Monday, November 2, 2009

Week 8 Thoughts

Some (brief) thoughts following Old Dominion's 31-10 win over Georgetown Saturday:

Play Of The Game: Given the number of Georgetown fans at Saturday's game, most of you probably caught the radio feed, if that. The game could be summed up by the first Georgetown series of the game: three incompletions and a snap that sailed over Brian Josephs' head, setting up the Monarchs, already up 7-0. You could literally hear a collective groan from the 19,500 ODU fans and little else from the Hoya section.

What you may forget is the defense holding ODU to a field goal. But with the way Georgetown's offense scores, any doubt about the outcome was still gone. Like Lucy picking up the ball on Charlie Brown's field goal try, Georgetown's 35th loss in 40 games (a mark unseen outside Terre Haute, Indiana) was heading to press.

Bad Night For The Defense: I'm pretty supportive of the Hoyas' defense this season picking up the mes left by the offense but the defense was beaten handily on the run this evening. ODU's Thomas DeMarco was the kind of quarterback Georgetown could have used in the Uzelac-Miceli run packages of old (now that Georgetown seems to reversed course to a pass attack) but DeMarco wears blue and silver, not blue and gold. The blistering 350-39 advantage in total yardage at the end of the first half was bad on both sides--that the defense was made into mince meat by the ODU ground game, and that the Georgetown offense, coming off a two week break, managed 14 yards on the ground and 25 in the air. The defense has a long week in practice ahead of it.

Postcards From Norfolk: The Old Dominion game was my one road game of the year, and marks the sixth straight year I've traveled home with a road loss. But I'm glad I saw the game first hand, because the Old Dominion game experience was impressive, and I say that just two weeks removed from Notre Dame-USC.

Nobody will confuse the New South-style architecture of ODU with the Golden Dome or the Hilltop, but the way that ODU has engaged the campus, the community, and the region with first year football ought to be a case study for every South Alabama and Georgia State coming up around the bend.

The first thing you noticed at Old Dominion was the tailgates. Plural. The group above had prime lcoation outside Foreman Field, but there were, by my count, six different large tailgates going on simultaneously around campus, from a  tented affair for alumni in the main quad (arguably the least crowded), to one nearly a half mile away. Alls eemed were family-friendly, with lots of people taking in the food and drink and frequent games of cornhole (and for our wine-and-cheese readers, I did not say cornholio. check Wikipedia for what cornhole is.)

Many of these tailgates were already underway when I arrived at 2:00 (t-minus 4 hours to kickoff) and ran pre- and post-game, despite the fact that the game ended at 9:00. No satellite dishes beaming in the SEC afternoon game, though. Oh, give them time.

Parking was free. Years ago, I could park right down the road at the TCU games in Ft. Worth for free... no more. A couple of years from now, ODU will be charging $10.00 a car too.

Foreman Field on itself is an average football venue. Built as a WPA project in the 1930's, it can show its age. What you see above is something else entirely.

The Ainslie Football Building covers the south end zone at Foreman (technically, S.B. Ballard Stadium at Foreman Field) and is as impressive as any end zone facility you'll see in I-AA. The smaller photo doesn't do it justice--check this link for a full view. The cost was somewhere around $10 million, or about half the cost of this long-forgotten design:

The lower level is a concession stand/bar for patrons adjacent to the tunnel where the Monarchs enter and exit the field, with three levels of box seats above it. As the ODU site puts it, "Twelve of the suites have their own patio overlooking the plaza south of the complex, while the loge seating area also includes an 8,000 square foot covered patio on the second level of the facility. Another 7,500 square foot enclosed terrace looks directly out over the south end zone." A cost for a suite? $25,000 a season.

More than a playground for Norfolk's elite, it's an immediate "sell" to recruits. And there's no "Phase 1B" or "conceptual planning stage" talk, either. Recruits can see it up front.

Here's the home side of Foreman Field, as the marching band makes way for its pre-game show. Funny, ODU can create a marching band in a year, but Georgetown can't get enough volunteers from its 87 year old band to march at a game. That's for another time, I guess.

And the visitor's side. A few seats open near us, but not many.

And finally, the scoreboard. You really couldn't miss it, especially when the announcer made frequent reference to a "Virginia Lottery First Down!". (Somehow, a "Pizzeria Paradiso Punt" doesn't have the same ring to it.). It's the kind of scoreboard almost all I-AA teams have now, in some form or fashion.

Notice the offer for sponsorship opportunities. It never hurts to remind folks that, wins or not, there's always room on the bandwagon. And perhaps Georgetown could take a few notes from this evening next time MSF 6.0 comes up at the planning table. The total cost of the renovation was $24 million.

The total cost of Georgetown's renovation effort for football remains to be seen.