INSIDE THE MONARCHY
I can’t wait for the football season to begin (no, seriously, I can’t wait)
When it comes right down to it, as the sideline radio reporter and Old Dominion University’s resident blogger, there are times when I’m no different than you fans. Like right now. I’m so anxious to watch the Monarchs take the field at East Carolina 31 days from this posting that it’s driving me crazy.
Crazy enough that in my travels through Norfolk these days I see ODU football players from a distance, long before they see me coming.
Like just this past week …
I was at The Dirty Buffalo on 60-cent wing night last Wednesday when I saw two ODU offensive linemen – new recruits Kyle Bottoms and Eli Anderson – preparing to wolf down their share of wings, which was decidedly larger than my share. So I struck up a conversation about the upcoming season.
Then I was driving down Colley Avenue two days later when I passed defensive lineman Nate Barnes sitting outside at Red Dog Café with friends.
“Barnes!” I hollered.
“Rich!” he hollered back. I would have stopped and chatted, but there was traffic behind me. So Nate, if you are reading this, I’ll catch up with you later.
And then I saw quarterback Taylor Heinicke hoisting 25-foot jump shots with a couple of gym rats. I was upstairs working out, so I went downstairs to say hello.
“Hey Taylor, how’s it going? How’s the summer?”
“To be honest Rich, this physics class I’m in is really tough.” We might have talked football, too. OK, we probably talked football. Come to think of it, we talked football. I confess.
I walked away and realized that I can’t wait for the start of the season. You probably can’t wait either.
But those first two games are on the road and just by circumstance not a lot of ODU fans will be able to score tickets to games at East Carolina and Maryland.
If you’re a season-ticket holder, though, when Sept. 14 gets here you’ll have plenty to shout about and four consecutive weeks to develop a routine. On four consecutive Saturdays, the Monarchs will host Howard, The Citadel, Albany and Liberty. I thought about that as I looked at the grass in my backyard that I’ve been preparing for a fall of post-game tailgating. And I realized it isn’t green grass we will need for the post-game festivities as much as it will be flood lights.
Bobby Wilder has said many a time that he really likes that 6 o’clock kickoff. I’m starting to think he liked it because by the time the Monarchs’ games were ending and he’d showered and changed, he was getting home just in time to watch Oregon kick off on the West Coast and could assess how the West Coasters, and particularly those Ducks, were running their hurry-up spread offense.
Then I realized Bobby just likes to play at 6 o’clock. He likes to roll his players through campus, through the tailgaters and through the cloud of Kielbasa and Italian sausage smoke wafting from the grills.
Fans seem to like it too.
Sure, there are the naysayers who don’t like a 6 o’clock kick, but they seem to be few and far between and I’ve learned that someone’s going to complain no matter what, particularly when you are trying to get 20,000 people together for a football game. I get that.
But for the most part, the fans like the 6 o’clock kickoff and here are the reasons why:
· It’s built-in entertainment. Someone asks what you are doing Saturday night, you don’t have to think about it, make restaurant reservations or figure out what movie you want to see. You’re going to the game.
· It gives you time to prepare. Say you didn’t get to the store on Friday and buy all the fixings for your tailgating. You have Saturday to get to the store and collect the ribs … or shrimp … or burgers and dogs … and get your tailgate on.
· Your pregame includes … games. You get to tune into the noon kickoffs around the country and the 1 o’clock games too. If you do it right they are part of the tailgating process.
· It’s cooler. Face it, we’re in the south and middle and late September can be awfully, awfully hot. By 6 o’clock, the sun is fading in the west and it’s not so bad.
· You can get some honey-do’s done around the house before heading for the game. No, really, you can. Power-wash the deck? Not a problem. Change the oil and wash the car? No worries.
· You can catch junior’s soccer game at Lake Taylor and have time to spare. I remember when mine were little and would chase that soccer ball all over the place in packs of 5-year-olds. I called it amoeba ball because it looked like something moving around in a Petri dish.
I’ve got nothing against an occasional noon or middle-afternoon kickoff. But the issue there is I don’t necessarily like breakfast foods all that much (heck, to be honest I don’t like breakfast). So those egg casseroles only go so far with me. You say you can cook an omelet on your grill. That’s nice, so very, very nice. I really don’t care.
Grills are made for grilling and pancake batter tends to drip through the openings.
Plus, mimosas and Bloody Marys have no place at a tailgate, in my humble opinion.
Give me a 6 o’clock kick any day.
Well, almost any day. Come November it’s just too darn cold to play at night.