Oct. 26, 2012
Cullowhee, N.C. - The Western Carolina Catamounts host the archrival 15th-ranked Appalachian State Mountaineers this Saturday, Oct. 27 in the annual "Battle for the Old Mountain Jug," at E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 pm.
Catamount Athletics is projecting a sell-out of Saturday afternoon's game with fans encouraged to purchase tickets in advance. As of Friday morning, fewer than 2,000 total tickets remained for the game. Fans can get tickets by calling the WCU Ticket Office at (800) 34-GOWCU by 5:00 pm on Friday afternoon, or by logging on to CatamountSports.com. Gate 1 on the West Side for Will Call and ticket purchases will open at 10:00 am on Saturday morning.
Saturday's game will be broadcast by the Catamount Sports Network and can be heard locally on WWCU-FM, Power 90dot5 in Cullowhee; 540 AM WRGC in Sylva; 1050 AM WFSC in Franklin; 920 AM WPTL in Canton; on ESPN Radio 1310 and 970 AM in Asheville/Canton; 1600 AM WTZQ in Hendersonville; 1150 AM WAVO in Charlotte/Rock Hill, S.C.; and 1270 AM WCGC in Belmont/Gaston County. Fans can also tune in online at CatamountSports.com.
The football rivalry between WCU and ASU dates back to 1932, but took on a new shape in 1976. That shape came in the form of a replica moonshine jug dubbed "the Old Mountain Jug." Brainchild of the school's sports information offices, "the Jug," which is up for grabs for the 37th time in series history, is awarded to the winner of the annual gridiron grudge match.
Sports Illustrated once called the WCU-ASU series, "the best football rivalry you've never heard of." The magazine took it one step further in 2005 as Maggie Haskins made sure the rivalry got more attention nationally. With Western Carolina's players holding the Old Mountain Jug in the main photo of the piece, she wrote, "After extensive research...I compiled a list of some of the great rivalry trophies across the land. Instead of merely listing them, I decided to come up with some of my own awards." Her category concerning the Old Mountain Jug was as follows: the "If you stick the word `old' in front of it, the trophy becomes inherently cooler."
"You always look forward to this game. Whichever side you're on, it's a rivalry game," said WCU head football coach, Mark Speir, during Tuesday's SoCon Teleconference. "Our two alumni bases, student bodies, Western North Carolina - it's a rivalry game. These are fun games to be a part of. I know we're not going to have to motivate our players at all this week. I'm expecting a big rivalry, a great crowd this Saturday and I think it'll be a great afternoon of football."
As if the mountain-rivalry between WCU and ASU needed any additional story lines, two are prevalent as the 77th all-time series meeting on Saturday afternoon unfolds. With two conference losses already on their ledger - both coming at home marking the first time since 2002 ASU has dropped two games at "the Rock" - the Mountaineers need to win out to have a chance at either a SoCon Championship or a shot to make the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoffs.
And then there's the storyline involving the coaching staffs.
Speir and three full-time members of its coaching staff and one offensive assistant are all less than a year removed from Appalachian's coaching staff under Jerry Moore. Combined, six of the Catamounts current coaches have direct ties with the Mountaineers: Speir and offensive coordinator Brad Glenn coached in Boone for nine and seven seasons, respectively; offensive line coach, John Holt, and wide receivers coach, Trey Elder, both played and coached for Moore at App; tight ends coach, Pat Mills, was a four-year letter winner along the offensive line for the Mountaineer football team from 2007-10; and offensive assistant, Jordan Smith, was an undergraduate student assistant with the ASU coaching staff.
Speir described the relationship with his former co-workers that he'll stand across the sidelines from as "a sibling rivalry."
"You don't want anybody else to mess with them, but in the back yard, you want to beat your brother as bad as you want to beat anybody. But we've got a lot of respect for them. When this ball game is over, those guys are still going to be some of my best friends in the world," Speir said.
Speir will try and join elite company in WCU football history on Saturday. Only one, first-year head coach in the Catamounts' history has defeated the Mountaineers in his first try as legendary head coach Bob Waters defeated Appalachian, 35-7, back in 1969.
Overall, Western Carolina (1-7, 0-6 SoCon) continues to seek its first conference victory of the season, looking to snap a current seven-game slide since its season-opener against Mars Hill, 42-14.
Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 pm.
Things to know before you go:
- Gates at E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field open 90 minutes prior to kickoff for all home games ... On Saturday afternoon, fans can enter the stadium for pre-game beginning at 2:00 pm ... Tailgating with alcoholic beverages is permitted three and a half hours prior to kickoff, beginning at Noon;
- Game day ticket sales can take place at any of the entrances to E.J. Whitmire Stadium. Will Call for Saturday's game will take place at the Northwest Ticket Booth (Gate 1, main stadium entrance) beginning at 10:00 am;
- Fans can avoid the lines on game day by printing Will Call tickets online at CatamountSports.com;
- Western Carolina has a no re-admittance policy to the stadium ... Also, umbrellas, coolers and alcoholic beverages are not allowed inside the stadium;
- Gate 2, which in years past has served as the main student entrance, WILL NOT be open for entry throughout the 2012 season ... There will be ticket sales available at Gate 2, it is just not open for entry ... Students and fans need to use Gate 3 at the top of the stairs or Gate 4 along Forest Hills Drive to gain access to the East Side stadium.
Traffic Pattern Reminders:
Fans coming to the game Saturday are again asked to use the University's main entrance off of N.C. Highway 107. All Catamount Club members who have RESERVED PARKING are encouraged to enter campus at the Forest Hills Road entrance to gain access to the Stadium and Creek Parking Lots. Catamount Road, which runs behind the West Stands and the Ramsey Center, will be closed to through traffic with a pass required to gain access to the Chancellor's, Creek and Stadium parking lots.
WESTERN CAROLINA VS. APPALACHIAN STATE SERIES:
In a series that dates back to 1932, Western Carolina and Appalachian State meet for the 77th time in the longest active series for both schools ... WCU trails in the series, 18-57-1, overall including a 9-23-1 mark all-time in games played in Cullowhee - 6-12 all-time at E.J. Whitmire Stadium ... the traveling trophy, "the Old Mountain Jug" will be up for grabs for the 37th time ... WCU has dropped seven-straight games including three-consecutive in Cullowhee since its dramatic, come-from-behind victory at home back in 2004 ... Overall, the Catamounts have lost 25 of the last 27 meetings with their mountain rival.
MORE HISTORY / NOTES ON THE WCU-ASU SERIES:
- Including this season, Appalachian has been nationally ranked in eight-straight meetings with the Catamounts ... ASU has been ranked No. 1 twice in 2006 and `10 ... This season's #15 ranking is the lowest for the Mountaineers at the time of the WCU game in their current win streak;
-The WCU-ASU rivalry began in 1932 and ASU dominated the series through its first three decades by winning 21 of the first 24 meetings ... The Cats held their own in the 1960s and won six of the games played in the `70s ... After winning four of the first five games in the `80s, WCU saw the Apps regain their edge;
- "The Streak" was 13-straight Appalachian victories from 1985 through 1997 ... WCU snapped the string with a dominating, 23-6, win over the nationally-ranked Apps in 1998 in Cullowhee in a game in which Brad Hoover rushed a school-record 49 times for 195 yards;
- The two teams have played for the "Old Mountain Jug" since its inception in 1976 - the brain child of the two SGA presidents and Sports Information Offices.
CATAMOUNTS LOOKING FOR STREAK SNAPPERS:
WCU looks to snap several streaks on Saturday afternoon including a 2O-game winless drought in Southern Conference play that dates back to 2010 ... WCU's current stretch of 20-straight losses in league play is the longest ACTIVE losing skid for one team in its respective FCS conference (Austin Peay and Idaho State have 11-game conference winless droughts) ... WCU has dropped seven-straight games on the 2012 season, the fourth-longest current losing skid in FCS (Austin Peay and Rhode Island have both lost nine-straight games dating back to last season).
MORE ON WCU'S CURRENT SOUTHERN CONFERENCE LOSING SKID:
- For the second time since 2005, Western Carolina has dropped 20-straight Southern Conference games ... the two, 20-game skids are tied for the third longest in SoCon history ... VMI holds the record of 28-straight conference losses from 1996 through 2000 before halting the slide against Chattanooga ... Davidson has the second-longest drought that stretched 25-straight league games;
- WCU's first, 20-game skid started with a 35-7 road loss at Appalachian State in 2005, one game removed from a 24-0 shutout victory over Wofford - the only time the Terriers have been blanked since joining the SoCon ... a WCU win in the 2005 game would have given the Catamounts a share of the SoCon regular season crown ... WCU snapped the first 20-game slide with a home win over Chattanooga (11/1/08);
- The current 20-game SoCon winless drought started on Oct. 9, 2010 with a home loss to Samford, one week after WCU's last conference win at The Citadel (10/2/10).
WESTERN CAROLINA VS. NATIONALLY-RANKED FCS TEAMS:
Since 1983, WCU is just 11-71-3 all-time against nationally-ranked, NCAA FCS teams ... Eight of Western's 11 wins have come at home as WCU is just 3-41-2 all-time on the road against nationally-ranked FCS teams ... Two of the three road wins came during the 1983 season ... WCU's last win over a ranked opponent came in 2006 - a 20-17 upset victory over then No. 19 Eastern Kentucky in Cullowhee ... the Catamounts are 0-3-0 all-time against teams ranked 15th.