Two teams are undefeated. And two fan bases are bonding over their shared undefeated streak.
The San Diego State men’s basketball team now stands at 15-0. They had a tough non-conference schedule, won ’em all. After a nearly fatal collapse against lowly San Jose State, they’ve beaten 4 conference opponents in a row.
I’m new to State. I moved into the College Area in 2008 and quickly adopted them. I’m not an alumni. I didn’t grow up in San Diego. They are just the school that’s near my house and I enjoy going to football and basketball games.
Rocky Long is crazy. Yesterday, he told reporters that as head coach of the San Diego State football team he is planning on always onside kicking and always going for it on 4th down.
Rocky Long is genius. By telling his opponents he is not going to traditionally kick the ball off and not planning to punt on 4th down, they have to prepare for that potential even if he has no intention of doing it.
This is Rocky Long’s Moneyball moment. After 40 years as a head coach he has a wild idea and he’s toying with the gamble. He sees something that his opponents don’t. And he’s convinced that this could give him the competitive advantage over more talented teams that he needs.
He told the Union-Times:
And yes, Long — who apparently hasn’t yet tried it all in his 40 years of coaching — is serious about this. “It makes sense,” he said, seeming almost giddy in talking about the possibilities. “Additional plays would allow you to score a lot more points,” he said. “It also puts a whole lot of pressure on the defense.” source
As a season ticket holder I know that this announcement is influenced by his personnel and not just a crazy idea he woke up with. He lost 4 of his most crucial players to the NFL and wasn’t able to replace them with players of equal/higher quality. (QB, RB, MLB, Punter) Additionally, they are one year away from entering the Big East where he will likely have a competitive disadvantage every single week of conference play. He’s interested in a gimmick because he is desperate to give his team any sort of advantage. And just the threat of this makes other teams prepare for it.
That said, the person he’s learning this philosophy from is pretty successful with it.
The possibly not-so-mad professor of this “punting-is-for-wimps” practice is Kevin Kelley, the head coach of a small private school, the Pulaski Academy, in Little Rock, Ark. In nine years, Kelley’s teams have posted a 104-19 record, winning three state titles. Last season, Pulaski went 14-0 and averaged 51 points per game. source
It’s crazy. But it might just be crazy enough to work.
What’s your competitive advantage?
In ministry, the head coach of the other team is Satan. And he’s been doing some winning lately, hasn’t he? Sick of him winning yet? He has more resources than you. He’s got great recruiters. He’s actually smarter and more experienced than you. You are losing, not because you’re a bad person, but because you’ve been outsmarted.
My prayer is that you’re ticked off about this. My hope is that you’re tired of losing. And my eye glimmers with the possibility that maybe you are ready to start playing with the team you have and not the team you wish you have.
Maybe it’s time to try that idea you’ve always wanted to try but thought was too risky? Maybe it’s time to look around and discover something that’s way outside of the box but is totally working? And maybe it’s time you took a 48 hour retreat and figured something out?
When my family moved into the College Area 3+ years ago we had no idea how much impact San Diego State would have on us. We just knew that we were going to embrace SDSU because it was the neighborhood we live in and we always have hopes of being Good News wherever we live. (Yes, being season ticket holders is being Good News… right?)
What we didn’t know is that in these 3 years the entire university has begun a transformation no one could have anticipated.
In 2009, the major news story on campus was about a campus-wide, one semester ban, on the consumption of alcohol. (Including on campus fraternities and sororities.) There was concern about how this rule would impact the school’s Playboy’s Top Party Schools ranking and the economics that went with it.
SDSU was a party school and defined by it.
Truth be told SDSU is still a party school. It’s a fun place to be a student. But partying is not the first thing people think about anymore when they hear SDSU anymore.
Winning Changes Everything
San Diego State is currently the most winning college in major sports. Football had back-to-back 8-4 seasons. Basketball was 34-3 in 2011 and is currently 20-3.
Winning has redefined campus. 3+ years ago you saw far more frat/sorority t-shirts than SDSU gear. Now, most students rock SDSU gear multiple times per week. Each home game 12,414 pack into Viejas Arena to cheer on the basketball team. Last year saw a huge increase in student involvement at football games. Students aren’t just coming to campus to party anymore. Now they want to be part of The Show.
Increased interest has created a groundswell of students trying to get into SDSU as their first choice. Consequently, the admissions standards have gone up, making SDSU more and more of an academic school beating it’s “fall back school” reputation.
As the video shows, winning also transformed the type of student-athlete SDSU attracts. Tim Shelton has been on campus long enough to see this transformation first hand. It’s obvious to point out that this transformation is part of his legacy. Steve Fisher, SDSU’s Hall of Fame-bound coach, sometimes refers to Tim in press conferences as “coach.” Tim has lots of talents and lots of influence on campus and with his teammates. (Case in point, Tim wrote and produced Aztec Motto, the video played during pre-game introductions at home games.)
So what is he doing with his talents and influence?
Raising money for kids after school programs. $26 at a time, one t-shirt at a time, Tim is helping to fund an after school program to keep kids in school. $15,000 so far. He’s aiming at $26,000– enough to fund the program for 100 kids for 1 year.
Winning attracts winners and Tim Shelton is a winner.
This is our families first year as season ticket holders for men’s basketball. Yesterday was, by far, the highlight of that experience so far.
We made it to Viejas about 12:05 PM for a 1:00 PM tipoff. And there were already lines to get in, the student section was 90% full, and about 50% of the stands were full 45 minutes before the game. Where else does that happen?
There were 6,000 plus people booing UNLV during a pre-game shoot around. That’s when you know it’s going to be a wild game.
The game lived up to the hype.
It was loud and crazy from 45 minutes before the game until the last second when Jamaal Franklin’s lay-up sent the stadium into a frenzy. The stadium roared for about 90 seconds after the game winner. Deservedly so. It was so loud that you couldn’t hear that the announcer was trying to tell the fans that the game wasn’t actually over.
What I loved about this win is that it was a team effort. Leading scorer Chase Tapley struggled to get open and never really got to go off like he normally does. But the added attention on Chase gave James Rahon and Jamaal Franklin opportunities to make significant buckets, which they did with more than 20 points each.
A lot has been said about this being a rebuilding year for SDSU. They lost Billy White, D.J. Gay, Kawhi Leonard, and Malcom Thomas after last years epic season. (2 of them to the NBA) And, truth be told, they don’t have the standout talent they had last season. But they are consistently outplaying and out coaching their opponents. That’s the power of great coaching and recruiting. (Next year’s team, based on recruits and transfers, will be one for the ages.)
The Aztecs beat the #12 team in the country because they had a better strategy than UNLV, were slightly more disciplined, and had a huge home court advantage.
I’m loving bringing my kids to these games. The Show continues to live up to the hype. Yesterday, they unveiled a massive “The Show” logo right before tip-off that covered nearly the entire student section. Teams are completely intimidated to come into Viejas and our players are completely empowered.
If you’re ever in town when there’s an SDSU game . Let me know, I’ll score you a ticket to The Show.
I missed the two exhibition games. (Which makes me a bad season ticket holder) That said, Megan and I made it to the season opener last night at the Viejas Arena.
Bryant College wasn’t exactly a great opponent, which was good because the Aztecs weren’t really ready to play. The first half was defined by their lack of cohesiveness. That makes sense because Chase Tapley is the only returning starter. On top of that two other starters missed the game, James Rahon with an ankle sprain and Jamaal Franklin served a one game suspension for a suspected DUI arrest over the summer. Looking up at the halftime stats I thought the scoreboard was broken! They shot 39% from the floor including 25% from the free throw line. Somehow they still rallied to take the lead, 27-26 at the half.
But the Aztecs came out of the locker room with a new attitude– an attitude I expect them to express for the next 25 games. Unlike last years team everything isn’t going to work. In 2010-2011 it didn’t matter what the game plan was because they were better at every position than most of their opponents. This year is different. With only 8 scholarship players they are going to have to take advantage of what the opposition gives them. Last night, they were ice cold from the 3 point line. (0-12 at one point) So in the second half they crashed the boards and shot a very respectable 79% from the field.
Starless but not starproof
I couldn’t get over the fact that almost none of the players who got time on the court last night would have played significantly last year. There is no player as dominant as Kwahi Leonard was last year, not even close. (I wish he’d stayed another year, especially with the NBA lockout) But that doesn’t mean that they can’t play together as a team and win 25 games to win their conference. It will all come down to gelling as a team.
Last night the gelling of this basketball team happened during the second half. before our very eyes we saw a team go from gym scrubs to DI college basketball. Their non-conference schedule is substantially more difficult this year than last. (No one wanted to play them last year!)
They will enter conference play at 12-4. Overall I think they will go 22-8 in the regular season. Not good enough to get ranked, but good enough to get invited to the Dance for the third straight year.
First, a patriotic start.
Then we honored Marshall Faulk as the team took the field
Then, the game started and SDSU laid an egg
- TCU marched down and got a field goal.
- SDSU got the ball back and due to a penalty drove it to the red zone, before botching a field goal attempt.
- They woke up from their slumber in the 3rd quarter and brought the game to 20-14 at the beginning of the 4th quarter.
- Then… Ryan Lindley showed why he will be playing in Canada next season and not the NFL. He telegraphed a couple of passes directly to TCU players, pretty much securing a loss.
- TCU dominated our defense for most of the game on 3rd down. I think they had 11 third down conversions in a row.
- Mix that stat with 4 turnovers and you get a loss every time.
That said, Megan and I had a good time. The stadium felt great with 44,000+ fans. I’m sure that will drop for the next game vs. Wyoming though. We shall see.
I took Paul to tonights game between SDSU & Washington State. Here are a random list of highlights.
- College football is officially “our thing.” Paul & Megan are really into going to the games with me. The game day experience always includes a trip to Rite Aid (to score candy/snacks) and a ride on the trolley.
- I love, love, LOVE spending this extended time with each kid at the games. And my evil plan seems to be working, they are both getting interested in sports. Paul was going to bed and told Kristen, “I can’t believe I spent 6 hours with daddy. It really happened!” (That’s why I added SDSU basketball & Padres baseball tickets to the mix, love going to the games with my kids. Worth every penny.)
- I still pinch myself at our season ticket locations. We’re on the 18th row, behind the home bench, and on the 47 yard line. Perfect seats if you ask me. I only wish I had 4 seats instead of 2. Loving my 3rd season as a season ticket holder.
- This was a huge game for San Diego State. I think a lot of people expected SDSU to get worse because Rocky Long took over for Brady Hoke. (Who went to Michigan) We are now 3-0 for the first time since 1981. Full of confidence– I’m eager to see how they do against Michigan next weekend.
- Washington State was very good offensively. But by the end of the game the Aztec defense was just teeing off on receivers, running backs, and the QB. The Aztec defense played great tonight against an overmatched opponent.
- Speaking of defense… there were some monster hits applied tonight by the Aztecs. I’m loving the intimidation factor I see. The QB was visibly shaken after a few hits. And a few WRs dropped passes because they looked up to see if the hit was coming. Love that.
- Ronnie Hillman was incredible tonight. 191 yards on 32 carries with 4 touchdowns. He’s one stellar running back. I’m looking forward to seeing him on the big stage next weekend. I hope he drops 200 yards with 5 TDs on a horrible Michigan defense.
- Ryan Lindley? I feel like his stock is slipping. Maybe it’s that his receivers aren’t that great. But he threw some awful passes in the 3rd quarter tonight.
- The crowd was huge tonight. And it was awesome that they got to see what the Aztecs can do against a quality opponent. 57,000+ in attendance is legit across college football. It seems that the basketball team has fed enthusiasm for Aztec football and that’s awesome.
- Of course, 20,000 of those tickets were just to see the Sky Show. That was great and way too loud as usual. I’m not sure why they need to make the event that loud. It would be 50% more enjoyable at half the volume from the PA system. But the show itself? Every time I see it I realize how much I love living in San Diego.