The 2016 Las Vegas Bowl was an emotional game to watch as an Aztecs fan. It was a coronation of sorts — a convincing bowl victory against a hyped opponent — but it was more than that. It was also the day when Donnel Pumphrey broke the NCAA rushing mark. In the wake of the record breaking run, the ABC cameras captured a shot of D.J., on the bench, sharing a moment with super fan Tom Ables*.
*This shot is at 1:34:50 in this video if you’re in the mood for a cry.
Sitting on Lemonverbena’s couch that afternoon, I damn near lost it.
Just as I nearly have several times tonight, reading the obits and tributes marking the passing of Tom Ables at age 91.
Now, many Aztec fans (myself, included) have been known to poke fun at the annual mid-December showcase of Group of 5 mediocrity. Indeed, with the exception of 2010, a drought-breaking year in which a trip to literally any bowl game would have been greeted with the unbridled enthusiasm of a monarch’s coronation, the thought of the Poinsettia was always a drag for us. It was a consolation prize in which we’d play a meh opponent in our shitty home stadium and pay exorbitant bowl game prices to do so.
Like most everyone I’m a bit stunned by all of this. I’m a lifelong, third-generation Chargers fan who is sad to lose our team. But pleased as punch to lose the Spanos family! I guess that puts me in good company because San Diego State has to be feeling similarly today. Check out this U-T article about SDSU’s experience as Qualcomm Stadium’s lesser tenant trying to deal with the Chargers.
As we talked about last week, Qualcomm Stadium is a dump. San Diego State attempted to do the following to make it less of a dump:
Upgrade video boards
Upgrade advertising boards
Improve wireless access
The Chargers didn’t want any part of it. It’s clear now that their plan all along was to make the stadium look as awful as possible and let everybody else do their work for them. Clearly, that plan worked spectacularly.
Having read Zeigler’s preview, and after last year’s loss to GCU, and last week’s Loyola loss, I didn’t have much faith or emotional investment in the Aztecs pulling this one out. I’d had the following exchange with blog overlord AKH earlier in the day while negotiating who would take this recap:
Truth is I didn’t know this game started at 6pm. I got home, discovered it was already 15 minutes in, was starving, so I listened and kind of half-watched as I made dinner. The broadcast was on Channel 4 San Diego, which I wasn’t sure still was a thing. Aztecs and Padres games used to be on 4SD, and the play-by-play guy sounded enough like Ted Leitner that I thought it was Ted Leitner, and I wondered why Uncle Teddy was emoting so much when the “Lopes” hit a three. When I was able to sit and watch for a few minutes I realized it was the home-produced Grand Canyon broadcast.