Jan 4 / Todd

2004 to 2017: Things are a little different, huh?

Now let's hope the Dukes dominate like Mo Fenner again Saturday!

Now let’s hope the Dukes dominate like Mo Fenner again Saturday!

It’s ALWAYS a great day to be a Duke – always has been, always will be – but it’s hard not to feel particularly fortunate during a week like this one. Thought we’d do a little look at how different things are from the last time we made this trip to now so we can remind everyone how damned awesome everything is these days even if we all have our complaints and concerns about the sustainability of FCS (though we acknowledge the G5 is no better in this regard) and ANY conference at any level that has some schools with football and some schools without.

For those that weren’t around or don’t recall here’s a quick list of things that didn’t exist prior to 2004:

  • Bridgeforth Stadium as the badass thing it is.
  • Tailgating in any major capacity. Seriously, all that craziness we have now did NOT exist.
  • Success, and a belief in success. JMU had good teams and some great players prior to 2004, but having lived through both runs, most of us “hoped” the Dukes would beat Lehigh and Furman, much less Montana. We’re all rolling to Texas this weekend fully expecting a Penguin beatdown!
  • Failure that mattered. In the same way we didn’t have success, we also didn’t have quite the heartbreak that expectations produced. The NCAA screw job on the matchup and the world’s worst spot of the ball ever in ’06 at Youngstown St. comes to mind. So does the fumble at App. St. and the Rodney Landers injury in the ’08 semis. That shit hurts. And it produces…
  • …A real fanbase. We had hardcore folks (I see you BSKB, Dukester, etc.) and parents. But we didn’t have “the mob” former CAA commish Yeager referred to, we didn’t bitch at coaching hires, AD decisions, or the off-field issues of the diving and field hockey teams. And we certainly didn’t have massive explosions of all things purple like Gameday or this weekend. The games at W&M and Chattanooga in ’04 were “well-attended” by a bunch of us twenty-somethings and the hardcores but they weren’t anything at all like the Homecoming-On-HGH we’re about to see both in Frisco and at viewing parties around the country (shoutout to Grey’s Tavern in Greensboro).
  • The Hill. The hill may be filled with seats now for softball, but the massive success across the board in basically everything but Men’s hoops and baseball was NOT the norm. Again, JMU had good teams and great players, but the expectations for success were just not the same.

So as we convene our massive purple lovefests this weekend, let’s all give a HUGE tip of the cap to that ’04 team, their beloved coach Mickey Matthews (who by the way recruited almost all of the current team’s top stars and leaders), and even some of the admin folks along the way with the vision to support athletics even if things don’t always move at the pace some of us desire. When YSU shows up with their budget-ass 1400 fans, just know that was us once. And when we turn Frisco purple, maybe send a little thank you up that you’re a part of the greatest place on Earth.


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  1. M@ / Jan 5 2017

    I attended most pre-2004 games at home (at least starting in 1994 with a few seasons missed from 1998 – 2001). But I must admit I attended them because they won most home games and I wasn’t so vested that a loss was heartbreaking (ahem Redskins). That changed and I’m glad it did,

    But part of me will always miss relaxing in the stands of Olde Bridgeforth, watching a game with relatively few fans in the stands (after everyone left after the band played at halftime no matter what the score was). Just witnessing a game without losing my mind over who won.

    Nah, screw that. Let’s paint Frisco Purple y’all.

  2. DukeDogStare / Jan 5 2017

    Love this post. It says so much about how our school and fanbase really has changed since 2004.

    I remember being a freshman at JMU in ’04, being told by upper classmen that our football team wasn’t worth watching, but I went anyway because it was a fun time, and hey — we actually did win. And kept winning….

    I have vivid memories of watching the W&M rematch in the playoffs, and the excitement of watching the National Championship at home for break and going wild.

    We’ve had up years, down years, great victories, embarrassing losses, but there’s nothing like bleeding purple and throwing streamers among a die-hard fanbase for these Dukes, and I can’t wait to haul some streamers into Frisco on Saturday!

  3. Ryan (rcc06) / Jan 5 2017

    awesome post, brings a tear to my eye. agreed on all fronts, even the NCAA treats this as a bigger deal now than then. Looking back at the bootleg fireworks that we got in 04 compared to what is expected this weekend! I can’t wait for a sea of purple confetti to come raining down on frisco to go along with all the streamers!

  4. down south / Jan 5 2017

    Flying to Dallas tomorrow — where are Dukes fans parking and where is the blog tailgate??

  5. Cory / Jan 5 2017

    Great post. 2004 I listened to Lehigh on the radio while 3 other JMU grads watched UVA on tv?! Watched the Furman game on a small tv in a AJ Gators in Norfolk. Watched the W&M game in another AJ Gators in Norfolk surrounded by over confident W&M fans. Went to Chatanooga!

    Tailgaiting info for Dukes fans, parking suggestions, bar gatherings, etc are all easy to find on this Facebook Group called “Dukes in Frisco”

  6. OBXDuke1983 / Jan 5 2017

    I have a question for the group. I have never seen anywhere that Kirsch was out for the season, but have seen no indication that he would be available. Has anyone seen any official announcement? I think Chavious will do a good job, but it is tough to replace an all American at that position.

  7. 2004 Duke / Jan 5 2017

    This biggest difference between this year and 2004:

    This team is ridiculously good and way more talented than everyone they played this year. They are undefeated, and should be undefeated.

    The 2004 team didn’t have anywhere near the same level of talent, but played way above their ability level and won upset after upset.

    Before my teammates get butthurt- I’m not saying we weren’t good….I’m just saying that the other teams (Delaware, UMass, W&M, Furman, Montana, etc) were just as good or better. This year, JMU is clearly far more talented than everyone except UNC and NDSU. Like not even in the same ballpark.

  8. Sunchase / Jan 5 2017

    Agreed, 2004. The talent gap is extremely noticable. I don’t think its crazy to think this team could have gone .500 in the coastal division of the ACC. Wayyyy more talented than most everyone on the schedule.

  9. maddukes98 / Jan 5 2017

    half of the MRDs are making the trip. bummed the school couldn’t pony up for the full band, but half of the MRDs will still make the YSU band look like high schoolers.

  10. Drake / Jan 5 2017

    By some stroke of luck, looks like most of you guys passing through ATL are just missing our biggest (possibly) snow storm in quite a few years. I’m really looking forward to doing my long run Saturday on a snowy trail, getting home, starting a fire, and watching the Dukes rain down hell on Youngstown. I’ll never forget their students chanting “Barney’s purple” during that playoff game. Seemed like a lame chant, but still pissed me off.

  11. Rob / Jan 5 2017

    I loved that 2004 team and had a blast watching them play, but it’s amazing how far things have come. Back then, you could see the bandwagon grown week by week. For the first playoff game against Lehigh, Todd and I literally had to bring the satellite coordinates to a soccer pub (Summer’s in Arlington) and have the manager find the game so we could watch it. There wasn’t even an official watch party. The next week we watched with hundreds of JMU fans at an Rhodesia Grill and the excitement built from there.

    @down south You’re welcome to join our tailgate Saturday. Our plan is to set up shop in Blue lot, but we’ll need to see where we get a spot. Check our Twitter (@JMUsportsblog) or the Facebook page on Saturday morning. We’ll post our tailgate location as soon as we park.

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