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