Forget what that American-born English playwright said about April being the cruelest month. For college sports fans, August is pretty cruel, too.
The College World Series is over around July 1 and I look forward to a few weeks without college sports; hey everybody needs a break. By the first or second week of August, though, I am over it and ready for the Trojan sports calendar to commence for another year—except football doesn’t kick off until Sept. 1 and the first home volleyball and soccer matches are Aug. 24.
When you are eager for something to occur, a two-week wait can seem interminable—ask any eight-year old around Dec. 10. Or as my doctor said to me a few years ago as I was stepping off the scales: “You are not into delayed gratification, are you?”
To fill the sports void for the next few weeks, I have turned to the TROY Today blog for a little writing therapy. What follows is a list of the five most significant TROY sports moments—at least in my opinion— I have witnessed in person.
Readers can submit their entries in the comments section below and the University Relations staff will pick the best comment and award a prize from the Office of Development treasure trove of Trojan stuff. While I have limited my list to the Division I era, don’t feel similarly constrained when recounting your favorite memories.
Without further preamble, let’s get to the list:
NUMBER 5—Jan. 19, 2006, TROY men’s basketball vs. Western Kentucky
Background: This was TROY’s first season in the Sun Belt Conference and the first game against WKU, which owns a rich basketball pedigree dating back to the Great Depression. Sartain Hall was at near-capacity for this Thursday-night game.
Result: The Trojans, who would finish 14-15 on the season, sent the Hilltoppers out of the arena with a 76-49 loss. WKU finished the season 23-8 and won the Sun Belt Conference title.
Precious memory: Sammy Sharp, a 6-7 transfer from Patterson, GA, ramming home an alley-oop dunk right before the end of the first half to give TROY a double-digit lead.
Significance: At the time, this was the biggest home game in TROY’s young D-I history.
NUMBER 4—Sept 9, 2004, TROY football vs. the University of Missouri
Background: This was the first marquee home football game for the Trojans, after a few years of going on the road to play money games vs the likes of Miami, Kansas State, Maryland, and Minnesota. Mizzou came into the early-season game ranked in the top 20.
Result: A 24-14 win for the Trojans in the most storied game in our football history.
Precious memory: Thomas Olmsted dropping a punt inside the Missouri two-year line in the waning minutes of the game. Coach Larry Blakeney ran down the sideline like he was covering the punt himself. When the Trojan’s downed the ball near the goal line, Blakeney’s thousand-watt grin told the tale—the game was, for all practical purposes, over.
Significance: While this game may have been my favorite moment in TROY sports history, the fact that Mizzou’s season spiraled downward—the Tigers only won 4 games that year—took a little of the luster off the win.
NUMBER 3—June 2, 2013, TROY baseball vs. Alabama
Background: This matchup took place in the NCAA regional in Tallahassee. The Trojans had defeated the Tide a day earlier in the tournament opener. Trailing 8-5 in the bottom of the ninth, the Trojans scored four runs to end Alabama’s season.
Result: 9-8 Trojan win
Precious memory: Little-used backup first baseman Kyle Brown was forced into duty after an injury to Trae Santos, one of the best hitters in TROY history. Brown grounded a double down the third-base line in that ninth-inning rally, the key hit in the inning. Trivia note: Tanner Hicks, who works in the Alumni Affairs Office, was on base for Brown’s big hit as pinch runner. Tanner was an excellent pitcher on that Trojan team, by the way, compiling an 8-4 record and combining with Shane McCain as the best one-two pitching duo in the Sun Belt that year.
Significance: Defeating an SEC team twice in two days and doing it in dramatic fashion makes it one for the books. And Brown’s double is my all-time favorite TROY sports moment.
NUMBER 2— Sept. 30 2017, TROY football vs. Louisiana State University
Background:This was the Trojans’ third visit to Death Valley. The other two trips were heartbreakers, a 24-20 win for LSU in the last minute of play back in 2004, and in 2008 a 40-31 LSU win after TROY held a 31-3 lead with 11:13 to play in the third quarter.
Result: 24-21 Trojan win
Precious memory: An inebriated Tiger fan turning to me in the end zone early in the first half and saying/slurring, “Troy is leading us 7-0. You don’t understand. We’re LSU. You’re TROY. This is like a friend died.” When the Trojans took a 10-0 lead into halftime, my “buddy” took the opportunity to geaux home rather than face further indignity.
Significance: Biggest road football win in Trojan history.
NUMBER 1— March 8-12, 2017 TROY basketball vs. Sun Belt tournament field
Background: The men’s team entered the tournament as the sixth seed, while the women entered as the third seed. The women were looking to defend the 2016 title, while the men were seeking their first title in SBC tourney play. The closest the men had ever come was a trip to the finals in 2010, losing 66-63 to North Texas.
Result: The men won four games in five days, capped by a 59-53 win over Texas State, to take the title. The women won three games in four days to win the title, topped off by a 78-64 victory over UL-Lafayette in the championship game.
Precious memory: The victory celebration on the floor of the Lakefront Arena in New Orleans after the women won to make it a clean sweep.
Significance: How often does a fan get to see his two basketball teams win tournament titles—and trips to the NCAA Big Dance—on the same day?
Don’t forget to share your memories in the comments section. See you at the games!