GHOE – Nothing Like An A&T Party

By Craig R. Turner
Published: October 24, 2014

There is no larger single event on the yearly calendar of the City of Greensboro than N. C. A&T’s Homecoming weekend. Not even the ACC tournament. It is a wonderment all to itself.

Commonly referred these days as GHOE (The Greatest Homecoming on Earth), this traditional October festival will bring an expected 45,000 visitors into the Greensboro Area over the next three days. There is a seemingly endless list of concerts, dances, parties, reunions, and celebrations of all sorts that will occupy every hour of day and night beginning around noon on Wednesday and running all the way up to sunset on Sunday afternoon. It is complete organized bedlam in this city for this week and no one in attendance wants miss one minute of it.

If you did not have a hotel room already booked several weeks in advance, you can forget finding anything within any proximity to the campus, downtown Greensboro, the Coliseum complex or the Koury Convention Center.

One can perhaps try to find accommodations in nearby Winston Salem or Burlington if you don’t mind driving back and forth along a 25-mile trek either west or east of the city respectively. Plenty of old school chums will bunk out with former classmates who reside in the area as an alternative to the high hotel prices encountered during GHOE week.

Traffic along all of the main arteries leading into central and east Greensboro will be bumper to bumper in all directions by mid-day Friday. The campus will be completely jammed with cars on Friday and Saturday so have a good pair of walking shoes on you feet or try catching a seat one of many shuttle buses that will run all day. As far trying to find a parking space on the yard? Give us a call sometime next week and let me know how that worked out for you?

If your plans include dining out, you need to have reservations or a lot of patience in long lines because every restaurant, pub, sports bar, and diner all over town will be packed to the gills from opening to closing. Local business owners view GHOE as one big profitable windfall before the holiday season shifts into full gear in November. City officials estimate that this weeklong spectacular will generate a whopping $12 million dollars in revenue for businesses and the tax base in just one weekend. Not a bad payday.

A great many people who have absolutely no affiliation with A&T take time off work each year to participate in this community event. Entire generations plan their vacations around this week which many times doubles as a great family reunion.

By all definition, homecoming has always been that way at A&T stretching as far back to the late 1940’s all the way up to this weekend. A&T becomes the central home to one big giant community block party that very few colleges, large or small in this state can rival for atmosphere, enthusiasm, pageantry, and camaraderie. It can be total chaos in getting through all of it and yet as fun of a time that you will ever remember until late October rolls around again next year.

It’s a one of kind party because that’s what Aggies do. An Aggie Party. Welcome Home!

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This week’s homecoming game with Florida A&M is a crossroads game of sorts for N.C. A&T. With just four games to go in the regular season, The Aggies are sitting at 6-2 and 3-1 in the conference and holding on to second place behind Bethune Cookman. A win this Saturday will match the season total of wins for the last two years, guarantee a third straight winning season, and give this team lot of momentum and confidence that will be vital down the stretch just before the bye week.

FAMU is coming off their second consecutive win after dropping its first five games of the season. The Rattlers have upended Savannah State 27-14 and last week held off a furious rally from Howard in Washington by a 31-28 score.

The story on FAMU this year has been a team with a fair amount of talent on both sides of the ball but they have been plagued with inconsistent play both offensively and defensively. The Rattlers have a capable quarterback in Damien Fleming who much like Howard’s Mike McGhee. Fleming is the heart and soul of the FAMU offense. He accounts for 80 percent of all offensive production for the Rattlers.

Although Fleming does not have the physicality of McGhee he is very mobile and can make plays with his feet and is an accurate passer when given the proper time. After an impressive freshman debut, the senior signal caller suffered through a couple of really lean seasons, due partly because of persistent injuries and partly because of a head coaching change and three different offensive coordinators and systems in that same period.

Despite that, the Rattlers are third in the conference in passing and just one spot below A&T in total offense in the in-conference statistical race. Coach Earl Holmes has an extensive resume as a former all –pro linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers and is a defensive minded coach.

However, FAMU’s defense, although blessed with a good amount of talent, has not lived up to Holmes’ expectations allowing 22 points per game and is last in pass defense (228.8 ypg) and is one of the leaders in penalties (82.2 ypg) assessed against conference competition in three games. The kicking game could be huge in this game as both teams claim the two best placekickers in the MEAC in A&T’s Cody Jones and FAMU’s Chase Vanadore.

A&M has put together back-to-back wins and that can’t be brushed off but to date they haven’t run into a team within the conference with speed and depth of an A&T. An expected sellout homecoming crowd of some 25,000 plus will be looking for a high scoring affair but when too offensive minded teams meet the game usually turns into a defensive battle where careless turnovers could easily pigeon hole the offender.

That is a likely scenario at least in the early going and especially in the first half. However, road legs could begin to show against a ground-oriented team like A&T.

Unlike most teams, the Aggies will not back away from run whether ahead, tied, or behind and that mentality will severely test FAMU’s defensive discipline. If A&T’s offense controls the clock and the Aggie defensive line does likewise along the line scrimmage against FAMU’s front five pass protection, then Aggies should gradually gain control and pull away in the latter stages in what should be a very good football game and a fun afternoon for all the Aggies in attendance.

Everyone please party responsibly and enjoy the weekend.

PREDICTION:

N.C. A&T – 34
FAMU – 21