Six of Twelve
by Jim Alderson, 10/19/01
Techís season is now half over, and so far, so good. With the victory over BC the Hokies have qualified for their ninth straight bowl game, unique among Big East teams. I feel good about their chances of being chosen for the postseason.
The seasonís midpoint coincided with Techís only home night ESPN appearance, a situation requiring grit and determination on the part of those also holding tickets to the next dayís Martinsville NASCAR race that did not get run, and while it might not have made much difference, our argument for not returning home that night would have been stronger had it been cancelled Saturday. Generally I am not staring out the passengerís side window of a GMC one-ton truck gazing into pitch-black darkness at three in the morning.
Staying in Roanoke, however, as is often our course of action, was not an option, as my buddy Chuck was along for the game and trip, and desired to return home. Chuck was the only one among our traveling party that is currently married [unfortunately, the forty-something Dean has been unable to convince any of those teenagers he dates to marry him, perhaps because he hasnít asked], and some sort of familial sense of duty totally alien to the rest of us compelled him to deprive me of my normal post-game spot of repose, my brotherís spare bedroom in Roanoke. Just wait and see if I invite him again.
Chuck had provided a large amount of hilarity as we left Danville Saturday morning. He is an alumnus of North Carolina, and given a choice between attending BC-Tech or the annual Chardonnay Bowl between his beloved Tar Heels and the Hoos, opted for the same choice any rational person would make [he was, however, true to his Tar Heel roots and brought a bottle of wine, prompting Larry to again make the comment that we are beer and whiskey kind of guys].
There was very little rational thought involved, however, when he pulled into my driveway, hopped out of his car and discovered, to his dismay and our merriment, that he had forgotten his shoes [Chuck forgot his shoes but remembered the wine- yep, heís a Tar Heel]. I am told that I attended my first game around the age of twenty months, and in the forty-nine years I have regularly been making Tech football trips, I have never once forgotten or seen anyone else neglect to wear shoes to the game [my Mother assures me I had them on at that first game in the fall of 1953].
As Chuck lives several miles away from me and it was past eight AM, a mere ten hours before game time, we refused to allow him the time to return home and cop a pair; he was instead offered a pair of my Nikes, only two and a half sizes too large, causing him to clop around the parking lot and stadium like Bozo the Clown. The final indignity was heaped on Chuck when, having much to do with his not being much of a drinker [there seems to be only one glass missing from that bottle of wine that was left in my cooler and now resides in my refrigerator where it will remain untouched until he shows up to claim it; he did take part in our pre-game Communion, and the gagging and wheezing we observed after he downed a shot of Wild Turkey only added to our glee], we forced him to serve as designated driver and get the rest of us home. Make us come back on Saturday night, will you. I did receive confirmation of what I have often suspected, that Carolina alumni do not possess the knowledge to tie their shoes, or even put them on.
Returning to Tech football, I am elated to see that the Tech coaches are reading my TSL columns. Astute readers will recall that in my last one prior to the WVU game I suggested getting Andre Davis a little more involved in the offense. That has happened. The mental imagery of Rickey Bustle reading TSL in his office, slapping his forehead and exclaiming, "Now thereís an idea," printing the column and heading for practice and telling the offense, "Jim says to throw long and complete them for a change" is strong. I have read that column closely, however, and can find no reference to instructing Grant Noel to begin tossing interceptions. During the off week, please tell Grant and Bryan that Jim says throw the ball only to the guys wearing the Virginia Tech uniforms.
The interceptions at Mountaineer Field made little difference, as they could still be playing and WVU would still not have scored, but they did lead to points against the Eagles. I have an explanation for that one, too. A member of our tailgating crew discovered to his chagrin and our amazement that you can, at least on the East Side, be thrown out of the game for possessing brown liquor. This is not a situation we have experienced as of yet on the West Side, and I would just as soon keep it that way. Nevertheless, crowd casualties were taken, and the defense apparently became just as distraught as we did upon learning the news, as they immediately began giving up scores. I regard the correlation as absolute. I would suggest that, for the good of the team, the vow made afterwards [although not by me, yet] to leave the booze in the parking lot be kept. That should ensure more shutouts. We all have to make sacrifices.
All talk of forgotten shoes [Chuck can bet it will be a very, very long time before I allow him to live it down] and stadium ejections aside, this Tech team is 6-0 and rolling. Grant Noel is becoming a more polished quarterback with every game, and while we are never going to forget who held the position before him, his grasp of the offense and coolness under fire will most likely have us fondly remembering his contributions to Hokie football lore, too.
Even allowing for the alcohol-induced defensive lapses against BC, the Hokies are playing as well as any Tech defense ever fielded, including the storied 99 one. The schedule is going to become a bit more challenging, as Syracuse, the surprise team in a generally lousy BE, next comes calling, while Pittsburgh, who we can rest assured may stink up the Ketchup Bowl against every other team on their schedule but will be fired up for Tech, and serious trouble on December 1 await. The improvement that has been on display from UConn on needs to continue each week, but at the moment we are undefeated, highly ranked and going bowling somewhere again. Life is good.
Jim Alderson,who first made his mark with his biting political commentary on the A-Line email newsletter, also brings a unique, sarcastic, and well-informed perspective on college sports, particularly (1) Virginia Tech sports and (2) ACC sports. While Hokie fans currently have very little use for subject number 2, Alderson is an entertaining and informative columnist on subject number 1. For even more fun, visit Jim's A-Line home page.