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JMU_Rocks! Offline
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Posts: 539
Joined: Apr 2013
Reputation: 3
I Root For: JMU
Post: #1
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All - Chiefsfan dropped into our board with a great write-up on your school, team, and situation. I wanted to share with you our story. Smack talk aside, it is a privilege to join the Sun Belt and square off against all of the great schools in multiple sports.

Props to Chiefsfan for my inspiration!

The Mascot: Duuuuuuuukes.

Originally known as the Dukes. It was derived from our second President Samuel Duke. Of course, it is this presidential fascination that would lead to renaming the institution for the 4th time after the nation’s Fourth President James Madison. Now the Duke Dog, Marching Royal Dukes, Purple, and Gold Streamers embody JMU spirit. Although, it took us three or four iterations – to shed Madison Man, Madison Woman, and crispy white toilet paper. We never bothered to trademark (JMU or Dukes), because we figured we owned it. Bravado, arrogance, laziness, whatever – it seems to permeate the JMU experience like an all-you can eat frenzy at D-Hall.

The City: Harrisonburg is located in the Shenandoah Valley between the Blue Ridge Mountains and Appalachian Mountains in a mostly rural part of Virginia. The city claims a population around 50K and Rockingham County around 125K with JMU and it’s 20K+ population added much of the year. Over time JMU has grown through purchasing land from the city, who in turn have purchased land throughout the county to incorporate into the city. The campus and city are bisected by Interstate 81 which runs northeast from I40 in Tennessee to the Canadian border near Syracuse in New York. While the I81 corridor passes through many states the largest stretch is in Virginia. Here, farming and poultry production have historic roots and can be a source for unpleasant smells. However due to the interstate (I81!) and historical significance of the valley tourism flourishes. As to location, DC and Richmond are each about 2 hours and 130 miles away, Norfolk about 3 ½ hours, then Philly is 4 ½ hours or NYC around 6 hours – all depending on traffic.

The football program: We started football in 1972 just 5 years after males were admitted to then Madison College. Playing independent, D2, and D3 football until becoming D1-AA in 1980. Football in the 80s was generally poor (4 winning seasons) and lightly attended – highlighted by the 1982 team with future NFL All-Stars Gary Clark and Charels Haley. Basketball through the 80s and 90s was far more popular. JMU began to make some noise in Division 1AA, making the playoffs four times. From 2000 on, the Dukes have had 2 losing seasons, 2 FCS championships, wins against SMU, ECU, and a ranked VT.

Along the way, we have emphasized infrastructure improvement as much or more than coaches. The former stays and the latter may move on to greener pastures. For instance, in 2005 we opened the Athletic Performance Center and between 2009 and 2011 we took our football stadium from 15,000 to 25,000.

Like your experience though, UVA, VT, UM, Georgetown, and the ACC dominate attention in sports. Students need to be indoctrinated into JMU lore and often still root for other teams during and after their time at JMU. Within the Commonwealth of Virginia, I feel like there has been a healthy strategy related to advancement of multiple public colleges within Virginia. Overall, Virginia has a diverse sporting history – with basketball, soccer, and lacrosse also vying for dominance with football. The JMU experience for most is awesome and for most student is a diversionary aspect of that experience. Our reclassification to an R2 University, inclusion in the Sun Belt, and overall growth over the last 20 years all play a part into a more comprehensive vision for the university.

Our issue, especially as it relates to football is how our fanbase will deal with more formidable completion. It is logical to expect that we will lose games, lose coaches, and have top players poached through the portal to go elsewhere. We have a generation of fans who have not seen in person JMU lose more than 1 game in a season. Competing in the Sun Belt and weekly against FBS teams will be more difficult. Our fans love the exposure, but will they be able to deal with 1 or 2 tough years?

Rivalry: This depends on sports. Specifically in football, the FCS pretty much broke down into NDSU, MVCC, Sam Houston, and the CAA. Based on results, we dominated all of them – except for NDSU. In state rivalries such as Richmond, Old Dominion, and George Mason exist – but more fueled by basketball. UVA and VT seem to avoid JMU in most sports, I guess for a reason. We last played VT in football in 2010 (beating them when they were ranked 13TH), UVA in Basketball in 2021 when we won, and UVA in football in 1983 last when they avenged a 1982 loss to JMU.

For football primarily, we’ll also look to previous rivalries with Marshall, App State, Troy, Old Dominion, Georgina Southern, Costal Carolina, and perhaps Georgia State who we tangled with in their FCS days. I think for football, we have losing records with all but Coastal and Georgia State, so we have some scores to settle. Beating Texas State was nice because one of our former coaches (Everett Withers) bolted there the season before we won the FCS championship for 2016. However, I think we would like for all SBC teams (including Tx State) to win and be dominant.
(This post was last modified: 10-06-2022 09:59 PM by JMU_Rocks!.)
10-06-2022 09:52 PM
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