The benchwarmer show: A distraction or addition to college basketball?
Why college basketball's emerging stars are the Monmouth Hawks benchwarmers.
The Monmouth Hawks, YouTube
Forget the human cheerleader towers and football's end-zone dances. College basketball's emerging stars are the Monmouth Hawks benchwarmers.
The Monmouth Hawks basketball team rolled Georgetown with an 83-68 victory Tuesday night. That’s nice.
But the buzz on Monmouth University, West Long Branch, N.J campus is over the newly released YouTube video "Bench Celebrations 101." The Hawks benchwarmers are delivering the message “You don’t need to be on the court to score big” and their hilarious Sistine Chapel pose is what people will be talking about for years to come.
Some of their staple routines, which draw from pop culture include: “Hawks,” where they flap their arms while leaping up and down like the mascot and “Superheroes,” where one member notches and lets fly invisible arrows like Hawkeye from The Avengers.
The self-titled “Monmouth Bench Mob” didn’t invent bench antics which have been around for years. Back in 2014 the Colby Maine Mules emerged in the national spotlight as their sideline performances went viral.
It all harkens back to a tipping point in 2008 when Mark Titus author of “Don’t Put Me In Coach,” who began as a high school basketball star, ended up as a benchwarmer at Ohio State University. He used his time on the bench to write a humorous blog, which became the 2012 book.
Eventually, Mr. Titus turned his experience into a fundraiser with “Club Trillion” T-shirts benefiting the Kid Again organization. Club Trillion comes from a basketball scoring term for when a player is on court for one minute, but records no significant statistics. The box score result in that case is a host of zeroes, or “a trillion.”
Some purists have taken to Twitter to snipe at these trillionaires, whose riches are unlikely to come from future NBA contracts, but their humor. The Mob's Twitter handle is @MonmouthBench.
However, the majority on Twitter are ready to root for these rowdy Rudys.
Ryan Totka, founder of Athlete Promotions in Dallas, Texas, a New Jersey native, says in an interview that he is so impressed with the Mob that he’s waiting for them to graduate so he can offer them his services and begin booking them for speaking engagements on their techniques.
“I saw the Sistine Chapel. That was hilarious,” says Mr. Totka. “These guys really have a future, maybe not in the NBA but wherever they go people will instantly know who they are, especially in the Northeast. It’s like being a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. People see that on a resume and their eyes light up because they have that recognition.”
Totka says that while “there may be some purists who object to this kind of fun on the sidelines” overall it’s a boon to the team, university and ultimately the benchwarmers themselves.
“Everybody on social, ESPN, Sports Center is seeing it and it’s great for recruiting because people are seeing the team more often than just the games,” he says. “They’re everywhere all the time now.”
Totka adds that “They’re not so much cheerleaders as best supporting actors,” he adds. “They’re not playing, but making a contribution from the bench. These guys are walking off with the basketball Oscar.”