Breaking tradition in The American

The move to the American Athletic Conference wasn’t just a change for Temple athletics, it also extended to student-run fan organization the Cherry Crusade.

“It’s kind of a blank slate,” Crusade President Connor Page said.

That blank slate gave room to try something different.

“We want to bring something new to The American because it’s a new conference,” Page said. “We want to make sure that we develop a tradition that we can carry on throughout The American conference and represent Temple.”

To bring on a new tradition, the Crusade didn’t start from scratch, but instead looked to bring an already established tradition onto the national stage. The rollouts, which have previously been reserved exclusively for Big 5 basketball matchups in the past, are now present at every home game.

The idea, which came from the athletic department, has created negative feedback from alumni that can be found on social media such as Twitter.

“It’s different, it’s very different,” Vice President for Marketing Evan Feinstein said. “We’re going to take some heat for it because, already against Kent State, we did rollouts and former Crusade members and other Temple fans have put some pressure on us to say, ‘Why are you guys doing this? This is a Big 5 tradition,’ and things like that.”

It even raised some questions from the inside.

“[At] one of the more recent meetings we had a discussion about these rollouts and a lot of executive board were against moving towards rollouts,” Feinstein said. “But the fact of the matter is, the more we talked about it, the more we thought it through, we understood where the athletic department was coming from.”

“We understand that it’s one of the better things for the Crusade,” Feinstein added. “We can bring rollouts to the nation over bringing them to Philadelphia because the American is bigger than just this group of Philly schools, and if we can show the Louisvilles, the UConns, Memphis, them and their fans what we’re doing with that, I think that’s significant.”

The changes the athletic department recently underwent gave way to a new mentality that helped sell the idea.

“[The athletics department] brought it down to us, like, ‘Listen, Temple University is bigger than the Big 5,’ and that’s something that stuck to me,” Feinstein said. “That’s when it clicked for me, like, ‘OK that’s fine. If you guys think we’re bigger than the Big 5, then we’re bigger than the Big 5. Let’s do it.’”

“The alumni of the Crusade, they’re a great group of people,” Feinstein added. “They are the most excited to go to games, but we have had some heat from them just from rollouts and things like that, but we take it in stride because … this is what we’re doing now and this is what the athletic department wants us to do.”

Although the athletic department came to the Cherry Crusade, pushing them to do the rollouts at home games, the relationship between the two is close-knit, with the Crusade serving as the “liaison” between students and the athletic department.

“There is some stuff where we go to them and say, ‘This is what you’re doing,’ and there is some stuff where they come to us and say, ‘We want to do this, can you support us?’” Crusade adviser and athletics department marketing manager Denise Fitzpatrick said. “I think we all know each other’s boundaries fairly well, and we as a department want to be supportive of them and them to be successful, and we know that we need their support to be successful.”

“We have the freedom to do our own thing for the most part,” Vice President of Operations Hendrik Herz said. “We work directly with [Fitzpatrick] and we also get input from other people in the athletics office, and there’s many times, especially now that basketball started, that they want us to do an initiative with this or that, or that we want to do an initiative that we’ll present to them. It’s more of generating ideas back and forth or trying to get the money between them or the ideas from us and vice versa.”

As both sides share ideas with each other, it all goes into getting Temple into the national spotlight.

“Indiana started the big heads and now they’re everywhere across the nation,” Feinstein said. “Every school has them and other schools have started other things with it, like the huge cutouts of people [and] things like that, things that roll down the student section.”

“Other schools are going to be copycats, it’s what they do,” Feinstein added. “But if we have that one thing that’s unique to our university, where people start copying us, I think that’s where we become accomplished as a student group.”

Nick Tricome can be reached at nick.tricome@temple.edu or on Twitter @itssnick215.

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