The sea of white at Beaver Stadium baffled my eyes and my eardrums were nearly shattered every play. I stood in wonder as I saw students in the front row with their shirts off, stomachs all painted in the freezing, 25-degree weather.
Those same students were the first on the field when the Penn State football team upset No. 2 Ohio State, with riots going on after the game and all night long. The Penn State “whiteout” game is truly a sight to see. As I walked back from the stadium, absorbing what I had just witnessed, I realized that this is what college sports is all about. Being the underdog and taking out the big-name school with all the history in their name can bring you to new heights.
I always wanted to go to a big sports school. So I was a little bit disappointed to see the lack of interest in sports that Delaware students have portrayed. Perhaps it has to do with the lack of winning over the past few seasons. However, I have not given up hope and as soon as I saw the news that the Notre Dame basketball team will come to Delaware to play the Hens on Dec. 9, I knew then that our time will come. That will be the moment that puts us on the map.
Usually, this never happens. Power conference schools, especially nationally prominent programs, don’t come to mid-major schools. Mike Brey had a different idea, breaking his rules of not playing the team of his former assistants and not going to play a mid-major school.
The Bob will surely be rocking that day as this is the first time an ACC opponent is coming to the Bob since 1977 when No. 3 Virginia was here. We may not have to wait until March to experience the magic if we can pull off this huge upset. The Delaware football game against Virginia Tech next season is almost as exciting, but not quite. The reason is because that is an away game, and the game against Notre Dame is at home. There is nothing like being able to defend your home court against the very best with students storming the court after and riots being held in the streets all night.
It’s different when you are supposed to win. My cousin goes to Kansas and he always gets upset when the Jayhawks lose in the Elite Eight. He wouldn’t accept anything less than a National Championship. It’s a whole other world. The expectations are so drastically different. If they get to the tournament, it’s expected. There would be nothing different felt on campus. If they missed it, it would be the end of the world. Meanwhile, if Delaware made it, the whole campus would be buzzing, like in 2014.
This game against Notre Dame in December is our chance. It’s our chance to put ourselves on the map and change the way people perceive Delaware sports. This our chance to do what Lehigh did in 2012 when they beat Duke as a 15-seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Those are the moments that people remember. Sure, everyone can name the champions each year, but it’s the other stories that make the most noise. George Mason’s Final Four trip in 2006, VCU in 2011, Wichita State in 2014, Steph Curry’s Elite Eight run with Davidson, those are the moments that people remember the most. And you can’t get those moments if you are already the best.
So maybe, being in the middle of the pack isn’t so bad. It just makes the moments when you do win the big games that much better.