Those Troublesome Teenagers
By Jim Alderson, 2/1/00

I often notice on the Message Board people announcing the birth of children. This is, of course, a joyous event and all of you who have been so blessed should be filled with a justifiable pride. I would point out, however, that while your offspring will provide you with much joy over the years, there will also be some problems. Take it from the voice of experience, 3am feedings, or even the Terrible Twos will not hold a candle to what you will face when your prides and joys hit those teenage years. You will spend many hours and sleepless nights wondering and worrying about just what the apples of your eyes are up to. Will they follow the straight and narrow? Can they refrain from making bad choices? Let me tell you, it is tough.

You do, however, have practice for those trying times of worry. I am referring, of course, to recruiting. We all sit and worry every year at this time just what is going to become of our prized teenage recruits. We worry constantly that they may get involved in gangs, such as those evil Vols and Lions. A sighting of one of our loved recruits wearing any symbol of gang colors, such as a UT cap, will send cold chills down our spines. We spend many nights wondering whether the apples of Frank Beamer's eye will fall under the influence of the wrong people, such as Danny Wilmer. There is the constant dread that they will make the ultimate in bad choices, signing with the hoos. Breakfast table conversations often involve, "Where was our Johnny last night?" "I don't know, but our top defensive line prospect was out with a Bowden."

It is hard during their years of partial maturity, as we can exert no influence upon their choices, since NCAA rules prohibit it. They are now adults, or almost, and we cannot bridge the growing chasm by talking to them when they show interest in the Big Ten. We really do know what is best for them but must hold out tongues. We must just sit and watch, wonder and worry, while hoping that the correct choices will be made. The best we can hope is that they will follow the fine examples we have set for them by attending Virginia Tech, and do likewise. But we are concerned, and live in dread of receiving that phone call or message board post late at night informing us that our top backfield prospect has committed to an SEC school. Be aware, this terrible news doesn't only happen to other people, it can be inflicted upon us as well, and often is.

We can take comfort in the fact that there are good people willing to assist our young recruiting targets get through these difficult times without bringing trouble upon themselves or us by making bad decisions. Men like Jim Cavanaugh, Billy Hite and Lorenzo Ward are there to provide advice, inspiration and guidance. If the burdens of staying on the correct path become too onerous for some of our charges and they find themselves wavering and thinking about WVU, even Frank Beamer is willing to assist. We must trust our recruits to listen to their sage counsel and do the right thing, since it is all we can do, as the Virginia Tech Athletic Department will cut us off at the knees if we interfere.

Enjoy your children for they will grow up all too fast (or not fast enough, depending on your perspective). One of these days you will find yourself the parents of a teenager, a time fraught with peril. You will, however, have had significant practice by following recruiting.

BTW, to all those weeping about lost recruits: Following the 94 season we lost a number of high-profile recruiting targets who would have been fifth-year seniors this past year. We did just fine without them.

Jim Alderson, best known for his biting political commentary on the A-Line email newsletter, also brings a unique, sarcastic, and well-informed perspective on college sports, particularly (1) Virginia Tech sports and (2) ACC sports.  While Hokie fans currently have very little use for subject number 2, Alderson is an entertaining and informative columnist on subject number 1.  For even more fun, visit Jim's A-Line home page.


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