the St Francis, Three times at the Alcorn State game and Twice at Fed-Ex field (including the lady who scanned my ticket).  But nobody at the Towson game.  That makes me sad.

FBS Prospects: I started coming to JMU games around 2002 (after graduating in ’98 – never missed a home game while I was a student).  At the time the team was…well, let’s say they weren’t great.  They generally won home games, but were rarely a real contender.  The stadium was relatively empty and the atmosphere was relaxed.  Then 2004 happened.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I love that my Alma Mater has a football championship.  But it changed the expectations; mine and everyone else’s.  Suddenly a 6-5 season wasn’t good enough.  Anything but a sold-out crowd was disappointing and suddenly everyone was talking about an imminent jump to the FBS.
I was against the prospect at first (and more-so recently).  I like being a big fish in a small pond.  “National Champion” or even “Playoff Team” sound better to me than “Invited to the Sponsor-Of-The-Year Bowl”.  I was also concerned about the cost of the jump.  Like many JMU grads, I have friends and family that go to games at one of the Virginia State FBS schools that wear Orange down one of the interstates.  They pay for tickets and they pay for the right to buy tickets.  I didn’t want that from my beloved JMU. As a result, the new stadium opening introduced a bittersweet conundrum: My team had reached a level of excellence that proved a need for the big stadium; but with it came the same extortion of funds that has turned my season ticket purchase from “me and my kids” to “just me”.
I know that if (when?) we make the jump I will cheer for my team and I know when they go to a bowl game I’ll fork out the funds to see them wherever they go and I’ll be happy to do so.  But the old curmudgeon will remember with longing the good old days at Bridgeforth Stadium, before the field got a name.  Sitting in section 15 (in front of the Dukettes naturally) enjoying a meaningless game.
Advice for Opposing Coaches – Don’t kick the ball to Scotty McGee: If you get the reference you need no explanation.  If you don’t, none will do, but this video is a good start.
It also happens to be one of my favorite JMU Football memories.  I was sitting second row from the bottom on the 20 yard line to the right of the camera.
Our Band is Better than Yours: I have yelled this cheer at many an away game against FBS opponents during a blowout.  It always makes me feel better.
Playcalling of Mickey Matthews: I figured I should put at least one true football-related statement (as opposed to the program or the experience).  I am not a pass-first person.  I like running the ball.  I don’t mind running the ball from shotgun (though prefer an I-set).  I try not to complain when Mickey runs that damned veer option on 3rd and 12 deep in his own territory because a punt is likely and so is an interception.  But can we run something else on 1st down please?  The defense knows it’s coming.  The first play from scrimmage against Towson was a play fake out from the shotgun set and it went for good yardage.  I don’t remember another pass on first down until the final drive. When the games get tough Mickey tends to fall back on “don’t turn the ball over and let the defense win the games.”  It worked on Saturday, but it may not work in the playoffs.
As I re-read that last paragraph I realized I sound ungrateful to a coach that has brought 100 victories to my Alma Mater.  I should just chant “In Mickey I trust” and be done with it…nah: throw the ball coach!
Final Word: I am excited for this season.  But I will try to remember the following: Football is supposed to be fun.  I will try to remember those days of relaxing in the stands back in the day (I suddenly feel old) and try not to get too worked up when the refs are incompetent or the coaches aren’t calling the plays I like or the players aren’t executing or the ball just isn’t bouncing our way.  I will relax and enjoy a game of football being played in front of me.  I will have fun.


leave a comment
  1. Sean / Oct 10 2012

    Carolina Haters need to decide, are Carolina fans too old and quiet to make an effect on the game, or are we rude and obnoxious. You are the first person I’ve ever heard about complaining about UNC fans and then turn around and say Tech fans are nice and hospitable.

    The highlights of Carolina’s season in 2007 was beating a ranked Maryland team and last year they went 7-5 and started 5-1, so no beating us in football was hardly the highlight of either season.

  2. 2004Duke / Oct 10 2012

    I agree with Sean.

    I’ve been to a ton of games in Chapel Hill, and they are pretty neutral in my experience. Virginia Tech fans have a tendancy to mouth off. Have you ever had a conversation with a Chokie alumni (any time of the year) that did not, at some point in the conversation, address “how awesome” their football team is? Answer: No. You have better luck dividing by zero.

    The kings of football fan jerkdom, though, are the i-have-nothing-better-to-do-with-my-life terrorists at West Virginia University. I have never in my life seen a larger mob of absolute animals than in Morgantown. They are like something from a JRR Tolkien novel that lives within the dark, misty mountains and eats children.

  3. Sean / Oct 10 2012

    I was gonna bring up WV fans as well, they were the worst I have seen. And guess what, they aren’t the mid tier, small minded, only highlight is beating FCS teams program that UNC supposedly is.

    I’ve come to grips that UNC is just a hated school for whatever reason, but what is funny is the contradiction or pure imagination as to why. Their fans are too quiet, there fans are too loud and obnoxious, Tyler Hansbrough is a p*ssy, the only reason TH is good is cause he is so tough but completely unathletic, Carolina is uppity about their academics, Carolina degree counts for nothing cause a few AFAM major classes were bogus.

  4. Sean / Oct 10 2012

    I apologize, probably the wrong spot for a UNC vent session. I loved everything else about this post, except for the Hokie love, ew.

  5. JMUMRD11 / Oct 10 2012

    Yea, when we went to UNC last year, fans were a-holes, but not really nasty. I remember VT and the fans in the office haven’t said one word about VT football in over a month…it has been nice, haha.As far as VT fans two years ago at Lane Stadium, they were completely nasty, even their shitty band was nasty. After the game we were supposed to meet with their band to talk, socialize, eat cake or something, but they were walking out as we were coming out of the stadium talking like they had actually won and we sucked. haha. But yes, I will agree, after the FEDEX game WVU fans are the biggest douchebags I ever met. You would have thought they beat Alabama in the National Championship, haha.

  6. M@ / Oct 10 2012

    It may have just been the specific fans I encountered. But I didn’t hear a single person bad mouth JMU while in Blacksburg for the game. The WVU I encountered at the game weren’t that bad (except on here), but I didn’t encounter many: basically just a couple of older gentlemen and a few small patches here and there in the stands. On here, they were deplorable, but I tend to discount the rantings of trolls in the anonymity of the internet. It could be that I just happened to avoid the jerks at VT while meeting every one at UNC. I have to accept the possibility.

  7. M@ / Oct 10 2012

    Oh, and by ‘possible’ that has a lot to do with my not really tailgating (though I did at VT). So I generally only encounter the fans in the stands and during the walk to and from the stadium. So ‘possible’ may even be ‘likely’.

  8. Sean / Oct 10 2012

    Yeah unfortunately there are douchebags in Every fan base, just don’t judge all us Tar Heels by the worst of us. 🙂

  9. M@ / Oct 10 2012

    I also live in Wolf Pack country, so that has to color my views. 🙂

  10. JMUDRU / Oct 10 2012

    Being from Richmond, a tech hotbed, I have to agree that Tech fans are the worst. They will run their mouths constantly about how good their football program is during the spring, summer, and fall. The only time they stop is whenever they are rooting for UNC or Duke’s basketball team…since being a Hokie really only means you root for VT football in most cases. They have been riding on the wave that Michael Vick single-handedly started in the 99 season when they lost to FSU in the nat. championship. Nobody had ever seen or defended a QB with such a dual threat combination. Since then they have been the most overhyped football team in the country and only a few VT fans will give in and admit that. The rest are convinced that a national championship (to fill the empty case in their trophy room) is around the corner for their “elite program.” How’s that working out for them this year?

  11. JMUDRU / Oct 10 2012

    Also…ODU fans suck

  12. M@'s wife / Oct 10 2012

    Congrats on getting to blog this week, but we all know that you became such a dedicated fan b/c you wanted to see your future wife play in the band each game 😉

  13. M@ / Oct 11 2012

    You know it babe.

  14. 2004 Duke / Oct 11 2012

    “Also…. ODU fans suck.”


  15. piper meridian for sale / Oct 16 2012

    I hardly drop responses, but i did some searching and wound up here Guest Blogger: Away Games, Program
    Evolution, and Playcalling | JMU Sports Blog. And I actually do have some questions for you if you don’t mind. Could it be simply me or does it look like some of the remarks come across like left by brain dead visitors? 😛 And, if you are writing on other online social sites, I would like to follow anything new you have to post. Would you list of the complete urls of your shared sites like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?

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