I am personally disappointed in the quality of the dialog on the main board right now. One very solid poster said to me that he doesn't even try to go on the main board anymore. As a moderator, I do for that purpose, but I am choosing to let all the negative posters (some rational, but most aren't) feed off of each other. I am not going to waste my time arguing with them. To me Herdfans.com is a place where people get together to share their experiences, speculate on the Herd, and look towards the future. I'm finding it more satisfying to talk to the board members in person on Saturdays. This past weekend will be my last for a while. I tried to make the most of it by visiting Spring Hill memorial on my way to play golf, and to talk to as many of my friends as I could find. I really enjoyed talking my buddy Jerry and then to 2XBison and Big Green Arms at the Herdfans tailgate. I am also appreciative of the gift of the "Won for All" book that a board member gave me; it really got me thinking about Doc's legacy versus coaches from our past, especially Bobby (See No. 8 infra). It was a weird weekend for me since I know it may be my last one this year (see No. 10 infra). On my way home, I realized I did not eat at a single Huntington restaurant (really missed Oscar's) except for the Tudor's drive through. Anyway, here are the Ten Things I Think I Know After NC State:
While Saturday wasn't the dominant display that I hoped the Herd would have, it was a W. It was also my first trip home for football and my first game in my new tailgate spot. As I drove back on Sunday, I kept thinking about how the stats didn't match up with my recollection of the game. In reality, the D held EKU, but it didn't seem like that in real time. Now I am sitting in a hotel room outside of Chicago thinking about Huntington and the following Ten Things I Think I Know After EKU:
Since the game, the board has been full of a lot of good discussion on the Xs and Os and analysis of individual players. In this blog, I am going to try to focus on some of the bigger picture issues that I saw on Saturday. If you looked at an actual big picture of Saturday's game you saw a ton of Green. There was so much green in fact that Shannon Clark (@Herdgirl_77) coined the phrase "HERDcoming" in response to one of my rants about their Homecoming. While Brady was clearly the best player on the field on Saturday, my MVP award goes to Shannon this week. With her inspiration, here are the Ten Things I Think I Know After HERDcoming 2018:
As with all of my blogs, I write what I am thinking based on the information that I have at that time. Looking back on my last blog of 2017, I want to expand on my thinking at that time, and to share some of the things that made me start reevaluating the tone of that blog. The Mr. Robot blog was a little dark. It was written shortly after saying goodbye to your tailgate buddies for the year after a loss. I left the Joan firmly believing that no changes were going to be made. Most of my negativity centered on Bill Legg, which I now regret to a certain degree. In 2017, a fairly consistent theme in my blogs was that if Legg would have been let go at the end of 2016 much of the complaining would have dissipated sooner...including mine. Anyway, here are the Ten Things I think I know better than I did at the end of the regular season:
It is weird that with a 7 game winning season so far, I chose a simple sinking ship painting instead of a collage. But that is where I think we are at. After the let down yesterday, I am not going to spend a lot of time on this one. In fact, the following Ten Things were written on my phone:
I've spent most of my life with a connection to Marshall University. When I lived in Huntington, I want to more basketball games than football games. When I moved to Columbus after graduation, I went to one or two football games a year, and followed them at Alumni Association game watching parties at Rush Creek and through the box scores. When I moved to Maryland, I made a commitment to be at every home football game. I did that so that my daughter would have a strong connection to Huntington and my family and friends. This was during Byron's tenure. Things were great then. I fairly quickly amalgamated my personal identity from someone who loves the Tri-State and Marshall University with being a Herdfan. For the year that I lived in Colorado, I took great pride in flying in for each of the home games (I missed one that year). Moving to Indy, I got back into the region of the country that I consider home. I am back to being able to go to Reds and Bengals games. I see my family and friends more. I am not as dependent upon the success of our football program to define the identity that I wish to have. During WKU's beat down on us last year, I crashed. With my daughter's application process to Marshall University, I have gotten back to focusing on Marshall University as a separate entity from the sports programs. This past weekend, we brought another potential student from Indy to join my daughter at the office of recruitment's Green-White Day. I had the opportunity to show him my home town and how the alumni interact with the University and the Athletics Program. As I continue to work on separating the two, here are the Ten Things I Think I Know After Four Days in the Land of Milk and Honey:
Maybe I spent too much time standing at Keith's Key Market in 8th grade reading National Lampoon magazine with my buddy Kevin, but I like parodies. In a year in which people throw around the term "Fake News" like it is real news, I thought I would attempt a Fake News Parody. Just in case any of the readers don't watch politics, the term "Fake News" typically refers to propaganda that spreads misinformation or hoaxes. In 2016, it isn't always clear which news source or post on social media is real or fake. In this blog, the headline of each of my ten things is intended to be a parody. Everything after the colon is intended to be an actual observation. Anyway, this can't work out any worse than my WWII themed blog a couple years ago:
At the beginning of the year, I knew that my work schedule wasn't going to allow me to post a timely blog each week. I've also found it challenging to balance maximizing the time I have left before my daughter heads off to college next year. Here are the Ten Things I Think I Know About Being 6-2:
Since the Kent State game, I have been slammed with work. I went to that game and had a great time with my tailgate buddies and Big City. I even drafted half a blog about the kid in the white shirt who stole the show while dancing during that game. While I have been traveling and working, I've been thinking about the Herd and the general mood of Herdfans. I've also read everything written by Landon and Smock, and watched every down of Herd FB. As a moderator, I read the posts on the board to make sure they are compliant, but I have to confess that I was initially confused about the level of discontent. That level of discontent led me to thinking about Henry David Thoreau. While I was an undergraduate at Marshall, one of my favorite quotes was "f a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” I recognize that many of my Herdfan brethren are not happy even though we are 5-1. I am very content right now. I got that way be listening to a different drummer. In fact, I think it is safe to say that the 2017 team is my favorite team since Byron's senior year. Anyway, I am clearly hearing a different Thundering Herd hoof beat, and these are the Ten Things I Think I Know after being 5-1 (plus a thought about Kaepernick):
1. My Personal Benefit From Having Great Friends: after the WKU game last year, I didn't know how I could be a true believer in Doc and Hamrick's vision. In fact, I was personally struggling with how I was going to walk down to my seats in Section 216. Like many a Herdfan, I lost faith in the Vision Plan and Doc's ability to balance his recruiting strategy with the needs of the community and to win games. As I personally struggled, one of my buddies threw me a rope by having a Herd themed wedding the night before the Miami game. In addition to my tailgating buddies, he also invited my golf buddies from around the county. As silly as this may sound, I truly benefited by having so many of my friends around me on the eve of what was a personally challenging day for me. In sum, I think I understand why so many people are still upset after last year. I am just lucky to have a buddy who set up a situation which helped me get back into a positive place faster than some.
2. Even the Bengals Understand How a Scapegoat Works: I have a fear that some Herdfans are not going to be able to hear the different drummer and get back into the fold as quickly as I did. That is unfortunate because it was avoidable. Someone in the administration made a risk analysis decision that I don't think was correct. Specifically, someone decided that they did not need a scapegoat after a 3-9 season and that if we won in 2018 all would be forgiven. Yes, with the help of Nick and Angela, that worked out for me, but it clearly isn't working out for all the disgruntled or disillusioned Herdfans out there. A more prudent strategy would have been to find a scapegoat. There were multiple scapegoats available for the sacrifice. Justice identified Doc as the scapegoat, but Gilbert rejected that solution (and as a fan of Doc, I am glad that he did). The next logical scapegoat was Legg. Even though we were promised that changes would be made, when it came time to use intestinal fortitude, Hamrick and Doc chose to shuffle the sheep instead of sending one to the alter. Based on numerous conversations with Herdfans and people at tailgates this year, tagging Legg as the sacrificial lamb would have satisfied the masses. Seats would be filled on the East side and we wouldn't have as much room in the Big Green Room. BTW, this is where I think Landon gets off track. Chuck traces the current discontent to the reseating plan. I think we lost more boosters when Kopp prolonged the Snyder years. I do agree with Chuck that we lost some boosters during the reseating plan, but that isn't the issue we are seeing on the East side today. The problem we are facing now is 100% the result of hubris of the entire administration of not respecting the power of a scapegoat. In closing on this thing that I think I Know, do you really think Marvin Lewis would be able to carry on if Ken Zampese wasn't sent to the alter? Hopefully other Herdfan are able to ignore this and listen to the beat of a different drummer.
3. ESPN3 is Better than Plastics: I am very pleased with Mr. Hamrick's decision to broadcast some of our games on ESPN3. I am even more appreciative of the fact that Mr. Hamrick brought Keith Morehouse and Doug Chapman back into the fold. I had significant concerns when Hamrick was talking about being on Facebook and other non-ESPN-affiliate platforms was us getting ahead of the curve. While Plastics may have been the future in the Graduate, I think streaming is an excuse for not being marketable. I was very excited when MASN decided that we were marketable and opted to broadcast the UNCC game. I was even more excited to see that Mr. Hamrick moved us to ESPN3 instead of the C-USA TV product, which wasn't much more than cheap lip-stick on the old CSTV platform For those of you who were upset about the production quality of the ODU game on ESPN3, I personally request that you be patient. There are long term benefits to getting exposure on ESPN3 that we will never get on the C-USA TV product. I am also very positive about the future of Keith and Doug as they build their repertoire. In a year in which most Herdfans don't seem to be patient, I am respecting the memory of Keith and Sonny, but also recognizing that it took time for that chemistry to develop. Kudos Mr. Hamrick on this one!!!!
4. I have to give No. 4 to Juwon Young and the LB Corp: I have been waiting for game 5 since summer. My fear was that I was over-hyping the kid and was going to get disappointed. I haven't been disappointed with No. 4. In fact, I think he is icing on cake of one of the best LB corps that I can remember. With Hancock, Johnson, Hernandez and Yulee we had a pretty strong corp. But Young takes the unit over the top. I would welcome anyone refreshing my memory of a better LB corp than what we have now. I got back to the 2002-2004 time period when we had Rembert and Wilson.
5. Shout Out to Litton's Development: while I think many of us are pleasantly surprised about Litton's maturation, I wanted to give him a shout out for his development on the field also. In his first two years, he threw to one receiver primarily. In his freshman year, he threw almost exclusively to Reaves and to Clark his sophomore year. With the incredible talents of Brady, I fully expected the same thing from Chase this year. I am thrilled to see that Chase is going through his progressions more and spreading around the ball. The fact that he is getting the ball to Yurachek is huge...and it makes hanging out at the tailgate with my buddy Danny a little easier. Kudos Mr. Litton.
6. Herd Equipment: they have been taking some heat over the black pants and the amount of black in the uniform. Personally, I like the black pants especially when we are on the road. The problem with the white pants is that it doesn't look good with the black on the jersey sleeves. I think that Herd Equipment does a great job. My only request is that they consider the colors that the other team is wearing and the darkness of the field. During the UNCC game, the field was dark and it was hard to see the Herd in the black pants.
7. Update on My Search for a Mancini's Replacement: coming into Huntington for football and basketball games is the highlight of my year. In addition to seeing family and friends, I like having a spot to go eat and have a beer at that makes me feel like I am part of the community. While I love going to Fat Patty's and other establishments, I don't have a personal connection to those restaurants. My family did have a personal connection to Tony Mancini from the days when he was a student at Marshall. The first place I wanted to go to when I got into town was Tony's as I called it. As the season started, I wished Tony the best in his new endeavors and moved on to search for a new place that made me feel like I was at home. The top contender right now is Oscar's which is owned and operated by a fellow member of this board. The food is incredible, the place has a cool vibe, and the fact that Jason knows me and exchanges pleasantries is something that I appreciate. On my first trip there, I thought that I was discovering something new. It ends up my parents go there for breakfast and several of the tailgate buddies go there after the games. For the rest of the season, I am going to try to make it up to Oscar's to eat and then drop in Muther's Stats for a beer afterwards. I just wish someone made a Big Legurski.
8. G5 Friends: While I am giving shout outs to my friends, I want to give a shout out to David Valle-Schwenk, who is my buddy going back to the summer we spent study abroad in college. David and I have stayed in touch and go on a golf trip each year. I recently discovered that he too is a G5 football fan who has season tickets to San Jose State. The picture of him in the collage was from last week's game in Hawaii. Having lived in the heart of Big Ten football country for most of my post graduate life, it is nice to see that others don't ditch their loyalties fro the P5. Anyway, he is watching the Herd and I am watching San Jose State every time they are on ESPN3.
9. Colts Game Has Me Rethinking My Personal Position on Kaepernick: I belong to a civic organization that has a presentation of the colors and says the pledge of allegiance before every business meeting. When Kapernick started the taking the knee protest last year, I was fired up. I was even more fired up when I saw high school volleyball players taking a knee during the national anthem last year. I tweeted about this every time I witnessed it. At the Joan, I have spent the last two years looking to see if anyone takes a knee. Then I went to the Colts vs. Browns game at Lucas Oil Stadium. As I stood there with my hand over my heart literally looking down on the players taking a knee, I was taken aback by the fans who started to boo. While i understood that the intended target of their booing wasn't the flag, I was offended that people would boo while my nation's flag was on display. At that moment, I decided that I need to listen to a different drummer. I refuse to get caught up in the politicization that has occupied the field on this issue. The drummer to which I will listen may be far away, but I intend to put my hand over my heart and look at my nation's flag during the national anthem. I am going to ignore those who chose to take a knee and those who boo or oppose them. To be clear, I do not disagree with the underlying message of Mr. Kaepernick's campaign. Unfortunately, he chose a symbol that is very dear to most Americans instead of a lunch counter. If he could have found a 21st century equivalent to a lunch counter, I suspect he would be employed now, and more people would be able to support the underlying message of that campaign. Peace Out Everyone on this issue:
10. Most Surprising and Proudest Moment of 2017: during senior night for my daughter's volleyball season, it was announced that she intends to attend "Marshall University in Huntington WV, where she plans to study economics at the Lewis College of Business." I was not expecting that. I was one of the proudest moments I have had. If this all plays out, hopefully I will get to say hello to Jason and MUther more than just football weekends. GO HERD!!!
Thundering in MD