No longer will Tailgate attenders be close enough to heckle opposing teams. New head coach David Cutcliffe has decided to move the student section in Wallace Wade Stadium behind the Duke bench on the other side of the field, he told employees Thursday while giving them free tickets to Duke’s opener against James Madison Aug. 30.
Erin Wood, the program’s student marketing liaison, told The Chronicle in July that the student section would be moved to sections 20 through 23–not quite directly behind the Blue Devils, but close enough. Two reasons for the move: Cutcliffe wants students to be closer to the players to cheer for them, and the sun will no longer be in students’ faces. The glare won’t be an issue for the first two games, both 7 p.m. kickoffs, and it certainly won’t interfere with the new fireworks displays slated to begin after the contests against James Madison and Northwestern.
Previously, the only new pre-game event Cutcliffe had announced was the DevilWalk, in which the Blue Devil players dressed in suits walk from the Chapel to the Yoh Football Center with the band playing fight songs, and (ideally) the students cheering and walking alongside them and into the stadium. In conjunction with the DevilWalk—something Cutcliffe said he hopes catches on and becomes a tradition—the athletic department is planning on tweaking tailgate.
Although no details have been finalized, the athletic department is planning on hosting some version of Tailgate on the Main West Quad.
“We just want it to come across to the student body as a positive change for them, not that we are taking away [Tailgate] or trying to take it over because we aren’t,” Wood wrote in an e-mail to The Chronicle.
As the Aug. 30 season opener approaches, people are clearly getting excited to see if these Blue Devils are the real deal. Director of Promotions Bart Smith said Duke has already sold 2,000 more season tickets than last year with a few weeks still left before the season kicks off.
One thing’s for sure: Even if the Blue Devils perform as poorly as they have in the past, it seems the fans will at least enjoy themselves more.
–by Matthew Iles