Thursday, November 13, 2008
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Sports columnist Aaron McFarling: Keeping with the 'Canes

Time to draw the line on what exactly makes a great football team tick

Hey there, football fans.

You probably don't know me. In fact, nobody really knows me.

But I wield more power than you might expect, and it's high time I spoke up. After all, if you really want to know who's going to win tonight's Virginia Tech-Miami game, I'm the fella you need to talk to.

My credentials? Well, you ever heard of Tommy Bowden? Yep. I single-handedly got that dude fired at Clemson.

Oh, and don't forget Alabama. I just so happened to make that squad the No. 1 team in all of college football.

Bet you didn't see that coming.

Not convinced yet? Sigh. OK, let's try the NFL. I am the biggest reason the Tennessee Titans are undefeated. I find it so amusing -- all these analysts scratching their heads and wondering how the Titans are getting it done. All these fans talking about luck.

Hello, people! It's me!

Sheesh, I weigh more than a half a ton. You'd think I'd be easy to spot.

Regardless, I also fuel the New York Giants, the beasts of the NFC. Talk about Eli Manning all you want, but that's just ignorant. Watch the games a little more closely. You'll see I'm the key there, too.

Who needs an All-Pro quarterback to win games? Certainly not the New England Patriots. Not when they have me.

Maybe you thought coach Frank Beamer (or perhaps Rodney Taylor) made the decision to take the redshirt off Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor. That was actually my call. Beamer had no choice once I got involved. I fooled ol' Fancy Gap pretty good this preseason, didn't I?

That was downright rotten what I did, I know. But I repaid Beamer big time last week. Oh, all those fickle writers and TV producers sprinted over to Darren Evans and gave him all the publicity, totally ignoring me, but I'm used to it.

It's a decent trade-off anyway. Whenever I stink, I escape pretty much unscathed. Those same writers and producers torch the offensive coordinator, skewer the quarterback, question the head coach, look up and down and right and left to find an appropriate goat, and they're never even close to the real culprit.

I usually just grab some nachos and enjoy the show.

I love nachos. And cheeseburgers. And pizza. And just about any other morsel of food you can imagine. I've been kicked out of more Sizzlers than you'll ever know. But if they're going to call themselves "All-U-Can-Eat," well, dang it, I'm going to indulge in all I can eat. Not my fault they're unprepared.

I love how people call me "steady" and "predictable." Shoot, I'm volatile as heck. You think the news out of Miami -- that Hurricanes left tackle Justin Fox is doubtful for tonight's game -- doesn't affect me? Oh, you bet it does. Left tackle is my heart and soul.

But whatever. I'll show up in some form or fashion, just like I did at Clemson. My chameleon impression down there was pretty incredible, I've got to say. No wonder I looked like garbage. No wonder running backs James Davis and C.J. Spiller haven't done squat.

At Tech, I'm the same guy I've always been this year. Except sometimes I'm great, other times awful. Go figure.

But anyone who wants to judge, try living my life for a week. All I do at practice is slam into a giant sled over and over, like a lowly team of oxen. Then I go to the campus parties, and none of the ladies want to talk to me. They're always over with the receivers or the linebackers or the quarterbacks.

I usually respond to this disappointment by eating more nachos.

Still, if you know me, you've got two major advantages. No. 1: You understand football better than the average fan.

And No. 2? Well, simply drop my name and you can get into any biker bar or tattoo parlor in the country.

Just tell 'em O-line sent you.

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