Homecoming at The Citadel — a brief gridiron history

In a way, the inspiration for this post came after reading press releases with headlines like this one from 2007:

THE BULLDOGS HOST APPALACHIAN STATE FOR 55TH HOMECOMING

What is wrong with that headline, you ask? Simply this: the 2007 game between The Citadel and Appalachian State was not the 55th Homecoming game in the military college’s history. In fact, it was the 80th.

When media guides first became a regular feature of The Citadel’s promotional output, there was no easy way for the sports information directors of the time to go back and check old records for most statistics. Other than game dates and scores, information was hard to come by (and even with those basic data points, there were issues).

Understandably, record-keeping was limited to readily available research material. In the case of The Citadel’s football program, this led to a “records timeline” that began in 1953. As noted in the 1988 football media guide:

The year of 1953, when seven schools withdrew to form the Atlantic Coast Conference and 10 remained to provide the Southern Conference most of its present membership, is taken as a convenient starting point for compiling Citadel modern day football records. Also, no comprehensive records were maintained before 1953.

This always bothered me. Just to take Homecoming as an example, there were obviously many contests played prior to 1953 — yet they weren’t listed in any of the guides or record books, which all began their respective lists of Homecoming games with that season.

Let me hasten to add that I don’t blame the SIDs of days gone by. I am all too aware of how difficult that job could (and still can) be. Given the limited resources available, they did very well.

These days, though, it is much easier to research past sporting events. The internet is a large part of that change. There are still hard-to-find gaps in the record, to be sure, but if someone has the time, projects large and small can be accomplished.

What follows is one of the smaller projects…

The first college football homecoming games date back to the early part of the 20th century. There is some question as to which school first hosted one, at least an event that included an intercollegiate contest. (There were alumni football game celebrations as far back as the 1890s.)

Baylor had a homecoming football game in 1909, and Illinois followed suit a year later. Missouri, Wisconsin, and Northwestern all hosted homecoming gridiron events in 1911.

The first Home-Coming Day of the Greater Citadel was held on October 25, 1924. Hundreds of the alumni — old men, middle-aged, and young men — many from distant states — came to the celebration.

…Shortly after one o’clock the crowd began to gather in groups towards Hampton Park, where the chief event of the day was to take place. This was the Furman-Citadel football game, in comparison with which all other features of Home-Coming Day (and there were several others of noteworthy interest) paled into insignificance.

On this battlefield of the gridiron, two teams of stalwart warriors were to battle for the honor and renown of their Alma Mater, and to perform exploits that would put their names in big headlines in the morning papers. This was the opportunity, too, when the alumni could wear their college colors and show their loyalty to the old school.

— Oliver J. Bond, The Story of The Citadel

 

The Blue and White, directed by the incomparable genius of Teddy Weeks, started again.

…Uncanny Teddy now set the Furman backs wild. One pass to Ferguson from Teddy himself netted seventeen yards and a first down. Before Furman had settled, Weeks shot a pass to “Firpo” McFarland and the ball was on Furman’s ten-yard line. The stands were in an uproar. Furman was visibly worried.

Youngblood circled around right end for eight yards and two more line-bucks put the oval six inches from the line.

Carl Hogrefe was selected to win the game and he came through as only a fighting son of Anderson and The Citadel can come through. Again he plunged into the left side of Furman’s line and the ball was over.

— C.D. Weimer, The News and Courier, October 26, 1924

Carl Hogrefe, who scored the first touchdown in the first Homecoming game at The Citadel, may have been a “fighting son of Anderson”, but he appears to have been born in Augusta, Georgia — and at least one source says he attended public schools in Augusta, too. After graduating, Hogrefe went on to have a distinguished career in the oil milling industry.

Incidentally, according to The News and Courier, Hogrefe (the short-yardage back of choice in 1924) weighed in at 144 lbs. The listed weight for the smallest Bulldog on the current roster, placekicker and social media sensation Joshua Roides, is 146 lbs.

Despite a steady rainfall that began shortly after kickoff, the event was an unqualified success, leading to it becoming an annual gathering. Class reunions were held in conjunction with Homecoming weekend until 1939, when they were moved to commencement weekend. However, alumni still came out in force for Homecoming, and after World War II, reunion activities reverted back to the fall.

The growing number of fans at the games (there were an estimated 6,000 spectators in attendance for the 1926 Homecoming contest, some of whom had to stand) had a direct impact on the decision by the city of Charleston to build the original Johnson Hagood Stadium, which opened for business in 1927.

The Citadel has now hosted 91 Homecoming weekend celebrations. The event has been held every year since 1946, after a four-year break due to the war. Of course, the college did not field a team for three of those years (1943-45).

There was originally a Homecoming event scheduled for 1942, but it was canceled by order of General Charles P. Summerall. The school president announced that “due to conditions resulting from the war and over which The Citadel has no control, it is necessary to omit Parents’ Day [which had originated in 1934] and Homecoming from the academic calendar.”

In an article about the cancellations, an unnamed writer for The News and Courier observed that “with the various government agencies pleading [against] unnecessary travel, especially on week-ends, it would be strange for an institution like The Citadel, with its record of service to the state and nation, to encourage two such large gatherings in Charleston…However, these are ‘big days’ at The Citadel, and much regret was felt by General Summerall at the necessity for calling them off in 1942.”

Behold: a spreadsheet!

Homecoming Football Games at The Citadel

The spreadsheet lists every Homecoming game from 1924 to 2018. The date of each contest is recorded, as is the attendance (estimated or official), opponent, score, venue, and the game’s place in the sequence of Homecoming matchups (including total games and wins/losses/ties). Many entries also include a brief “random note”, usually about a big play or two, an outstanding performance, or another bit of trivia.

I’ve corrected some online record book errors with regards to game dates, and a couple of score discrepancies. I’ve also listed the correct Homecoming opponent for 1960. In the older media guides and the record book, the Parents’ Day and Homecoming games for that year were “flipped” by mistake, due to a transcription error that occurred several decades ago.

One note: I consider the current iteration of Johnson Hagood Stadium as having been built in 1948. In my opinion, the renovations (and teardowns) of the last fifteen years have not resulted in a separate edifice. I realize not everyone may agree with that definition.

On the other hand, the “original” Johnson Hagood Stadium was clearly a different building, structurally and in orientation (east-west rather than north-south).

Therefore, on the spreadsheet I have listed the Bulldogs as having played home games in three different venues during the Homecoming era:  Hampton Park (a/k/a College Park Memorial Stadium), Johnson Hagood Stadium [I], and Johnson Hagood Stadium [II].

Odds and ends:

– The Citadel has played Furman more than any other Homecoming opponent, with the Paladins making 26 appearances in the game. The two schools have split those meetings (12-12-2).

VMI has been the Bulldogs’ Homecoming opponent 19 times, with The Citadel winning 13 of those contests. Davidson and Chattanooga have each faced the Bulldogs seven times at Homecoming; The Citadel is 6-1 versus Davidson, and 3-4 against the Mocs.

– In all, 17 different schools have served as The Citadel’s Homecoming opponent at least once. Mercer will become the 18th in 2019.

After that scheduled matchup against the Bears, the only current SoCon school not to have faced the Bulldogs in a Homecoming contest in Charleston will be Western Carolina. It is somewhat surprising that the Catamounts have never been The Citadel’s opponent for the game, as the two teams have met 43 times on the gridiron.

Other schools that have frequently played The Citadel, but never as Homecoming opponents, include Newberry (41 meetings) and William and Mary (25 meetings).

– At one point, The Citadel had a record of 6-20-2 on Homecoming. After winning the first contest in 1924, the program lost three consecutive celebration games, and did not again have a winning record in Homecoming matchups until 2006, when a 48-21 victory over VMI propelled the Bulldogs to an all-time Homecoming game mark of 39-38-2.

The current seven-game winning streak in Homecoming games has provided a bit of a cushion in the wins vs. losses department, and so The Citadel’s record on Homecoming now stands at 47-42-2.

– The longest winning streak in Homecoming games for the Bulldogs is 10, from 1969 through 1978.

– Bobby Ross was 5-0 on Homecoming, the most wins without a loss by a Bulldogs coach. Other coaches with perfect marks: Brent Thompson (3-0 so far), Mike Houston (2-0), and John Zernhelt (1-0).

Charlie Taaffe and Eddie Teague were both 6-3, tied for the most wins, and each is tied with Kevin Higgins (who was 5-4) with the most Homecoming games at the helm of the Bulldogs. Tatum Gressette (2-6) and Quinn Decker (1-6) have the most losses.

– In 91 Homecoming games, The Citadel has scored 1648 points. Opposing teams have scored a total of 1653 points, for a difference of only five points over most of a century’s worth of games.

In the first 28 games of the series (from 1924 through 1955), the Bulldogs were outscored 405-131. Since then (a 63-game stretch), The Citadel has outscored its Homecoming opponents 1517-1248.

– In Homecoming games decided by 7 or fewer points, The Citadel is 21-14-2. The Bulldogs have won 15 of the last 20 such contests.

– Attendance figures from 1924 to about 1964 were generally estimates made by the reporter covering the game for The News and Courier. From the mid-1960s to the present day, attendance totals are considered “official”, as they were (and are) released by the college.

For two games in the early 1960s, the newspaper listed both a “paid” attendance number from The Citadel and its own estimated attendance, the latter figure always higher. On the spreadsheet, I have chosen in both cases to use the estimated total from the beat writer covering the game, as I greatly suspect the “paid” figures given by the college for those contests were themselves just estimates.

I was unable to find estimated attendance for three Homecoming games:  1925, 1931, and 1959. I’ll add those numbers to the spreadsheet when (if?) I get them.

– Homecoming has been played 74 times in November, 13 times in October, and 4 times in December. All four of the December games were against Clemson and South Carolina (two each), with the last of those matchups taking place in 1949.

The Citadel has played 51 of its last 52 Homecoming games in November, with the exception being the 2017 contest versus VMI (which was held on October 28). In 2019, the game will take place on October 26, which means that it will have been played in October two of the last three seasons, after 50 straight November contests.

The earliest calendar day for a Homecoming game was October 9, in 1954 (against Richmond). The latest in the year a Homecoming contest has been played was December 8, in 1928 (versus Clemson).

– The dedication game for the new Johnson Hagood Stadium, in 1948, came at Homecoming. Clemson was the opponent, and the estimated attendance was 16,000, at the time the most spectators to attend a football game in Charleston. The Citadel would not draw a larger crowd for a Homecoming game until 1969.

– There have been many memorable Homecoming games over the years. In terms of on-field action, atmosphere, and impact on the season, a list of the top games might include:

  • 1928: The Citadel’s 12-7 victory over Clemson is probably the biggest upset in Homecoming history. The oft-repeated story of Thomas Howie’s wild ride in a Studebaker from Columbia to Charleston to make it to the game on time, after he had interviewed earlier that day for a Rhodes Scholarship, is part of the game’s lore.
  • 1988: Marshall, undefeated and ranked #1 in I-AA, came to town for its first (and only) appearance as a Homecoming opponent. The Thundering Herd left with a 20-3 loss, subdued by Gene Brown and a determined Bulldogs defense.
  • 2016: Down ten points midway through the fourth quarter, with a SoCon title on the line, The Citadel roared back to win an overtime thriller over Samford, 37-34. Fans will long remember Cam Jackson’s great run, along with the sound of the football hitting the goalpost on Samford’s tying field goal attempt in the extra session.

I had the privilege of attending two of those momentous contests. (I was out of town for the 1928 game.)

– The largest crowd at a Homecoming game: 21,811, for the 1992 contest against VMI. The Bulldogs won 50-0, the largest margin of victory ever on Homecoming.

– Pat Green’s 25-yard field goal just before halftime of The Citadel’s 17-0 victory over VMI in 1964 was the first made field goal by a Bulldog at a Homecoming contest. Yes, you read that correctly.

It only took 37 games.

– A few Homecoming game records of note for Bulldog players:

  • Mark Slawson holds the Homecoming game records for yardage (201, also the all-time school record), and TD receptions (4, tied for the school record), setting both marks in 1979.
  • Tim Russell’s 6 touchdowns and 362 yards passing in that 1979 game are both Homecoming records (and the TD mark is the school record, too).
  • Jeff Klein completed the most Bulldog passes in a Homecoming game (24 in 2002).
  • Slawson’s 4 TDs in the 1979 game set the record for most touchdowns scored in a Homecoming contest. That mark was matched by Lorenzo Ward in 2018, with all of Ward’s TDs coming on the ground.
  • Andre Roberts (2007 and 2008) and Gene Hightower (1967) share the record for receptions in a Homecoming game, with 9.
  • Tyler Renew’s 45 carries and 285 yards in the 2016 contest are both Homecoming records.
  • Eric Goins’ five field goals against VMI in 2015 established both the Homecoming and school records for most made field goals in a game.
  • Jeff Varnadoe (1970) and Rusty Holt (1972) share the record for most interceptions in a Homecoming game, with 3 (both efforts came against Davidson). The school record for interceptions in a game is also 3.

– Longest plays for The Citadel in Homecoming games include:

  • Run: 92 yards (TD), Nehemiah Broughton, 2004
  • Pass: 78 yards (TD), Marty Crosby to Sam Scadlock, 1978; Tim Russell to Mark Slawson, 1979
  • Kickoff return: 87 yards, Keith Gamble, 2010
  • Punt return: 80 yards (TD), Mark Slawson, 1980
  • Interception return: 75 yards (TD), Tevin Floyd, 2015
  • Field goal: 48 yards, Cody Clark, 2016
  • Punt: 85 yards, Albert Salvato, 1941

That punt by Albert Salvato brings to mind a topic that, while not strictly related to Homecoming, I would like to briefly discuss.

In the current online record book, the longest punt is credited to Greg Davis, for an 81-yard boot at Clemson in 1986. However, many of the records in the online guide only go back to 1965 — not even as far back as the older media guides in some cases.

As a result, Davis is listed first in the online record book, while according to the media guides of the 1980s and 1990s, the longest punt was by Paul Maguire, an 83-yarder at West Virginia in 1959. Then we have Salvato’s kick, which isn’t listed in any media guide or record book.

This is a problem, and one that probably can’t be corrected until statistics for all of The Citadel’s football games over the years have been reviewed. After all, it is possible that someone in the pre-war era had an even longer punt than Salvato’s effort (though there is some evidence to indicate his kick is probably the all-time record).

The timeline cutoff issue can cause notable plays and accomplishments to fall through the cracks. Two others of the non-Homecoming variety that come to mind are Eddie Doyle’s 90-yard fumble return for a touchdown at Mercer in 1926 (20 yards longer than the top mark listed in the online record book) and “Broadway” Billy Hughes’ 100-yard interception return for a TD against Newberry in 1959.

I should mention that basketball and baseball records are also affected by the lack of record-keeping. For example, C.D. Gibson’s 1912 no-hitter isn’t listed in the online baseball record book, because statistics for that publication only date back to 1970.

Again, this isn’t anyone’s fault. Correcting and adding to these types of records takes time and resources, both of which can be of short supply in the world of athletic media relations/sports information, especially at a relatively small institution. The Citadel is arguably fortunate to have the data it does possess. I attribute that to a lot of hard-working people who have served the college over the years, and also to the general interest in the school (including the local press to a certain extent).

Also, I make no claim to infallibility myself (big of me, I know). It is quite possible that I’ve made some errors in compiling the data for this post — and if that is the case, I apologize in advance, and will correct mistakes as soon as I am aware of them.

I have a suggestion. I think that someone in charge at The Citadel needs to immediately lay the groundwork for the 2024 season, and ask the Southern Conference to reserve the weekend of October 26 that year as a home date for the Bulldogs.

October 25, 2024 will be the 100th anniversary of the first Homecoming game at The Citadel. That day happens to fall on a Friday. While it is not practical to play the football game on that date, at least the college should host its Homecoming festivities during that weekend.

It would be an opportunity for The Citadel to pull out all the stops, even more so than at a typical Homecoming. It could be a fairly big deal — and if Furman were interested in being the opponent, just as the Paladins (or rather, the “Purple Hurricane”) were in 1924, so much the better.

There may be five years to go before that anniversary, but time does tend to fly.

2018 Football, Game 11: The Citadel vs. Charleston Southern

The Citadel vs. Charleston Southern, to be played at historic Johnson Hagood Stadium, with kickoff at 7:00 pm ET on November 29, 2018.

The game will be streamed on ESPN+. Kendall Lewis will handle play-by-play, while former Bulldogs quarterback Dominique Allen supplies the analysis. Danielle Hensley is the sideline reporter. 

The contest can be heard on radio via the various affiliates of The Citadel Sports Network. WQNT-1450 AM [audio link], originating in Charleston, will be the flagship station. 

Luke Mauro (the new “Voice of the Bulldogs”) calls the action alongside analyst Cal McCombs. The sideline reporter will be Jay Harper.

The Citadel Sports Network — 2018 radio affiliates

Charleston: WQNT 1450AM/92.1 FM/102.1 FM (Flagship)
Columbia: WQXL 1470AM/100.7FM
Greenville: WLFJ 92.9FM/660AM
Sumter: WDXY 1240AM/105.9FM

Links of interest:

Preview from The Post and Courier

Bulldogs still getting attention from the Alabama game

– Game notes from The Citadel and Charleston Southern

– Preview on The Citadel’s website

– Preview on Charleston Southern’s website

– Brent Thompson’s 11/27 press conference

– The Bulldog Breakdown

You will notice this is a slightly shorter preview than usual. Apologies for that, but I’ve been rather busy of late.

Also, to be honest, this game sneaked up on me. I have a feeling it may have sneaked up on a lot of people, which probably doesn’t bode well for attendance.

I’ll still be at Johnson Hagood Stadium on Thursday night, though. I’ll be the fan shivering in the sub-50 degree weather. Brrrrrrrrrrr.

Attempt to entice fans, Part 1:

Attempt to entice fans, Part 2:

Since The Citadel is playing Charleston Southern this week, I fully anticipated an obnoxiously loud social media drumbeat of “this is a rivalry”, or “this should be a rivalry”, or “The Citadel should play at CSU every other year; playing all the games at Johnson Hagood Stadium is a crime against humanity”, or “Jamey Chadwell should be the next head coach at Ohio State when Urban Meyer retires”.

That largely hasn’t happened. Heck, nobody even asked Brent Thompson at his press conference about coaching “the bigger school” in the game, and no media member attempted to fish for a bulletin board comment from a player (though there were no players at the presser, which was perhaps just as well).

As to why things have been relatively muted, there are several reasons:

  • Chadwell, a huge media favorite (there was practically a cult of personality surrounding him when he was at CSU) is no longer in the area; thus, the Lowcountry press corps is not as engaged
  • Charleston Southern is on probation for playing ineligible athletes, possibly including a lot of football players during the time period Chadwell coached the team (that information will likely become public soon)
  • There just aren’t many CSU fans, even though almost all of the ones who exist seem to be on Twitter

That last point is worth a further look.

Charleston Southern’s home attendance from 2012 through 2018 (this season):

  • 2012:  2,295 (117th out of 122 FCS teams)
  • 2013:  4,509 (91st out of 124 FCS teams)
  • 2014:  4,329 (94th out of 123 FCS teams)
  • 2015:  4,487 (96th out of 125 FCS teams)
  • 2016:  2,712 (112th out of 124 FCS teams)
  • 2017:  2,345 (110th out of 123 FCS teams)
  • 2018:  1,764 (120th out of 125 FCS teams)

Obviously, the 2018 season isn’t over yet, but CSU’s position in the attendance table is essentially set.

Jamey Chadwell was the coach of the Buccaneers from 2013 through 2016, and in three of those seasons, Charleston Southern had markedly better home attendance. However, there was a catch.

Season attendance averages at Buccaneer Field were massively affected by games against Coastal Carolina and The Citadel, contests in which the visiting fans made up the overwhelming majority of those spectators at the games (and in the case of the 2014 contest versus the Bulldogs, the official attendance figures were wildly inflated as well).

If you take out those games, here is the average home attendance for CSU in 2013, 2014, and 2015:

  • 2013:  4,102
  • 2014:  3,422
  • 2015:  3,290

To be fair, Charleston Southern got a significant bump in attendance by (presumably) its own fans in Chadwell’s first season, 2013. After that, though, attendance among the Buc faithful began to decline, and has done so for five consecutive years (Chadwell’s last three seasons at the school, and Mark Tucker’s two campaigns in charge of the program).

The Citadel has had its own attendance issues in recent years (a subject I have written about on more than one occasion, including this past April), but the Bulldogs are still in another galaxy from the Buccaneers when it comes to fan and alumni interest.

An argument could be made that the difference is due to longstanding tradition, etc., and that is a legitimate point — but it still doesn’t fully explain the enormous gap in support. There is only so much to be said about averaging 1,764 fans per home game, as CSU did this year.

I also remember the program getting an incredible amount of local media attention in the buildup to its season-opening game at North Dakota State in 2016, which included at least one Charleston-area TV affiliate sending a sports anchor and a cameraman to Fargo. The Post and Courier sent its sports columnist, Gene Sapakoff, to watch the game as well.

All that publicity led to this a week later: a home opener at Buccaneer Field with an announced attendance of 1,780.

It makes for an interesting discussion of Jamey Chadwell’s legacy at Charleston Southern, especially given that one (if not both) of his Big South titles at CSU will probably be stripped from the program. What did he provide the school in terms of long-term success and stability?

In five years, will his on-field results matter? Do they matter now?

At least he didn’t cheat CSU out of millions of dollars in order to buy a bunch of Red Skelton paintings…

Oh, there was one Twitter kerfuffle this week. The Citadel’s athletic media relations department initially released game notes listing the Bulldogs’ opponent as “Ladson Southern”. This was changed a day later, perhaps after someone in authority politely opined that it was a touch sophomoric.

I had two takeaways from the affair; A) certain people seemed okay with Jamey Chadwell’s infantile “broom” incident but were nonetheless outraged by the “Ladson Southern” description; B) hey, people actually read the game notes!

[Whispers] One of the “Ladson Southern” references was accidentally left in the game notes after they were reworked.[/shhhh]

Charleston Southern is 5-5 this season under head coach Mark Tucker, a former assistant coach at The Citadel for six seasons in the 1990s. Tucker piloted the Bucs to a 6-5 record last year in his first season at the helm. He has a reputation as a good offensive coach, particularly with regards to quarterback play.

In general, this year the Buccaneers have beaten the teams they should beat (Presbyterian, Campbell, Gardner-Webb, Virginia-Lynchburg) and lost to the better teams on their schedule (Florida, Kennesaw State, Elon, Monmouth).

The one outlier was a bizarre 23-3 loss at Savannah State on October 6, a result so odd I’m inclined to discount it. Two items of interest from that contest: Savannah State controlled the ball for over 21 minutes in the second half, and limited the Bucs to one first down over the game’s final two quarters; and CSU was held to 33 yards rushing, well under its season average (185.4 yards/game).

Normally I would highlight multiple players from The Citadel’s opponent in this space. As for why I am not providing an extensive breakdown of CSU’s two-deep for this matchup, the reader has the choice of one of three reasons:

A) Pure, unadulterated laziness on my part

B) The fact that I am hurriedly writing this section less than 24 hours before the game kicks off while fielding telephone calls and trying to eat a turkey sandwich at the same time

C) The gnawing suspicion that with two weeks to prepare, and the new redshirt rule in effect, Charleston Southern is going to field a lot of players on Thursday night who have not seen a lot of action this season, making the typical review of key players almost pointless

However, here are six CSU players to watch:

  • Solomon Brown (6’1″, 235 lbs.): The defensive lineman has played for Charleston Southern since 2003, and has been a standout in all 16 of those seasons
  • Johnny Robinson (6’4″, 230 lbs.): Another senior DL who is tough to move, Robinson is a native of Apopka, Florida
  • J.D. Sosebee (6’1″, 215 lbs.): A redshirt junior linebacker, Sosebee was a first-team All-Big South performer this season (as were Brown and Robinson)
  • Joe Gold (6’3″, 270 lbs.): The center was a second-team all-conference selection; he began his college career at Florida Atlantic
  • Kyle Reighard (6’2″, 197 lbs.): CSU’s punter was a first-team all-league pick last year, and a second-team choice this season
  • Terrence Wilson (5’8″, 200 lbs.): A sophomore from Leesville, Wilson leads the Bucs in rushing, averaging 6.2 yards per carry

Odds and ends:

– The weather forecast for Thursday night in Charleston, per the National Weather Service:  mostly clear, with a low of 44 degrees. That is about 25 to 30 degrees colder than I would prefer, but so be it.

– The source I normally use for odds and lines does not have Thursday night’s contest listed, which is probably because it is a postponed regular-season FCS game.

In case you were wondering, Kennesaw State is a 7 1/2 point favorite over Wofford in the FCS playoff matchup between those two teams.

– Massey Ratings: The Citadel is ranked 50th in FCS. Charleston Southern is 81st.

Massey projects the Cadets to have a 87% chance of winning, with a predicted final score of The Citadel 28, Charleston Southern 13.

– Among Charleston Southern’s notable alumni:  U.S. senator Tim Scott, medical researcher Sam Gandy, and major league pitcher Tyler Thornburg.

– Charleston Southern’s roster includes 48 players from South Carolina. Other states represented: Georgia (23 players), Florida (16), North Carolina (11), and Virginia (1). There are three players on the squad who have no listed hometown. A quick search on the internet did not shed any light on their geographical backgrounds. Perhaps, like Otis Sistrunk, they are transfers from the University of Mars.

No player on CSU’s team is as well-educated as offensive lineman D’Andra Thompson; the sophomore is an alumnus of Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School. It is somewhat surprising that Thompson is not on the Buccaneers’ two-deep, given the traditional athletic superiority of those who have worn the famed maroon and orange.

– The Citadel’s geographic roster breakdown (per the school’s website) is as follows: South Carolina (47), Georgia (28), Florida (9), North Carolina (5), Texas (5), Tennessee (4), Pennsylvania (3), Alabama (2), New York (2), and one each from Kentucky, Nebraska, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and West Virginia.

– This week’s two-deep changes:  Jay Howard and Joshua Bowers are listed as the starting cornerbacks for the Bulldogs against Charleston Southern.

– The Citadel has an all-time record of 2-2 in games played on November 29, 1-1 at home. The Bulldogs have not played on that date since 1958. A quick look at a couple of the games, courtesy of the TSA Wayback Machine:

  • 1930:  The Citadel edged Wofford, 7-6, in a game played in Spartanburg. The big play was an 80-yard touchdown pass from Julius “Runt” Gray to Larkin Jennings, after Gray faked a punt — on first down. Gray added the PAT that proved the winning margin. The Terriers scored in the fourth quarter but missed the extra point that would have tied the game.
  • 1941:  The Citadel walloped Sewanee, 28-0, in a game played at Johnson Hagood Stadium before 5,000 spectators (this game is incorrectly listed in the record book as having been played in Tennessee). The stars for the Bulldogs that day were running backs Andy Victor and Martin Gold, who combined to rush for 253 yards. Victor also threw a TD pass to Zeke Campbell. The Bulldogs’ defense held the Golden Tigers to just two first downs.

Not played on November 29: the Bulldogs’ 1924 game versus Presbyterian, which is listed in the record book as taking place on that date, but was actually played on November 27, which was also Thanksgiving Day that year. The Citadel won the contest 13-0.

I was at the last game at Johnson Hagood Stadium played on a Thursday night. The year was 2004, the date was October 7, and the opponent was Benedict College.

It was the first home contest held after the razing of the West stands. Public address announcer Sam Evans opened the festivities by intoning, “Welcome to what’s left of historic Johnson Hagood Stadium.”

The Citadel won, 29-0. The attendance was 5,127, the lowest for any game played at Johnson Hagood Stadium since at least 1964.

That year also featured a season-ending contest at home, but without the Corps of Cadets in attendance because the game was played during the Thanksgiving furlough. The Bulldogs defeated Western Carolina 17-0 before a crowd of 3,874.

The atmosphere at the latter matchup did not sit well with many people at The Citadel, including one Harvey M. Dick. That same day there was a meeting of the Board of Visitors:

Colonel Dick expressed concern that the Corps of Cadets will be absent from today’s football game with Western Carolina, due to the Thanksgiving break.  He made the following motion, which was seconded by Colonel Saleeby.

“THAT the Corps of Cadets be in uniform and be present at all scheduled home football games.”

Discussion on the motion included whether the matter is one that the Board should set policy or one that the Board should provide guidance.  The President stated that he sensed the feeling of the Board and he favored a motion to ensure the Board’s direction is in the record.  The motion was unanimously carried.

Yes, General Grinalds “sensed the feeling of the Board”. I can hear Col. Dick’s raised voice now.

That is why The Citadel will no longer play a home game during the Thanksgiving furlough (the break was extended by several days in the mid-1990s). This policy has had various repercussions, including the Bulldogs almost always playing their regular season finale on the road. It also means The Citadel can’t play yearly rivalry games to conclude the season (i.e. playing Furman every year in the final game, or VMI every year in the last contest).

Nevertheless, the policy is an excellent one. Harvey Dick was absolutely right. The Citadel should never play at Johnson Hagood Stadium without the Corps of Cadets in attendance.

The corps will be at the stadium in force on Thursday night, as will a hardy bunch of Bulldog fans, and maybe a few Buccaneer supporters too. I am not sure how many people will make it to the game, oyster roast or no oyster roast. I’m guessing that attendance will be higher than 3,874, but that 5,127 number may be tough to reach.

That said, I expect the Bulldogs to come out with a point to prove, namely that they are the team everyone saw in their last three games. If that kind of performance is repeated on Thursday night, The Citadel will have a positive end to its 2018 campaign, with a lot to look forward to next year.

I’m hopeful. Go Dogs!

College Football TV Listings 2018, Week 14

This is a list of every game played during week 14 of the 2018 college football season involving at least one FBS or FCS school. All games are listed, televised or not.

For the streamed/televised games (only live broadcasts are listed), I include the announcers and sideline reporters (where applicable). I put all of it on a Google Documents spreadsheet that can be accessed at the following link:

College Football TV Listings 2018, Week 14

 

Additional notes:

– I include games streamed by ESPN3.com, Fox Sports Go, and BTN2Go; they are denoted as “ESPN3”, “FS-Go”, and “BTN2Go”, respectively. This season, I will also list streamed games for NBC Live Extra, CBS Sports Digital, and WatchESPN.

– I also list digital network feeds provided by various conferences. For some of these feeds, the audio will be a simulcast of the home team’s radio broadcast. Other online platforms have their own announcers.

For now, the digital networks I am including in the listings are those for the ACCCAABig Sky (Pluto TV), Big SouthOVCSoConWCCNEC (Front Row), CUSAMountain West, and Patriot League (the last four of those being on the Stadium platform).

Occasionally individual schools (almost always at the FCS level) provide video feeds. When that is the case, I list those as well.

– This year, thanks mostly to the proliferation of ESPN+ games, I am including pay-per-view telecasts and streams. These matchups are sometimes listed as “PPV” telecasts or (in the case of feeds from individual schools) “All-Access” streams, though an occasional stream with that description is actually free.

– This week, I am also listing the Army-Navy game, which actually takes place on December 8.

– AP Poll (FBS):  Link

A lot of the information I used in putting this together came courtesy of Matt Sarzyniak’s staggeringly comprehensive and simply indispensable site College Sports on TV, a must-bookmark for any fan of college football and/or basketball. It is also well worth following the weekly schedule put together by lsufootball.net, particularly for devotees of the central time zone.

As always, I must mention the relentless information gatherers (and in some cases sports-TV savants) at the506.com. I am also assisted on occasion by helpful athletic media relations officials at various schools and conferences.

This will be the final college football TV listings post of the season.

College Football TV Listings 2018, Week 13

This is a list of every game played during week 13 of the 2018 college football season involving at least one FBS or FCS school. All games are listed, televised or not.

For the streamed/televised games (only live broadcasts are listed), I include the announcers and sideline reporters (where applicable). I put all of it on a Google Documents spreadsheet that can be accessed at the following link:

College Football TV Listings 2018, Week 13

 

Additional notes:

– I include games streamed by ESPN3.com, Fox Sports Go, and BTN2Go; they are denoted as “ESPN3”, “FS-Go”, and “BTN2Go”, respectively. This season, I will also list streamed games for NBC Live Extra, CBS Sports Digital, and WatchESPN.

– I also list digital network feeds provided by various conferences. For some of these feeds, the audio will be a simulcast of the home team’s radio broadcast. Other online platforms have their own announcers.

For now, the digital networks I am including in the listings are those for the ACCCAABig Sky (Pluto TV), Big SouthOVCSoConWCCNEC (Front Row), CUSAMountain West, and Patriot League (the last four of those being on the Stadium platform).

Occasionally individual schools (almost always at the FCS level) provide video feeds. When that is the case, I list those as well.

– This year, thanks mostly to the proliferation of ESPN+ games, I am including pay-per-view telecasts and streams. These matchups are sometimes listed as “PPV” telecasts or (in the case of feeds from individual schools) “All-Access” streams, though an occasional stream with that description is actually free.

– The local affiliates for the ACC Network “national” game of the week can be found on a link in the document, and here:  North Carolina State-North Carolina

– The regional sports networks carrying the ACC Network “regional” game of the week can be found on a link in the document, and here:  Wake Forest-Duke

– Links to games carried on the Stadium platform can be found in notes in the document, and here:  Wyoming-New Mexico, Charlotte-FAU

– Games streamed on Facebook:  Marshall-FIU

– BTN (formerly Big Ten Network) “gamefinder”:  Link

– AP Poll (FBS):  Link

A lot of the information I used in putting this together came courtesy of Matt Sarzyniak’s staggeringly comprehensive and simply indispensable site College Sports on TV, a must-bookmark for any fan of college football and/or basketball. It is also well worth following the weekly schedule put together by lsufootball.net, particularly for devotees of the central time zone.

As always, I must mention the relentless information gatherers (and in some cases sports-TV savants) at the506.com. I am also assisted on occasion by helpful athletic media relations officials at various schools and conferences.

2018 Football, Game 10: The Citadel vs. Alabama

The Citadel vs. Alabama, to be played at Bryant-Denny Stadium, with kickoff at 12:00 pm ET on November 17, 2018.

The game will be televised on SEC Network. Dave Neal will handle play-by-play, while D.J. Shockley supplies the analysis. Dawn Davenport is the sideline reporter. 

The contest can be heard on radio via the various affiliates of The Citadel Sports Network. WQNT-1450 AM [audio link], originating in Charleston, will be the flagship station. 

Luke Mauro (the new “Voice of the Bulldogs”) calls the action alongside analyst Cal McCombs. The sideline reporter will be Jay Harper.

The Citadel Sports Network — 2018 radio affiliates

Charleston: WQNT 1450AM/92.1 FM/102.1 FM (Flagship)
Columbia: WQXL 1470AM/100.7FM
Greenville: WLFJ 92.9FM/660AM
Sumter: WDXY 1240AM/105.9FM

Links of interest:

The benefits of playing Alabama

Saban and Thompson agree: Tua should play!

Central Michigan morphed into the Crimson Tide

– Game notes from The Citadel and Alabama

– SoCon weekly release

SEC weekly release

– Brandon Rainey and Aron Spann III receive SoCon player of the week honors

“The Heat” — Samford edition

– AFCA FCS Coaches’ poll

– AP Top 25 poll (FBS)

– Brent Thompson’s 11/13 press conference

Nick Saban’s 11/12 press conference

My game review of The Citadel’s victory over Samford

My game review of the last time The Citadel played an SEC opponent (bonus: the Twitter response)

While The Citadel is through with its SoCon campaign, the league title race (and the automatic bid to the FCS playoffs) has not yet been decided. The possibility of a tie for the title between two or three teams still exists.

Naturally, because this is the SoCon, there has been some controversy over the tiebreaker that could be necessary to determine the auto-bid.

This tiebreaker is based on points allowed in conference play. It is an odd way to break the tie, inasmuch as you would think points allowed among the affected teams would be a more appropriate way to resolve it (or point differential, for that matter), but this is the SoCon and that is how the league set it up. Of course, it is hard to tell what the conference’s original intent was in terms of points allowed, given how the tiebreaker scenario is described:

That is a muddle, isn’t it?

It reminds me of another SoCon tiebreaking debacle, this one in hoops. At the end of the 1985-86 basketball season, there was a three-way tie for seventh place in the league. At that time, there were nine teams in the conference, but only eight advanced to the SoCon basketball tournament. Therefore, one of the three tied teams (VMI, The Citadel, and Furman) had to be eliminated.

The conference did not have a clear rule as to what to do in a three-way tie, so then-league commissioner Ken Germann ruled that VMI and Furman would play in the tournament, while The Citadel was out. However, Bulldogs AD Walt Nadzak appealed to the conference’s basketball committee, which reversed the commissioner’s ruling and put The Citadel in the conference tourney, at the expense of the Paladins.

That led to a memorable quote by Furman basketball coach Butch Estes, who said “If the commissioner had any backbone, we would play it off on a court like gentlemen.”

I always enjoyed that particular line, with the coach stating the situation should be resolved “like gentlemen” while in the same sentence saying that the league commissioner didn’t have a spine.

Germann retired the following year.

While at Bryant-Denny Stadium, The Citadel’s football team will dress in the visitors’ locker room, which is known as The Fail Room. Yes, you read that correctly.

It is actually named for a longtime Crimson Tide benefactor, James M. Fail. As the story goes:

“This naming opportunity came at Mr. Fail’s request,” said Mal Moore, Director of Athletics. “Mr. Fail has been such a strong supporter of ours and had already made a significant gift to name our media suite in memory of his late father-in-law, former Birmingham Post-Herald sports editor Naylor Stone. But he had always been hesitant to use his unique name for a naming right until the right opportunity came along.”

 

“Anything I’ve done would not have been possible without the University of Alabama,” [Fail] said…”Now, many years later, I am honored to give back to the school that means so much to me. Earlier this year, when I saw the visitors’ locker room as a potential naming right, I figured it was the most appropriate opportunity I would ever have to use my name.”

Fail made his gift in late 2008, a little over a year before his death at age 83.

Bryant-Denny Stadium currently seats 101,821, though I don’t expect it to be filled to capacity for the game on Saturday. That said, there is a good chance the stadium will host the largest crowd to ever see The Citadel play a football game. The current record in that category is 90,374, for the Bulldogs’ game against Florida in 2008.

When Denny Field (named for George H. Denny, the school president who spearheaded its construction) opened in 1929, it had seats for 6,000 fans. It has expanded numerous times since then. The stadium was renamed Bryant-Denny Stadium in 1975, while Paul “Bear” Bryant was still coaching the football team.

Alabama’s proposed athletic facility renovations include an upgrade to the stadium, one which could slightly reduce its seating capacity:

The plan is highlighted by renovations to Bryant-Denny Stadium that will cost more than $250 million. The precise cost of renovations may still change in the years to come, and exact dates for renovations haven’t yet been set. All facilities plans are subject to approval by the board of trustees, and fundraising goals must still be met.

The first phase, which is expected to include changes to the Mal Moore building and include some of the renovations to Bryant-Denny Stadium, could begin during the fall of 2019 or after the 2019 football season. The first round of renovations to the stadium are estimated to cost $78 million. It is likely to reduce seating to less than 100,000 from its current capacity of 101,821, [AD Greg] Byrne said, but the exact capacity after renovations isn’t known.

It will add a student terrace in the stadium’s south end zone, with a large, new video board positioned over the student section. Byrne said he doesn’t anticipate cutting down on the total number of seats in the student section. The north end zone will also receive two new video boards for those who can’t see the video board in the south end.

Bryant-Denny Stadium has only been the primary home stadium for Alabama over the last 20 years or so. For decades, the Crimson Tide generally split home games between Bryant-Denny and Legion Field in Birmingham, with the larger Legion Field hosting most of the “big” SEC games (Auburn, LSU, Tennessee, etc.). Most non-conference games and select SEC matchups (including Mississippi State and Vanderbilt on a regular basis) were played at Bryant-Denny.

Once Bryant-Denny’s expansion reached a point where it was just as large (if not larger) than Legion Field, Alabama started playing all of its home games in Tuscaloosa.

This partly explains Bear Bryant’s amazing 72-2 career record at Bryant-Denny Stadium, as he only faced the Auburn/LSU/Tennessee triumvirate one time on that field (a 1980 game versus LSU, won by the Tide 28-7).

On the other hand, 72-2 is still a remarkable statistic. The two losses were to Florida in 1963, and to Southern Mississippi in 1982. The latter contest was the final game Bryant coached at the stadium.

His first game (and victory) at Bryant-Denny, in 1958, came against a Southern Conference opponent — Furman. The Paladins lost two games to Bryant at the stadium. Two other Palmetto State schools, South Carolina and Clemson, were both 0-3 against him there.

Lately, the Saban vs. Bryant debate has (on at least a national level) swung heavily in favor of the current Alabama coach. Now, it’s quite possible Nick Saban may make this a moot point if he coaches for another decade and keeps winning games and titles at his current pace, but I think a lot of people are engaged in recency bias when it comes to evaluating Bryant’s career.

One of the common observations is that Saban has won in a “more competitive” era. I’m not sure I buy that, for several reasons, not the least of which is defining Bryant’s career as a singular “era” is rather difficult.

For one thing, Bryant coached roughly half of his career when substitution was restricted, and the other half when unlimited substitution became the rule. He was one of the great coaches in the time of limited substitutions, and he was the first dominant coach when free substitution became the order of the day.

Another issue with defining his “era” that has to be mentioned:  Bryant coached all-white teams that won championships, and he coached integrated teams that won championships. His on-field success in making that transition could be considered somewhat unusual.

Bryant’s ability to adapt was probably his outstanding trait as a coach. He won with great passing quarterbacks like Joe Namath and Ken Stabler, and he also won after switching to the wishbone in the early 1970s.

He had two spectacular runs at Alabama. It is rare for a coach to basically have a “second act” at the same school (especially when he never left), but Bryant did just that.

In a seven-year period from 1960-66, he lost a total of six games. Then, after a bit of a slump in 1969-70, he went on another extended roll, going 107-13 from 1971 to 1980.

Bryant also won the SEC title at Kentucky in 1950, the only time that school has ever won the conference crown in football (not counting a 1976 shared title, which included an after-the-fact forfeit win). That has to give him a bonus point or two.

The other undeniable thing Bryant had going for him was an incredible charismatic presence, perhaps best demonstrated by this amazing TV commercial for a telephone company. The last line — “I sure wish I could call mine” — was a complete ad-lib by the coach.

Nick Saban himself is quite comfortable on TV, and is not devoid of personality, but surely no coach of any era has had Bryant’s gravitas, or his voice for that matter (which is probably for the best, given how many thousands of Chesterfields must have contributed to that tone).

Of course, if Saban wins another four or five national championships, they won’t bother renaming the stadium after him — they’ll rename the school after him. Saban University, aight?

In that scenario, the stadium would presumably be renamed after Miss Terry…

Bear Bryant had one career victory over The Citadel. Nick Saban also has one win over the Bulldogs.

Bryant’s 1949 Kentucky team defeated The Citadel 44-0. That season, the Wildcats also had shutout victories over LSU, Georgia, Mississippi, and Florida en route to a 9-3 campaign.

The next season, Kentucky won the SEC title and finished 11-1, including a defeat of top-ranked Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.

In 2002, The Citadel played Saban’s LSU Tigers in a night game in Baton Rouge, with the Bayou Bengals winning 35-10. That season, LSU was only 8-5.

However, the following year LSU won the national title with a 13-1 record, defeating Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.

Hmm…

Alabama fans might want to start making plans for next year’s CFP title game, which happens to be in New Orleans, and they might also start thinking about how to distinguish between Alabama crimson and Oklahoma crimson.

Much of the discussion for this game from the Alabama perspective centers around starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (6’1″, 218 lbs.), the current favorite to win the Heisman Trophy. Tagovailoa has had a marvelous season, throwing 28 touchdown passes while only being intercepted twice, with a 67.9% completion percentage.

The sophomore, who hails from Ewa Beach, Hawai’i, is averaging a ludicrous 11.7 yards per pass attempt (not accounting for sacks). When he throws the ball, 47% of the time the result of the play is a first down or touchdown.

However, Tagovailoa has been playing with a balky knee for the past few games, and while he will almost certainly start against The Citadel, how long he stays in the game is open to question. Backup quarterback Jalen Hurts (6’2″, 218 lbs.) is a more than capable signal-caller, to say the least (Hurts is 26-2 as a starter), but the junior from Houston is also injured and unlikely to see action versus the Bulldogs.

There is a decent chance third-string QB Mac Jones (6’2″, 205 lbs.) will see the bulk of the playing time for the Crimson Tide in Saturday’s game. Jones is a redshirt freshman from Jacksonville who was a four-star prospect coming out of high school. In other words, he is a very talented quarterback in his own right.

Among the plethora of outstanding players at the offensive skill positions for the Crimson Tide are sophomore wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (6’1″, 192 lbs.), who seems to be good for at least two long TD catches per game (he is averaging 20.6 yards per reception); freshman wideout Jaylen Waddle (5’10”, 177 lbs.), a big-play threat as a receiver (18.8 yards/catch) and an impact punt returner (14.6 yards/return); and running back Damien Harris (5’11”, 215 lbs.), a senior from Richmond, Kentucky, who is approaching 3,000 yards rushing for his career in Tuscaloosa.

It says something about the depth at Alabama that Damien Harris (a great player) may not even be the most talented running back named Harris on the Crimson Tide roster, because sophomore Najee Harris (6’2″, 230 lbs.) is a gridiron dynamo who is averaging 6.8 yards per carry.

Henry Ruggs III (6’0″, 183 lbs.), a big-play threat from Montgomery, has 28 receptions for the Tide this season, with 8 of the sophomore’s catches resulting in touchdowns. Then there is DeVonta Smith (6’1″, 173 lbs.), another sophomore, who is best known for hauling in the winning touchdown pass against Georgia in the CFP title game. Smith has missed time this season due to injury but still has 3 TD catches.

Alabama’s projected starters on the offensive line average 6’5″, 313 lbs. Junior left tackle Jonah Williams (6’5″, 301 lbs.), a native of Folsom, California, has made 38 starts for the Crimson Tide during his career.

Starting center Ross Pierschbacher (6’4″, 309 lbs.), whose last name fits comfortably on the back of his jersey, has made 51 career starts for Alabama. Williams and Pierschbacher were both first-team All-SEC picks after last season.

Alabama has plenty of intimidating defensive players, but none are quite as frightening to opposing offenses as noseguard Quinnen Williams (6’4″, 295 lbs.). The redshirt sophomore from Birmingham has dominated all season; just check out this twitter thread of his play versus Mississippi.

Williams, the national defensive player of the week for his performance against LSU, has been so good some pundits have begun to suggest he deserves Heisman consideration. He may be The Citadel’s toughest obstacle in trying to run its triple option offense, though Williams will have plenty of help.

Isaiah Buggs (6’5″, 286 lbs.), an imposing defensing end from Ruston, Louisiana, leads Alabama in sacks with 9 1/2.  He had 3 1/2 of those sacks against Texas A&M, garnering SEC player of the week honors as a result.

Linebacker Dylan Moses (6’3″, 233 lbs.) leads the Crimson Tide in tackles this season, with 54, including 9 for loss (3 1/2 sacks). The sophomore from Baton Rouge is described by UA’s website as a “freak athlete”; before enrolling at Alabama, Moses won the 2016 high school version of the Butkus Award as the top prep linebacker.

Deionte Thompson (6’2″, 196 lbs.), a free safety from Orange, Texas, paces the Tide with 32 solo stops. The redshirt junior also has two interceptions, five pass breakups, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery.

Christian Miller (6’4″, 244 lbs.), a redshirt senior, is having a fine season after missing much of last year with an arm injury (though he did see action late in the campaign, including the playoff games against Clemson and Georgia). The linebacker from Columbia, SC, has 7 1/2 sacks so far in 2018, and was the SEC defensive player of the week after recording 2 1/2 sacks versus Mississippi.

Miller will become the second member of his immediate family to face The Citadel, as his father Corey played for South Carolina when the Bulldogs and Gamecocks met in 1990. Corey Miller was arguably South Carolina’s best defensive player on that occasion, although it probably provided the elder Miller little solace.

Placekicker Joseph Bulovas (6’0″, 206 lbs.), a redshirt freshman from Mandeville, Louisiana, is 10 for 14 on field goal attempts this year. Last week against Mississippi State, he connected on a 49-yarder, his longest of the season. Bulovas also handles kickoffs for the Crimson Tide.

Alabama has employed two punters this season, including freshman Skyler DeLong (6’4″, 189 lbs.), a Ft. Mill native. DeLong has not punted in a game since October 13, however, as walk-on senior Mike Bernier (6’2″, 219 lbs.) has seen action in the last three games.

Mac Jones serves as the team’s holder on placements. As mentioned earlier, Jaylen Waddle is the primary punt returner (and a very dangerous one).

Alabama lists four different kick returners on its two-deep, including Najee Harris and fellow running back Josh Jacobs (5’10”, 216 lbs.), a versatile player from Tulsa who returned a kickoff for a touchdown against Louisville. Jacobs leads Alabama in total touchdowns, with nine rushing, one receiving, and the kick return TD versus the Cardinals.

Odds and ends:

– The weather forecast for Saturday in Tuscaloosa, per the National Weather Service:  partly sunny, with a high of 62 degrees.

– This will be the first gridiron meeting between The Citadel and Alabama, although Alabama’s media guide (in the “Series vs. 2018 opponents” section) credits the Tide with beating the Bulldogs twice, in 1939 and 1940. That is an error. I suspect it is a transposition mistake from last season, when the Crimson Tide played Mercer (which did play Alabama in 1939 and 1940).

– Other SEC teams that have yet to face the Bulldogs: Mississippi State and Missouri.

– Alabama’s winning streak against unranked teams (80 games) is the longest in FBS history and a fairly well-known statistic. What I did not know until perusing the Crimson Tide’s game notes is that Alabama has also dominated games against teams ranked outside of the AP top 15, losing only once to an opponent in that category since 2008. That happened in 2010, against South Carolina (a/k/a “The Stephen Garcia Game”).

– Per one source that deals in such matters, Alabama is a 51-point favorite versus The Citadel (as of Tuesday night). The over/under is 60 1/2.

Against the spread this season, The Citadel is 4-5. The over has hit in five of the nine contests, with one of the others a push.

– Other lines involving SoCon teams (also as of Tuesday night):  Samford is an 8-point favorite at East Tennessee State; Furman is an 8-point favorite at Mercer; Wofford is a 35 1/2 point favorite versus Presbyterian; Chattanooga is a 31-point underdog at South Carolina; and Western Carolina is a 30 1/2 point underdog at North Carolina.

Samford initially opened as a 10-point favorite against ETSU, but the line dropped two points in less than 24 hours.

– Also of note: Towson is a 3-point underdog against James Madison, and Charleston Southern is a 2-point favorite at Campbell.

– Massey Ratings: The Citadel is ranked 50th in FCS, up ten spots from last week, a fairly significant jump. Alabama, as you might imagine, is ranked first among all FBS squads.

Massey projects Alabama will win the game on Saturday, with a predicted final score of 57-0.

Other FCS rankings of note in Massey: Colgate (6th), James Madison (8th), Towson (11th), Kennesaw State (12th), Elon (15th), Wofford (22nd), Furman (31st), East Tennessee State (34th), Samford (36th, a fall of 13 spots), North Carolina A&T (42nd), Chattanooga (49th), Mercer (51st), San Diego (58th), Holy Cross (60th), Richmond (64th), Duquesne (69th), South Carolina State (74th, a 13-spot jump), Western Carolina (82nd), North Alabama (87th), Campbell (88th), Charleston Southern (89th), VMI (99th), Gardner-Webb (101st), Lehigh (105th), Davidson (117th), Presbyterian (123rd), Arkansas-Pine Bluff (125th and last).

Massey’s top 5 FCS squads: North Dakota State, Princeton, Dartmouth, South Dakota State, and Eastern Washington.

As I noted last week, Massey tends to overrate the top Ivy League programs, a quirk that is almost certainly due to the lack of connectivity in scheduling between the Ivy League and the rest of FCS. Dartmouth managed to rise from 5th to 3rd in the rankings after beating a 3-6 Cornell team by 11 points. That doesn’t really make a lot of sense.

Biggest movers in FCS this week: William and Mary moved up 18 spots (from 58th to 40th) after winning at Villanova, 24-17. Meanwhile, Austin Peay fell 17 places (from 66th to 83rd) after getting pummeled 52-21 by Eastern Illinois.

Massey’s top ten FBS teams (in order): Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Michigan, Notre Dame, LSU, Oklahoma, Ohio State, West Virginia, UCF. Some other notables:  Florida is 12th, Kentucky 15th, Mississippi State 17th, Auburn 19th, South Carolina 22nd, Utah State 26th, Northwestern 29th, Boston College 30th, Tennessee 34th, North Carolina State 35th, Duke 36th, Army 37th, Georgia Tech 42nd, Appalachian State 50th, Wake Forest 52nd, Troy 58th, Maryland 60th, UAB 62nd, Florida State 65th, Memphis 71st, Air Force 83rd, Toledo 85th, Arkansas State 87th, North Texas 88th, Georgia Southern 89th, Louisiana-Lafayette 94th, North Carolina 95th, Louisville 102nd, Navy 103rd, Coastal Carolina 104th, Liberty 107th, Old Dominion 113th, Charlotte 114th, Rutgers 116th, South Alabama 128th, and Rice 130th and last.

Biggest movers in FBS this week:  Minnesota rowed the boat up 16 places (from 82nd to 66th) after a 41-10 beatdown of Purdue. San Diego State and North Texas each fell 17 spots after losing to UNLV and Old Dominion, respectively.

– Among Alabama’s notable alumni: writer Gay Talese, actor/singer Jim Nabors (“Shazam!”), actress Sela Ward (who was a cheerleader at Alabama), and legendary baseball announcer Mel Allen (“How about that!”).

Bernie Madoff went to Alabama, but left after just one year in Tuscaloosa, so we won’t hold him against the school.

– Alabama’s roster includes 39 players from from Alabama. Other states represented on its squad:  Texas (12 players), Florida (12), Louisiana (11), Georgia (7), California (6), Maryland (5), South Carolina (4), Mississippi (4), Tennessee (2), Kentucky (2), and one player each from Ohio, Nevada, Virginia, Utah, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Missouri, Indiana, and Hawai’i. Linebacker Terrell Lewis is from Washington, DC.

Alabama scours the country for footballing prodigies, which is rather apparent when the roster includes players from 23 states plus the District of Columbia. Just eyeballing the list, I am mildly surprised there are only four Mississippians on the team, along with two natives of Tennessee. That seems a touch low for those two border states.

There are four South Carolinians on the Crimson Tide squad — punter Skyler DeLong (Nation Ford High School in Ft. Mill), linebacker Jaylen Moody (Conway High School), defensive lineman Stephon Wynn Jr. (from Anderson; transferred from T.L. Hanna to IMG Academy in Florida for his senior year in high school), and linebacker Christian Miller (Spring Valley High School in Columbia).

However, there are no players from internationally renowned pigskin powerhouse Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School. This is profoundly mystifying, given the Tide’s hunger for gridiron superstars. When the dynasty ends (and all dynasties do at some point), there is no question that the biggest reason for Alabama’s downfall will be its failure to recruit talent from the famed maroon and orange.

– The Citadel’s geographic roster breakdown (per the school’s website) is as follows: South Carolina (47), Georgia (28), Florida (9), North Carolina (5), Texas (5), Tennessee (4), Pennsylvania (3), Alabama (2), New York (2), and one each from Kentucky, Nebraska, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and West Virginia.

– This week’s two-deep changes:  There aren’t many changes from last week’s depth chart. Lorenzo Ward and Keyonte Sessions are again listed as starters. Raleigh Webb is now listed as one of the two primary kick returners.

– The Citadel has an all-time record of just 2-10 for games played on November 17. The Citadel is 2-5 on the road on that date. While those totals are very poor, there is a silver lining — the Bulldogs have won their two most recent games played on November 17 after losing their first ten contests.

A brief review of those two victories, as we travel back in time on the TSA Wayback Machine:

  • 2007: At Lexington, Virginia, The Citadel clobbered VMI 70-28 to retain the coveted Silver Shako. Tory Cooper scored three touchdowns and Tim Higgins scored twice. Other Bulldogs to find the end zone that day included Andre Roberts, Bart Blanchard, Ta’Mar Jernigan, Taylor Cornett, and Cam Turner. Cooper had 176 yards rushing, while Roberts had 128 receiving yards. Mike Adams converted all ten of his PATs. The Citadel finished the afternoon with 509 total yards of offense.
  • 2012: The Citadel defeated Furman at Paladin Stadium, 42-20. I was there and wrote about the game. VanDyke Jones rushed for three touchdowns for the Bulldogs. Dalton Trevino, Domonic Jones, and Ben Dupree also scored TDs. A key play in the contest was a fake punt successfully executed by Cass Couey. The defense was led by James Riley, who had 12 tackles.

– Alabama claims seventeen national championships in football, under five different head coaches — Wallace Wade, Frank Thomas, Paul “Bear” Bryant, Gene Stallings, and Nick Saban. Bryant is credited with having coached six national title teams, while Saban has coached five Crimson Tide squads to a #1 finish (he also has a sixth title from his tenure at LSU).

The Citadel has only two claimed national titles in football (1871 and 1906), though like Alabama, the Bulldogs have won championships in two different centuries. While The Citadel’s 1871 crown is essentially undisputed, the 1906 title is a more recent claim and is shared with two other schools (Yale and Princeton).

Brent Thompson, at his press conference on Tuesday:

Obviously, this is a very important football game for us, for a lot of reasons. We want to just go out there and make a great showing, compete our butts off, as best as we possibly can, on such a big and grand stage. It’s going to be a exciting atmosphere for us. They are a very, very good football team, the best we’ve probably ever seen. There are not a whole lot of deficiencies [for Alabama] on either side of the ball, they’re extremely fast, they’re extremely physical, they play very strong. It will be all that we can do to be able to move the ball and to stop them from scoring, but we certainly will give them everything that we’ve got.

I feel confident that the Bulldogs will play very hard, and will compete to their utmost. The issue is how effective that effort will be against a team as comprehensively talented as Alabama.

Call me a Pollyanna, but I think The Citadel will acquit itself well on Saturday. I’m not predicting the biggest upset in modern college football history, but I think the Bulldogs will surprise some people.

I certainly hope so.

Go Dogs!

College Football TV Listings 2018, Week 12

This is a list of every game played during week 12 of the 2018 college football season involving at least one FBS or FCS school. All games are listed, televised or not.

For the streamed/televised games (only live broadcasts are listed), I include the announcers and sideline reporters (where applicable). I put all of it on a Google Documents spreadsheet that can be accessed at the following link:

College Football TV Listings 2018, Week 12

 

Additional notes:

– I include games streamed by ESPN3.com, Fox Sports Go, and BTN2Go; they are denoted as “ESPN3”, “FS-Go”, and “BTN2Go”, respectively. This season, I will also list streamed games for NBC Live Extra, CBS Sports Digital, and WatchESPN.

– I also list digital network feeds provided by various conferences. For some of these feeds, the audio will be a simulcast of the home team’s radio broadcast. Other online platforms have their own announcers.

For now, the digital networks I am including in the listings are those for the ACCCAABig Sky (Pluto TV), Big SouthOVCSoConWCCNEC (Front Row), CUSAMountain West, and Patriot League (the last four of those being on the Stadium platform).

Occasionally individual schools (almost always at the FCS level) provide video feeds. When that is the case, I list those as well.

– This year, thanks mostly to the proliferation of ESPN+ games, I am including pay-per-view telecasts and streams. These matchups are sometimes listed as “PPV” telecasts or (in the case of feeds from individual schools) “All-Access” streams, though an occasional stream with that description is actually free.

– The local affiliates for the ACC Network “national” game of the week can be found on a link in the document, and here:  North Carolina State-Louisville

– The regional sports networks carrying the ACC Network “regional” games of the week can be found on a link in the document, and here:  Pittsburgh-Wake Forest, Virginia-Georgia Tech

– Links to games carried on the Stadium platform can be found in notes in the document, and here:  Holy Cross-Georgetown, Fordham-Bucknell, Utah State-Colorado State, Louisiana Tech-Southern Mississippi

– Games streamed on Facebook:  Holy Cross-Georgetown, Fordham-Bucknell, UTSA-Marshall

– Games available on ESPN College Extra: Link

– BTN (formerly Big Ten Network) “gamefinder”:  Link

– AP Poll (FBS):  Link

– AFCA Coaches’ Poll (FCS):  Link

A lot of the information I used in putting this together came courtesy of Matt Sarzyniak’s staggeringly comprehensive and simply indispensable site College Sports on TV, a must-bookmark for any fan of college football and/or basketball. It is also well worth following the weekly schedule put together by lsufootball.net, particularly for devotees of the central time zone.

As always, I must mention the relentless information gatherers (and in some cases sports-TV savants) at the506.com. I am also assisted on occasion by helpful athletic media relations officials at various schools and conferences.

Game Review, 2018: Samford

Links of interest:

– Game story, The Post and Courier

– Video from WCSC-TV

– AP game story

– School release (The Citadel)

– School release (Samford)

Box score

– Game highlights, including postgame comments from Brent Thompson (video)

– ESPN+ replay of the game

Why do people keep coming back to watch games year after year? Well, for a lot of reasons, of course.

However, one of the biggest reasons is that there is always a chance you will get to witness something special, something extraordinary, something that will cause you to pridefully say years from now, “I was there that day.”

I think Saturday’s game was like that if you are a fan of The Citadel. It was certainly one of the most memorable games in the history of Johnson Hagood Stadium.

It wasn’t a game that resulted in a championship for the Bulldogs. It didn’t set up another key contest, or even clinch a winning season. The fact there were no obvious stakes for the Bulldogs arguably made the game — including the on-field play and the general atmosphere  — all the more remarkable.

Ultimately, it was a tremendous advertisement for football at the military college, and for The Citadel as a whole.

With 10:37 to play in the second quarter, Samford took possession of the ball at its own 33-yard line. To that point in the contest, SU had run 23 plays for 221 yards, scoring three touchdowns. The Citadel had only run 15 plays from scrimmage for a total of 49 yards, and had no points.

The game’s momentum started to change slightly over the next four possessions, two by each team. The Citadel scored on the second of its two drives in that sequence, but then Samford drove 65 yards late in the half, settling for a field goal and a 24-7 lead at the break.

The third quarter didn’t start off very well for The Citadel either, as Bulldogs quarterback Brandon Rainey promptly fumbled the ball away. It would prove to be one of Rainey’s few missteps in a brilliant second-half performance, but Samford was in position to take an even more commanding lead.

That SU failed to do so is a credit to The Citadel’s defense. There was a key play that may have flown under the radar, but that I think is worth highlighting.

On third and six from the Bulldogs’ 25-yard line, SU quarterback Devlin Hodges threw a swing pass to Robert Adams. It looked like Adams was going to pick up the first down, but Aron Spann III defeated his blocker and then stopped Adams four yards short of the line to gain, forcing a fumble that rolled out of bounds.

Without that stop by Spann, the drive would have continued. Instead, Samford saw a 40-yard field goal attempt sail wide of the right upright (and that particular upright has not been kind to the Birmingham Bulldogs in their last two trips to Johnson Hagood Stadium).

Eight plays later, Lorenzo Ward was in the end zone for The Citadel, and the tide had begun to turn.

It didn’t completely turn, though. Samford drove down the field for another field goal try, and this one was good. Then The Citadel had to punt after a seven-play possession.

That set up the next huge play by the Bulldogs’ defense, as Shawn McCord sacked Hodges on first down, basically taking the ball away from the quarterback in the process. It took the offense three plays to go 10 yards for its third TD (and the second by Ward) and close to within six points.

The next three possessions for each team…

  • Samford: 13 plays, 73 yards, one first down (on a 41-yard run by Hodges), no points
  • The Citadel: 19 plays, 202 yards, eight first downs, 21 points (including a scintillating 60-yard TD run by Rainey to take the lead, and two more TDs for Ward, including a 43-yard scamper)

The game was essentially decided. Samford drove 67 yards on its final drive against a prevent defense, but couldn’t punch it in for a TD, and at the final whistle the scoreboard, almost unbelievably, read 42-27 in favor of the home team.

It was really incredible to see the change in fortunes of the two teams as the game progressed. The Citadel’s players and coaches have to be credited for that.

Essentially, a runaway train was plunging straight downhill. The Bulldogs managed to somehow stop the train, gradually turn it around, then push it in the other direction, where it careened downhill even more uncontrollably than it did before, even though that means it would have been going downhill both ways.

It makes no sense, even as a metaphor. Isaac Newton would have to rewrite at least two of his three laws of motion.

The comeback still happened, though.

Assorted observations:

– I thought the corps of cadets richly deserved the overnights granted by Gen. Walters. As the game wound down, the chant “We want ‘Bama!” could be heard from that section of the stadium, one of several things I’ll always remember about this game.

– Then there was the money that started falling out of the sky after one of the Bulldogs’ second-half touchdowns. It was apparently thrown by someone in one of the suites. After another touchdown for The Citadel, more money appeared from the clouds on high.

I admit I would have been more impressed if the bills were 20s…

– The spontaneous “jump around” by the team on the sideline at the 6:11 mark of the fourth quarter led to a renewed burst of energy in the stands, and then that filtered back down to the team again, just repeating the cycle. It was kind of crazy.

– At the game, someone asked me about time of possession. I don’t know what the modern-day record for TOP is for The Citadel; it presumably is something in the 40-45 minute range. Saturday’s game wasn’t quite so lopsided in terms of time of possession, although The Citadel did have the edge in that area by over ten minutes (35:01 to 24:59).

That said, it was actually the smallest edge in time of possession The Citadel has had against Samford in the teams’ last six meetings:

  • 2018 — The Citadel 35:01, Samford 24:59
  • 2017 — The Citadel 36:52, Samford 23:08
  • 2016 — The Citadel 38:17, Samford 21:43
  • 2015 — The Citadel 35:15, Samford 24:45
  • 2014 — The Citadel 37:42, Samford 22:18
  • 2013 — The Citadel 35:42, Samford 24:18

Obviously, time of possession isn’t always indicative of dominance one way or the other (after all, SU won two of the games listed above). However, it seems to me that being on the short end of TOP on a regular basis puts a lot of strain on a team’s defense. Eventually, that can be a problem.

– Okay, a negative observation. The P.A. was too loud, sometimes painfully so. I also would have liked for the band to play more, but at least that unit got to play at halftime (a Homecoming tradition).

– The drill team outfits worn by some members of the Class of 1968, which were on display both at the parade and at the stadium march-on, were unique. I guess when you’ve been out of school for 50 years, you have had plenty of time to think of some fun things to do at your reunion.

I was amazed at how many ’68 alums were there. It was truly an impressive turnout for that class.

– It got rather cool during the second half, at least to me, but then my blood is unnaturally thin. Anecdotally, the cold weather appeared to improve beer sales, so I guess that was a positive.

All in all, I thought the crowd was great. Sure, some people went back to the reunion party tents for the second half, which always happens at Homecoming (not a criticism), but those who remained were into the game in a major way.

Nerd stuff, comeback category:

  • The 21-point comeback by The Citadel was the largest by the Bulldogs in the history of Johnson Hagood Stadium. The previous mark was 20, which has happened twice — in 1973 against Chattanooga (when the Bulldogs trailed 20-0 but won the game 28-20) and 2007 versus Furman (a 27-7 deficit turned into a 54-51 victory in OT).
  • The biggest comeback in school history remains the 2011 game at Chattanooga, when the Bulldogs trailed 27-0 before rallying to win that contest 28-27.
  • Also worth mentioning in terms of comebacks is The Citadel’s 1989 game versus Western Carolina. The Bulldogs trailed WCU 22-0 but came back to tie the contest, 22-22. The game ended with that scoreline, the last time The Citadel played a football game that ended in a tie. That matchup was played at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia as a consequence of Hurricane Hugo.

Nerd stuff, passing statistics category:

  • The 69 pass attempts by Samford’s Devlin Hodges on Saturday were the most ever thrown in a game by an opponent of The Citadel. The record for most completions in a game by an opponent remains 49, set earlier this year by VMI’s Reece Udinski in Lexington.
  • Hodges did set the Johnson Hagood Stadium record for pass completions (43) and attempts (69) in a game, by any individual.
  • The previous record-holder for pass completions and attempts in a game at Johnson Hagood Stadium was Jim Schumann, who threw 56 passes (completing 36) for Boston University against The Citadel in 1988. The Bulldogs won that game 24-13.
  • In case you were wondering, Kip Allen holds the JHS record for pass completions and attempts in a game by a Bulldog, as he was 34 for 53 versus Wofford in 1985, a 42-28 victory for The Citadel. His 428 passing yards in that contest remains a school record as well (regardless of venue).
  • Allen’s 34 completions against the Terriers is the all-time game record for The Citadel; the attempts record for the Bulldogs, also held by Allen, is 57, set at Clemson in 1986.

Editor’s note: I will be travelling most of this week, and as a result my upcoming preview of the game between The Citadel and Alabama game will be A) much earlier than usual, and B) much shorter than usual. Apologies for that, but real life intrudes once in a while.

I took pictures on Saturday, mostly bad ones. Many of them are of the review parade. As for the game pics, I started having battery issues late in the first half, and I also just struggled taking photos in general (not for the first time). Thus, there are no second-half action shots. I did take some pictures of the post-game on-field activity, however.