Mar 10 / Rob

JMUSB Pod: Rowe is Gone

JMU and Louis Rowe “mutually parted ways” yesterday. It was a move that most people saw coming. Rowe was a great Duke as a player, a terrific role model for the young men he coached, and by all accounts, one of the truly good guys in the world of college basketball. Unfortunately, none of that translated to wins as head coach of JMU. Rowe departs the program with a record of 43-85 over four seasons. This past year, his team finished dead last in the CAA with a 2-16 record in league play. That’s just not good enough.

As you might have noticed, we haven’t been to active on the blog for a while. Much of that is just due to other things taking precedence. We’ve been at this for 10 years and after a while, it’s hard to prioritize writing about whatever is going on in the world of JMU sports, over some of the other things in our lives. But it’s also due to the fact that JMU basketball’s struggles left us at a complete loss. Call us fair weather fans if you must, but that’s not it. We’ve pushed through the past 9 years writing plenty about a program that has been woefully short of high points. We know how to handle disappointment.

After watching JMU fail to make much progress through the first three years of the Rowe era, and the wheels coming completely off this year, we just ran out of gas. We loved Rowe as a player. And we wanted him to succeed probably more than we wanted any other JMU coach to find success. Rowe is the epitome of a JMU Duke. But it just was not working as a coach. At all. And the idea of pointing out the obvious game after game had zero appeal to us. So we waived the white flag and decided it was better to say nothing at all, then to constantly bag on the players and coaches, or lie to ourselves and everyone else by trying to act like the ship was not sinking.

Now Rowe is gone and the Dukes will be coached by someone else next season. We’re pretty torn up for Rowe and the his assistants who are now out of work. But it’s the right move for the future of JMU hoops. Rowe is still a great Duke and a person we admire greatly. We hope he finds success elsewhere. His players are better off for having him in their lives. It’s time to turn the page and get ready for a new coach though.

Anyway, the latest episode of the pod is more of that, plus some discussion about the passing of the legendary Challace McMillin. And then we take the edge off with a more light-hearted OT discussion about our favorite coaches from television the movies.

As always, thanks to our sponsors Pale Fire Brewing and Mossy Creek Fly Fishing. Stop by the brewery for a beer and let them know JMUSB sent you and you’ll go home with a free pint glass. And swing over to the fly shop, tell them JMUSB sent you and they’ll hook you up with some cool stickers.

Mar 8 / Rob

JMU Loses a Legend

Sad news for the JMU family today. Former JMU Football Coach and Dr. Challace McMillin passed away suddenly at the age of 77. McMillin was the guy Uncle Ron called upon to lead the upstart JMU football program all the way back in 1972. He went from literally recruiting students from class registration lines to join the team, to leading the Dukes to the only undefeated season in program history just three years later. He served as head coach from 1972 to 1984, helping transition the school from non-scholarship football, to DIII power, to the 1-AA program that laid the groundwork for the success we all know today.

McMillin retired from coaching in 1984 with a record of 67-60-2. He was just getting started however. He went on to serve as a kinesiology and sports psychology professor, a position in which he impacted countless students. All too often we look at wins and losses as the sole measure of success for coaches. McMillin was successful using that yardstick, but going solely off his football accomplishments would be selling him short. He was a fixture on campus and around the program long after his time as coach ended. If the measure of a man is the number of lives he impacts, then McMillin lived an extraordinary life. The mere fact that players, students, an alums spanning 40+ years have taken to social media to express how devastated they are over his passing and how grateful they are for the way he impacted their lives, shows you what type of man he was. Rest easy coach.

Mar 5 / Rob

JMUSB Pod: Talking JMU Sports Disappointments

There’s no way to characterize this JMU basketball season as anything other than a disappointment. Which kind of provided us for the jumping off point for this week’s pod. In this episode we discuss all the JMU teams, athletes, games, etc. that broke our hearts. But don’t despair, it’s not all doom & gloom. It’s actually kind of a cathartic to look back and laugh at the absurdity of a few losses and the fact that we got so worked up about them.

As always, thanks to our sponsors Pale Fire Brewing and Mossy Creek Fly Fishing. Stop by the brewery for a beer and let them know JMUSB sent you and you’ll go home with a free pint glass. And swing over to the fly shop, tell them JMUSB sent you and they’ll hook you up with some cool stickers.

Feb 18 / Rob

Make All Offseason Hype Videos Special Teams Hype Videos Please

Seth Weaver, our favorite backup long snapper, brought a little joy to our otherwise dreary February Tuesday by dropping this gem of a video. With another fantastic college football season wrapping just last month, our brains are still a bit saturated with typical hype videos. Come August, we’ll be ready for dramatic slow motion and bone crunching montages, set to music our old asses don’t recognize. But right now we’re in the mood for something different. The video above featuring all of the precision long snapping, practice punts, and fundamentally executed place kicks definitely checks the box for different. And we love it. So this offseason, give us more videos of the unsung heroes who clearly love being on the team and don’t take themselves too seriously. All three phases folks.

Feb 12 / Rob

JMUSB Pod: Back in the Saddle

We did it. We moved on after the Dukes’ loss in Frisco. In the latest episode of the JMUSB Pod we talk about the elephant in the room for JMU hoops, discuss some spring sports, and even touch on football recruiting a bit (you didn’t really expect us to completely move on). And then we have a little bit of listener Q&A. We actually found it quite cathartic and helpful in getting over the championship loss. Give it a listen.

Feb 6 / Rob

This Former JMU Football Player is a Rising Star. In Cornhole

We’re right in the heart of college basketball season, which means it’s time for us to break out of our post FCS Championship funk and get back on the blogging horse. JMU hoops is 2-9 in CAA play with its only victories coming against last place UNCW. And that’s all we have to say about that. So let’s talk cornhole. Yes, cornhole.

While reading the Wall Street Journal this week (I’m a very important business man), I came across an article about former JMU defensive back Ryan Smith. He played for the Dukes from 2010 to 2013 mostly as a free safety. Since graduating, he’s continued to pursue a career in pro sports. And he’s done a heck of job, as he’s now risen to become one of the top 20 ranked cornhole players in the country.

The article is actually pretty fascinating. Smith didn’t even start playing cornhole until after college. That makes sense, considering he probably wasn’t tailgating much. He started playing the game for fun and realized he was a bit of a natural. After playing around his house, he decided to start training seriously. He went so far as to get his manager at his regular job to approve him practicing after hours in a company warehouse. The hard work paid off and earned him a chance to compete in The American Cornhole League, which has over 45,000 members and a broadcast deal with ESPN (not FloSports). Smith is competing this season to win a share of over $250,000 in prize money.

Cornhole might just be a fun game for some folks, but Smith takes it seriously. According to the article, he practices 30 to 60 minutes a day and says “During a tournament I’m flicking my wrist nonstop, throwing anywhere from 500 to 1,000 bags.” That’s a lot. He does serious cardio to condition himself for playing up to 12 hours of cornhole over a typical 3 day event. And he’s not just running out there with any old bags. He owns 20 sets of All-Slides cornhole bags that run $70 a set. The bags come courtesy of his sponsor, but still, that’s $1400 of bean bags.

Jan 13 / Todd

Dukes Fall To Bison at The End, Again. Good, Bad, Ugly

Nothing we can say to make it better fellow Dukes. It hurts. Bad. But even if we’re a day late we’ve got to do this.

The Good

Riley Stapleton – What an incredible performance, again, when it mattered most. 10 catches for 100 yards and two TD’s. He has been nothing short of sensational when the lights have been brightest on the field in his career and his play will be missed. Here’s hoping he gets a shot to keep playing somewhere.

JMU Nation – We’ve come a long way. Taking over The Star as ours instead of the NDSU breastaurants. Being loud in the right places. Really starting to learn to bring it in the 60/40 atmosphere of an NDSU Frisco game. Hell, we even have know-nothing-but-say-everything bandwagon fans who are barely connected to JMU these days yelling stupid things in the stands these days. We’ve got a few more levels to go, but we’re on our way. Plus very good job on streamers this week.

This senior class – Simply, thank you from the bottom of our purple hearts for the greatest 4-5 years we’ve ever experienced as Dukes fans. Patrick, Rondell, Carter, Daka, Nooch, Tutt, Maginley, Dmitri and on and on. These are names we’ll never forget and it’s been a pleasure watching you grow on and off the field.

That first drive – Hell yes! That was awesome (Farley voice).

The roster – Stop complaining and worrying. Go look at the two-deep from this game and come back when you’ve added in Ukwu, all three (that we know of so far) transfers, plus Tucker-Dorsey and Currence and Douglas. Look hard at the list again (Fornadel, Amos, Davis, Ratke, Harry, Percy/Jawon/Latrele/SVH, Wilson, Azanama, Greene, Adeeb, Green, etc.). Dukes need to win the opener against Delaware and 9-2 or 10-1 would be very much in the mix again.

The MRD’s – We 100% applaud the decision to let these talented kids – also the very best fans we have – give a halftime performance (SWP > Get It On) that cared ONLY about what true Dukes wanted to see and hear and nothing for what the television or the NCAA or the Bison fans would ever understand.

Heart – Lots of nits to pick on gameplan but we’ve got a whole podcast to worry about that tomorrow. Team fought back, gave up only 7 points in the second half, made an enormous 4th down stop to give themselves a chance, and came three yards away from tying the game.

Rashad – Anyone ever even notice Watson in the game except when he got wrecked trying to run the reverse again.

The Bad

Special Teams – Not much to say about not being ready for the play that proved the difference in the game or the lack of a single use of Harry’s unique abilities all year. Changes need to be made here.

Lack of aggressiveness in game plan – Make no mistake, NDSU won this game because they caught the Dukes (somehow) with two trick plays (the fake FG and the fake reverse) and had one great player make a bunch of other broken plays. The Dukes tried nothing of the sort and still had a chance to win. Hate to see it.

Failure to spy Lance or adjust – He ran 30 times. No other player ran more than 7 times and they barely threw, and didn’t throw well when they did. He was their only weapon. He’s basically Rodney Landers in the run game but we’d have liked to see more from the Dukes.

The Ugly

Frisco weather – Again. How can we rig the post-2025 bidding for a Florida (FAU), NOLA (Tulane), Vegas (UNLV), or Arizona (??), or SoCal (??) location. Hell, if we want crappy weather in January, let’s just split the difference from Fargo to the ‘Burg and play it in Detroit or Columbus.

FCS Refs – Not the reason the Dukes lost (see above) but man it’s consistently awful to have a game that so many people have invested so much in marred by crews who are way over their heads for this level of speed and physicality.

In-Stadium Announcer – To be fair, the in-game media and production work was not nearly as skewed toward the Bison as two years ago (weren’t doing the first down thing or at least were leaving it to fans of both teams to handle themselves), but the stadium announcer’s frequent botching of pronunciations of players’ names showed a complete lack of preparation and effort. The fact that the botching was universally related to players of color is inexcusable. If you didn’t notice, I don’t really know what to tell you.

Let’s hope they’re so worried about Riley after his breakout game against them in ’17 that they forget about Polk and co.
Jan 9 / Rob

FCS Championship Preview: JMU vs. NDSU

The Basics

Matchup: #2 JMU Dukes (14-1, 8-0 CAA) vs. #1 NDSU Biso (15-0, 8-0 MVC)

Kickoff: 12 noon ET. Saturday 11 January 2020. Toyota Stadium in Frisco, TX

Weather: High of 44 with rain overnight, expected to clear by kickoff.

Broadcast: Nationally televised on ABC and streaming via ESPN.

Boys in the Desert: JMU -1.5, O/U 51

We Know It’s Not Right to Judge

The term “North Dakota Nice” gets thrown around a lot. And with good reason. It’s definitely not fair to call the NDSU fanbase’s reputation into question based on the online actions of a select group of fans. So we won’t do that. But if we were to do that, we’d probably point out that the collective online Bison fanbase seems to be obsessed with two things, “breastaurants,” and seeking out fictitious instances of “East coast elites” conspiring to under-appreciate their favorite team.

read more…
Jan 9 / jmusport

Guest Post: The Case for Frisco

Brooks won our prediction contest for the JMU vs. Weber State game. Here is a fun piece he wrote to get us all ready for Frisco.

Life is full of adventures. Some of them happen and we have no control over the details. Others build up over a period of time, giving us the opportunity to choose which direction to go, what decision to make. One of my life’s biggest adventures was the season-long journey to Frisco, Texas, and the National Championship in January of 2017. 

But first, a bit of build-up…

At the time, I was reaching the end of a previous adventure, a five-year hiatus from my schooling. I’d decided after my freshman year at JMU in ’09 that a four-year university might not be the right fit for me, so I made the transition to the community college lifestyle. I took my time getting an associate degree, working intermittently at a few different places, some good, some not so good. By the time I was done, I was ready to move on to bigger and better things and start to make something of my life – some would call this the “real world”. That venture lasted all of about nine months. I’d moved from the comforts of Harrisonburg – a place I’d known my whole life and had a love/hate relationship with – to the never-ending parking lot that is Northern Virginia to work for Coca-Cola. It wasn’t long after I started that job that I realized I should maybe go back to school – I’ll never be able to pinpoint for sure the reason for my disdain of a that Fortune 500 company, but something jarred me; maybe it was the sunup to sundown hours, miniscule pay, or the ever-increasing back pain. Almost as quickly as I moved away, I moved back to Harrisonburg, ready to enroll for the Spring semester of 2017. 

read more…
Jan 8 / Rob

Prediction Contest: FCS National Championship

It all comes down to this. Our beloved JMU Dukes will play the North Dakota State Bison in Frisco, Texas to decide the FCS National Champion. Much has been said about the game and much more will be said before Saturday. We just want to cut to the chase though and hear who you think will win.

Leave a comment below with your prediction for the big game. The person who comes closest to nailing it (winner & score) will get to write a guest post. That’s it. Couldn’t be simpler really. So give us your prediction below and Go Dukes!