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Game Week 2008

This weekend, we will finally have football. Having survived another grueling Dead Zone, we can now look forward, until next January, of weekends spent either traveling up and down the byways of the mid-Atlantic to watch our favorite team[s] or camped in front of the television. Let the good times roll!

Football returns after two weeks of Olympic coverage that after a day or two failed to hold my interest. There simply weren’t enough female beach volleyball matches to keep me watching.

I had generally kept up with the US men’s basketball team. Playing the final at 0230 my time Sunday morning put the kibosh on my watching it live. By the time I watched the replay at a more civilized hour that morning the Net had already informed me that the US had knocked off a game Spanish team to capture gold. It took a little of the suspense away from what had been a terrific game that would have been even better had I not already known the outcome.

What was amazing about this team was Coach K getting a bunch of millionaire NBA prima donnas buying into his Duke system of solid defense and an offense that emphasizes movement, passing and unselfish play. There must have been some NBA coaches staring with mouths agape as they discovered that Kobe Bryant does indeed know how to pass the ball or that Lebron James can be induced not to shove his own teammates out of the way in order to get the rock and jack up a shot. We shall see how much of that carries over into the NBA season, where the REALLY big contracts are apparently awarded for numbers of Sportscenter highlights rather than team success.

China had attempted to juice the ratings by bringing some kiddie porn to the female gymnastics events. While this may have helped NBC capture the all-important dirty old man demographic, quite frankly, if they are going to show young Asian ladies cavorting about parallel bars while wearing very little, I would just as soon they use those in their late teens or early twenties.

The obtuse Olympic sports now fade from consciousness and television screens until they pop back up in London in 2012. It is on to football.

Most ACC teams are not exactly testing themselves opening weekend. Considering how lousy conference teams tend to perform when tackling squads from other BCS conferences, that is perhaps not a bad thing. Playing the variety of I-AA play-for-pay little fellers dotting most ACC schedules will do wonders for records, if not providing much in the way of compelling football.

Tech, the Hoos, NC State and Clemson will all receive tests of varying difficulty the first weekend, although it can be wondered exactly how much of a test algroh and his Incredible Shrinking Roster will provide for Southern Cal.

Of the four bigger games this weekend involving ACC teams, I will be taking in exactly half of them. Naturally, I will be in Charlotte Saturday, but we have also opted for some Week 1 bonus coverage by journeying to Columbia, SC, to watch the Pack attempt to lick the Cocks.

Given conference pride and my tendency for pulling for fellow land-grants when they tangle with ‘U ofs’ I will be rooting for State. Given that we will be sitting with some high-dollar Cocks in expensive prime seats, it will be a rooting interest that I will keep to myself.

The main event comes at high noon Saturday as Virginia Tech plays the East ‘Don’t Call Us Eastern’ Carolina Strawgraspers. This game is the latest in the attempts by ADs at the Big Boy schools in the region to help their buddy, Strawgraspers boss Terry Holland, keep his sinking financial ship above neck level. It is only delaying the inevitable, even as the Strawgraspers begin their 18th consecutive year of avidly awaiting that imminent invitation to join the Li’ E that always seems to get lost in the mail.

The continuous and annual expressions of ‘No Interest’ that come from Li’l E presidents does not deter the Strawgraspers, one of the greatest collection of message board braggarts on the Net. Because they won a Peach Bowl almost two decades ago, the Strawgraspers are convinced they are a great football power and dearly love to weauxf it from the rooftops. The humor provided by their constant bragging causes me to read Strawgrasper Central on a daily basis. Of all message boards, Directional Carolina ones are the funniest. Their constant grasping at the Li’E straw they never quite snatch combined with the constant bragging cracks me up.

The Strawgraspers are convinced they will beat Tech and they just might. Skippy will be fielding a veteran team, while it is going to take Frank & Co a while to get all of those new running backs and wide receivers up to speed, likely an entire year. If Skippy is going to steal a game in this meaningless series, this would seem to be the year. If they do, you can expect that at least one vote against a 9-game ACC schedule will be changed.

The Tech-Directional game has also provided much in the way of griping and Ebay listings from Hokies somewhat irate over both having to purchase as part of the season’s package an expensive game in Charlotte as well as what do not seem to be prime seating locations in BoA stadium.

While there do seem to be some logistics involved with Tech football that jimmy and his minions seemingly for the life of them can’t figure out, including parking for home games and ticket allocation for bowl and neutral-site ones, the heavy griping also indicates that an increasing number of Tech fans do not seem to be happy unless they are claiming to be miserable. One can only imagine how loud the bitching will be if Tech manages to lose its opener to a mid-major and then adds another 3-4 losses over the course of the season.

It is galling to apparently be considered by the AD to be little more than a money train to be milked for ever-increasing amounts of cash to pay Frank’s stratospheric salary and finance the budget increases of all those Olympic Sports few care about. But constantly griping about it seems to have little influence on the official attitude of ‘if you don’t pay the higher freight we will find somebody who will.’ No longer paying it will.

In the meantime, I will be heading out Wednesday for my expanded weekend of football. This is despite the ticket shuffling and trading that has gone on in my group that has me not knowing where I will sit for the Charlotte game. It will still be Tech football, therefore I plan on being there. See you in Charlotte.

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