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Failures and Fans

It has become a Sunday ritual during football season. While I usually spend fall Saturdays chasing the Virginia Tech football team around the countryside, after returning home the rest of the weekend generally kicks off with my reading of message boards. You can learn a lot. There is not only riotous entertainment to be had, one can learn a lot.

This activity is not just for Sundays. It was Monday morning before I was able to find the perfect cure for the beginning-of-the-week blahs, googling New York Mets message board. The laughter induced from reading them enabled me to kick off the week in a fine humor.

Usually, however, I confine my message board reading to Sundays. I rarely read any devoted to the team to which I pledge allegiance, Tech, other than to scan one in particular for posts made by people I consider friends, especially those by someone recently conferred curmudgeon status, who never fails to live up to it.

I prefer to read the boards of other teams. It obviously varies from Sunday to Sunday, depending upon the previous day’s scores. Reading posts from those on the short end provides the greatest entertainment value and opportunities for learning.

Over the course of a season, reading losers’ message boards enables one to discover that all coaches are incompetent idiots, every single one. Fans of teams coached by Dave Wanstadt or Norv Turner don’t have a monopoly on bad coaches, all fans suffer along with them. The coaching fraternity rivals the United States Senate for a near-total membership of mental midgets and dullards.

Among the little nuggets of wisdom picked up last Sunday was that while the Cousins might have thought they were achieving Li’l E domination when RichRod franked them last year, he was actually pulling the sheep’s wool over their eyes and diverting them from the obvious truth, that his coaching skills paled in comparison to those of Jim Leavitt.

While Urban Meyer might have run roughshod over every team the last season and a third but one, his rank inability to beat Tommy Turberville demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt that Urban is a coaching hack who will eventually drag the Gators down to the mediocrity of two-loss seasons.

Further examples of Meyer’s coaching incompetence were provided a couple of weeks ago. He can’t beat the lousy Turberville, himself so miserable a sideline bumbler that he couldn’t coach his way past woeful Mississippi State. Geez, Meyer is a terrible coach.

Beating NC State last Saturday in no way showed any coaching ability whatsoever on the part of Steve Kragthorpe. It had already been clearly demonstrated during those losses to Kentucky and Syracuse [snicker] that he must be fired no later than the middle of his first season for Louisville football to have any hope for the future.

Mack Brown and Bob Stoops might both have an MNC on their records, but any thinking person is well aware that they simply lucked into them, since neither can coach his way out of Bevo’s feed bag. All rational people realize they must be fired no later than season’s end, preferably sooner.

Of course, while I did make a blanket statement about all coaches being incompetent slugs, there are exceptions. Reading message boards enables me to quickly identify the good ones. Heading the list would be Charlie Weis. Now, it might seem to the casual fan that Charlie the Hutt is so woefully in over his head that the proud Notre Dame football program is hurtling down a bottomless pit into a dark abyss from which it might take years to recover, but what does the casual fan know? Casual fans don’t post on message boards, where an astounding perceptive genius resides.

Anybody who knows anything about football realizes that Charlie is indeed a remarkable coach who will soon cause coaches such as Dodd, Lombardi and Bryant to be erased from history. All that is keeping Charlie the Hutt from coaching immortality is that one class of players left behind by that miserable Ty Willingham. Next year, when Weis has a team full of his own players, the Irish will never ever lose another game, or at least score a touchdown in some of them.

Achieving the understanding that just about all coaches are stumblebums whose continued employment will eventually lead to the ruination of just about all programs is not the only Noble Truth that one can learn from reading message boards. There is another.

The second message board koan is that college football is never, under any circumstances, to be enjoyed. A recent post claiming that watching a particular team was a ‘tortuous experience’ pointed all to this enlightened path. While it might occur to many that if watching football caused such pain, it might be advisable to discontinue the habit, that would simply be incorrect thinking. And not only that, it offers up prime evidence that anybody who actually enjoys watching games is not a ‘real fan.’ Those that consider themselves ‘real fans’ obviously believe a little suffering is good for the soul.

I must confess that according to message board dogma, I am not a ‘real fan.’ I have been attending Virginia Tech football games on a regular basis since my tenth month and I enjoy the hell out of them. During those fifty-five years of watching Tech play, I have seen some lousy football, much of it played by the guys in maroon. I keep coming back for more and can honestly say I even enjoy the losses. I had considered myself a fan, but message boards have convinced me I am not.

Last Saturday was a prime example. I attended the usual gathering of the Clubhouse Tailgate and had a terrific time. Fans of both Tech and Carolina were present. We enjoyed great fellowship before the game and continued to afterwards, with very little mention made of who won or lost. The Tailgate or the game in no way evoked the Bataan Death March imagery that other, more serious fans, claim.

Immediately following the game, while waiting between the West stands and the SEZ for my Carolina buddy BobLee to join us from his seat in the visiting section, I was approached by a couple wearing light blue requesting that I take their picture with Lane as the backdrop.

They did not seem overly concerned about the score, although I suspect they preferred that it had gone the other way. Instead of griping that since Butch had not turned around Carolina football in five games his regime was a failure, they preferred to talk about how beautiful they found Tech’s campus and how much they had enjoyed their trip to Blacksburg. Obviously they were not ‘real fans.’

Friday morning I will join many of my fellow Clubhousers and journey to Clemson. Given that Tech doesn’t seem to be nearly as good as had been hyped, I have few illusions about the outcome, although there is a reason they actually play the games.

There won’t be a lot of talk about whether Frank can do any better than ten wins a year, or pounding away on keyboards demanding that Stiney be fired. The loudest griping will come from a certain Hokie who hails from the former Soviet Union and will involve his complaining about how much slower the vehicle is negotiating I-85 than he used to breeze across the tundra. The chances are very good that no matter the outcome we will have a good trip. We usually do, as there seem to be few bad football ones.

We will return on Sunday meaning it will likely be Monday morning before I can again discover which coaches are horrible and how miserable it is to watch football. Until then, we will be having too much fun.

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