There’s no lack of sports participation affiliated with Duke – the men’s basketball program is widely considered one of the greatest in collegiate history. The Blue Devils recognize the importance of the basketball culture and have frequently attempted to leverage the team’s success to benefit the football program. In the 90s, for example, the Duke president at the time coined the term “Wade Wackos” to describe the student section for Wallace Wade Stadium, attempting to borrow the alliteration used in the more iconic Cameron Crazies. “Everytime We Touch” by Cascada, a tune largely tied to men’s basketball, plays at football games with hopes of bringing similar intensity and excitement.
In recent memory, however, methods of amassing Blue Devil football enthusiasm have proven futile. Before the Elko Era, Duke played through countless losing seasons with little crowd support. Even this year’s home games, with exception to the season opener, have displayed low turnouts.
The Blue Devils’ Week 5 opponent has historically represented the antithesis of the Duke football fanbase. Notre Dame has created generations of fervid football fans, and offspring of Fighting Irish alumni are born into the culture. The squad from South Bend, Ind., never lacks support and completes consistently impressive seasons.
Then how are the Blue Devils expected to compete? They develop a culture of their own.
Duke experienced an introduction to meaningful gridiron triumph in its season opener. Following Jaquez Moore’s Week 1 rush touchdown against Clemson, the Blue Devils successfully executed a 2-point conversion to put Duke up 14 points on the Tigers. The crowd erupted as the completion of a historic upset felt attainable. Soon, “Everytime We Touch” blared across the field as every Wade Wacko clapped in synchronization. The Tigers had little hope left. Rivers of orange flooded out of Wallace Wade as the bliss of a Y2K pop song filled the hollowness of Clemson football. Beyond the gravity of the win, the matchup proved that an electric football culture in Durham is attainable.
Now, four ascendant weeks later, the 17th-ranked Blue Devils’ matchup against No. 11 Notre Dame has a soldout crowd, and ESPN College GameDay is headed to Durham for the first time ever. With history on the horizon, Duke has a significant opportunity to display its culture. Blue Devil fans will have the chance to present messages on signs and exhibit Wade Wackiness in the background of GameDay, and Duke football will be in the spotlight of national television.
Saturday will be a testament to the Blue Devils and the environment that head coach Mike Elko has worked so hard to build. An impressive showing against the Irish may be the catalyst to push Duke football culture to the forefront of the conversation.
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