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Game Week 2007

Finally, Game Week is upon us. For the first time since the last week in December, many of us are preparing to travel to actually watch a college football game. After a rather tumultuous off-season, it is high time.

Few places will pre-game emotions run as high as they will at Virginia Tech. This is a place that very much wants to return to the normalcy of pounding an opponent into dazed submission on the football field. While it remains to be seen if that will actually happen, the crowd will certainly be ready.

Saturday’s opponent will be East ‘Don’t call us Eastern’ Carolina. The Strawgraspers return to Tech’s schedule after a seven-year hiatus. Back in 2000, the last time these two teams played, the series had gotten to the point where it wasn’t much of one anymore and there is scant evidence that it will be much of one now, despite all of the weauxfing done by Eastern loons. At least Skippy won’t have to worry about losing his starting quarterback to injury.

While the ECU loons busy themselves mostly with grasping at the straw of a supposedly impregnable defense, Tech ones are up to usual habits. The Tyrod Mania sweeping the message boards evidences this. According to the loons, the level of competition in high school football is exactly the same as the college variety, therefore if one succeeds at what used to be known as a lower level, one is immediately ready to perform at the next. It does seem odd that all coaches don’t feel that way.

In loondom, it also seems that the level of college coaching is so incredibly poor that no one ever learns the first thing from year to year. All that is ever taught is by high school coaches, who obviously are far more competent than their collegiate counterparts.

Experience, especially that which comes from actually taking a few hundred snaps under fire, pales in comparison to recruiting hype, at least according to loon world. Anyone who disagrees with this view, including coaches who are paid lots of money, is immediately dismissed with the cry of the loon, ‘you don’t know anything about football.’

As one who obviously knows very little about football, my opinion doesn’t count. Neither, apparently, does this observation gleaned from years of watching college football: teams that start true freshmen at quarterback are distinguished in a number of ways, chief among them in that they are usually losing teams.

Around the rest of the ACC, there seem to be an inordinate number of coaches preparing to coach their first game. A year ago, the good old N&O was assuring us that the breakthrough and breakout year for Big John Bunting was joyfully at hand and the mighty football Heels, like Ol’ Roy’s basketballers, would never again lose a game.

This time around they seem to be slightly more subdued. Along with the alpha Rams, they did not seem to consider three wins exactly a breakthrough. And now we have Butch Davis. While the good old N&O does concede that it might take a game or two for Butch to achieve national supremacy, it won’t be long. After all, Big John’s recruiting, annually claimed by Woody and the good old N&O to be the very best in the country, has now gotten better.

Across the Triangle, Tom O’Brien takes over for the fired Chuckie. It certainly has been a calmer off and pre-season for the Pack. Post game press conferences are apt to be much duller, too; TOB won’t feel the need to constantly explain how he ‘almost’ won a bunch of games.

Up in Chestnut Hill, somebody named Jeff Jagodzinski takes over for the escaped O’Brien. Beats me who he is, too. Since he is coaching for Fredo, the ACC’s version of Mr. Irrelevancy and likely was angling for an NFL head-coaching job before he even held his first practice, chances are few will ever know much about him.

Down at the ACC’s other geographic outpost, Randy Shannon is certainly talking big, weauxfing about winning both the ACC and MNC. That would certainly collapse the Orange Bowl with a bang.

Among the coaches still around, at least for the time being, Duke’s Ted Roof takes aim at ending The Streak. Despite that sparkling 0-12 ledger, Ted was the lone RTP coach to survive last year’s purge. Well, at Duke, they have already proven that it takes multiple winless seasons to get a coach goldsmithed.

Up in Hooville, algroh is preparing for Boise or Bust. The Great NFL Legend had better at least be making a second trip to Big Sky country come late December, or a face will finally go into that fan and it will be his.

The Tommy Bowden Death Watch will either begin next Monday night during the annual ACC Father/Son outing, or it will begin later in the year. Even Daddy felt enough heat last year to rid his staff of the youngest Bowden and a goodly number of the rest of them, too. One is reminded of how well that worked out last year when Larry Coker tried the same thing.

Ralph Freidgen at Maryland still seems relatively secure, if only because it would cost a bundle to get rid of him and he is coaching at a place where basketball reigns supreme. Even so, a return to the sub-500 records of 2004-5 would not be appreciated.

Of the ACC’s 12 football coaches, only Frank and Wake’s Jim Grobe enter the season secure in their environments. Frank, well, he is Frank, while Grobe pulled off the unimaginable by leading the Deacs to the ACC Championship. That will be good for an extended honeymoon that will last until the next 4-8 season.

And so we have football. We will also have that fine tradition known as tailgating, practiced especially well by Clubhouse Tailgate honchos Larry and Clota. Anybody in the vicinity of the Duckpond RV lot Saturday, either pre or post-game, look for a silver Airstream and come by and say Hi.

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