UD’s 2003 Football season was simply HUGE. I mean, K.C. Keeler takes over for Tubby, and then in his second year at the helm, wins the NCAA Division I-AA national championship?! Huge.
Let’s back-up. The history of UD Football could obviously sustain its own book…wait a second, it did: check out Elbert Chance’s One Hundred Plus: The Story of Delaware Football. Included of course is considerable material on Rich Gannon, Tubby’s 35 years, and all that good stuff.
Delaware’s beloved Harold "Tubby" Raymond coached Delaware to national titles in '71, '72, and '79, and announced his retirement in early 2002; ending his coaching career with an amazing 300-119-3 overall record. (If for some reason he didn’t hit 300 wins in 2001, I should think he would’ve stuck around until he got there.) Oh, and Tubby's also a very talented painter! On a weekly basis, he’d do portraits of all his senior players, and I’ve heard he still does these, even post retirement. Hey, the man is multi-talented. A very well...uh, rounded...Tubby.
At the beginning of the 2002 season, the Delaware Stadium playing field was formally named “Tubby Raymond Field,” and then in April 2003, Tubby was selected to the College Football Hall of Fame. Hey, there was no doubt he was gonna instantaneously make it in, upon eligibility.
Okay, Keeler’s 2003 team. Talk about momentum. It’s one of those things, where -- even if you know the team is strong to begin with -- maybe a third of the way through the season it becomes absolutely evident, that something big is there. The wins kept piling up. As did the attendance at the games.
Delaware went into the I-AA playoffs with only one loss, and then proceeded to destroy the other playoff teams in their way. December 19th, 2003 was the big night in a freezing Chattanooga, Tennessee: the 40-0 rout of Colgate. All-American QB Andy Hall was the main man, leading Delaware to its first national championship since 1979…when K.C. Keeler played for Tubby! The overall 2003 season win-loss record was 15-1, the most wins in UD Football history.
“Ohhhh, the annihilation of Colgate in '03! Imagine the collective surprise when Dr. Roselle announced he was paying to fly the entire marching band down to witness and cheer on the event. Horrendous travel planning (okay, really just a terrible airport choice!) and quite possibly the coldest I've ever been in my life, but totally worth it for, 1) The humiliation of Colgate, 2) The sweet hotel accommodations, and, 3) A generally fantastic end to a generally fantastic season. 40-0. Oh, the shame! I had a friend attending Colgate at the time, and made sure he knew every last detail of the stomping.”
- MC, UD '06
“The year they won the national championship, was my first year living in Cali for law school. Everyone I knew seemed to have gone to a major university like Michigan State, UT, etc. Well, the championship game was actually on a channel that I could watch out there. (Digger’s Note: probably ESPN2.) So, I had all of my new friends come over for a championship game party. It was so much fun. And to be able to see UD out there -- since I knew I would have three years of not being able to make it to any games -- was great.
Oh, and my grandparents have had season tickets for pretty much forever. They have watched four of their six kids, and two of their four grandkids that are old enough for college (and a third who went to West Chester), stumble up the steps at halftime to visit them. Man, row T seems high up when you are drunk.”
- Kris V, UD '02
“The '03 football season was an incredible time to be a student at UD. We were juniors and went to every home game and a good amount of road games (including the surprise win at Navy.) The playoffs started with UD hosting Southern Illinois on Thanksgiving weekend as an underdog due to the size of the stadium. The next game against Northern Iowa is by far my greatest memory at UD. A blizzard moved in Friday night into Saturday morning. The student section was packed and at half time, the largest snowball fight I have ever seen broke out and lasted the full 20 minutes. We went on to crush them 37-7.
As the time clicked down in the semi-final game against Wofford the entire student base crept down to the sidelines. We rushed the field and partied for what seemed like forever. Parts of the bushes from the sidelines had been broken and I grabbed a large branch, and carried it all the way up North College to our house on Prospect where it became our Christmas tree for the year.
The next week I packed my bags (and my books for the finals I was able to postpone). We made the 14 hour drive to Chattanooga, honking at every UD car we passed along the way. At the tailgate was a chili contest where one of the judges was Dennis Haskins, a.k.a. Mr. Belding from Saved by the Bell. The game was a blow out, and we stormed the field one more time as Keeler and Hall heisted the trophy. It goes without saying the 14 hour drive home was just as fun as the ride down.”
- Edward S, UD '05
I figured this was the chapter where it made the most sense to drop in a little something about Delaware’s Blue Hen mascot.
When I started UD in 1991, they introduced a new mascot costume at the 8/31/91 Delaware / West Chester game. Nope, this wasn’t YouDee! It was the predecessor, a kinda cheap looking thing, that your grandmother could’ve sewn together. Well, I read on UD’s site, that the costume previous to that one had been in use for ten years, and was in bad, bad shape. So, maybe that costume finally just disintegrated, and Blue Hen '91 was a rush replacement job.
Blue Hen '91 didn’t last long. It was a fairly hideous design, and was ditched two years later in favor of the MUCH improved cartoony design that was dubbed “YouDee.” Though, when the name was first unveiled, there was some student confusion over the pronunciation. I heard some people call him, “Yo UD.”
The original guy inside the YouDee suit was Bob Boudwin, UD '97, who went on to become “Clutch,” the mascot for the Houston Rockets. I actually met Bob a couple of times (when he was not dressed as a blue chicken) while at Delaware…he was a cool dude. And yep, in 2006, YoUDee was inducted into the College Mascot Hall of Fame…which, by the way, is run by David Raymond, the original Phillie Phanatic. Yep, son of Tubby!
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