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Springing Forward


The Spring football season has come and gone. It culminated last Saturday at Virginia Tech with the Spring Game, actually played this year. I’m told it was as most, with virtually nothing to be gleaned. I can’t say for sure, as I didn’t actually see it.

I was in the vicinity of Lane, with the fellow Clubhouse tailgaters. A funny thing happened, however, between tailgate and game. That would be a few drops of rain.

I’m a bit sensitive to that sort of thing these days. A chunk of a season spent flat on one’s back tends to raise the Caution Quotient. I did not like the looks of those ominous clouds back to the southwest one bit. The notion of getting soaked to the bone while observing a glorified practice suddenly became a lot less appealing.

With mass quantities of the grilled flesh of slaughtered cattle, swine, poultry, catfish and ostrich still to be consumed, along with an equally-diverse and colorful selection of adult beverages, the scales were tipped in favor of not running the risk of offending the pneumonia gods.

As it turned out, the strange looking fellow on his way to what’s left of Tech’s on-campus golf course was correct when he claimed, “I don’t think the really heavy stuff’s gonna come down for quite a while,” I am just as glad I didn’t take any chances. I have discovered that it takes a really long time to completely recover from a bout with pneumonia.

It was not necessary to actually watch the Spring game to be aware that this is probably not going to be a vintage year for Tech football. There are simply too many young players that will be filling too many positions. While the roster bristles with talented young players, they are inexperienced talented young players. Experience teaches that inexperience can be costly. This will be about as close as Frank gets these days to a reloading year.

Heading the inexperience will be the running back position, long the bread and butter of Frank’s offense. With the wiping out of the position by injury following on the heels of the astounding discovery by Tech fans that Frank will actually toss a player off the team for disciplinary reasons, the cupboard appears, on the surface, at least, to be bare.

Then again, maybe not. One does get the feeling that Frank, famous for overlooking all manner of player misbehavior, criminal and otherwise, as long as he thinks said miscreant could win him some games, would not have jettisoned latest Tidewater problem child Branden Ore had not Billy Hite assured him that Evans and Oglesby could pick up the slack. It’s probably better to spend scarce angst time worrying about the wide receiving positions, also stripped clean.

Spending that scarce angst time worrying about Tech suddenly turning into a middle-of-the-pack ACC team just might be unproductive. One only has to glance around at the overall mediocrity of the ACC in general and the lousiness of the Coastal Division in particular to realize that perhaps a very young Tech team still has a pretty good shot to end up in Tampa early in December.

There is algroh and his Incredible Shrinking Roster. Between the rigors of Mr. Jefferson’s fabled Anthropology curriculum and the Hooville judicial system, the Great NFL Legend’s roster is being whittled down to NFL size. These days, the players are leaving Hooville faster than the coaches.

algroh has had enough trouble beating Frank with players.

The Great NFL Legend seems to be experiencing a bit of difficulty restocking with future NFL players who never quite accomplish much in Hooville. There looks to be a bit of reluctance to allow the next Ahmad the Great to trod the Grounds. One almost gets the feeling that somebody in the Hoo administration has decided they are going to get rid of algroh one way or another and if they have to wreck the program to do it, well, move over, Duke.

In the People’s Republic of Chapel Hill, the annual preseason hype over Carolina football is getting underway. As usual, the state’s media will lead it, with the good old N&O serving as head cheerleader. The handful of people that still bother to read that rag will be bombarded with assurances that this will be THE YEAR.

It will be media-induced football hype not seen since the last time the good old N&O went head over Heels. That would be 2006, when the constant blare was that Big John had assembled such a great assemblage of talent which, coupled with his excellent coaching, would make even scoring on Carolina a virtual impossibility, much less beating them. 2006 was also the year in which Big John was fired in mid-season for excessive losing.

Undaunted, the good old N&O will press forward with their superheated predictions of Carolina gridiron glory just around the corner, courtesy of the Great Butch. The good old N&O will guarantee Carolina football success with the same fervor in which it claimed that Ol’ Roy’s boys were going to steamroll Kansas in the Final Four.

Amid all of the praise of Butch’s coaching brilliance, there probably will not be column inches for them to note that Butch’s history indicates he requires an overwhelming superiority in talent to overcome his sideline coaching blundering and he might not quite have it on hand in Blue Heaven.

Down in Coral Gables, this year’s annual cries of ‘We’re Back’ seem to be getting drowned out by the sounds of the smashing of all of those railroad cars. High levels of Backness are not often achieved by firing an MNC-winning coach, then being forced to elevate somebody off his staff because no decent coach would touch the job with the upright from a goal post. Randy Shannon may indeed turn out to be a very good head coach, but the demands of Backability required by the Canes makes Miami a very difficult place to learn how.

At Georgia Tech, Chan Gailey had built a good program that won every year, compiling a fairly impressive consecutive bowl streak. His troubles got him fired. In comes Paul Johnson to take over a program in an athletic department that looks to be operating under a self-induced death wish [just how is Paul Hewitt working out these days?]. Johnson also inherits a depleted roster recruited for Gailey’s pro-style offense, perhaps not best suited for the ground attack favored by the new coach. Then there was the skedaddling of wunderkind DC Jon Tenuta. Enjoy, Paul.

Then there is Duke, the ACC’s football version of a celestial black hole.

When the football reclamation project starts with a discussion of how to fix the rest rooms at Wallace Wade, it can be assumed the Devils have a ways to go.

With this array of Coastal competition, Frank’s problems with a lack of experience at key positions don’t seem quite so daunting. The chances are near 100% that Tech won’t win them all, but at this point in time it is hard to come up with an intra-division game in which Tech will not be favored. In any event, we will have the Dead Zone to ponder it.

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