NCAA

Rece Davis says college football is going to look weird in the fall

Rece Davis says college football is going to look weird in the fall

The endless sea of school colors and the deafening roars of alumni and student body. The community-wide elation of beating your rival on a Saturday night and the collective sorrow in defeat. 

There's nothing quite like the experience of a college football game.

That is what the sports community is in jeopardy of losing this fall because of the coronavirus. Without college football or even just a shell of it, it will be a stark contrast to what has become the norm. And no one quite captures the moments and the emotions than ESPN's College Gameday. 

"For our show, it will be a tremendous difference" Gameday host Rece Davis said on 'Late Night with Locks.'

Typically the show is known for large, never-ending crowds. Hilarious signs and celebrity picks are reoccurring elements. Just like the sport, not everything will be the same. 

For years the show has been the center of college football and its culture. It never misses a beat and always travels to the heart of the weekend matchup, even if it's to a smaller FCS school in a rivalry game. Novices that sit on their couch on a Saturday can feel right there through GameDay.

Those moments, those memories are how the sport stands out from its professional counterpart on Sundays and several other sports around the country. That emotion carries over to the stadium and creates a unique, symbiotic relationship between the crowd and the players on the field.

It simply can't be replicated anywhere else. 

Right now, Davis says ESPN and the show are operating as if the college football season is held. But, they are making several contingency plans depending on how the public health situation develops.

As the name of the show indicates, they want to be on campuses if possible. Smaller venues are an option, especially if there are limitations on their crowd size. And yes, even having College GameDay without fans is an option.

"That seems almost blasphemous given the history of the show, but if that's what it takes to keep people as healthy as possible then obviously we will comply with that," Davis said. 

There's no doubt whether you're at home or a fan that gets to attend as part of a sparse crowd that it will be a strange experience. Even the players will have to adjust. Home-field advantage may not have the same weight as it typically holds. 

"Players sort of pick up on the energy in the stadium. You make a big play, a big pick, a big stop on third down or get a big conversion on third down, people start generating momentum. What's that momentum going to be like without the same level of noise and vibe in the stadium that you're used to? I think it will be a challenge for some," he said.

But nonetheless, Davis knows that having college football games, even without fans, is better than the alternative. Everybody could use a little bit of the joy that the sport brings right now. 

"I think it would be better for everybody, the country, the psyche, everything if we can do it safely and have the sport even if we have to limit the number of fans. And I'm not going to lie, it's going to be weird. The atmosphere in college football is what sets it apart," Davis said.

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Patrick Mahomes celebrates Mac McClung picking his alma mater Texas Tech

Patrick Mahomes celebrates Mac McClung picking his alma mater Texas Tech

Wednesday was a good day for Red Raider fans when Mac McClung announced his transfer commitment to Texas Tech

Even former alum and Super Bowl MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes - who also was openly recruiting the star on Twitter - was excited about the big get. 

He was joined by fellow Texas Tech alum Jarrett Culver in sharing his excitement of getting the 6-foot-2 guard. Culver's style and skill set are very similar to McClung's. Under head coach Chris Beard, he helped transform the combo guard into a first-round NBA prospect.

Other professional athletes including Trae Young gave McClung their congratulations. 

As a late entry into the transfer portal, McClung was one of the biggest available players this offseason. While he is required to sit a season due to NCAA transfer rules, there is some buzz that he may get a waiver to compete next season in Lubbock. 

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Ever Wonder: How Midnight Madness got its start at the University of Maryland

Ever Wonder: How Midnight Madness got its start at the University of Maryland

For most college basketball programs across the country, Midnight Madness has become a major tradition. The late-night spectacle filled with basketball and showmanship signifies the start of a new season. 

But, how did Midnight Madness come to be? It turns out its humble beginnings took place at the University of Maryland.

In 1971, legendary head coach Lefty Driesell had been at the helm of the Terps basketball squad for two seasons. Helping the program reach a new prestige in his first couple of years, Driesell wanted to take Maryland to the next level and show the rest of college basketball they were legit contenders.

His idea: have his team be the first ones to practice on the season by participating in an event at midnight on the earliest possible date. This way, in Driesell's eyes, the Terps would the first team on the court at the beginning and the last one on it at the end when they held the National Championship trophy.

“This was Lefty’s way of saying, ‘Hey world, Maryland is here now. We got a great team and I’m going to be the first team in America to practice,'" Tom McMillen, who was a member of the 1971 team, said.

Besides sending a message to other programs, Driesell also used Midnight Madness as a way to drum up school spirit. If Maryland was going to become one of the top schools in the nation and a respected team, they needed fans to get involved and stay committed.

“Getting the campus to rally behind the basketball team," Tony Massenburg, who played under Driesell in 1985, said. “You don’t need a reason to get a bunch of college students to stay up until midnight."

The first Midnight Madness took place on October 15, 1971, at 12:03 a.m. Unlike a majority of the nights in modern times, the Maryland team wasn't in a gym, but rather out at Byrd Stadium running a mile. Still, the event got the attention of locals and a national audience. 

“It really set off a firestorm across the country," McMillen said.

In the third installment of Midnight Madness, Driesell had Maryland participate in a scrimmage open to the public, more in line with what is seen across the country now. It was that event that turned Midnight Madness into the popular spectacle it is today.

“The third year we ended up having a scrimmage. That’s really what launched midnight madness," McMillen said.

What began as Driesell's idea has transformed into a common night shared among campuses across the country. Every year Midnight Madness gets bigger, with scrimmages only being part of the action. Wild introductions, skits and more theatrics have turned the first practice of the season into much more than that.

Maryland still participates and even paid homage to the original Midnight Madness in 2018. In honor of the program's 100th season and Driesell's introduction into the Basketball Hall of Fame, the Midnight Mile made its return. 

While the night continues to grow in size, the original meaning still holds true. Driesell held Midnight Madness as a way to showcase Maryland and prove it was the best place to be. Coaches across the country are doing the same, trying to show that their campus is the place to be.

“What it’s become is a recruiting tool," Massenburg said. "It’s the means to sort of showcase your program.”

What began in College Park has turned into one of college basketball's best traditions. Despite Driesell being the creator, the start of Midnight Madness is sometimes relatively unknown by the public. If the head coach had known how big it would become back in 1971, that may have been different. 

“I tell Lefty my only regret is that you didn’t copyright Midnight Madness because it was a very valuable asset and literally just an idea he came up with just to be first," McMillen said. 

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