How about that Spring Game? Was that fun or what? Well, for the most part it was.
The Virginia Tech Spring Game drew a crowd of 41,000, claimed to be the largest in the history of Tech holding these things. It was certainly the biggest I had seen in the 15 or so years I have been attending them on an annual basis. While it might have paled in comparison to the 95k Ohio State drew, it was a large Spring Gathering for this part of the country. It certainly made the 6k announced for Festivus seem like a hoot, and the Tech number was achieved without the addition of a 0 or two to the actual number by Hoo AD Craig ‘Tubby, don’t those Tech jerks realize that a lacrosse match was held that day? Of course it was going to cut into the Festivus crowd’ Littlepage. I’m sure the respective stadium atmospheres wasn’t lost on the in-state recruiting targets who attended both.
As is always the case, there wasn’t much to the game itself. In fact, the combination of the intentionally toned-down game intensity, our late arrival forcing us to sit on the sun-in-your-face East side, mid-80′s temperatures and shade and cold adult beverages at the tailgate caused us to take off at halftime. Tech beating Tech just doesn’t hold the interest like games against, say, the Hoos or Canes or any other actual contest. It was not until the next morning after getting past the Roanoke Times’ front-page celebration of the return of big-government liberalism that I even found out the final score.
For the Tech football staff, the primary goal of the Spring Game is to get the Spring Game over with. That has been accomplished. The staff now fans out to vacation spots and the rubber chicken circuit, where they will hear about this year’s Great Expectations for the season, expectations that nobody around the Tech football program, from Frank on down, seems interested in damping. They obviously think this year’s team is going to be pretty good. It might be, as long as Tyrod stays healthy.
Of course, it is Spring, at least four months before the first loss. Expectations can run wild everywhere and are. In the ACC’s Coastal Division alone, enthusiasm is high across the board. From GT partisans claiming that ACC defensive coordinators won’t even begin to figure out Paul Johnson’s gimmick offense, to the annual cries of Backness from the Canes, to algroh’s optimism that he can escape the Wrath of Carl for another year [there are some Hoos who don't seem to be sharing the Great NFL Legend's sentiments], to the good old N&O declaring that Ol’ Roy won’t miss Tyler the Good, Lawson, Ellington or Green one bit to the Loon Devils announcing that Henderson jumping to the NBA will make Coach K’s team better, everybody has high hopes. They will have an entire Dead Zone to indulge them before reality comes barging in.
The Tech Spring Game is becoming less and less about the almost-passable thirty-two minutes of football and more about the party atmosphere that surrounds it. Those occupying the parking lots were in full tailgating mode. Everybody seemed to be having a great time. I know I did. It would have seemed impossible to disrupt such a great tailgating day, although there was an attempt made by the Usual Suspects.
There is a Web site out there that is focused like a SEAL sniper on the coverage of Virginia Tech athletics. Aside from boasting the largest collection of message board loons [don't I know it!] to be found this side of any other message board, it is also the Internet stomping ground of a large number of decidedly-non loons who care very much for Tech athletics and lay out large sums of money to indulge their passion. The site is famous for the warm personal relationship that exists between management and jimmy, which often results in the latter displaying some rather remarkable levels of pettiness. Saturday saw new depths being plumbed.
The site throws an annual Spring Game tailgate that has become a fairly large deal. They go whole hog, right down to cooking a whole hog. They had announced their location in a Lane parking lot for weeks. Now, barbecuing an entire pig does require both a decent-sized cooking vessel and a fair amount of time to turn the critter into Gimme Eat. Those responsible for the tailgate feed were set up at 6 am and doing what barbecue cooks do. It was then they discovered that the Tech Parking Gestapo was not resting on its Catch-17 laurels.
Sgt. Schultz informed them that the lot in which they were set up was the handicapped lot unless it was not, and it wasn’t shortly after they had gone to the considerable trouble of moving. After that, the Handicapped Parking signs that went up after they set up came down and most anybody was allowed to park there, including some people attending the tailgate. *Sigh* Once again it crosses my mind that it is inevitable that one day the Tech football program won’t be as good as what is currently enjoyed by most [with the exception of the clown running the Fire Frank Beamer Facebook group. No, I ain't interested in joining. Message boards don't have a monopoly on loons] and the demand for those ever-pricier football tickets will not be at current high levels. When that happens, and it will, Tech just might regret the cavalier way in which it treats some of its best fans. I would also point out that there is a tailgate that decided that if Tech did not want our parking fees, that was fine with us. The private parking sector does seem happy to have us around.
In the end, though, even the Tech Parking Gestapo can’t screw up a good time, try as they might. It was a terrific day that will provide great memories throughout the upcoming Dead Zone. Is it September yet?