I have a confession to make. It is a very difficult admission, especially considering the image I have tried very hard to project over the years. But, I feel I must come clean.
As I have for the last several years, I am enjoying watching the College World Series. That is nothing new. The dirty little secret I have kept locked away in the closet is that I am also enjoying watching the Hoos and finding myself actually rooting for them. As I gird for the inevitable assault with the long knives drawn by the hardest of Hoo-hating hard-core Hokies, I will make matters worse: I also like the Carolina baseball team and am also rooting for the Heels. Boy, I’m in trouble now!
The 2009 College World Series began with one-quarter of its eight participants hailing from the ACC. After a shaky start, the fraction has now been upped to one-third of the remaining six teams. This is being written on a Wednesday; this evening the Hoos will have a chance to move it to three-fifths. I wish them well.
I have always approached the whole Hokies-Hoos thing from a different perspective than that of, say, a shrieking message board loon. My experiences include having spent the last thirty years, or at least a fair-sized portion, in watering holes sipping adult beverages while trading good-natured insults with Hoo buddies. It tended to take the hard edge off of any latent feelings of hatred.
Besides, why hate a crowd that provide such ample opportunities for derision? Hoo knows what I would have found to write about over the years were it not for the Jeffersons offering themselves up time and time again for mockery? Whether it was the clownish algroh or the wonderfully-inept Fallback Dave, or even the ol’ Nosepicker George before them, what other school has been so intent on providing its chief rival with such rich targets of opportunity? How can you hate such an accommodating bunch?
It all starts at the top, of course. For the Hoos, that is AD Craig ‘Tubby, hoo cares about the Orange Bowl when you have the CWS?’ Littlepage. Hoo hasn’t rolled around on the floor with tears running down their cheeks while wracked by convulsions of side-splitting laughter at the antics of Craig? Whether it was the hilarity of Littlepage’s repeated [and repeated] begging of Tubby to come to Hooville, to finally throwing up his hands and bringing elevator music to the John, or his signing of the Great NFL Legend to a contract containing a buy-out even Carl couldn’t afford, or brightening up Spring football by introducing the joys of Festivus, Craig has practically been a laugh-a-minute. We’re supposed to hate a guy like that? Not me! I love him and hope he trods the Grounds for a very long time to come.
It does seem that amid all of Craig’s efforts at providing ample seating opportunities for Tech fans in the Smithsonian and John, he has also found the time to prove correct the old adage about a blind squirrel in the forest. In baseball coach Brian O’Connor, Littlepage stumbled across quite an acorn. In six years at Hooville, O’Connor has taken the Hoos to six NCAA baseball tournaments and has now upgraded his program to CWS status. Like Mike Fox at Carolina, the guy is doing a hell of a job. Both are recruiting at a level that should keep them at the top of the ACC and national scenes for years to come.
Also like the Tar Heels’ Fox, O’Connor has built his program with a bunch of likable guys. Like the Tech softball team during its magical run last year, both the Hoos and Heels are composed almost entirely of actual student-athletes who, for the most part, are playing the game for the enjoyment of it. It makes it very easy to root for them, despite what name might be scrawled across the front of the jersey.
We are six weeks or so away from the start of August football practice and the mirth of algroh’s incomprehensible press briefings. We are at least ten weeks away from algroh’s first comical attempts at explaining away his first loss of the season. Until then, I will actually be pulling for a Hoo team, their baseball one. In fact, I’m hoping both of the ACC’s CWS entrants go at each other next Monday for the championship. Good luck, guys.
There, I’ve said it. I feel much better having come clean. Go H-……*cough*. Let me try that again: Go H-…., urgh, gag. Well, a Hokie can only be expected to go so far.