Monday, September 06, 2010

Sports columnist Aaron McFarling: For Tech fans, a tale of two tomorrows

Forget about tonight. Let's talk about tomorrow.

Because if you really want to understand the stakes of tonight's Boise State-Virginia Tech game, that's where you need to start.

Sure, we could begin by discussing national title implications or breaking down BCS vs. non-BCS or rehashing Boise State's rise to prominence. But you've heard all that already, haven't you?

So instead, let's talk about how this game affects you, the Virginia Tech fan.

Let's talk about the reality of Sept. 7.


And there are only two tomorrows if you're a Tech fan.

Tomorrow 1: Alarm goes off. Your head pops off the pillow. Great to be alive! You walk outside, grab the newspaper and scan the headline: "BS Who?" it shouts. You devour everything in it, laughing out loud at even the corniest of comic strips.

Tomorrow 2: Alarm goes off. You hit snooze. Seven minutes later, this happens again. "Ugh," you say. "Where's the ibuprofen?" You trudge outside, pick up the newspaper and scan the headline: "Foiled at FedEx," it says. You promptly look for the nearest birdcage.

See, I'm really not sure there's much more we can say about tonight. That's what happens when they schedule a battle of top-10 teams as the first game of the season: breakdown overkill. You talk about Boise in the spring. You talk about Boise in the summer. You talk about Boise every day in the fall. Very little changes over that span.

But tomorrow...

Tomorrow 1: You hop in the car, start the engine and turn to the sports talk radio station. The Hokies look like the real deal, they say, 1-0, top 10 with a bullet. You smile and roll down the window.

Tomorrow 2: You plop in driver's seat and clumsily put the keys in the ignition. A voice on the radio is already in midthought "... but I think the real question is what happens when Boise runs the table ..." You turn the radio off. That headache hasn't gotten any better.

Player quotes? Oh, sure, we've still got player quotes that you haven't seen, but most will look similar to the ones you've already digested.

That's not anybody's fault. There are only so many ways guys can answer the same questions before it all starts to run together. Although I did think it was interesting when offensive guard Greg Nosal said Thursday that he's been having trouble sleeping lately because he's getting so amped up.

Also a little different was this assessment of Boise by Tech tailback David Wilson, who said what many are thinking but might not be willing to say:

"They went undefeated, and no matter what conference you're playing in, it's hard to go undefeated," Wilson said. "But I don't think they've played a team quite like us."

Tomorrow, we'll know if that's true.

Tomorrow 1: You can't stop grinning at work. The best part is, even the UVa fans are talking about the game. "You Chokies," they grumble. "Hate to say it, but you actually might have what it takes this year."

Tomorrow 2: You keep your head down at work. "Eight and skate today," you think. "Nobody'd better give me any you-know-what." They don't come bug you, though. They just gather in the break room and laugh.

Momentum is such a huge deal in college football. And lately, the Hokies haven't had much early in the season. They've lost their past two openers. In 2008, they got blown out by LSU in Week 2.

They've still rallied for strong seasons, but they've always had to dip the oars in stagnant waters and dig like crazy to get there. It's be nice to get a shove from shore for once.

Especially for your sake ...

Tomorrow 1: You wrap up one of your most productive work days in years, interrupted only by a few online visits to check out the latest Hokies chatter. You come home, slide onto the couch and watch a recording of the game. When you grab a drink from the fridge, you glance at the Tech magnet schedule. "Awesome, JMU," you think. "Can't wait to welcome those Hokies home."

Tomorrow 2: The boss calls you in his office at 10:30 a.m. "I think I'm going to have to fire you," he says. "You were late this morning. You've got this constant hangdog look about you. You're simply too erratic." You talk him into keeping your job while taking a 30 percent pay cut. Looks like you won't be able to afford to go to next week's game after all. Oh, well, you think. Who wants to see an 0-1 team play JMU anyway?

So enjoy the final few hours of buildup and the game tonight, everyone. But when folks on TV or radio try to explain the stakes to you, remember that you know better.

Tomorrow is coming. You'll know the stakes then.

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