Saturday, August 16, 2008

Yard Wars: Episode I — Last-Season Menace

It's finally that time of year again. I suppose making football a year-round sport might take something away from the excitement a new season brings, but I sure wouldn't mind giving it a try. In this new six-part series of blog posts, I'll steer away from journalism, PR, internship experiences, summer travels and other nonsense to get down to what's really on everyone's minds right now — the gridiron.

I don't claim to be a football expert or a master sports statistician. What I do claim to be is just someone who really loves watching the sport, someone who is a relatively new fan of the sport (going on third year of following), and someone who really likes to see the Marshall Thundering Herd, the Virginia Tech Hokies and the Carolina Panthers win (and the West Virginia Mountaineers, Ohio State Buckeyes and the Virginia Cavaliers lose). I think the first thing I should address in this series is what I'm going to refer to as the "last-season menace," if for no other reason than to keep with theme continuity.

As a new football season begins, we all have plenty of unanswered questions. There uncertainties about our favorite teams that lurk in the shadows, things from a season gone by that we just can't shake. Take VT, for example, or any ACC team. They just can't win bowl games. The ACC is 1-9 in BCS games, the only win coming from Florida State in the 2000 Sugar Bowl. As a Hokies fan, I can't help but think about how bad the Orange Bowl went, with a devastating 24-21 loss to Kansas. Sure, it was the only BCS game that wasn't a blowout, but it wasn't in our favor. So, with all of the guys we lost to graduation and/or the NFL, especially on defense, how can we possibly hope to win the ACC again and win a BCS bowl-game appearance? This is where the last-season menace comes into play. You've got realize that there has been a lot of time in between last year and this year, and realize that regardless of what players and coaches return (or don't), there's going to be a completely different organism on the field come that first kickoff. Shake what happened before, move on.

Now, even a newer fan such as myself realizes that history does seem to come into play a lot in football, especially at the collegiate level. Some programs do seem to become elite, but even Notre Dame had a terrible season last year. So, the stats don't always matter. What matters is the heart and determination and the will to succeed that everyone on the team has. And the fans, oh yeah, the fans matter too — you can bet your smoked turkey leg on that.

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