Thursday, December 9, 2010

What a Roller Coaster Ride

It has been a while since my last blog entry, but football season is like that sometimes. There just isn't enough time in the week to do everything I want to do and, when basketball starts, there is even less time available.

True, I have two guys who take care of 99 percent of the basketball stuff, but I still like to be at every home game.

Things have been especially hectic over the last few days as we prepare for the 10th Annual R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. Like a lot of folks, I had my doubts in November if there would be any bowl at the end of this season, and the "Drive for Five" looked to be DOA.

But, give this Troy team and their coaches a ton of credit. They put two devastating losses behind them, gave two very good performances in the last two weeks of the season, and got a little help from our Blue Raider friends. All of that resulted in a fifth straight Sun Belt title.

Remarkable!

How rare is it to win five straight conference titles you might ask?

Well, in the FBS, or former Division I-A, it had happened just five times prior to Troy joining the club. BYU won 10 straight in the WAC, USC won seven in a row in the PAC 10 before Reggie-gate, Ohio State won six straight in the Big Ten in the hey-day of Woody Hayes, Bear Bryant led Alabama to five in a row in the SEC in the early 70s and Bobby Bowden won five straight in the ACC at the end of the 1990s.

That's it, the entire list. David Letterman could not do a Top 10 list in this category because there haven't been that many.

Over 20 seasons at Troy, Larry Blakeney has done nothing but win and produce quality citizens in his football program. He'll start his third decade next year ranked 10th on the list of active head coaches in career victories.

But, before that third decade gets started, the second still has one game left to play.

When I worked at Marshall, we played the Ohio Bobcats every year in the "Battle for the Bell", a trophy much like the one that sits in the Troy football office from the now dormant series with Jacksonville State.

I am not ashamed to say that during my four seasons in Huntington, the Thundering Herd was a pretty difficult team to handle. Marshall posted an overall record of 43-9 during those seasons, with one of those losses coming at Ohio. During that same period of time, Ohio was 17-28, but always caused Marshall problems.

Now in their sixth season under Frank Solich, Ohio football is enjoying a renaissance of sorts. The Bobcats are 8-4 this season on the heels of a 9-5 record in 2009. This will be the third bowl appearance for Ohio under Solich and the fourth all-time bowl for the Bobcats, who have never won a bowl game in more than 100 years of football, going back to 1894.

The Trojans have not had great success in bowl games either. The last two years have been particularly heart-breaking, with an overtime loss to Southern Miss in New Orleans in 2008 and a double-overtime loss to Central Michigan back in January.

The key to the Trojans' success in this bowl game is, quite simply, the Trojan Nation. If Troy can get close to 30,000 people to New Orleans for the game, it would be the most to ever see the Trojans play and be, as head coach Larry Blakeney said he is looking for, the largest gathering of Troy fans, friends and alumni ever.

That is where you come in. For the Trojans to have the kind of support they need to win the game, every single Troy fans has to get involved. Buy ticket, take your family to the game, give tickets to your neighbors and friends as early Christmas gifts. Do whatever it takes to fill the Superdome with Troy fans.

One of the many great things about playing in the New Orleans Bowl is the game is early in bowl season. In fact, it is the third game on the first day of bowl season. I know there are two other teams from the state playing in bowls, but their games are 14 and 23 days after the New Orleans Bowl.

If someone was so inclined, there is plenty of time to drive from New Orleans to Orlando and then out to Glendale to go to all three games. Air travel makes seeing all three teams play a snap.

The thing to remember is that those other schools really don't care if you go to their bowl games. They have so many fans to draw from, it doesn't matter if some decide to pass this year.

For the Trojans, every single fan is important and it is critical that we have as many as possible in attendance at the game.

There really should be no excuses. The game is on Saturday night, in a great city, inside the world's most famous domed stadium where weather is never a problem. Even if you have to work on Friday, you could leave on Saturday morning, get to New Orleans in time to enjoy the game and the city for an evening, and drive home on Sunday.

Please do your part and support the Trojans this year in the New Orleans Bowl. Call the Athletics Ticket Office at 877-878-9467 or 334-670-3680 or visit the Troy Athletics web site, www.TroyTrojans.com, and buy tickets for yourself, your family and friends.

You can also buy tickets to donate to help send members of the Sound of the South marching band to the game. Any tickets donated past what is needed for the band will be used to send underprivileged children from the New Orleans area to the game.

Do your part and support the Trojans. The team, the coaches and the entire Troy University community need your help.

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