In honor of tomorrow night's Division 1-AA semifinal in Harrisonburg...and truthfully, because many of you have no clue what I've been raving about these past few months...a detailed history of what now is called James Madison University is called for.
After all, since some of you will be watching the game (8 Eastern on ESPN2), it might help you to understand some things. So here goes...
By an act of the Virginia General Assembly, the State Normal and Industrial School for Women was placed in Harrisonburg, VA in the fall of 1908. (Note it says "for women". Patience, folks; I'll explain it all.) It was set up in the beginning as a school for women to become teachers. It wasn't even a college, in the true sense of the word. High school courses were taught also.
By the late '20s, the name was changed to the State Teacher's College. It was still all-female. Men, in fact, weren't allowed on-campus until the early '40s (but not allowed to live on-campus until '68). By that time, the name was changed yet again to Madison College--it wasn't until the late '70s that the last name change (to James Madison University) came about.
But, this is a sports site, right?? So, on to football...
Competitive football wasn't played at JMU until 1972. That's when the board OK'ed the plan to have the Dukes play Division III football. Within 15 years, they had moved up to I-AA.
Now, I know you want to ask: Do I know anyone from JMU who played in the NFL?? The answer: yes, you do...past and present.
Try these names on for size:
All of whom played in (and in the case of the first 2, won) Super Bowls. Oh, and for Eagles fans: your starting LB, Akeem Jordan...JMU (and Harrisonburg H.S.) graduate. All of which leads me back to the game tomorrow night between the Dukes and Montana...and the NEXT big deal from JMU.
Their quarterback, Rodney Landers. If you've followed this blog since I created it back in the summer, you no doubt know I've been singing Rodney's praises every chance I get. If you haven't seen tape of him, tomorrow night is your best (and hopefully, not LAST) chance to see him in action.
Now, let me be honest. There's no way in hell Rodney gets drafted in April. But personally, I see him making it in the NFL as a running back. Are you listening to me, Lions and Raiders fans?? Learn to implement the "Wildcat" offense...cause here's the guy who can run it for you. (Watch tomorrow night, and you'll see what I mean.)
As to the game itself...
Montana has won I-AA titles, as has JMU. (Theirs came in '04; JMU's, I mean.) This is no walkover for either team. I'm not kidding myself. This might be low-scoring, or a fricking track meet. It can go either way. Hell, even if JMU pulls this out (like I want it to), they still have to face either Richmond or Northern Iowa on the 19th in Chattanooga.
(And I can guarantee you, Richmond STILL wants to exact payback for Scotty McGee's punt return last time, that won the game for JMU.)
I have a feeling I'll have MORE than 3 members in this group between now and next Friday night. I'm just saying...