Wow. Last week was quite a week. By now no one at JMU is a stranger to the fact that ESPN was here last week to broadcast their College GameDay presentation. The quad turned into a sea of purple, gold, and orange from the Home Depot logo being everywhere you turned. ESPN arrived on campus at the beginning of the week and proceeded to transform the quad into a studio. Recording from Thursday through the end of the show on Saturday, there was no shortage of national exposure for the Dukes. And on top of everything else, it was homecoming! Every star that could have aligned, did. The stadium on Saturday was a full house, and stayed full until the end of the game. A total of 26,069 fans attended Saturday’s ballgame – that is a new stadium record!
The atmosphere at JMU is unbeatable, and while the game may not have ended up in our favor when the clock expired, this was hands down my favorite game I have attended. I’ve been at every home contest since the beginning of the 2012 season, and one thing that I and many others have seen, is when JMU Nation wants to show up, they SHOW UP. The problem we have faced over the past few years is that sometimes only a handful of people have made a big deal out of football. When that happens, people leave halfway through the game and it becomes an excuse to tailgate. Now, is JMU strictly a football school? No, and it shouldn’t be. We want to be well known for lots of things (the people, the world class education, et cetera), but athletics should be included in that list, because we have some great athletics teams – including football.
This year starts a season that simply can’t be compared to previous years. JMU has been dominating the FCS, making school history on multiple occasions. People have been saying that they want JMU Football to get serious for years. That time is now, and it won’t happen without changing that mindset of the past. ESPN GameDay did not just come to campus because they felt like it. ESPN came here because it’s time to start turning this into the big deal that it is. We owe it to the team to support them through to the end, even when ESPN isn’t here – then it is our job to make a big deal out of it.
So, what’s next? This past week was a bad week for injuries. JMU has three players out. Some confirmed out for the season. Vad Lee is out with a foot/ankle injury, John Miller with a head/neck/upper back injury, and Charles Tutt with a broken bone in his leg. I’m not going to deny, that is a serious hit. Vad brought great things to this program. Even though he won’t be playing the rest of the season, I am glad he will be right there alongside his team. On the CSNBBS Forums Vad posted saying he’s ready to “lead this team emotionally and spiritually”, I can’t think of a better role model to lead this team into playoffs on or off the field.
Notes to the players:
Vad – I would like to say thank you for everything you have done for JMU over the past 2 years. You have brought so much to this school – not just in football, and I know I speak for myself and many others when I say that. You are an inspiration to us all, both on and off the field.
Bryan – This is your time man. I really enjoyed watching you play on Saturday – I was quite impressed. You are going to do great things for this team, and I’m very excited to see what this and future seasons have in store for you.
John & Charles – John, I was so relieved to hear that you were doing well after Saturday. I hope ya’ll are getting rested up and feeling better.
I wish you all the best – speedy recoveries for Vad, John, and Charles, and best of luck with the rest of the season Bryan. Thank you all for everything you do, and God Bless!
Here is the takeaway. Did we win on Saturday? No. Is that okay? Yes. Why? While it would have been nice to win on Saturday, 7-1 is still nothing to shake your head at. We are still top 10 in the FCS coaches poll and while it may have been a theme of past years, this is not a team OR a coaching staff that gives up without a fight. So, What do we do? We bring it anyway, and we keep making a big deal out of the success of the program. Hiccups happen, injuries happen, and that is not an excuse to stop supporting the team. Madison football is without a doubt the best it has ever been. Saturday’s environment was without a doubt the best it has ever been. Saturday proves that JMU has it in them to stay the whole game, support the team, and cheer through until the last play win or lose. What we do is simple, support the team, bleed purple, and don’t stop!
See you at the next game. Go Dukes!!
tl;dr version: Keep Rootin’
PS: There was talk of doing a flyover in Vad’s name. Vad made a comment in his CSN post that rather than funding a flyover, he would appreciate those resources going to a scholarship fund that he helped start called “All In” at his former high school (Hillside High School in Durham, NC). Keep it up, Vad!