Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sports columnist Aaron McFarling: Huge state showdown in Cavaliers' hands

This week's Q&A-Mac is brought to you by The commonwealth of Virginia: home of destiny control.

Q:After Virginia Tech's win over Georgia Tech on Thursday night, the ACC's Coastal Division champion is guaranteed to hail from the state. Are we headed toward a colossal Hokies-Cavaliers matchup two days after Thanksgiving?

A:I hope so. But there's still plenty of work to do for UVa, starting with today's game against Duke. Assuming the Hokies beat North Carolina at home on Thursday, the Cavaliers must win twice to make that Nov. 26 game in Charlottesville an ACC semifinal.

Q:You've been tepid in your belief of the Cavaliers. After back-to-back wins - including one on the road - are you ready to say they've turned the corner?

A:Let's wait and make that call tonight. To me, "turning the corner" at UVa doesn't mean the Cavaliers have to beat Florida State on the road next week or knock off the heavily favored Hokies. Not yet. The first step for UVa is advancing up the standings by beating the teams with similar talent. Maryland fit that profile, and the Cavs got it done last week. Can't have a regression against the Blue Devils.

Q:What have we learned from the Penn State scandal?

A: A lot, and I fear we're going to learn a lot more as this develops. But if there's any good that comes of all this, it's that every one of us has done some soul-searching about what we would have done had we witnessed or been told about abuse. If there was even a hint of ambiguity, fear or hesitation about how to handle things before - and this whole mess illustrates how possible that is - there isn't now.

Q:What do you anticipate the scene will be like in State College today as Penn State hosts Nebraska?

A:Unlike anything we've ever seen. Awkward. Probably a bit nauseating. I'm sure fans will do their best to put a better face on this university, and I'm sure you'll read plenty of stories about starting the healing process through football. Sorry, but I just can't buy into any of it. This was a systematic failure of a university, and protection of the football program appears to be at the center of it. Obviously, I don't blame the students. I don't blame the players. I don't blame the alumni. But a hundred thousand people shouting "We are†Penn State!" just feels†weird.

Q:Have you ever experienced a week like this in sports?

A:No. Think about it. You had a major league player - Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos - kidnapped in his native Venezuela. He's was still missing as of Friday. Yet this story barely has made a ripple in the national media. That tells you all you need to know about how all-encompassing, how raw, this Penn State story is.

Q:Best reader comment on the blog this week?

A:We probably set a record for comments from readers, most of them discussing the Penn State scandal. Very hard to pick only one. But let's go with this one from Other John: "This just reminds me of a scene from 'The Boondock Saints.' †'Though many saw, no one so much as called the police. They watched as her assailant walked away. Now, we must all fear evil men. But there is another kind of evil which we must fear most, and that is the indifference of good men.'" Added Other John: "A whole lot of seemingly 'good' people did as little as they could in this mess, and that's inexcusable."

Q:Amen. No jokes this week, huh?

A:No jokes.

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