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Reality Bites

Reality has an irritating habit of oftentimes intruding on our fun and games. I started a column early Monday morning after reading the news, paying little attention to a blurb about an escaped jail inmate in the New River Valley .

I went out around 9 to attend to some business and returned about 12:30. Paying little attention to anything else, I finished the column. As I prepared to post it, an incoming e-mail informed me that the situation at Virginia Tech had changed considerably since early that morning. All hell had broken loose.

The name of William Morva was now featured prominently on television channels ranging from the Roanoke stations to Fox News, CNN and MSNBC. Live shots of the Tech campus showed armed police everywhere and members of a local SWAT team entering the Squires Student Center . It was not exactly a typical first day of classes at Tech.

For obvious reasons, I decided to delay posting the column. The afternoon was largely spent watching television news, listening over the Internet to the NRV police scanner and swapping e-mails with people in Blacksburg .

The scanner informed me that more and more police were being summoned to the Southgate Drive area that runs between Lane Stadium and Tech Center Drive to the Corporate Research Center . While half a dozen television channels ran a live press conference featuring Tech President Dr. Steger and the Blacksburg police, an excited voice broke over the scanner exclaiming, “I’ve got him.” Thus ended a drama that also ended the lives of by all accounts two fine men.

I’m guessing by now most reading this are aware of what happened at the Montgomery County Regional Hospital and all that transpired in the thirty-some hours it took for police to find Morva cowering under a briar patch along the Huckleberry Trail. He didn’t seem to be quite so brave when the possibility of ambush was eliminated.

By all accounts Morva was a classic loser. News stories indicated he had serious trouble holding a job and seemed incapable of functioning in a normal society. He had even bungled his previous attempt at criminal activity, botching a convenience store holdup. A lengthy prison stretch was awaiting him as he managed to murder a hospital security guard and escape.

It is truly unfortunate that Derrick McFarland and highly-decorated Montgomery County sheriff’s deputy Eric Sutphin are dead. They were far better examples of humanity than the low-life accused of their murder. What is even more unfortunate is that while their lives have ended, Morva will live for likely years as his case and appeals wind their way through the criminal justice system at a snail’s pace.

What is most unfortunate is that police took the son of a bitch alive.

For those that might be interested, here is Monday’s column.

The Dead Zone is winding down. Within a couple of weeks, football will again be played. Coaches continue to talk about their practices and prospects for the year, with some of the rhetoric quasi-believable.

A sure sign that the season is fast approaching is the return of the Tech television show. The opening one featured Voice of the Hokies Bill Roth interviewing Frank. When asked about the re-configured offense, Frank said that it would be important for Tech to punt the ball well. This ringing endorsement of the new and inexperienced starters would tend to make one believe that perhaps there will be few 50-49 offensive shoot-outs seen in Lane this year. Of course, Frank is also the guy who next week will be commenting to the media about the striking similarities between Northeastern and the Steelers.

Frank will be trotting out a new starting quarterback this year. At Tech and most places, this means that the Number 2 guy will immediately become the most popular player on the team among a segment of the fan base.

It can be expected that there will be those message board loons who will decry the guy who has basically retired the ACC Coach of the Year trophy as an incompetent boob without the first inkling of how to correctly coach the game of football because he insists for unfathomable reasons in starting a slug who can barely pass the ball past the line of scrimmage when it is as plain as the nose on your face that the back-up is by far the better QB. This is a phenomenon seen at all schools, or at least those with active message boards.

There have been times over the years when I have been convinced that my knowledge of football far exceeded that of the coaches and was not shy in expressing that belief, opinions that, perhaps not altogether coincidentally, were formed following the consumption of copious amounts of brown liquor.

I have mellowed out a bit in my dotage and tend to trust the guys who are paid much better than I and have more career wins to make those decisions. This is an altogether more adult attitude that will likely last until Glennon’s inexperience costs Tech a game, as will inevitably happen. It is hard to gain on-the-job experience without actually gaining that on-the-job experience.

Am interesting commercial during the Tech show was the obligatory one for Beamer’s. It showed Frank back in the kitchen cooking a steak, with Greg Roberts’ voiceover hinting that patrons just might find Frank preparing their meal. This was obviously the position held last year by Mike O’Cain as he hung around Blacksburg waiting for Kevin Rogers to leave.

It would seem that hiring assistant football coaches is a bit easier than finding good grill men. Sometimes the boss just has to roll up his sleeves and pitch in. It can be expected that until some good help can be rounded up or there is another unemployed coach out there waiting for a current staff member to leave, after games this year Frank will be cutting short his press conference in order to hustle over to the restaurant and help out with the post-game rush.

I continue to find interesting the continued weauzfing by Carolina ’s Big John Bunting. He continues to yap about how good will be his Heels. This is totally out of character for Big John, who in the past usually restricted his pre-season comments to along the lines of “Well, I hope we don’t lose too many games by more than thirty-five.” One does wonder what he knows that nobody else seems to.

Big John’s latest bragging came in the N&O’s annual story claiming that THIS will finally be the year the Tar Heels break out in football. Like the changing of the seasons, this annual story appeared a week after the annual N&O story pondering why college football in the state stunk so badly.

Sports columnist Ned Fowler’s fawning column informed readers that fans this year would see the unveiling of Bunting Ball, a style of play focusing on defense, special teams and originality. It would seem nobody has yet informed Ned that the ACC expanded a few years ago.

Rest assured, Heel faithful; Barnett has proclaimed that this will indeed be the year the World’s Greatest University finally fields a football team of which the basketball team, GLAD, the Taliban and the Young Socialists League can be proud.

Then there were comments made by that quote machine algroh. In interviews conducted during the Hoos’ annual Meet the Legends media event at the Smithsonian, the Great NFL one said that this year he wanted his Offensive Coordinator to coach the offense and his Defensive Coordinator to coach the defense.

It is good algroh got that straight, since there did seem to be games last year that the guys were confused as to their responsibilities, or perhaps they flipped a coin before kickoff to determine which coordinator handled which unit. The Great NFL Legend is nothing if not highly-organized.

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