October 01, 2023
“Under a not-quite-October night sky… two fine field generals dueled …”
BobLee w/ credit to Grantland Rice
I’ve been to a dozen plus games at Wallace Wade Stadium – AKA “The Wally in West Derm” – over the past decades. Going back to the halcyon days of yore when the restrooms on the East (Visitors) side were little more than muddy latrine trenches reminiscent of Dachau or Auschwitz
Those trenches have been replaced with much more elegant facilities that stop just short of a liveried man-servant named “Jeeves” offering a warm towel and hand sanitizer.
Through the boundless generosity of the very very deep pockets of Duke’s global elitests alumni, the venerable old concrete mausoleum has been transformed into a state-of-the art boutique college football stadium … quite comfortably accommodating maybe 25,000 Duke blue-clad fans many of whom wear little light-up devils’ horns (???). NOT so comfortably accommodating 40,000+
NOTE: I do have a suggestion for whoever designed The Wally’s two scoreboards. Replace Them. Duke mega-$$$ could do so much better. IMO.
The 40,000+ included a quite vocal contingent of “Irish” partisans on-hand for this occasion. Who were quite polite for what I observed. And QUITE nervous late in the final quarter, pondering, I assume, the imminent demise of one Marcus Freeman – current coach of the gold-helmeted men from South Bend… who were staring into the yawning maw of a second straight season-crushing defeat.
NOTE: Fear Not family and friends of Marcus Freeman. As Saturday became Sunday, Coach Freeman’s job appears secure for another week. Maybe NOT the case for his predecessor – LSU’s Brian Kelly – whose night in Oxford Mississippi did not go so well. I digress.
There were at least 40,000 fans in attendance at The Wally last night. Every seat was filled except during the waning moments of the final quarter when not a single one of the 40,000+ were sitting down.
40,000+ in a state-of-the art boutique stadium designed for 25,000 does creates some logistical issues such as a 20-minute wait to access the aforementioned “facilities”. And even longer wait to buy a pretzel.
Speaking of 20-minutes waits … Since I had not attended a college football game in the past five years, I had forgotten the utter helplessness of enduring the literally 100s of mind-numbing TV Timeouts that finance those bazillion $$$$ “media rights” deals. And it is only going to get worse as those deals escalate in several years.
At home with my trusty flat-screen I simply “flip” to another game during those mind-numbing time outs. My “flipper” didn’t work at The Wally”. Aaaarrrggghhhhh …
Duke, like every other school, has various goofy skits during those gawd-awful TV time outs to keep the irate fans from rioting.. Duke does one that is AWESOME!
Duke has an outstanding Women’s Track & Field team. A Duke She-sprinter races a He-fan the length of the field. “The He-fan” gets a 20 yard headstart. The She-sprinter turns on the after-burners and passes “the fan” at the 50 … Holy Ursain Bolt Batman … you have to see it to appreciate it. VERY COOL!
OK … enough snarky comments about My Night at The Wally. … OK, almost enough.
I was the guest of P. Coleman Buck … my BFF and longtime “of counsel” for BobLeeSays LLC. Brother Buck is a two-degreed Duke alum, former editor of The Duke Law Review, who once played in a pick-up game in Carr Gym with Steve Vacendak.
It was Mr Buck who made the astute observation that … “at any baseball game at any level … if a pitcher bluffs a throw to hold a runner at 2nd … some nitwit fan will yell “BALK”. … every time.
The football corollary to that is … “any time a defensive back breaks up a pass … that same nitwit fan of the offensive team will yell “PASS INTERFERENCE”. … every time.
As noted, P. Coleman Buck and I go back to the Eisenhower Administration … when, had he been old enough, he probably woulda voted for Adlai Stevenson. Yes, he has a terminal socio-political character flaw that is a mine field we successfully navigate.
He thinks the world needs one less Donald Trump. I think the world needs 50,000,000 less liberal lunatics. We manage to keep the rubber-tips on our arrows.
He drove in from The Great State of Mecklenburg and we met up at a Red Robin off #501. “Blondie” was nervous about me venturing alone into the urban war zone of Derm. I replaced my fishing gear with my trusty Gloch and two extra mags assuring her I would keep my head on a swivel.
Among the logistical limitations of Duke’s Gothic Rockpile, is a dearth of parking for 40,000+ fans. We ended up on the 5th floor of a parking garage at the Duke Eye Center – a scant 2+ miles from The Wally. Buck’s Apple watch noted he got in “all his steps” for the next 90 days.
NOTE: If it is 2+ miles From The Eye Center garage to The Wally at 5:30 PM – it is somehow AT LEAST 5 Freakin’ miles from The Wally Back to The Eye Center’s 5th floor at 11:00 PM … with emphasis on those 5 flights of stairs at the end. … YOWSA!
The Game …
Observation: If DUKE contained more than four letters, Duke’s “boutique marching band” would be unable to spell it out. Bless their little hearts … Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller had larger bands than that.
I have noted before that Duke’s student section looks like the Its A Small World ride at Disney World. There are umpteen dozens of 12 year old Korean cello prodigies at Duke and Rubic’s Cube grandmasters from Mumbai … but, apparently, a dearth of tuba players.
Unlike ECU, Duke has never been noted for an abundance of coed pulchritude. I got the feeling that what few NOT-hairy-legged Sisters of Sappho Duke does have on campus … they ALL harbor lustful thoughts about QB Riley Leonard.
Young Leonard seems a shoo-in for Duke’s coveted Leo Hart Chick Magnet Award annually bestowed on the Duke athlete who causes the most coeds to reconsider going LBG …. “LBG = Lesbian Before Graduation”. A popular rite-of-passage among coeds in this era of “soy boys in skinny jeans with total inability to perform even one push-up”.
I got the vibe from The Wally crowd that the thought of Duke actually defeating ND was somewhere between “winning the lottery” and “Taylor Swift having even one male fan above the age of 50”. That was an unfair assumption – Duke Football 2023 is For Real. Not a SuperPower but darn “good”.
As “good” as NC State and UNCCH? … yes, every bit as good and maybe better … the next few weeks will determine that. The Men of Elko are For Real.
Speaking of Duke Head Coach Mike Elko … as ND began their final drive last night, I remarked to Brother Buck …
“You do realize that IF Duke’s holds on to win … by 10 AM tomorrow morning Mike Elko will receive a blank check from some Michigan State bazillionaire booster with a post-it note …
“Coach Elko, just fill in whatever it takes and come on up to East Lansing … Oh, this offer assumes you do not engage in phone sex and, if you do, you don’t well, you know, while doing so…”
Coach Elko’s ill-fated decision to go “prevent” with only three rushers on the final drive had the same results “prevent defenses” usually produce. The offense marches down the field and scores … sigh.
Sam Hartman’s 30 yard 4th down scamper into Duke’s Red Zone pretty much eliminated that likelihood of Mike Elko’s departure … for now.
Speaking of placekickers … Duke’s errant placekicker is NOT likely to get a call from Dabo to transfer to Clemson. Just sayin’ …
You probably saw the game on TV so ya know how it built to a nail-biting conclusion in the final minutes. The Wally Was aRockin’ during those final drives … even during the interminable TV time outs. Aaaarrrggghhh.
As P. Coleman Buck and I said our good-bys around midnight … me headed home to BLSays World HQ and he westward home to Charlotte … I noted …
“This is probably the LAST football game I will EVER attend in person. BUT if I ever attend another it will be with YOU my dear old friend …”
so concluded … “My Night @ The Wally”.