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Football and a Funeral

Have a good holiday? There was good and bad around my neck of the woods that included family, football and an interesting phone call. More on all.

The bad revolved around the funeral for my cousin and fellow Tech alum Fred Elliott. He discovered that the Christmas clatter at his house was not St. Nick but the Grim Reaper. This caused a family gathering quite a bit different from the pleasant annual June ones.

Like so many of our tribe of Aldersons, Fred viewed life with a wry good humor that would manifest itself through an excellent wit. He was in a perpetual good mood and could find the humor in most any situation, including the family habit of often gathering for the funerals of family members. While it was very tough to bid Fred adieu, there were quite a few smiles at the funeral home and cemetery as family members recalled a really good guy. That was how Fred would have wanted it.

Fred was also known for being the near-spitting image of my father. He resembled Dad much more closely than did either of the Old Man’s sons. This once created a very humorous situation years ago at the funeral for another cousin when Fred showed up dressed exactly like Dad. Following the graveside service, my mother mistook Fred for Dad. The results were quite funny.

I will miss Fred. His passing also brings back to focus the reality of the steady whittling down of the cousins who are descended from grandfather Cephus Alderson. I remain determined to be the last man standing, or to die trying.

That resolve received a jolt last weekend through the form of a curious phone call. A buddy I haven’t seen in a while called to inform me that the word on the street was that I had received a transplant of some vital organ and was deathly ill and to inquire as to whether that was indeed the case. Needless to say, I was quite surprised.

There were a couple of times over the holidays that I partook of holiday cheer in what might be described as excessive amounts. While there are some hazy recollections as a result, I do believe I would remember had I undergone transplant surgery. Nevertheless, I did check myself and after finding no recent surgical scars told my buddy that I still remained among the quick and planned to stay that way for a while longer.

I was also quite surprised to learn that the source of this bit of misinformation was another cousin. Uh, what’s up, Carol? Perhaps she had mistaken Fred for me. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time he had been mistook for an Alderson, although I would point out that it was Dad Fred resembled, not me. I probably need to get out more than just sojurns to Tech for football games. Well, football season is over.

It certainly ended on a positive note for the Tech football team. The Hokies downed Cincinnati in the Orange. This marked Tech’s first bowl win since the last time they tangled with a team from the Li’l E, Louisville in the Gator following the 05 season. It is nice to win a bowl game every once in a while.

‘Once in a while’ describes the success achieved by the entire ACC in bowls. Once again, the conference turned in a less than stellar performance, although 4-6 is better than last year’s disgraceful 2-6. The improvement was incremental.

While there are few defenses to be offered for the league’s shoddy bowl performances, other than a noticeable lack of defense, there was something that jumped out in all three of the ACC’s tussles with the Li’l E, including the Orange.

In every instance, the ACC outfits were fielding very young teams against veteran, senior-laden ones. There were a lot of ACC freshmen and sophomores going up against Li’l E seniors. Despite the obvious difference in experience, Carolina lost because the Cousins had Pat White and Butch did not and the Pack lost to the Dorks due to the injury to freshman phenom QB Russell Wilson. Considering who will be returning next year and who will not, the future for the ACC does seem a bit brighter than does that for the Li’l E.

Worth noting from the bowl season was all of the amusing begging done by Frank and jimmy for Tech fans to buy bowl tickets. The well-earned reputation for traveling by Tech fans took a hit as thousands of Orange tickets went unsold. Hard times certainly factored in, but so did Frank’s tendency to spend bowl preparation time more concerned with his investments and golf handicap than preparing his team. There seemed to be quite a few fans who figured if Frank wasn’t going to take the game seriously, why should they?

Frank had promised to do better this time, and did, but many fans reacted as if they were from Missouri. It had been pointed out here, more than once, that there would come a time when Tech would regret what many fans perceive as constant demands to dig deeper and deeper for Tech football, those demands accompanied by an attitude of, ‘If you don’t pay it, somebody else will.’ That time came and there didn’t seem to be that many others around willing to pay.

A statement was made by Tech fans and it would appear that Frank got the message. Those constant demands for more and more money will be much easier to swallow if Frank actually takes the games as seriously as he expects the fans.

Even with the thousands of dollars jimmy has to eat due to unsold tickets to both the Orange bowl and ACCCG, it turned out to be a pretty good ending to what had been a very trying year for Tech football. Frank and his staff got through it by adding more ACC and BCS hardware to the trophy case. That is not too bad for what was about as young a team as Frank has ever fielded. The trials and tribulations and the ultimate success of this year’s team should serve them very well in 09, when very big things will be expected.

That is next year, however. First there is basketball season. Uh-oh. 69-44? Yikes! Maybe we should talk football a little longer.

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