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Games and Not A Game

It was hardly the worst thing in the world. Yes, Virginia Tech was the loser in last Saturday’s annual multi-Tech game. Many saw it coming. When a very inexperienced team goes up against one with scads of it, the youthful outfit often loses and that is what happened.

There will be another day when guys named Glennon and Ore as well as the entire Hokies o-line are a year older and wiser and guys named Ball and Johnson will be gone. Chances are the outcome will be reversed, as it was the previous two years when the situations also were. It is the nature of college athletics.

Tech will likely lose a few more as they gain experience slowly but surely, and, as was the case Saturday, painfully. Although Frank Beamer has flat out owned Tom O’Brien, and Tech has not lost at BC since 1993, there have been few instances when Frank has gone to Chestnut Hill with this much inexperience. That will be a very difficult game, too.

What was even more difficult than losing to Georgia Tech or anybody else was returning home Sunday morning to discover that another crisis had developed at the nursing home where my mother is spending her final days. There was a very long day spent conducting a vigil that is becoming increasingly grueling as we spend the ensuing days determining whether this crisis is the final one. Who knew it would be so exhausting just standing and watching a life come to a close?

That particular crisis passed, although after each one, and there have been a few during this situation, a few more degrees of her life have slipped away. It is very painful to watch a life that as recently as seven months ago had been chock full of activity now become reduced to a shell that rarely wakens; even when she does open her eyes to examine what is left of the world around her, she seems to have no idea as to the identity of her eldest son or anybody else.

I doubt very seriously I am he first loved one to fervently wish for this to be over. My mother had stated many times that she did not wish to be in the situation she now finds herself. After months of taking her to a variety of hospitals and doctors and finally the Roman Eagle nursing home, I find there is absolutely nothing I can now do but stand and watch as her life very slowly ebbs away.

I have spent much time over the last few weeks pondering just how compassionate is the way in which our elderly are allowed to die, especially after all quality and dignity of life are gone. We treat beloved pets in a much more humane fashion.

This football season has not been life and death. It has been an escape from the reality of life and death, particularly the latter. The time spent at the games and before and after enjoying the good companionship of the friends with whom I tailgate is a pleasant diversion from some harsh realities. Losing to Georgia Tech was hardly the end of the world; that is coming very soon for my mother.

I am dimly aware of what happened around the rest of the ACC and what is to come during this bye week for Tech. There seemed to be very little wrong with the Hoos that a trip to Methodist Flats couldn’t cure.

The most recent of the debates about Duke remaining in the ACC, first started in the early Sixties, has blossomed. Coach K will put and end to it in a couple of weeks, but he won’t be around forever. An administration that has very little interest in Division I athletics will be.

The Canes followed up the egg they laid at Louisville by depositing another on the floor of the Orange Bowl. The difference in quality between the Pizza Boys and Houston means Miami was able to escape with a win. When and if this Canes team totally quits on Larry Coker it will get quite ugly.

That makes for an interesting game this weekend down on South Beach . The Canes host North Carolina in a meeting between what are at the moment, at least since Evans pulled Chuckie off the hot seat, the ACC’s two most embattled coaches [nobody really cares about Ted Roof].

Big John Bunting has had two weeks to attempt to rally troops that against Clemson behaved much like the French Army during the Nivelle Offensive. How the Tar Heels react will say much about Big John’s future in Blue Heaven.

Thursday night will see the ACC’s Battle of the States. For all of the problems, bad losses and vitriol, Chuckie’s Wolfpack are indeed unbeaten in conference play. Pa Bowden’s Seminoles are not. Having ceded the head-to-head tiebreaker to Clemson, FSU cannot afford to lose to the team and coach that often beats them.

Surprisingly enough, the ACC’s biggest game will take place in Groves Stadium. While Clemson-Wake will be a big deal in the conference, it will perhaps rank third in general interest along the University Parkway to the Dixie Classic Fair and the rap concert to be held Saturday night at the Joel Coliseum. Traffic should be delightful.

The Tigers are this week’s media-appointed ACC’s Best Team. The Deacs, while undefeated, mostly remain a curiosity. Jim Grobe often beats Tommy Bowden; if he does it again, bowl executives will no doubt be thrilled at the prospect of Wake’s miniscule fan base leading to many empty seats in December.

Yes, football will take place this weekend in the ACC and every other conference. Chances are, one way or another, I will be watching very little of it. While football is a most pleasant diversion, it is just that. In my little corner of the universe, there are more important things happening than football games.

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