The A-Line It is what it is, unless it is not
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2007
10
Sep

Hype Does Not Float

The Clubhouse Tailgate fanned out across North America last weekend. From the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, tailgaters were perched in stadiums from Ann Arbor to Baton Rouge, the Big House and Death Valley. What they saw was lots of RUTS and the two most overrated teams in the country.

While I am told that Michigan is very bad, looking even worse in person than the demonstration of ineptitude that could be observed on television, we do know which of Saturday’s bad losers captures the most attention from this Web site.

Virginia Tech traveled to LSU Saturday night. I do believe I can assume that most are aware that things did not go particularly well for the Maroon and Orange. Yikes, what a beating! The Tigers hung the worst defeat on Frank he has experienced in his twenty-one years as Tech coach. It was ugly from the start and never got better.

There has been much making fun of Hoo Head Coach and Great NFL Legend algroh recently, a lot of it coming from here. It would seem Frank decided to get in on the act. Saturday night in Death Valley, Frank gave as good an impression of algroh as one is likely to see. From the baffled look on the sideline to the desperation move of blowing the red-shirt from his most promising recruit, Frank had algroh down cold. Rich Little could not have done the Great NFL Legend any better.

The impersonation of blowing the red-shirt off of a top quarterback recruit was the most finely-honed of all of Frank’s Saturday night material. Instead of letting Tyrod spend a year learning the offense and preparing for an orderly position change some time down the road, Frank instead panicked and ensured that Mike O’Cain’s prized pupil will spend this year running for his life behind a lousy line all the while creating a quarterback controversy that will last as long as Sean Glennon hangs around. All this so Tech could lose by forty-one instead of forty-eight. Now that he has perfected algroh, hopefully Frank will decide for his next impression one of Pete Carroll or Les Miles instead of Lloyd Carr.

Tech during the Era of Frank has played teams before that eventually won the MNC, as LSU looked capable of doing. Off the top of my head, I can come up with Miami in 1987 and again in 2001, along with Southern Cal in 2004. In all instances Tech played very well and came very close to winning each game, certainly not the case Saturday night. They have also played in some very tough environments, such as Kyle Field, Oklahoma’s Memorial Stadium, the Death Valley belonging to Clemson and the Orange Bowl back when it was still the Orange Bowl. In none of those places did Tech fall apart as completely as they did at LSU. While message board loons certainly are not shy in expressing themselves, it does not seem unreasonable for reasonable people to ponder the differences between all of those other instances and this one.

One major one is none of those other Tech teams were operating under the inordinate amount of hype that preceded the 07 Tech team. The Jamerson Hype Machine spun it out by the truckload, assuring everybody that this Tech team was going to be The One. The legion of media Friends of Frank bought into it totally, parroting the company line that all Tech had to do was get by that I-10 speed bump to roll through the schedule. While a few [ahem] did point out that there might not be sufficient justification for this kind of hype, it was largely accepted as gospel. The early evidence indicates it was not.

While pondering the differences Sunday morning between the hype and the reality so far, the Tech show popped up on the television. As usual, there was The Commercial.

As Frank sat at his desk mulling over his latest endorsement deals or the plans for the new Beamer’s, with a call from Cheryl causing him to grab his remote and change the video input from CNBC and claim, “I’m working late, uh, uh, watching film, that’s it, watching film,” cash began shooting out of his fax machine. Frank immediately hung up on Cheryl and with a cry of “MONEY!” dived from behind his desk onto the floor to begin scooping it up and stuffing it into his pockets, scrambling around tables, looking under all of those Coach of the Year awards and behind all of the framed magazine covers to make sure there were no stray bills not in his grasp before deciding to jerk the cushions from his couch to check for loose change. At some point during this cash grab, Frank must have glanced at least a time or two out of his office window wall onto the practice field and noticed that his team was not quite as good as he was earnestly assuring any television camera pointed in his direction.

Perhaps it is felt that the unending hype is necessary to continue stimulating the sales of $600k gameday condos and $150k hotel rooms, not to mention subscriptions to Beamerball, those endorsement deals and all the other revenue streams that contribute to Frank, Inc. People are still going to buy officially-licensed Nike apparel from the University Bookstore, so perhaps the focus needs to shift back to the product that drives all of the marketing. It needs a little work, or at least a more sober appreciation of its abilities and deficiencies.

Despite the bad loss to LSU, the season is hardly over, no matter the screeching from the loons whose lives will lack meaning until Tech has won the MNC. The ACC championship, which should be the most important goal of any season, is still there for the taking, no matter how bumbling Tech has looked in its first two games. They are not looking much worse than the rest of the league.

Reciting from the Book of Chairman algroh, Frank noted that Tech’s first championship team, the won that won the Big East and Sugar Bowl in 1995, had started 0-2 before getting its act together and running the table. Tech had looked every bit as miserable in the loss to Cincinnati back then as it did last Saturday before next week knocking off the Canes, at a time when they were still Back. There are at least ten games left to play, all of them winnable. The next is Saturday, when the Clubhouse Tailgate will be back from its travels and returned to the mother ship, as we always do for the next game, whether the last has been won or lost.

In any event, no matter the outcome of the remaining games, perhaps it is time to dial the hype machine back a bit and approach things with a more realistic attitude. If the hype continues unabated, pretty soon even the Cult of Frank might begin claiming the Emperor has no Nikes.

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