Wide Right: Gut Check
by Jeff Cockey, 10/27/03

"This is a safe place. A place where we can feel free sharing our feelings. Think of my office as a nest in a tree of trust and understanding. We can say anything here."

In that case, I would like to say one thing folks - gut check time, Hokies.

The winds and the white caps are kickiní up. The women and children have been evacuated and the house has been boarded up. This is the moment of choice for us. It will be "ugly, pug ugly, fugly, pug fugly, maybe even ugly ugly" (Moe the bartender). It will be painful - like being forced to read Matt Hayesí columns for the rest of your life (I know I used that one before, but when looking for a definition for painful, you wonít find a better one). And it will require us to reach down deep into our hearts to a place we havenít visited in three years. Now is the time to pull out our Hokie pride, wear it on our sleeves, and play with more heart than we ever have. Sure, we could offer excuses for the debacle that occurred in Morgantown:

"I ran out of gas! I had a flat tire! I didnít have enough money for cab fare! My tux didnít come back from the cleaners! An old friend came in from out of town! Someone stole my car! There was an earthquake! A terrible flood! Locusts! IT WASNíT MY FAULT, I SWEAR TO GOD!"

But we wonít - because it was our fault. We are all responsible, and it is time to move on. We have a fight coming:

"Weíre gonna be swappiní punches with, with the most dangerous fighter in the world. So I say for Godís sake, Why donít you stand up and fight this guy HARD?!! Like you done before - that was beautiful! But donít lay down like this! Like uh I donít know, like some kind of mongrel or something. ĎCause heís gonna kick your face in pieces! Thatís right! This guy doesnít just wanna win you know, he wants to bury ya, he wants to humiliate ya, he wants to prove to the whole world that you was nothing. But I think youíre a hell of a lot more than that kid! A hell of a lot."

We know what it takes to lose a game, and not a single one of us ever wants to feel that way again. Itís time to pick up the pieces. We are down but not out of this thing. We have to make this season fun again, and for that we need a heavy dose of Clark Wilhelm Griswold Jr. passion.

"I think you're all (expletive) in the head." We're 5 games from the (expletive) Big East Championship and you want to bail out. "Well I'll tell you something. This is no longer a vacation. It's a quest. It's a quest for fun. I'm gonna have fun and you're gonna have fun. We're all gonna have so much (expletive) fun we'll need plastic surgery to remove our (expletive) smiles. You'll be whistling 'Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah' out of your (expletive)! I gotta be crazy! I'm on a pilgrimage."

We need a dose of what he was on - no need to threaten Laskey, the guard at Walleyworld, with a "Magnum P.I." but it would be nice to have that kind of fire and drive. Nobody expects us to win this next game, but like Cameron, we need to step up.

"I am not going to sit on my (expletive) as the events that affect me unfold to determine the course of my life. I'm going to take a stand. I'm going to defend it. Right or wrong, I'm going to defend it."

We are back in the underdog position . . . Back in our comfort zone . . . Back where we are the most dangerous. Are we going to let one another down?

"Anyone else would have left you by now, but Iím sticking with you. And if I have to ride your (expletive) like Zorro, youíre gonna show me the money."

We know who we are. We know what we are made of. We know what we can do, and now is the time to show the world.

"You know what you are? Youíre like a big bear with claws and fangs . . . Yeah big (expletive) teeth on ya."

We have a long road ahead of us.

"Itís 106 miles to Chicago, weíve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, its dark, and weíre wearing sunglasses. Hit it."

And it begins with this one game. I donít care who they think they are, how good people say they are . . . They can lose a game just as easily as we did. All that Hokie Nation has is itself. And thatís just the way we like it. ESPN's Mark May has made it abundantly clear that we donít have the pride, the might, the talent, or the guts to win our next game. Letís feed his words to him this Saturday. Letís make him turn to Trev Alberts and say:

"Iím stupid. Youíre smart. I was wrong. You were right. Youíre the best. Iím the worst. Youíre very good looking. Iím not very attractive."

We have a chance to turn this around and be the surprise team this week. No one believes that we can beat the mighty Miami. Itís good to be the underdog.

"This crowd has gone deadly silent, a Cinderella story outta nowhere."

We know our enemy well. We have beaten them before and we will beat them again.

"Surely you can't be serious."
"Yes I am serious . . . and don't call me Shirley."

Thereís a Hurricane blowing into Blacksburg and itís about time we stand our ground and shut them down. As a Hokie I pose this challenge to you the fan and to you the Hokie football player. I may have made fun of this in past columns but it has never read more true than it does now Ė "Will you protect this house?"

We have been embarrassed. We have been disgusted. Adversity has offered up a challenge and now we have a choice. Do we take that challenge or do we pack up our things and get out of town before the hurricane hits? Is it over?

"Over? Did you say over? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no! And it ainít over now. ĎCause when the goiní gets tough . . . the tough get goiní! Whoís with me?" What the hell happened to the Hokies I used to know? "Whereís the spirit? Whereís the guts? LETíS DO IT!"

I said it before but it needs to be said again Ė itís all about pride . . .

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