I finally did it.
Just short of midnight; I wandered onto the campus of Duke University; stumbled down Whitford Drive; made fun of the aging structures in Durham; and had a GREAT chuckle at the expense of Wallace Wade Stadium (there were two people jogging inside Duke’s football field; which is about two more than attend the average Duke football game each fall!).
Wandering around; we bumped into two other Maryland fans. I looked down a corridor and saw a few Duke fans mingling; which was about the time I figured the four of us (WNST’s Barry Aparicio is with me on this trip) could go down and start some trouble with the “Dookies.” The other pair of fans said they needed to get back to their hotel; but Barry and I stumbled down anyway.
But when we reached that group of Duke fans, we saw something bigger going on.
I have heard about “Krzyzewskiville” before; but NEVER knew it was quite like this. Hundreds (if not about a thousand) of Duke students packed into the center area of campus to wait for the chance to go to a basketball game. They stay in tents in groups of 12; with at least 8 having to be there each night. They do their school work there, they sleep there, they have study groups there, they watch movies there. In talking to some students (the video will be up on WNSTV shortly), there are even other activities going on that some parents might not be so proud of!
Making it even crazier; most of the line WASN’T EVEN WAITING FOR THE MARYLAND GAME! Instead, a large percentage of the fans there were already waiting for tickets to the North Carolina Game…..on February 11th! And they’ve been waiting in those tents since they returned to school from Winter Break at the beginning of January! Next year’s Duke-Carolina game is in March; and the students told me they’d be “tenting” again starting as soon as they got back from Winter Break; meaning there would be some 2 months of living in tents for the chance to watch a basketball game. INSANE!
There’s a few things I took from my experience tonight with the “tenters” that I’d like to pass along…..
1-Duke students are nerds.
Don’t take it personally Blue Devils supporters; but I think you already know this. Despite the fact that there was a great deal of beer pong being played; and the kids really seemed to be having fun, the whole thing reeked of silliness. None of the students really had any idea why the tent process was a good idea; but only knew that upperclassmen appreciated the tradition of it.
The school seemed to be full of concepts and traditions that were nice in thought; but possibly impractical or outdated. The students were all very proud of “Tailgate”; a weekly event at football games in the Fall. As nice as “Tailgate” might be, it would likely be more meaningful for the students to work to fully SUPPORT the football team. The “Cheer Sheets” and “Line Monitor” processes are similarly silly.
The students seemed so willing to continue tradition without really offering new or refreshing ideas that I was a LITTLE concerned that they might take a page from Victoria Jackson and hold an annual lottery to determine which fellow student they’d stone to death. Well, maybe not that drastic. But you get the picture.
2-Krzyzewskiville is…….a recruiting tool
Both a member of the football team and a member of the lacrosse team at Duke admitted to me that the whole “rock concert” atmosphere of “K-Ville” was a legitimate reason they definitely wanted to come to Duke.
To be frank, the atmosphere in the tenting area is almost exactly what every program wants across the country surrounding any of their athletic programs. They have parties every night and day to CELEBRATE the program. The atmosphere is electric; and the campus is buzzing about the team every single day. There is no doubt that the football program at Rutgers or the Lacrosse program at Syracuse would kill to have the same kind of campus buzz.
And it’s not just athletes coming to Durham for other sports because of the atmosphere in the tents; basketball players are as well. The Devils undoubtedly have recruits on campus this weekend; maybe even some whose hosts are sleeping out on the campus’ main corridor. There is no doubt that seeing this type of atmosphere makes basketball players want to be part of it. That’s really not arguable.
3-Maryland really isn’t a rival to Duke
Not only was I unable to start trouble when I wandered down the main campus here in Durham despite wearing a Maryland hoodie; but I was approached with grace and genorosity by the Duke students. They invited us to play beer pong; they invited us to go out for food; to visit some local establishments; and even to hang for the rest of the weekend. They snapped pictures with us; showed us around their tents; and gave us drinks.
When Duke fans chant “Not our Rivals” at the end of games against Maryland, they mean it. They really don’t view the Terps as rivals. And that’s (normally) not out of disrespect. They are about the Maryland game the same way they care about the games against other good teams. They got ready for Georgetown last week; and they’ll be ready for Wake Forest at the end of February. Frankly, they probably care more about those games than they do about this one in 9 hours-because those games are a bit more significant this season.
WITH ALL OF THAT SAID……
I HATE Duke. I stand by everything I said in Friday Morning’s Crabs and Beer. I REALLY hate Duke. I hope Maryland thrashes them by 20 points later today (although they likely won’t).
But more than anything, I hope the tradition at Maryland continues to grow; just not in the same ‘nerdy’ way as Duke’s.
Talk to you from Cameron Indoor Stadium.