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January 11, 2012

Eblen Center under "blizzard" advisory for two upcoming games

Thursday, Jan. 19 men's game vs. Jacksonville State
Monday, Jan. 23 women's game vs Jacksonville State

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- While there has been almost no snowfall across Tennessee this winter, the Upper Cumberland region is facing a bona fide "blizzard" in the coming days -- inside Eblen Center, that is.

A "blizzard" advisory has been posted for Tennessee Tech's upcoming basketball games against Jacksonville State. Tech officials are expecting the advisory to be upgraded to a fill "blizzard' warning for the men's basketball game on Thursday night, Jan. 19, and the women's contest on Monday, Jan. 23.

Whether or not the weather outside cooperates won't matter -- the legendary "blizzard" is brewing inside Eblen Center for the Ohio Valley Conference games against the Gamecocks. Tennessee Tech Athletics in bringing back The Blizzard, and fan participation is the key.

"Blizzards" in Eblen Center became legendary in the late 1980s and early 1990s, one event going so far as to be selected by ESPN as the Play of the Day. That's not a play from the game, but the actual "blizzard" of Tech squares. The network used footage of Tech's blizzard as a key video element during it's lead-in to national telecasts for the remainder of that season.

Tech found the original "Tech squares" for this blizzard -- small, square sheets of toilet paper -- and will provide them to fans in the stands prior to the games. No outside paper of any form will be allowed into Eblen Center. No objects should be thrown into the air except the "official" Tech squares.

Tech held "blizzards" last year at a couple of games. It was the first experience of the event for many younger fans who weren't attending Tech games 15 to 20 years ago, including the current TTU student body. For many, they had no experience of the huge blizzards of those decades that actually caused the floor to get darkened by the heavy amount of paper "snow" in the air.

Fans are asked to act in a responsible manner for the safety of the players, and to follow the OVC Sportsmanship guidelines by not throwing the paper onto the playing floor to hinder the game's progress. Throwing paper onto the floor could lead to ejection from Eblen Center.

"We're excited about bringing back the blizzard, and we're trying to manage it within the OVC Sportsmanship guidelines," said Mark Wilson, TTU Director of Athletics. "It's an event from the past that our fans and students always got excited about. We're asking fans to contain the blizzard within the stands so we don't interfere with the game."

Fans wait in anticipation for Tech's first basket of the game (field goal, not free throws, that is). As soon as the Golden Eagles score their first basket, the air is filled with Tech squares, sometimes so thick that the "blizzard" blocks out the arena lights and shadows engulf the floor.

"It's important that we have one blizzard at our first points, that it stays in the seats, and that nobody throws any items after that," Wilson said. "That's the main message we need to impress upon our fans."

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow?