The Return of the A-Line Board of Football Experts
Finally! After another long, barren Dead Zone, albeit livened up in August by scandal, another football season is upon us. Soon, [very soon, actually, for some of us], it will be time to make tracks for one’s favorite football town and stadium.
For a goodly chunk of those reading this, that means Blacksburg, Virginia Tech and Lane Stadium. The Hokies kick off Saturday against Appy State and will be attempting to accomplish what proved quite tricky last year, beating a I-AA team. Tech’s gaffe last year against a seemingly-over matched opponent appears to have been used this week as a rallying point. ‘Beat the Little Feller’ does seem a bit odd for a crowd that is never far from trumpeting its MNC credentials.
All traces of the Alabama’s, LSU’s and even Boise’s have been removed from the schedule for the time being [this year] and surprisingly, or not, Tech has become a trendy pick to run the table and at least contend for the MNC. Maybe, although I have my doubts.
Playing an actual game can’t come quickly enough for North Carolina and Miami, both reeling from still-developing scandals. Well, maybe not for the Canes, where New Al is finding it tricky to settle on a two-deep with all of the suspensions. Nothing like pitching those first two weeks of practice into the Biscayne Bay, eh, New Al? Highly-amusing has been scanning Canes’ message boards, where the loons are declaring that ‘Canes Pride’ will sustain them in the first game. Since ‘Canes Pride’ seems largely to have been fueled by hookers and blow, they are certainly opening in the right town, although, in DC, that sort of recreational activity has generally been reserved for the politicians rather than the football players.
In Chapel Hill, will Butch be on hand in Kenan, perhaps enjoying one of those new luxury boxes? He seems to have time on his hands. Between Cleveland and Carolina, Butch sure spends a lot of time and years being paid lots of money not to coach. I avidly await Butch’s appearance on a Florida Atlantic lecturn proclaiming that FAU is ‘Where I always wanted to coach,’ after, of course, he has milked every last nickel he can out of his Carolina contract.
There have been calls at Carolina for new and interim coach Everett Withers and the 2011 Heels to be greeted by an aluminum out in Kenan. We haven’t seen one of those in a while. It’s hard to believe that avid Tar Heels would pass on the pre-game ceremony of Holden presenting Julius Nyang’oro with an achievement award for his strong efforts in keeping Carolina players eligible. ‘Julius, we couldn’t have done it without you’ is sure to be repeated often as Carolina athletic/academic discussions and revelations continue.
Like Carolina with JMU, the Hoos and Duke will also be participating in the 2011 ACC-CAA Football Challenge. Both the Hoos and Devils will be tangling with I-AA outfits that beat them the last time they played. Of particular interest will be London’s precocious freshman going up against Jimmye Laycock’s experienced Tribe. There are likely a few Hokies who haven’t yet purchased Smithsonian tickets for N26. Another W&M win over the Hoos would send the last of Mr. Jefferson’s season-ticket holders to Ebay, creating bargains galore.
Most of the rest of the ACC is engaging in I-AA warm-up games, although the conference coaches crying ‘Remember Virginia Tech’ has probably caused a bit of attention to be paid this week. Guys, this habit of losing to I-AA teams is not exactly doing wonders for league prestige.
There are a couple of games against BCS opponents, although, let’s face it, Wake- Syracuse and Northwestern-Fredo are not exactly on a par with LSU-Oregon, in general interest or arrests and NCAA investigations.While the lawsuit settlement of a few years ago did call for each ACC team to schedule an OOC series with the Li’l E, the Deacs and Orangepersons probably didn’t cause Little Johnny to alert ESPN that ‘this will be the really big one.’
This year’s opening week definitely lacks the sizzle of the last two years of Tech playing Bama and Boise in Atlanta and DC. Hopefully, it will also lack the two losses that came from those higher-profile games. Opening at home is a nice change; Blacksburg is just a bit closer for me than DC and Atlanta.
It will be good to once again engage in that great football ritual of tailgating that we enjoy so much we are getting a days-early start this year. Changing circumstances means that this will very likely be the last season that opens on my brother’s Roanoke deck. It will need to be memorable.
Saturday morning will mean greeting tailgating friends for another year of what we do best. Plus, there will be, finally, football. See you this weekend.