Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Get Braced, World: I Have a New Team

It's an exciting day in the SCSD realm. Late in life, long after I thought such things were possible, I have a new team- a new allegiance to preserve, new triumphs to behold, new agonies to endure. But before I get there, some quick thoughts on the Home Run Derby.

I came in from a long walk a little after 9pm last night, and the Derby had been going on for at least forty-five minutes. I put the tv on mute so I could finish up some work, and when I tuned back in for the final round, it was almost 11. To me, the Derby has always been a bit of a bore, and I couldn't fathom many ways for ESPN to make it worse. But having it last two and a half hours was a surefire bet.

That's longer than some actual baseball games. And to make matters worse, they utilized some kind of "ball tracker" technology, which amounted to a twitchy yellow graphic following each home run's trajectory. Not only was it ugly and unnecessary; on any really high fly, it disappeared for the majority of the arc and came back for a brief, comic moment before the landing. Ahhh, the future!

And then big Prince took the plate, and bashed his six home runs to end the night. When he hit the winning shot, you could hear a group of kids cheering on ESPN's microphones, and then they mobbed him at the plate. Fielder jumped up and down with them, and his teammate Braun joined the celebration. It was actually a pretty great moment. When it died down, the kids took turns wiping Fielder's sweaty head with their towels, and that continued long after he was dry. They just wanted a chance to touch their hero. Yeah, you had to wait all night to see it, but that scene alone almost redeemed the Derby.

Okay. Onto the big news. My friend Kyle and I got down to a bit of talking yesterday, and we realized neither of us really had an allegiance to a college football team. It's one of my favorite sports, but life hasn't blessed me with a firm loyalty to any single school. My father got his masters at Syracuse, and a lineman from my high school became their captain when I was young, so I rooted for the Orange intermittently. My stepfather was a Notre Dame fan, so I pulled for them at times, too. But neither had a strong tug at my heartstrings, at least enough to take hold. And now they both stink.

Then I went to Duke, where opposing fans routinely outnumbered our supporters at home games, and success was a foreign concept. Freshman year, we won our first game against East Carolina, took down the goal posts, and brought them to the chapel. It was our first win in 20-odd games. I think we went on to win maybe two more that entire year. It was one of the huge empty spaces in my college life; having a great football atmosphere is second to none, and I definitely felt the absence. Apparently fortunes are starting to change down south, but I have no emotional investment.

Kyle, for his part, went to Clarkson, and never had a team either. So we decided on a revolutionary concept- as dudes in their mid-20s, we would pick a new school. Just for football, of course, but this would not be a half measure. We'd commit to the team, whole hog, and thus we established some basic criteria:

1) The team must be in the northeast. I'm in NYC and Kyle is in Burlington, Vermont. We want to be able to travel to one or two games a year, and catch some of the others on regional tv coverage.

2) The team must be Division 1, FBS. While it might be sorta fun to adopt an Ivy League team, get into the deep old-school collegial stuff, and pretend we went to Yale for a couple weeks every fall, in the end we want top-level competition.

And that's it. Doesn't seem like much, but the northeast isn't exactly a hot-bed for college football, so it eliminated a bunch of options. Here's the full list of rejected teams, followed by the revelation of the winner.

Rejected: Army Black Knights.

No chance. They're too busy fighting wars to develop a strong football program. The West Point location would be ideal, but they don't belong to a major conference, and let's be honest...the dudes still run an option offense. That's kind of embarrassing. It'd be like if the actual army still lined up their men in human waves, like the Braveheart days. I probably only see ten minutes of Army football on tv in any given season, but almost every play involves an opposing defensive end crushing the QB as he sprints down the line. A recent study proved that it's actually more dangerous to play quarterback for Army than to fight in Iraq.*

*Not true.

Rejected: Rutgers Scarlet Knights

They're an improving team from the Big East, and the Piscataway location would be the closest option for me. but when I brought them up, Kyle made an excellent point: "Fuck New Jersey." We moved on.

Rejected: Syracuse Orange

Old loyalties and location both speak well for Syracuse, but the school has a couple fatal flaws. First, although the campus is pretty nice, the city is a total shit hole. You can't even walk down South Salina street without giving up a watch. Second, the Orange play their games in a dome. Kyle and I agreed that we wanted the outdoor experience. Third, Greg Paulus plays for them now. Fuck. that.

Rejected: Penn State Nittany Lions

Great school, great stadium, nice campus. And a cousin of mine went there, so I already have a couple Penn State t-shirts her family sent me for holidays. Location is the only big problem here. It's not an easy journey by bus from NYC, and for Kyle it would be a nine hour drive. It's unrealistic to plan for a couple trips out to Happy Valley each year. Also, there's a part of us that wants to join a smaller, up-and-coming program. PSU is an established big-10 school, and it's doubtful they're in the market for bandwagon fans.

Rejected: Boston College Eagles

Close location, nice campus, decent team in the ACC, great stadium, close to a good city. But there's one big problem: I fucking hate Boston College. Screw those guys.

So that left one team, and one team only. Their location is perfect, the campus is pretty, they're in a big conference, they just built a new outdoor stadium in 2003, and the program is on the rise. Kyle was kind enough to give me final say between BC and this team, and the decision was simple. So ladies and gentlemen, with great excitement and without further ado, I present the latest team to be graced by the unchecked zealotry of Seth Curry Saves Duke!:

That's right! The UConn Huskies! Big East football, baby! Rentschler Field, here we come! Get on board!

Immediately after the final pronouncement, Kyle got into some heavy research. He thinks our passing game is a little weak, and Coach Randy Edsall needs to integrate a little diversity into the offense. The running game looks good, he says, though the D lacks consistency. Meanwhile, I checked up on tickets, and a three-game package goes on sale next week, while single game tickets go up in August. Storrs, Connecticut, here we come!

Okay, okay, I know...they're sorta/kinda Duke rivals in basketball. They've taken us down in Final Fours and Championship games. But this is football! I insist on the separation. I'll still root against their basketball team fervently, and the gear I buy at the campus bookstore during the first trip will specifically say "UConn Football" or "Huskie Football." And I'll stow them carefully in a closet each January. My hands are clean.

Here's the lingering question: how 'ethical,' from a sporting perspective, is this move? Am I allowed to adopt a team at this late stage? Is this a betrayal of all my old half-allegiances? Is my entire fanhood sullied?

But I'll leave those questions to the historians. Onward and upward, go Huskies!

UConn Husky, symbol of might to the foe.
Fight, fight Connecticut, It's vict'ry, Let's go.
Connecticut UConn Husky,
Do it again for the White and Blue
So go--go--go Connecticut, Connecticut U.
Connecticut, Connecticut Husky, Connecticut Husky
Connecticut C-O-N-N-U!


  1. No love for the Scarlet Knights eh? Not even a rejection notice?

  2. I knew I forgot one! Yes, we did discuss Rutgers. It would obviously be the closest option for me, but Kyle's decisive comment was: "Fuck New Jersey." I didn't disagree. We moved on.


  3. Boston College is in the ACC, not the Big East.

  4. Okay, you sons of bitches, I edited the BC information (which, as a Duke fan, I swear I knew...BC used to be a Big East team, and I was having an old man moment...sort of like how my stepfather stills calls the Indianapolis Colts "Baltimore"), and I added Rutgers to the rejection list.


  5. RE: Rutgers, that's the kind of comment I was expecting, not a bad team tho

  6. You are making a huge mistake. Notre Dame is going to be top 15 this year and you BETTER not jump back on the bandwagon!

  7. should have picked Buffalo, keep it in NY (and a little of Canada)