Guest Post: A JMU Journey
Rob won our (first ever) FCS National Championship prediction contest last week. He earned the right to submit a guest post. Here we go.
It was a surprise and an honor to be selected to write the guest post for this week. I am a long-time reader of the blog, and I really appreciate all the hard work that Rob and Todd have put into this site over the years. Unfortunately, I am better at score prediction than writing witty prose, so I will just make this a short, sweet love note to my favorite place on earth, JMU, and our National Championship Dukes.
My love of JMU football started waaaaay back in 1993 during my freshman year as a member of the JMU Marching Royal Dukes. I joined the marching band in hopes of meeting JMU girls. I was unsuccessful. I attended all of the home football games, and many of the away games depending on whether the band traveled with the team. In the waning years of the 20th century, JMU fielded a very respectful team under the leadership of Mickey Matthews. We made the playoffs twice during my time at JMU. Both times we travelled to West Virginia to watch the Dukes (to play Marshall and Appy State respectfully). Both times JMU played well, but lost close games.
In positive news, during my fifth year “victory lap” at JMU, I finally persuaded a beautiful JMU girl to date me (I was delivering pizza for Dominos and she was attracted to my ambition). After many years of trying, I persuaded that beautiful JMU girl to marry me. Needless to say, JMU worked out for me on many different levels.
My wife and I continued to follow the Dukes after we graduated. We had the opportunity to travel to Chattanooga to attend the National Championship Game in 2004. But we couldn’t convince any of our fellow JMU friends to come with us, so we ended up watching the Dukes win the championship in a sports bar in Arlington. It was a great experience, but we always regretted not being there in person.
We experienced the same regret in 2010 when JMU beat Virginia Tech. My wife and I actively discussed whether to make the trip. But we ultimately decided that we didn’t want to drive over 5 hours only to watch the Dukes lose 45-0. Imagine our regret when we watched on TV as the Dukes came from behind to shock the turkeys. It’s something that we still talk about today.
So when JMU was traveling to Frisco for the chance to win a second national championship, there was no way we were missing it. From start to finish, the game represented everything great about this year’s group of players and everything that is great about JMU. On the field, we had contributions from everyone – with no weaknesses in any part of our game. I can’t believe the transformation in the defense from just one year ago (or even from the Richmond game). By the end of the season, our defense was as good (or better) than anything I have ever seen. In the stands, we had the fan base that our beloved team and University have long deserved. My wife and I “rushed” the field at the end of the game along with everyone else – although because the stadium served beer on top of all the tailgating, it was more of a collective drunken stagger. It was fantastic to see all the seniors rewarded with such a well-deserved championship, and for them to be surrounded with a field of devoted purple fans.
It’s been a long journey for us with the Dukes, and we can’t wait to continue it next year. Looking forward to seeing everyone at the parade on Saturday. My wife and I will be in head to toe purple championship gear with three embarrassed children in tow!