Finally! We’ve heard from JMU sports correspondent Rob Abbott, who was at JMU’s epic victory over top-ranked Appalachian State on Saturday night. His first-hand account follows and is worthwhile for anyone who went to JMU and/or has partied in a college town well past their college years. Enjoy …
We pulled into town about 12:30 on Saturday and went down to Dave’s for lunch. We sat on the rooftop deck and had a couple 24 oz. Sierra Nevada’s for the very Harrisonburg price of only $4.25 … good start. There were a handful of people there having lunch and drinks before the game, but I still don’t think most of the guys I was with knew what to expect. By the time we loaded up the car and made our way to campus, the guys that hadn’t been back in years were in disbelief.
Every student we saw had JMU football stuff on. Beat App. State t-shirts, JMU Gameday t-shirts, and the most surprising thing, JMU jerseys. (Ed. note — Mind blown.) I’d say 50% of the girls we saw had JMU jerseys. I never would have guessed that. We had a parking pass for the garage so we ditched our car there and just rolled the cooler over to another lot across from Godwin field. The tailgate was fun. There were tons of alumni and pretty much everyone couldn’t stop talking about how this was like bizarro JMU compared to years ago.
We made it into the game about 10 minutes before kickoff and the student side was already full and loud! There were Go Dukes signs on every seat and people were waiving them and jumping up and down before the game even started. The first half sucked.
Luckily JMU has a very tailgate friendly ticket policy. They let you leave during halftime and come back, so we went back to the car and had a couple beers. My buddy Todd and I were just walking back into the stadium when McGee took the kick back for a TD. The crowd was going bananas and it felt like about 5 minutes later the game was tied. It was almost bizarre how quickly the tide turned. It’s easy to say this now, but it wasn’t even nerve racking down the stretch. It was like the crowd just knew JMU was going to win. Keep in mind I’m about the most nervous football fan on the planet and I spent half time drowning my sorrows telling anyone who would listen that Coach Matthews should be fired.
We rushed the field with everyone else after the game and it was a mob scene. I tried to take videos, but it was complete chaos and so loud that they ended up being worthless. It also smelled very bad, which I guess makes sense considering I was basically trapped inside a mob of thousands of college kids who had been drinking all day and were trying to pick up sweaty football players.
After the game was kind of funny. Pretty much everyone I talked to had a voice that was just shot. We hung out at BW3 for a while and then eventually made our way to Forest Hills. I was expecting the students to pretty much ignore us, but they were actually really cool. They were getting us beers and asking tons of questions about what JMU was like when we were there. I don’t know who was more shocked though, the alums like me who had never seen a gameday anything like Saturday, or the current students who couldn’t believe that they were at a party with alums who attended JMU when they were in kindergarten (that part kind of spooked me to be honest).
I had fun, but was kind of over the idea of being at a college party pretty quickly. More and more alums starting showing up and that was our cue to leave. Well that was one clue. There was another one also. Some students were clearly over the idea of having alums at the party. I could deduce this because they started chanting “Old Guys Leave! Old Guys Leave!” (Ed. note — Emphasis added, because that’s too funny.)
Gastner and I split and then the people having the party came and got us and said that they wanted us to stay and that they were talking about “other old people, not us.” I don’t know what to make of that, but it was kind of funny. Gastner and I thanked the hosts, but pretty much agreed with the students that were chanting so we just split.
All in all, it was really fun. It’s hard to imagine that it took the school so long to figure out that spending $$ on facilities, promoting the gameday experience, and then encouraging people to tailgate is a good thing.
(Photo via Flickr)