If I had an Achilles Heel, it would be my emotions. I wear mine on my sleeve and it takes great restraint for me to keep a calm head about things that bother me. It’s even tougher to restrain myself when I have so many public outlets thru which I can vent. This time though, I attempted to do the smart thing. After crafting a particularly venomous blog, I erased it and started over. Of course I’ve done this four other times, but who’s counting.
Some things have been going on at my alma mater which I’m not a fan of. It’s not just one move, by one regime, but multiple moves over the last few years. The final straw to me wanting to let loose was finding out that Jay Rokeach, the long time P.A. Announcer at UM sporting events, will do his last football game against Bethune-Cookman. He’ll no longer be allowed to do basketball but will still do baseball.
Jay has taken the PA gig with the Florida Panthers. The Panthers schedule would prevent him from doing two football games, seven basketball games and assorted other baseball games. Officials at ‘The U’, according to Jay, said that they wanted a consistent voice for football and basketball games. They said it was a business decision but it’s bad business if you ask me.
Some of you may love Jay like I do. Some of you may not. It really doesn’t matter. His voice is synonymous with our stadium experience. People like familiar voices. Why do you think Don Pardo has been doing Saturday Night Live since 1975 and why longtime The Price Is Right viewers miss the sultry tones of Rod Roddy telling them to “come on down.”
Voices do matter. Jay has missed games before and Don Jackson has done a great job filling in. Considering this is all happening four games in to the 2011 season, couldn’t ‘The U’ let Jay continue on with football and basketball and then reevaluate in the summer? Why the urgency now?
This isn’t the only example of bad decisions being made. There’s been a bunch over the years. The one that really irks me, and other Canes fans, is the lack of former players on our sidelines during games. That’s one of the oldest traditions that Miami has and it’s been integral to our success.
When Russell Maryland told me that Jerome Brown being on the sideline and keeping him accountable made him a better player, I tend to think it’s important. Another bad business decision.
Speaking of former players, they used to come to practice to. I haven’t seen too many out at the Greentree practice fields lately. More than one former player has told me they have tried to come down to watch practice and been turned away.
Tony Chickillo, former player and father to current Cane defensive lineman Anthony Chickillo, tried to come watch his son practice on the first day. He was turned away. Evidently this is another tradition that we’ve had that isn’t a part of the 300-page binder.
There were strong rumors that the SugarCanes (ball girls at baseball games) were going to be disbanded, despite being something that Ron Fraser started decades ago. I’m wondering how many people in the athletic department even know who Coach Fraser is these days. I digress.
We have directional parking. We have no external speakers at tailgates. We have parking lots that open a measly four hours before football games. We have no more “We Will Rock You” on the speakers before the game.
Don’t even get me started on the media policies. I know fans don’t really care about media access, and you guys hate us complaining about it, but there’s a reason why you are seeing less UM coverage and more FIU coverage.
No, it’s not because FIU is playing better football. It’s because FIU actually appreciates the coverage. They haven’t made a decision to compete with the media and close out the media. I’ll save this one for another day. All I can tell you is that at one point in time national college football writers would be down here all the time, telling us how great the access was. Now, we barely see those people, and the access, well … it’s slightly better than it is for the North Korean soccer team.
We got three minutes with defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio this week. Really? Three minutes? Again, that’s all for a different time.
The bottom line is that there has been so much turnover in the athletic department that the things that we hold to be important to our tradition and legacy aren’t revered as much any more. You have to wonder why there’s so much turnover in the first place.
Great places to work don’t see people leave at the rate they tend to leave the Hecht center. Don’t get me wrong, I still think ‘The U’ is a great place, I just wish we could stop forgetting our past as we look to the future. The football team’s motto is “Uphold The Legacy”. I’m hoping the athletic department chooses to live by the same motto.
Don’t forget to join us every Thursday night at The Titanic, right next to allCanes, for allCanes Radio. We have a blast. There’s lost of free beer, prizes and great Canes talk. In the words of Mr. Roddy, “come on down”.