Jul 21 / Rob

50 Things That Make Me Happy (Including 5 JMU Ones)

The great Joe Posnanski posted this piece on 50 things that make him happy this week. I guess I could say it inspired me, but it would be more honest to just state the obvious. I’m stealing the idea because I loved it. It’s rather self explanatory. A list of 50 things that make me happy in no particular order. And since this is a JMU blog, the last 5 are JMU specific, so feel free to skip ahead if you want.

1. Watermelon

Do I need to explain this? It’s delicious. Bonus points if you’re eating it outside. Double bonus points if you’re teaching some kids how to spit seeds.

2. Fly Fishing

A more accurate description for me personally would be standing in the water casting aimlessly and praying a fish is dumb enough to eat my fly on accident despite the awful presentation. So I’m not good. But I love it.

3. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

I was watching an episode on a plane Tuesday and laughing so loud I thought other passengers were going to call the flight attendants.
read more…

Jul 2 / Rob

Steph Curry Visited JMU And Left Without a Scholarship Offer

Sports, like life, can be filled with plenty of “what if?” moments. We just discovered a big one for JMU basketball. The Steph in the quote above, refers to Steph Curry, the two time NBA MVP and two time NBA Champion with the Golden State Warriors. Perhaps you’ve heard of him.

The tweet is from Greg Warner, the current strength and conditioning coach for Kenny Brook’s Virginia Tech Hokies women’s basketball team. Greg worked as a strength and conditioning coach at JMU from 1992 to 2015. We did in fact confirm that Steph Curry visited JMU prior to committing to Davidson. Well, to be perfectly clear, we replied to Greg’s tweet with “Wait, Seth Curry visited JMU? Good gracious.” and he liked the tweet. We’re counting that as confirmation. We’re Rob and Todd, not Woodward and Bernstein.

20150214-3pt-stephshoot3Anyway, after flexing our investigative journalism muscles, we attempted to process this discovery. Everyone knows that Curry flew a little bit under the radar and only had one D1 offer coming out of high school. Plenty of schools regret that now. But the majority of them didn’t have Curry visit their campus and still pass on him. I mean, this appears to be a big &#%!@?! mistake for JMU basketball.

Curry entered college in 2006. Let’s get all the caveats out of the way. The players on JMU that time were all good Dukes, played hard, represented the school well, yada, yada, yada. But can you remember a single freshmen from JMU basketball that year? I can’t either, but I’m confident in saying that none of them have gone on to become one of the top 5 players in the friggin world. None of them averaged 34 points per game in the tournament while leading an underdog mid-major to the Elite 8. Arrgghhh. He could have done that at JMU. Instead, Dean Keener passed on him. And then lead the team to a 7-23 record Curry’s freshman year and got fired. Could’ve, should’ve, would’ve.

Jun 29 / Rob

Throwback Thursday: Terrance Alls Takes it to the House

Good morning everyone. There’s still zippy going on in the world of JMU sports, so let’s take a little stroll down memory lane. Today we bring you a spectacular 54 yard touchdown by Terrance Alls against New Hampshire. We chose this play because in many ways we think it summarizes JMU football’s 2016 season. The offensive line gave Bryan Schor plenty of time to throw, he threaded the needle, the receiver made a great catch, and a CAA defensive looked helpless chasing a Duke all the way into the endzone. Your 2016 JMU football season in a nutshell.
Jun 25 / Rob

Us Watching this Horse Racing Replay Is the Most JMU Sports Offseason Move Yet

Life moves pretty fast. One moment it’s January and you’re in Frisco celebrating the Dukes winning the National Championship. Next thing you know, it’s June and you’re combing Youtube for replays of 8th race at Florida Gulfstream Park. Yep. These are some dark days. I actually paid attention to a random Sunday afternoon horse race at a track 1,037 miles from my house. Honestly though, even if the track was just down the street it would be no less ridiculous.

I wasn’t interested in the race because I’m some degenerate gambler. There’d be at least a shred of dignity in that. Sadly, my situation was much more pathetic. I was interested in the race because it featured a horse by the name of Dravite. And Dravite and his jockey were decked out in purple and gold silks today. They were wearing purple and gold because Dravite’s owner is Frank Payne, a proud member of the JMU graduating class of 1989. So I attempted convinced myself that in some very, very small way, today’s race passed for a JMU sporting event. I need help.

If you too are sick in the head, you can watch the replay of Dravite in action. Fair warning though, depending on how bad your JMU sports affliction is, the race might make you a bit upset. Because Dravite (horse #7), pretty much goes straight backwards from the start, before eventually falling off the screen all together. I have no idea what happened, but he definitely didn’t win. The announcers didn’t mention him at all. Maybe Dravite did something awesome like jump the rail and kick a Richmond owned horse in the head. Maybe he’s still running. I have no idea. But I do know there are only 69 (nice) more days until JMU football season.

Jun 21 / Todd

JMUSB Attends Another MAC…

…and this time there wasn’t even a major award involved. We simply were so thrilled about last year and learned so much that helped us sound slightly less uninformed than usual that we wanted to go back for a second dose. Plus it’s all Dukes fanatics like us so and it was a beautiful summer weekend in the ‘Burg so what’s not to like.

First, a refresher. MAC stands for Madison Alumni Conference (as opposed to that midwestern directional-school conference that plays games in front of tens on Tuesdays). The Alumni Association brings in a bunch of chapter leaders and general influencers from JMU Nation to learn about what’s going on at JMU currently and what they can do to help with fundraising and hosting social and philanthropic events out in the hustings (not sure I used that correctly, but I just love that word). They also have a big Awards dinner where they award things like Chapter of the Year, Event of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, and thank outgoing members of the Alumni Association Board of Directors. This year, since both new members were present, they also announced the two new members of the Board (more on that soon).

Our Four Big Stories This Year

1) “We’re All In.” Awkward, party of one, your table is waiting. So, funny story about writing this little project when two of you are in different places – particularly when one of us, in this case yours truly, is at an official JMU event like MAC, and the other partner is at home lobbing in snark on Twitter. When I walked into the plenary session on Saturday afternoon featuring one of the JMU’s coolest employees (and avowed Deadhead), AVP for Communications and Marketing Andy Perrine, I had a general idea that the session might be a test(y)-audience for JMU’s new slogan that had been presented to the BOV on Thursday to tepid reaction and reported on by The Breeze on Friday. Rob and I had texted Friday and generally agreed that while “Be the Change” had run its course over the last decade, “We’re All In” was about as meh as anyone could imagine. The exact thing that a bunch of fresh-outta-MBA-school guys with pastel golf shirts and Barstool stickers on their tailgates would come up with if they were hired as consultants by a large regional public university at a likely exorbitant rate. What I didn’t know was that Rob was tweeting at the time with lots of funny responses to “We’re All In.” Just as in my actual JMU days, I was one of the last slackers to stroll in and the four or five folks who know about JMUSB laughed in my general direction. It was beautiful actually in its own way. But poor Andy had to put up with a room full of resistant folks (and remember, those folks are the ultimate JMU cheerleaders under any circumstances). In any case, who knows if “We’re All In” is actually going to be rolled out given the BOV reaction, but it was an interesting session to say the least, including the inevitable and gloriously nerdy (for an English major) devolving into a discussion of the merits of “We’re” versus “We Are.”

For the record, the great thing about Be The Change was it was a charge, it felt like JMU, and it was an adapted Gandhi quote. The problem was since JMU introduced it ten years ago, it’s been adopted by everyone from companies to political advocates to mommy bloggers. The other problem was that you can’t trademark a Gandhi quote as your own and use it for your own commercial purposes. So yes, it’s time for a change, but we’re just not sure a dated poker term is that change.

2) Tripp Hughes and Chiquita Jones on the AA BOD – These two new members of the Alumni Association Board are dedicated and deserving Dukes in every sense of those words. From an Athletics angle, with J.R. Snow, among others, rolling off the Board this year, we had some concern that our precious corner of the JMU universe might lose some passion, but with Tripp, a now veteran Richmond Dukes leader, coming on, we feel a lot better that the backroom will not forget what’s best for getting to places like Frisco, Oklahoma City, and the Big Dance in hoops.

3) Charlotte Wins Chapter of the Year (and MIP Chapter) – So since I moved to NC and I’m right smack between Raleigh and Charlotte I’ve been fortunate to meet quite a few folks from both chapters. Even more fortunate, I think I can safely call most of the Queen City’s Chapter leaders “friends of JMUSB” at this point. So it was really great to see the hard work that group has put in the last five plus years rewarded with not only this award, but even better with a robust, proud chapter in a city that is bursting with new Dukes alumni. Tim Emry, Jessi Groover, Carrie Klamut, Kate Schober, and their entire squad deserve a ton of credit for rebuilding this nascent chapter at a time when JMU itself wasn’t doing a ton of encouraging of new/rebuilt chapters. And I need one of those shirts!

4) Regional Ambassadors – While we were somewhat dismayed by the lack of Duke Club presence this year, one great piece of news from our standpoint was Alysia Davis working to use “Regional Ambassadors” more in locations that don’t have official chapters and generally being willing to help with events in those spots. Maybe that’s personal after we had 40 screaming Dukes in Greensboro for the NDSU game last December but it’s a really good effort after years of not really starting up new chapters aside from those that were already well-established.

5) THIS Video from the Steel City Dukes. This thing that the small but seriously passionate group of Yinzer Dukes put together for Giving Day this year was ridiculously impressive and raised the bar big-time for what is possible from a chapter in support of the Dukes.

And last but most certainly not least, an enormous thank you to the team of folks that host  (i.e. put up with us) this enormously under-the-radar-amazing event. These folks are led by Alysia Davis (the real drive behind MAC17) and Ashley Privott, but there’s a whole team of people that make the weekend so special (shoutout to Emma Maynard for her energy and open-mindedness this year at the “My JMU Network” breakout session).

Oh yeah, one final note. Like D-Hall last year, this upcoming school year will be the swan song for the beloved (ok, maybe just beloved for us Eagle folks) Mrs. Greens as it makes way for the expanded College of Business so make sure and make time for that incongruous salad bar/hot dog combo that only a JMU dining establishment understands how to get right when you’re back next year.

Jun 13 / Rob

The MRDs Are The Best Marching Band in the Country, Cause Jason Isbell Says So

isbellThe MRDs are the best marching band in country. We know that. You know that. And apparently Grammy Award winning artists do too. And not just any Grammy Award winning artists, but one of JMUSB’s undisputed favorite artists Jason Isbell.

While doing press for his latest release, “The Nashville Sound” (which you can listen to here), Isbell was interviewed by JMU alum Spencer Dukoff. Dukoff mentioned that he attended JMU, which prompted Isbell to say “Ah, the Marching Royal Dukes. They have the best marching band in the country.”

Well, there you go. We don’t want to say the MRDs just peaked, but it might be close. Now we just need to get Sturgill Simpson to give the Pep Band a shout out.

Jun 11 / Rob

We Figured You Could Use a JMU Football Highlight Fix

The good news is that it’s only 83 days until the 2017 JMU Football season kicks off. The bad news is that 87 is a lot of days. So if you’re anything like us, you’re probably jonesing for something, anything, related to JMU football to help you make it through the day. Well, we’re here to help. Actually, JMU’s cornerback coach Tripp Weaver is the one helping by posting the above highlight video to Twitter. We’re just embedding it here because it’s 2017 and that passes a new blog content nowadays. In any case, enjoy it. September 2 can’t come soon enough.

Jun 1 / Rob

John Bowers Is Going, Going, Gone

john-bowers-jmuJohn Bowers has resigned from his position as JMU football special teams coordinator. And, well, we’re actually pretty stoked for him. Yes, it’s a big loss for the program. But Bowers is heading back to the West Coast to take a job and be closer to his family. His son is looking like he might be the starting QB for Cal this Fall, so Bowers and his wife decided to relocate so they could both be close enough to watch him play. So while it’s a big loss for JMU, we’re not sure how you can be anything but happy for Coach and his family.

Bowers played at JMU under Coach Challace McMillian and then went on to coach for over 30 years at both the high school and college level. He returned to Harrisonburg as part of former head coach Everett Withers staff. Withers fired (scapegoated) him days before bolting for Texas State, but JMU immediately hired him back to serve as the director of player personnel during the interim before hiring Mike Houston. Bowers not only kept the team together, he worked tirelessly to maintain relationships with recruits. It’s impossible to overstate how important Bower’s leadership was to JMU football at a time when the program desperately needed it. Without Bowers stepping up, there’s no telling what would have happened. He kept the team and most of the recruiting class engaged and focused on JMU football. Follow coach on Twitter or talk to any of the players and it’s pretty clear Bowers helped build that “football family” atmosphere that every program desires.

This past season Bowers’ special teams unit was a key factor in the march to the National Championship. From Tyler Gray’s clutch kick in Fargo to the killer blocked punt down in Frisco, special teams plays were huge. He also coached outside linebackers and played an important role in transforming the pillow soft Withers’ defense to a dominant one. We are sad to see you go Coach, but good for you. Go be with your family and enjoy yourself. You’ve earned it.

May 25 / Rob

Megan Good Named Finalist for National Player of the Year

Softball POY FinalistsJMU Softball had a disappointing end to its season last weekend, bowing out of the tournament with a loss to Baylor. But everyone associated with the program got a much needed pick-me-up yesterday. Megan Good was named one of the 3 finalists for the 2017 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year. Not, CAA player of the year, regional player of the year, or some sort of sliced and diced non-P5 player of the year. But the actual honest to goodness National Player of the Year. It’s kind of a big deal.

Joining Megan as finalists are Kelly Barnhill, as sophomore pitcher from Florida, and Meghan Gregg, a junior infielder from Tennessee. All three nominees are well deserving. Good, as you all know, was lights out from the circle and from the plate all season. She amassed a 38-3 and 0.63 ERA as a pitcher. She also had a 70.1 inning scoreless streak and 14 shutouts. Pretty good year even without considering her batting. But we must, so it’s worth noting she also hit .383 with 12 homers.

Barnhill and Gregg put up similarly gaudy numbers. Barnhill lead the nation with a 0.35 ERA for the #1 overall seed Florida Gators. Gregg was the SEC player of the year and lead that league in pretty much any offensive stat you can think of. She can rake. It’s anyone’s guess who will actually win the award, but there’s no doubt that all 3 had amazing seasons and are deserving of the honor.

Good still has one more season left and she’s already going down as an all time great JMU athlete. If next year is anything close to (or better than) this year, she could cement herself as the JMU G.O.A.T. But that’s not something to worry about now. Just another reason to look forward to more JMU sports next year.

May 21 / Todd

Softball Battles, But Falls In Waco Regional Final

What a program!

What a program!

There’s no easy way to say this, but the JMU Softball team met a cruel ending to another impressive season. They fell 1-0 to an on-fire pitcher from Baylor who threw here second no hitter of the Waco Regional on Sunday. The Dukes beat Oregon St. 3-2 with a great comeback Friday evening and then fell to Baylor 4-2 in a game they led most of the way early Saturday. That night the bats finally woke up and the Dukes eliminated Kent St. 4-0 to set up a rematch (or two) with Baylor on Sunday. And Sunday’s game was a tough way to go.

The Bears scored the game’s only run with a runner scrambling home on a wild pitch on a pitch that was really a pitch-out. Baylor’s Gia Rodoni, who had no-hit Kent St. on Friday, did it again to the Dukes on Sunday though not without late-inning fight and drama from the Dukes as we always expect. After Megan Good was hit by a pitch with one out in the bottom of the event (JMU was the home team in what would’ve been game 1 of 2 had the Dukes won), senior Taylor Newton drove a long fly ball to left that had us jumping off the couch thinking the Dukes might’ve walked off, but Bears’ CF and Big 12 defensive player of the year Jessie Scroggins made an unbelievable catch at the wall to essentially end the Dukes season.

It sucked. And yes, the Dukes should’ve hosted a regional (yes, the CAA and its relative lack of competition is a killer, but for the record their is no realistic conference for JMU that would be better in this sport). But there is absolutely NOTHING for this incredible team and program to hang their heads about. First a HUGE thank you to seniors Niki Prince, Taylor Newton, Madison Moran, Tahli Moore, Mimi Morris, and Casie Hill who have been around to elevate the program from pretty good to serious national contender. These players have been incredible in the way they’ve played on the field, but just as much in the way they’ve represented JMU throughout their tenure.

Also a quick note on Megan Good. She might not have had her all-world best but she battled her ass off and there’s no doubt she has joined Dawn Evans and Rodney Landers on our personal Mt. Rushmore of Dukes. This team just needs to get her some more help on offense and not leave all the pressure on her shoulders. We’re also hopeful Odicci “CC” Alexander or some unknown freshman phenom can give her a wing-woman like she used to have in Jailyn Ford.

And finally, as tough as this weekend was to take, let’s all remember that Ms. Good is back for her senior year and that four freshmen played huge roles on this team, meaning there’s nothing in the world wrong with being excited already about next February when Coach Dean and company crank it up for what we believe will be a run to Oklahoma City. Well done ladies!

And with that, the 2016-17 year of JMU Athletics comes to a close. We can’t say we won’t be a little more intermittent than usual over the summer silly season, but we’ve got some ideas for JMUSB to keep your appetites whetted until Labor Day Weekend when the Dukes destroy another purple FBS team in EZU (hopefully with all coaching attire featuring the new JMU logo/font). Go Dukes!