bkdelong: (gnp)
I was reading up on the various remembrance of George Parks on Facebook and came across one of the infamous 1986 Harvard game when the band "charged" the field after they were told they'd get arrested if they'd play during halftime. Some said they saw the first-year football coach at the time, Jim Reid (later coach of the Miami Dolphins, now current Associate Coach & Defensive Coordinator for the University of Virginia Cavaliers) seem a bit dejected prior to the incident and then use the band's chutzpah to encourage the team to go out and kick some butt.

Being the people-finding researcher I am, I reached out to Jim, asked if he heard of Mr. Parks' passing and wondered if he'd share his side of the story while we were all in a reminiscing frame of mind.

So here it is, from former UMass football Coach Jim Reid in his own words:

First, the story of the UMass vs Harvard game, November 8, 1986 in Cambridge, MA -

"George was angry that the police wouldn't let him on the field. I think my exact quote was:

'F**k them George! Run right through them!'

I really didn't think that he would do it but he did. Then I did, in fact, tell our team that the band just ran right over the police and if they tried to arrest George (and the band) we would all fight them. They were all fired up; we went out and kicked their butts. "

(Editor's Note: UMass won 17-7. This story is also told by various people on Pgs. 156-157 of "Through These Doors: The History of the UMMB, 1863 - 2003" by Kerstin Becker)


"But a better story (which I have not told to many people) occurred during the 1990 season.

November, 10, 1990: It was raining heavily during the Villanova game - in fact it had rained heavily all Friday night. We were leading 3-0 at the half. If we won that game we would be Yankee Conference Champions.

As I walked out of the stadium at half-time I saw George. He was angry so I asked him what was wrong. He told me that the administration wouldn't let him on the field.

I said, "Of course not, George, that field would turn into a quagmire if you guys got on it."

I thought about it for a minute then ran back to him and said 'Get that damn band out there and march around as long as you can.'

Honestly, I was shocked when I came back on the field. It was 10" of mud. Nobody scored in the second half and we won the Championship. George and the famous UMass Marching Band was the key factor. Of course, I denied to everyone anyone that I ever told George to take the band on the field.

I have told Andy Talley, Head Coach of Villanova for 20 years, I had nothing to do with the UMass Band going on the field. He may find out now [but considering the circumstances], I think that will be OK.

I loved both those men - both George Parks and Gerry Grady [NB: Grady passed on 9/2/2010]. Both great, great, great men!!!"

(Editor's Note: The New York Times covers that game very briefly here:

Hofstra Will Face Cortland State
by William N Wallace
November 12, 1990


UMass in Playoffs


The East has another playoff team in Massachusetts, the Yankee Conference champion, but the outlook for bowl-game invitations dimmed for Syracuse, which lost to Tulane on Saturday, and Army, defeated by Air Force. Penn State, which next plays Notre Dame, is the only viable Eastern bowl candidate.


UMass, a 3-0 victor over Villanova in the mud at Amherst, clinched the Yankee Conference title for the third time in five years and became the first outright champion since 1985 even with one game left, against New Hampshire.

The Minutemen thus gained the automatic bid for the 16-team Division I-AA tournament, which begins Nov. 24. This team, which survived the loss of its quarterback, Gary Wilkos -- injured in the sixth game -- has an 8-0-1 record, the tie coming against Holy Cross in the opening game, Sept. 8.)


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