The Noon Games Keep Coming
by Jim Alderson, 9/22/04

The ACC has informed us that ESPN has decreed that the WVU-Tech game be played at noon. This early television window means that Tech fans will have endured the general inconvenience of having to be in Lane Stadium in the morning for three straight weeks after Duke and this Saturday’s NC State game. The horror!

This means that I will, again, have to drag myself out of bed at 4:30 AM in order to be on the road by 6 and arrive in the parking lot and partake in at least some tailgating. This is opposed to my routine for games at all other times of arising at 4:30 in order to be on the road by 6. It could be worse and, in fact, will be for those with whom I tailgate.

It was suggested on the message board last week that I sure know how to throw a party. That really should have been amended to I sure know how to pick out the best party at which to show up. The notion that I might have anything to do with the tailgate I attend came as quite as a surprise to the guys who allow me to grace their tailgates, Larry Ramsey and Clota Gerhardt. They are the ones who do the hard work and heavy lifting.

It is no easy task preparing a tailgate for me. Larry and Clota have discovered that the sheer volume of work facing them requires that they arrive on Friday to begin assembling and erecting all of the equipment necessary to tailgate [feed me]. They are well aware that I have absolutely nothing to do with any of the manual labor involved in preparing a tailgate. I will, however, with my uncanny ability to determine exactly when food will be ready, often calling ahead on my cell phone to receive progress reports, show up at the exact instant food is at the consumption stage and arrive, knife and fork in hand, exclaiming, “Gimme eat.” I will then proceed to put away large quantities of food, all the while marveling that not the first bit of labor required to prepare such a sumptuous feast was my own. It is hard work, but they seem to undertake it gladly. In fact, Clota, for inspiration, has printed that post and taped to a kitchen wall of his RV, not unlike coaches attaching weauxfing by opponents to bulletin boards.

Noon games make it much harder on Larry and Clota. The early kickoff means they will have to arise well before dawn and slave over a hot grill for hours in order to prepare me a nutritious tailgate breakfast. While I am sipping my morning coffee and making a leisurely drive to Tech, stopping at a Roanoke Kroger’s to acquire the adult beverages that will sustain me during their hard work, they are toiling away at the grill. Actually, tailgating with me for a few years has taught them that a single grill does not come close to appeasing my voracious appetite. They have two, along with a smoker, deep fryer, microwave oven, steamer, wok, hot plate, broiler, barbecue pit, griddle, rice cooker, hibachi, toaster oven, fondue pot, degchi, solar oven, aga, hearth bricks, crepe machine, Dutch oven, rotisserie, tandoor and everything else essential to keeping me properly fed. It takes two RVs plus a pair of full-size pickup trucks to hold it all. It takes two of everything, even cooks, since after being informed that I have turned from I-81 onto the 460 bypass, Larry will entrust the final stages of food preparation to Clota and begin the laborious process of preparing my morning Bloody Mary with exactly the right amounts of Worcestershire, hot sauce and horseradish my exacting taste buds require. It is no easy task.

These early starts also double the workload for Larry and Clota. An early start means an early finish and they have learned that I will demand a second, post-game meal and I will also have no part in its preparation. While my post-game routine involves perhaps chatting with friends on the coaching staff then meandering back to the RV lot, often stopping to chat and mooch at friends’ tailgates, they will leave the game early in order to rush back to their grills to begin preparing me another fine spread. Speaking of other tailgates, Baltimore Hokie again found out that I will take quite literally an invitation to stop by. BH is at loose ends these games as a result of the ridiculous prohibition of live music that has taken some of the steam out of the Steam Tunnel tailgate. Instead of rocking on with his band, BH had nothing better to do following the Duke game but go fishing in his cooler for the adult beverage he again discovered I am not shy in requesting if one is not immediately proffered. Things are tough all over.

Noon games are difficult. Of course, we know why they are played. That is when ESPN, Jefferson-Pilot and all other television partners of the ACC says they will be played. The networks are shelling out big bucks to our conference for the right to televise games, and he who writes the check calls the tune. Only an idiot [Hoo] would turn down the exposure provided by any television, much less the nationwide airing given by ESPN. A lot of things can be said about Tech’s Athletic Director, but lacking mental facility in financial matters is not one of them. As far as who gets what time; well, Miami and Florida State are responsible for the bulk of the large amounts of cash the ACC contracts will be throwing off to all member schools, including Tech. It stands to reason that they will get the more coveted game times. When Tech quits tanking seasons perhaps what used to be an ESPN staple, the Lane Stadium night game, will return on a more regular basis. Until then, we paying customers will just have to deal with it.

Yes, the noon starts for NC State and WVU will involve some inconvenience, especially for those whose game experience involves late Friday nights. However, that is when the games will be played, so that is when we need to be there. The next two games are going to be a little more difficult than were the easy wins over Western Michigan and Duke, and a Lane Stadium full of enthusiastic fans will certainly be appreciated by the team. Get up, get out and get into the stadium. It won’t be that hard. If you feel you have it bad, think of Larry and Clota.

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