Ten win seasons have become both an accomplishment and a crutch. No other program during the BCS-era has been more consistently great than Virginia Tech. As fans, myself included, we've been spoiled by winning. To the contrary, each season we watch excellence slip through Tech's grasp, whether it's a letdown game, busted coverage, or couple of missed blocks. It's maddening when August hopes are blown away by a September breeze before the October chill even hits. It's more frustrating when we're essentially told by Beamer Co. we should be happy with what we have, even though there's an empty trophy case in its offices.
Realistically, this wasn't the season the Hokies would contend for a national championship. Most preseason polls had Tech ranked outside the top 15, the overwhelming favorite to win the ACC was Florida State. Lack of depth in the secondary, a talented, but unproven receiving corps, and the proper distribution of carries among a medley of fresh-faced tailbacks were just some of the roster challenges Tech faced in August. Injuries to two returning starters, D.J. Coles and Tariq Edwards, complicated matters.
I live in a dream world too. Before the season started, I saw a favorable, manageable, but nationally credible schedule that could have been taken advantage of if all the right things came together: Logan progressed as much as a junior as he did a sophomore, the o-line gelled early, the defensive backs stayed healthy, the punter consistently kicked the ball high and long, the defensive line dominated, playmakers emerged at receiver, etc... Double-zero would've been a safer bet.
Getting older doesn't make watching Tech disappear from the national championship picture any easier. I still get just as pissed, probably more depressed than I did as a teen. And it's a much tougher pill to swallow when it happens at the hands of Pitt or Cincinnati, teams we are better than on paper, and know in our hearts we should beat.
So now we're a 3-2 team, the majority of fans are thinking the worst, the team is under attack. We want answers, and feel like we're getting excuses. What comes next?
I'm going to feed you vanilla pudding. While their approach may be old-fashioned, and they need to take a beating before they reach their potential, Beamer Co. doesn't win ten games a year because they're schlubs. They've proven they learn from the 3-4 losses that accompany the 10-11 wins each season and right the ship down the stretch. Not believing in the team to finish strong is dumb.
There are heavyweights remaining on the schedule to slam-the-fuck-down. (10:37–12:30)
In order for HokieNation to have hope, we need to see progress. Except for the final defensive play, I can honestly tell you we played our best football in the second-half against Cincinnati.
North Carolina is having a white out. They're breaking tradition and wearing white helmets too. They haven't worn anything but Carolina blue lids for almost 4 decades.
"Just going into the locker room and seeing something new is a big energy booster," Tar Heel quarterback Bryn Renner says. "I don't think the fans really know how much it means for us to wear a different helmet. We wear it with pride."
This is UNC's bowl game. (Because they cheated and aren't eligible.) Don't you want to ruin that?
Up until Wednesday morning, I was still Debbie Downer. Then I read the following on Reddit, an excerpt edited and republished here with permission by its author: WeAreVT.
So, after witnessing my team record a piss poor performance in FedEx field against Cincinnati, and a second consecutive loss to a sub-par Big East team (is there anything better than a sub-par Big East football team?), I decided to calm myself down and turn on Netflix to watch a movie, hoping to erase the memories that my mind had recorded four hours prior. Scrolling through my list of recommended movies, I found myself intrigued with a certain movie that featured a zombie turkey on the cover, aptly named "ThanksKilling."
Considering the horror I sat through already that day, I decided why not torture myself more?
Well, for those of you that haven't seen it (I'm just going to go ahead and assume all of you), the movie features an undead turkey that comes back for revenge against five college kids. I'm not going to waste your time going into the details farther than that, but I WILL give you the privilege of watching the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOjSRoxc6mg.
As I was watching this, though, I had a revelation. It was one of those cheesy, stoner high school kid metaphors that come about every once in a while that give you a little insight and hope for the future.
"What if Virginia Tech is just like this zombie turkey? Everyone thought we were dead, but we come back and spoil all these popular college kids (teams) weekends?"
My brain actually thought that.
But you know what? It actually has given me some hope for this season. Being a lifelong Virginia Tech fan has definitely had its ups (basically owning the ACC), and its downs (big time game losses and JMU), but this season has been a lesson in patience. All of us VT fans are spoiled from the consecutive 10-win seasons, and it didn't take long for someone to even trademark the www.firefrankbeamer.com URL to redirect to www.beamerball.com.
(Side note: I'd despise my team if they did something as horrible as forcing out the man that built our program to become nationally renowned... isn't that right Florida State?)
Granted, there is no offensive identity, and our two-headed offensive coordinator 'team' of Bryan Stinespring and Mike O'Cain have made worse adjustments than an actress at the Emmy's with a nipple showing. Not even the epic mustached defensive demi-god Bud Foster can draw up a plan for the defense to be effective considering how tired they are being on the field so much after consecutive 3-and-outs. But the one thing Virginia Tech has and ALWAYS will be known for is our zombie-like turkey quality. Just when you think they're dead and buried, they make a comeback in the most dramatic fashion.
WeAreVT's piece was a RAIL for my soul.
Media and some of our own have left us for dead. We all hate getting here, but we love how we play when we do. We're dangerous in a familiar role, the underdog. Screw thinking about ten wins, let's think about seven, one-win seasons. Let's dig ourselves out of the ground, get better, and come back to life little-by-little each week. Let's start our trip back to Charlotte in Chapel Hill, play spoiler along the way, and paint UNC's white out maroon.