“Delaware Sucks” is a mantra that every Drexel student that has set foot in the DAC on a gameday this millennium knows by heart. It’s almost an instinctual reaction to hearing the word Delaware. <pause… pause… pause> Sucks.
Part of the reason may be the history: These two teams have played 158 times over 107 years as we go into this weekend’s contest. They have followed each other from league to league. If you were a Drexel student 100 years ago, you cheered on your team against Delaware just as much as a student can today. It’s a beautiful tradition, and part of what makes someone uniquely a Dragon. That’s why Coach Spiker’s squad comes to the floor in their signature gold jerseys during the two annual matchups, just as they do when they play and fight for pride in their city contests against Temple or St. Joe’s. But did you also know it’s why you won’t see any opposing teams cheer squads at the DAC for a regular season game?
“The UD cheerleaders and mascot showed up to the DAC which just set off the DAC Pack” says Roland Warzel, the initial DAC Pack President. He goes on:
“Drexel had the game locked up when the chanting of “Hey, Hey, Hey, Good-bye” started. At this point, YoUDee (their mascot) decides to come over to the DAC PACK and walk into the section. As a gesture of good sportsmanship he extended his wing to say good game. However, he didn’t realize that under my regime as President of the DAC PACK good sportsmanship was despised and looked down upon. He was warned to leave several times but stood there with his wing out. At this point someone punched YoUDee right in the side of the head leaving a giant hole in the mascot head. As he staggered back down the steps, the game wrapped up with a Drexel win. Seeing their mascot staggering about with a giant hole in the side of its head, the cheerleading coach comes over screaming and demands the Drexel security guard arrest the DAC PACK for assaulting YoUDee. In true Drexel fashion, the security guard yells back at the coach telling her that she can’t arrest anyone because she is just a security guard. Seeing as she is getting the same service from Drexel security as the students were used to getting, the coach retreated to help the wounded YoUDee.”
The fledgling, initial DAC Pack wasn’t a place for opponents to make friends, as the current edition will remind them. And that word got around the conference. In 2004, the DAC Pack planned a bus trip to go visit their old friends at UD. The Delaware ticket office, perhaps smartly, refused to sell them the tickets. But, being the DAC Pack, and with Mr. Warzel still working in an advisory role, they got creative. Days after turning down the DAC Pack ticket request, an upstart “West Philadelphia youth organization with an interest in basketball” called to setup a block of tickets for the game. Delaware was happy to assist them, and so an hour before game time, there was a busload full of yellow shirted students heckling the home team players:
“We make our way to the section and come to realize our seats were the first 5 or so rows directly behind the basket. Immediately security saw the problem which was going to occur and tried to throw us out. However, we had our ticket stubs and were in the correct seats. The regular UD fans which sat there were beside themselves as we hurled insults during warm ups. The more we yelled, the more they complained, which added fuel to our fire. Seeing this situation quickly spiraling out of control, UD put security guards around the DAC PACK to separate us for the home crowd for the entire game.
The game was pretty close and very heated with the DAC PACK by the end being totally surrounded as more UD fans moved into that section to try and drown us out. As the time ticked down, a security guard came over to negotiate our removal from the BOB. They arranged for us to use a service entrance under the stands. I’ve never seen people so angry as when we were leaving. Even though we lost, it was a pure victory for the DAC PACK. I think they even welcomed us as one of the groups attending the game.” ~Roland Warzel
Come 2006, the two teams met three times that year, with the third being during March Madness at the Conference Tournament in Richmond, Virginia. Multiple busloads of Drexel students had come to Richmond for the game and had been giving the Blue Hens a piece of their mind throughout. Despite this, the favored Dragons were trailing late in an ugly, 43 turnover affair. The Dragons needed to foul and did with about 30 seconds to play. The referees incorrectly awarded Delaware two foul shots, when it should be a one shot and then bonus situation. After the shooter missed the first shot, the referees realized their mistake and went to the scorers table. Due to the officiating error, coupled with the missed shot, Bryan Kersey and his officiating crew had to use the possession arrow to determine possession. That arrow awarded UD the ball. UD essentially was rewarded for missing their foul shot. As a result, Drexel had to foul again, and this time the Blue Hens were correctly shooting two. They hit one, to give them a three point lead, forcing a poor shooting Drexel team to attempt a three to tie that went for naught. The always animated Bruiser Flint was beside himself, and the DAC Pack well, they were thrown out. All of them. Someone had bumped the PVC pole that separated the fans from the court during the commotion and security immediately threw the entire section out of the arena.
The President of the DAC Pack that year was yours truly. I (perhaps surprisingly) had my wits about me and went to speak to the security guard to explain that the pole had been inadvertently bumped and no one had even made even a step towards the court. It was loud, and I got close and put my hand on his shoulder and mouth to his ear to be heard. He stepped back and told me to stay where I was as he called the police. By the time Richmond’s finest arrived, the rest of the DP was back to the bus, and the officers explained that the security guard had accused me of assault, since I had put my hand on his shoulder. I laughed. The officers laughed. It was ridiculous. The kind of thing that only happens when some rent-a-cap has to stand between an animated student section and their rivals for two straight hours. The cops threw me out of the arena. When I got back to the DAC Pack busses I was met by applause.
The DAC Pack is a community that stands as one. It’s our community, and we would have cheered just as loudly for any other Drexel student. It’s just in the blood.
In 2010, it was Marshall Fleming in the DAC Pack for the first ever sold out women’s basketball game on campus. And of course, it was against Delaware:
“It was the year after Drexel won the CAA tournament [and made the big dance]so it was Gabi Marginean’s senior year for us and Elena Delle Donne’s first with Delaware. It was a fantastic game. Drexel took a big second half lead, before Delaware stormed back to lead by one nearing the end of regulation when Jasmina Rosseel hit the longest three pointer I’ve ever seen at the DAC. Drexel won by two.”
In 2011, on the day that Osama Bin Laden was killed in a raid by US Special Forces, Mr. Fleming (who sports a “Delaware Sucks” tattoo) wrote in the DAC Pack facebook group:
Delaware’s former Head Coach, Monte Ross, a childhood friend of long time Drexel Head Coach Bruiser Flint may be known to some for his decade of bringing in academically questionable athletes to the University of Delaware to serve suspension after suspension. But at Drexel, he’s best known for simply not being able to take it any more. And he snapped, screaming at the DAC Pack – Because when they were heckling him, they were mispronouncing his first name. “It’s Mon-Tay” he snarled into a section full of students delighted to get the response. Coach Ross was fired in 2016, but I rest assured that one of the DAC Packs favorite characters, a Philadelphian himself, Mr. Ross is welcome back at the DAC for a good heckling any time he wants.
And that about brings us up to the “It’s not the best record to break” (said Troy Harper) game. THE comeback. The NCAA’s biggest comeback ever, passing a small school named Duke in the record books. Down 53-19 wasn’t where Drexel wanted to be in a first half. But where the game ended, 85-83 with the Dragons victorious, will go down not just in the history books, but in the minds of all Drexel fans forever.
“That comeback… if there comes a time that I can put a story on the DAC Pack wall, that’s my story.” Said current DAC Pack President Joe Campbell. “That game right there, you can never take away.” It was the lead story on Sports Center that night, had every Drexel fans phone lighting up, and made us once again, proud to be a Dragon. “It was a game that put things back on the map. We spent the entire summer reminding Delaware of what they blew… UDel Social Media has either blocked us or deleted all of our comments on all of their pages… I remember the Delaware Band Director coming up to us and saying ‘Why do you hate us?’
Campbell continues: “I don’t think we’re going to be punching any Blue Hens anytime soon, but reminding them [that we hate them]is part of our tradition… The students are coming back… They feel like they are part of the tradition. The feel like they are part of something. It’s a really valuable thing and hard to find on a college campus. I think we’re in a good place.”
And that’s the thing, Mr. Delaware Band Director Who Doesn’t Get It, Dragons hate you because that is just what we do. We’re Drexel. It’s Blue and Gold blood, and it’s over a century of memories like these. It’s a 158 game series that has damn near been split down the middle for wins.
Perhaps more important than the wins though, are the stories. Stories that live and breathe with the students that come through both universities year after year and continue as they tell their chapters in these rivalries to their friends, and eventually their sons and daughters. Every game brings a new opportunity for an experience that will stand out in our history, chapters like these above.
A third place Delaware faces a fourth place Drexel this Saturday at 2pm at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark, Delaware. It’s a big game in the standings. It’s being broadcast on NBC Sports Philadelphia, and it’s the first of two chances this year for the next great chapter in one of the college basketball’s most historic rivalries. So if I can leave you with one final message, it’s this: