Army Black Nights vs North Texas Mean Green, 11/18/2017, Time 5:30

Final Score: North Texas 52 – Army 49; Attendance: 26,392

Weather:  Windy, Cool 52; Ticket: $20; Parking: $15

Review: “The refs like ISIS?!?” by Tree

The Site:

Apogee Stadium is the funky home of the North Texas Mean Green. The stadium has unique design with the north end zone seats in shape of a “V”, reflecting an eagle in flight. A small to medium sized stadium that seats a little over 30,000, it has the potential to upgraded to a capacity of 50,000. The walk up to the stadium was in a brisk wind which helped explain why there were some wind turbines in front of the stadium. It was clear that it was going to be a bit chilly in the stadium.

We sat in end zones seats that cost us $20 each. If I had been a bit more proactive, I had seen them as low as $4 on Stub Hub a couple of weekends earlier. However, those were gone a couple of weeks later. A friend of mine who was a West Point grad had extra tickets and there were three of us going so it was the path of least resistance. One of the crew was Q who had a golf tournament that morning. I figured we couldn’t tailgate but he thought he’d be done by noon and we’d still be able to get a couple of hours in. I looked at the distance and upon considering the vagaries of golf scrambles, I had a feeling we’d be too late. However, Q and I have been to a number of games together (MSU, Army, LSU, UT to name a few) so I was happy to give him the benefit of doubt. Of course, he’d didn’t show up until 1:30 and the tailgating was cooked. We arrived just in time for kickoff. Our parking was in the lawn of an aspiring entrepreneur for $15. With our late arrival, I was unable to observe the quality of the tailgating. I did note that North Texas is following the disturbing trend of monetizing tailgating by limiting most spots to alumni donors. I think there were some cash tailgating lots, undoubtedly with a strong resemblance to Siberia. I understand why schools want to do this, but the problem is that most of them don’t have enough demand to generate a parking spot after-market. At a big school, the parking may be expensive (often very expensive – see Oklahoma State) but at least you have an option to purchase. With the small schools, you are just screwed when they restrict the lots.

Opposite our seats, there was a good video scoreboard. On our side, there was an additional scoreboard, but it had no live video. The small stadium had good sight lines so no worries on where you sit. The concessions were fairly expansive and offered a large variety. My favorite offering was the “Big Scrappy”. A huge (24 ounces) pretzel covered with cheese and brisket. It was unfortunately sold out and after Q told me it ran $20 I wasn’t so disappointed that I didn’t get to sample it. The souvenir cup was okay in design but a bargain at $5 with a free refill. The concessions also sold beer, including 3 kiosks of craft beers, which were very popular with all the army veterans we were sitting around. Our seats were bleachers, but I believe there were seat backs in the center section. It was hard tell because the joint was packed. The fans were enthusiastic but I didn’t notice too many traditions. There was a “Go Mean Green” cheer. There was cannon that went off after every score which was very often in this game. Scrappy, the eagle mascot, walked around the stadium but he didn’t do anything particularly special. I did note that the Mean Green Band was very good. I found out later that UNT Music programs is one of the best in country. I will chalk my surprise up to my East Coast bias. Complimenting the band was a strong student section.

The Logistics:

UNT is located in Denton about an hour north of Dallas. We, or should I say Q, drove us up from Houston. It was his prize for being last to the meet up. He made good time which was surprising because that drive is awful. The highlight of the trip was the rather one-sided debate where Q and I trashed Carl’s assertion that Houston’s skyline was better than Dallas’s. It is not Carl, it is just not.

The Game:

This game was a back and forth affair. UNT couldn’t stop Army’s option running attack and Army couldn’t stop UNT’s passing attack. I don’t think I have ever seen a team score 49 points and only complete one pass in the process. There was only one turnover when Army had a costly fumbled punt in the first half. However, the Knights recovered and managed to come back every time the Mean Green went ahead. As the fourth quarter started with Army down seven, the cold was getting to Q and he wanted to bolt. I told him he was crazy. He said “What’s the point? UNT will score late in the game and Army won’t have enough time to drive down the field.” He was certainly looking like Nostradamus when UNT scored on bomb with 3:13 left. It isn’t often that a team running the option goes the distance in less then two minutes. However, Army did just that, tying the score at 49 with 1:23 left. Unfortunately, there was just a little too much time left. The Mean Green moved to the 22 yard line and kicked the winning field goal with five seconds left. It was a great game from start to finish.

Personal Notes:

Typically I root for the home team when I go to a stadium. However, since I was with Q and we were sitting in the Army section, I was rooting for the Knights. It was a bit of shame because it was big game and the Mean Green won in dramatic fashion. However, this was offset by the hilarious antics of some of the Army fans. When a call would not go their way, they would cheer “The Ref likes ISIS”. When UNT got in the red zone, out rang the chant “fixed bayonets, fixed bayonets”. Great stuff.

As we were walking back to the truck after the game, I mentioned that the Mean Green moniker refers to their legendary alumnus, Mean Joe Greene. To which Alabama native Carl said, “Who’s Joe Greene?” WTF? Who is Mean Joe Greene? I explained to him that he is probably the best defensive lineman ever, the cornerstone of the Steel Curtain defense and the starting point of the Steelers’ dynasty. I don’t know if I should blame Carl’s ignorance on his youth or the lack of pro football in the deep South. Either way, as I muttered my explanation, it was clear to me that I am on the slow, unavoidable path to grumpy, old man status.

Amogee Stadium is an impressive sight from the freeway, even if it is on the small side. While a little light on traditions, UNT’s great marching band and overall team play easily compensate to provide a vibrant atmosphere. It’s not a must see stadium, but it is close. Certainly worth attending a game if your team is playing the Mean Green or you are taking in the Dallas skyline as part of a Dallas weekend.

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