- Updated: December 21, 2016
(And now, something completely different: An open letter to all remaining FB$ bowl teams.)
Go ahead. Give it a try. We’ll wait…
/Passes time by watching any number of App State-Toledo highlights via the social medias/
/Pumps fists wildly/
…Most of you have had pretty good seasons. More of you — when you’re alone at night, under the covers, with nothing but self-doubt and -loathing standing between you and slumber – know you’ve had forgettable mediocre seasons and are lucky to be collecting a check in a postseason exhibition affair that will only marginally move your athletic departments into a slightly lighter shade of red.
The “Playoff” – no self-respecting FCS Man would ever leave off the sarcasm-emphasizing quote marks when describing the cute FB$ tournament masquerading as a real crown-awarding playoff system – games aside, you all will be hard-pressed to match, or even come close, to what went down Saturday evening in Hot-gomery.
That is how it’s done, kids. In just its third season of Big Boy Football, the App State Mountaineers put on a bowl clinic. Nearly 340 rushing yards. No turnovers. Two penalties. A near-perfect offensive game plan. An amazing special teams TD. An under-told redemption story for a redshirt freshman kicker who delivered the game-winner. A dramatic third-down from its bend-but-don’t break defense. And a flawless Powerade shower for its visor-donning head football coach.
Top that. Top any combination of three of the above. If you can.
In fact, top much of what Toledo did Saturday night. Go ahead. We have our doubts many of you can match the Rockets’ grit, resiliency and determination. It came down to a single mistake, a timeout that went uncalled. How many of you can play an otherwise gem of a game ala the Rockets, and make just one mistake?
We think it will be a short list. Very short, in fact.
To our 2016 Camellia Bowl foes, we salute you. How could any App Fan look at the Rockets and not see Richmond, Furman or even South Carolina State, those familiar FCS Playoff – yes, we’ll ALWAYS capitalize that – opponents that always gave App their best shot while playing solid football? There is gallantry in defeat, as Toledo showed Saturday night, when the battle is waged by such skillful and able combatants. Hold your heads high, Rockets, for you joined the Mountaineers in raising the bar for those teams yet to play their final game.
Few will clear it.
Which brings us to our 2016 Camellia Bowl champions and Co-#FunBelt champions, the App State Mountaineers. Over the last 32 games, the 27-5 Mountaineers are the fourth-winningest FB$ program in All. The. Land. Only Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson – “playoff” teams, all – rank above the Black and
Yellow Nike Gold ™.
Top that as you suit up for your bowl games with discount-store, potatoes, chicken joints, oil-change joints, and cheap athletic gear – and beyond.
Top Marcus Cox’s legendary career: Over 5,100 rushing yards and so many TDs we think the book-keepers lost count. Top two bowl wins and a conference title in just three FB$ seasons. Top App’s staggering conference win/loss record since moving up from FCS.
Top Taylor Lamb’s efficient season with a mediocre and green group of WRs, and his Camellia Bowl MVP performance: 119 yards and TD up top, and 126 and a score running it.
Top App’s bend-but-don’t break defense — slowing down Toledo QB Logan Woodside and his stud WRs, and giving the Rockets’ running game lots of Hell when it mattered most — making just enough big stops in a subpar-but-gritty performance. Next season, top its 2016 conference dominance.
The Mountaineers (and Rockets) raised the bar on Saturday night. Match or clear it if you can.
On behalf of App Nation, this blogger doubts that you will. He doubts that you can.
(On Twitter: @APPstradamus)