It’s Big Cheese Time

IMG_2938The first weekend of college football season…that brings to mind not only the image of cheering fans, pacing coaches, white smoke, and booming cannons; it also evokes memories of favorite college hangouts.

While The Big Cheese didn’t exist until five years after John’s graduation from the University of Miami, it’s become our go to restaurant following a big game.

After all, what’s better than a hot, cheesy pizza in the company of liked-minded fans all dressed in orange and green basking in the glory of a win or even commiserating with one another after a loss.

According to the dictionary, the definition of Big Cheese is someone knowledgeable and of importance and high standing in an area or field. The Big Cheese certainly lives up to its name…a restaurant of importance and high standing to pizza loving Hurricane fans.

What’s your college sports go to place?

The Gang’s All Here: Mid-week Family Reunion

It’s not often that you experience a family reunion on a Wednesday night, but that’s what happened last night when the University of Miami baseball team traveled to DeLand to meet Stetson for a mid-week game. Family drove from Ocala, Dunellon, Jacksonville, New Smyrna Beach, Orlando, and Oviedo for the game and to celebrate John’s birthday.


Even though, the family knew John would be cheering for the Hurricanes, only a handful of those in attendance joined him rooting for the Canes. That’s because Danny, our nephew, wears the uniform of the opposing Hatter’s.


Fortunately, things didn’t get nasty. As a pitcher, and one who’s only recently been released after surgery to his pitching arm, Danny did not see action in last night’s contest so even those cheering for the Canes didn’t have to choose between family and tradition.

My deal with Danny: I ALWAYS cheer for him over any opponent. If he’s pitching, I’m a Hatter. If he pitched and could earn the win after leaving the game, I’m a Hatter. However, it’s all about Danny. If he’s not in the game or if his stats won’t be affected by the outcome, I’ll be cheering for the Canes.

The Canes didn’t come through and provide John with the outcome he’d been hoping for as a birthday gift, but the smile on Danny’s face after the Hatter’s win was a pretty nice consolation prize.


My advice to Stetson, get Danny on the mound. Did you see and hear the crowd cheering at last night’s game? We’ll return and cheer for the Hatters…but it’s all about Danny!

We’re looking forward to more DeLand family reunions.
Check out the Stetson University baseball media guide:


Bowl Game = Heart Break

IMG_1933Twice in the past four years, the University of Miami has played in a Bowl game in Orlando and twice we’ve bought tickets and attended the game. Both times the same result. Early joy followed by a long offensive drought.

In the 2009 game against Wisconsin, Miami put 7 points on the score board in the opening minute only to watch Wisconsin score the next 20 points before the Hurricanes finally scored another touchdown in the final minute of the game.

Last Saturday’s Russell Athletic Bowl started with Miami scoring 2 points after causing a fumble by Louisville’s quarterback in the end zone, but again watched their opponent score 36 unanswered points before the Hurricanes found the end zone.

Our presence at a football game seems to guarantee a loss for our team. The Hurricanes have only managed to pull off one win in the last five games we’ve attended, and even UCF struggles if we’re in the stadium cheering for the Knights, losing half of the games we’ve watched from the stands.

We enjoyed going to the game with Emily and Brian. The weather was perfect…72° at kickoff on a late December evening. The parachute team that brought in the team flags and game ball started the night with some excitement. Fireworks added fun to the halftime show. And, of course the safety in the 4th minute of the game was something to cheer about as was the next 6 minutes of the game when the Hurricanes were on top.

The night could have been much worse. We could have had tickets one section over where security and law enforcement removed unruly fans fighting in the stands. We could have been seated two rows lower so that when the man sitting in front of us “lost his cookies” we were dodging the fallout. We could have had a wallet stolen like the man in the row behind us. Overall, we were lucky!

I’m proud to say we stayed until the end of the game, unlike so many other “fans”. We’re all committed to staying to the end…no fair weather fans here, but next time I’m tempted to go to a football game in person please remind me that I enjoy football from the comfort of home for the following reasons:

  1. No weather worries…not too hot, not too cold, and no need to worry about rain.
  2. Availability of good food throughout the game…wings, pizza, burgers, snacks, drinks, sweets. Eating like that at the stadium would require a loan.
  3. Hot tub seating…better to watch the game sitting in a hot tub than on hard aluminum seats.
  4. Rewind, fast forward, or skip portions depending on the how the team’s playing.

Good news for other Hurricane and Knight fans. I won’t be in the stands jinxing your team!

It’s Football Season in Florida!

IMG_0778Tonight Meghan, Jon, and friends will join UCF fans as the Knights kick off the college football season in their game against the Akron Zips. It’s a big night, not only for fans of the Knights but for college football fans everywhere.

Then on Monday night Sarah and Daniel will cheer on the Seminoles as they take the field against Pitt closing the opening weekend of the 2013 season. It’s officially football season.

I’ll have my eye on Friday night’s game. Usually you’ll find me cheering for the Miami Hurricanes, John’s alma mater, but tomorrow will be a different story since my alma mater, FAU, Florida Atlantic University, takes on the Hurricanes in their season opener…a first!

My closet is full of orange and green Hurricane attire, but tomorrow I’ll don my one and only red FAU shirt and cheer on the Owls, something I couldn’t do as a student since FAU’s 2001 inaugural season  came over twenty years after my graduation.IMG_0735

Friday, for the first time we’ll be a house divided.

Recently, Emily (another Hurricane alum) sent an email entitled 40 Signs You’re a Miami Hurricane…a fun series of photos which bring Hurricane fans together.

Well, the Hurricanes aren’t the only ones with bragging rights in the state. In response I’ve put together a series of photos which bring Owl fans together.

Sure, Hurricanes flash the universal “U”, but Owl fans…including the President…show their “owl fingers”

FAU is the ONLY university in the state undefeated in Bowl Games with an all-time record of 2-0 and with the first bowl win coming in only the sixth season.

And speaking of Bowl Games, the Owls were the ONLY Florida team to win a bowl game in 2007.

  • New Orleans Bowl: FAU 44 – Memphis 27
  • Liberty Bowl: Mississippi State 10 – UCF 3
  • Sun Bowl: Oregon 56 – USF 21
  • Music City Bowl: Kentucky 35 – FSU 28
  • Capital One Bowl: Michigan 41 – UF 35
  • And UM? Oh, they didn’t make it to a bowl game in 2007.

Like the Hurricanes, we hate this man too…so much so that we’ve never let him stand on the sidelines during a game.ShapiroAnd like the Hurricanes we love this man…he chose FAU over UM.Howard Schnellenberger

Finally, we have something the Hurricanes will never have…not at the Orange Bowl…not at Sun Life Stadium…FAU has a stadium on campus.

Friday will be a first. I’ll be cheering for the Hurricane’s opponent. May the best team win!


Survive and Advance – FGCU Style

basketballWho expected Florida to be the best represented state in the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet Sixteen? With the Hurricanes, Gators, and basketball nation’s new Cinderella team, Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles advancing to the next round of the tournament there’s a lot of basketball excitement for fans in the state of Florida. Yes, I’ll be watching; but for those who don’t share the love of the tournament but don’t want to be left out of the March Madness, watching the following ESPN 30 for 30 episodes may be a good alternative.

The newest episode with a basketball theme, Survive and Advance, is airing tonight and throughout the next several weeks so there are ample opportunities to view this story of college basketball highlighting events from the tournament 30 years ago. While I remember the Wolfpack run, I’d forgotten much of the drama surrounding their remarkable win. The ESPN documentary presented a great look back at a terrific story. The description from ESPN:

When the 1982-83 college basketball season began, Jim Valvano and his North Carolina State Wolfpack faced high expectations and high aspirations. But with 10 losses for the season, the Wolfpack’s only hope of making the NCAA Tournament was to win the ACC Tournament and earn the conference automatic berth. Nine straight improbable wins later over the likes of Sampson, Jordan, Olajuwon, and Drexler, North Carolina State had “survived and advanced” its way to a national championship.

…the dream fulfilled..(it) explores what at times has been a tragic and heartbreaking aftermath in the thirty years since. -ESPN

Not a Valvano fan, The Guru of Go documents the exciting play of the Loyola Marymount basketball team or the life and sudden death of Len Bias is the subject of Without Bias, both rebroadcast in the coming weeks. I didn’t see one of my favorites, There’s No Place Like Home listed on the schedule, but it’s worth checking out online or through Netflix. There’s No Place Like Home documents a story everyone can enjoy.

Sotheby’s auctioned of the most important historical document in sports history: James Naismith’s original rules of basketball. There’s No Place Like Home is the story of one fan’s obsessive quest to win the artifact at auction and bring the rule “home” to Lawrence, Kansas, where Naismith coached and taught for more than 40 years. -ESPN

Join the basketball conversation. Watch the tournament or a couple of the ESPN 30 for 30 episodes about the game. Who knows, maybe FGCU will be the subject of a future “Survive and Advance” story.