I think Brian Sipe is really smart. Forget that he won the Little League World Series and was an NFL MVP. That simply substantiates his jock credentials. But come to think of it, when you add in his undeniable passion for Aztec success, it adds up to one fantastic alum.
So, last spring Brian came to our alumni office on a quest to rebuild the atmosphere and passion surrounding Aztec Football. He has been a player, a fan, a supporter and committed alum for 40 years. He is also among the many who have witnessed the steady decline. But, since Brady Hoke persuaded him back to coach quarterbacks, Brian has determined that our football program needed him for even more than Ryan Lindley’s mechanics.
Brian Sipe is all in.
Initially, I was both thrilled and terrified. Brian had plenty of ideas, well articulated and backed with a zealot’s belief that an atmospheric makeover could not only reengage the long-dormant Aztec football fan base, but provide our players with a much needed edge. So I listened. Then he listened. Then he tweaked his plans. His eyes were on the prize, which was more Aztec fans, more student enthusiasm, more bolstering of fan love for the team and more fun at the Q. Brian systematically met with administrators, alumni, fans and supporters. None questioned his motives.
And it was time for Aztec Nation to recognize the direness of our straights. It was time for an intervention.
So I concluded: why not jump on the Brian Sipe bandwagon? Not only have we got nothing to lose, but this guy has credentials unparalleled.
So, I observed with great interest, joy and true pure red and black fervor the debut of his vision.
First came the “Warrior Walk.” How many people said no one would come to Qualcomm two hours before kickoff? Most of us remember when there were hundreds of tailgate parties wedged in at B1, F4, N2 and everywhere in between. Thousands of red-and-black clad alums and friends would gather three, four, five hours before the game. In recent years this festival has steadily diminished to the point where I could drive or walk around the stadium and count them on my fingers and toes. And then it happened as if Brian and Brady and Borges had drawn it up with a stick on the dirt. The Union Tribune writer claimed an announced crowd of 150, but he must not have been there. I’d say 400 based upon 100 yards of people five deep. Truly electric. The fans were screaming, the band was playing and the players were smiling. Touchdown Aztecs!
Then Zuma the jaguar was introduced with six minutes until kickoff. Now this was a dicey one in that we all remember the divisive mascot saga of seven years ago. And sure enough there are some paranoids among us who claim that this is the first step toward elimination of our Aztec Warrior. Coach Sipe had a different view about a playful kid-friendly supplemental character. It was, basically, that to enable our human-faced Aztec Warrior to retain his dignity, we needed something extra to be zany and engage kids. Extra point Aztecs!
Then came the Aztec Warrior running the spear onto the field and handing it to our first Honorary Warrior. Marshall thrust that javelin into the turf with authority.
Finally, The Swarm. This was awesome! How 80 guys could sprint as a beehive I don’t know but it was totally cool.
Aztecs win 47 – zip.