A Fan's Perspective on the State of the Program
by Robert Teitelbaum, 4/14/04

As I write this, I have just finished reading the two newest articles posted on April 12. Michael Hinton has been arrested for malicious wounding and ten . . . TEN, great Hokie footballers are off to bigger and hopefully more lucrative things. If those two things werenít enough, there is still the looming Vick, Imoh and Hill cases, which should have quite the impact on the whole reason any of us frequent this hallowed web site . . . yes kids, weíve got football worry about. The State of the Program, in this humble fanís usually well biased opinion: Teetering between greatness and mediocrity.

Now I know that offers no great insight to our beloved orange and maroon. Heck even the casual message board browser can find his or her way to that conclusion. But the fact of the matter is, several fans that I know and converse with do feel that is the state of our team. Sadly it also seems to be the state of some of their advocacy, as well.

We all have our favorite moments as fans, and if I may, I'll bore you with a few of mine. The first would have to be New Orleans, December 1995. There is just something magical about wearing shorts on New Yearís Eve, standing on a street corner with a half full 32 oz. cup after your team has just beaten a rather bitter opponent. The whole three days was just amazing. It was my first bowl game and it was electric, from the random gatherings of Hokies out on Bourbon Street to watching my idiot friend convince our section of the Super Dome to pass him up the stands after Bryan Stillís phenomenal punt return.

My second was Hurricane Isabel last September. I rolled into a wonderful B-burg pub that to my surprise was filled with a maroon that I was at first happy to see. But then I read the words and couldnít believe the enemy had taken over one of our bars. But this group was not the enemy, not even close. These fans were some of the best college football fans I have ever come across, save the Hokie faithful. And we all agreed to let the best team win, though with the weather looming, I had a fear that Lane would not be the formidable 12th man to which the Aggie fans were accustomed. I could not have been more wrong. Lane Stadium was the absolute craziest and loudest I have ever heard it. Hokie fans literally shouted at the rain. I think we were all actually offended the hurricane had the nerve to show up on game day.

Thirdly, and only because it has relevance to my point, was the Walk and subsequent destruction of the number two team in the nation last November 1. If the Texas A&M Hurricane Game was the loudest Lane had ever been, certainly Spring Road had no idea what it was in store for it come 5:30 PM that Saturday. Galvanized by one of the best articles ever written on TSL (I have it hanging in my cubicle at work!), Hokie fans showed up in what looked like platoons, ready to cheer with precision as our warriors fought for us on the field. And fight they did. Lane indeed saw a louder day than September 18, 2003. I can pinpoint the moment: 12:58 to go in the 2nd quarter, when Roscoe Parrish tried to run past DeAngelo Hall. The way Hall was positioned, I honestly thought he was beaten. Then the unthinkable happened. D-Loís hand came ripping out, the ball followed, and Tech never looked back. Okay, well we almost looked back once on a fake field goal, but it just wasnít to be for our Miami buddies.

As I stated way back at the beginning of this stroll down memory lane, these were my favorite moments as a Virginia Tech football fan. My question is, when will I feel that way again? In this off-season we have been bombarded with reminders that ten . . . TEN great players are leaving. We are reminded that although it is early spring there arenít any superstars on the 2004 team. The days of Bryan Still are no more. Where have you gone, DeAngelo?

We are further reminded of the continued lack of discipline of our teamís players. I thought the Vick and Manning suspensions from the JMU game were bad enough. Cols Colas getting into whatever that was last year was a bit unsettling as well. But the Vick conundrum, which this web site so aptly labeled it, and now Hintonís arrest, give me much bigger concerns. I know I have always wanted Tech football to play in the big time, but if this means getting the same type of player that we rag on FSU and Miami for having, then perhaps we should rethink our stance.

Iím not going to jump ship or anything. I have put in 23 long years as a fan through some rather dark times in our history. I never get tired of correcting Cavalier fans when they continually and purposefully provide the wrong definition of a Hokie. I never get tired of telling my poor fiancť how great she looks now, but how some orange and maroon would really "spruce up the outfit." And I never ever get tired of my three-hour trip down I-64 to I-81 to 460 to Southgate Drive to Duck Pond Road to my beloved Lot 8.

What I want, and I think I may speak for some other fans out there, is a reason to cheer loud. The Hokies gave us that reason twice last year, and then came the Pittsburgh game. The ACC is inevitably approaching, and we are picked to finish eighth out of eleven, according to CollegeFootballNews.com. Maybe that is just the fuel needed for the fire in the Hokie fanís heart. Maybe not having a Kevin Jones on the roster will spark someone on this young team to step up and give us fans a name to shout until our throats collectively hurt. Maybe the vacancy of the Commonwealth Cup in Merryman and our projected new home in the ACC basement will provide the fight Iíve seen in the orange and maroon. And maybe that will put the state of the fans back to where they want to be.

I personally canít wait for the Western Michigan game. Yes, I know USC comes first and we shouldnít look past it and blah-blah-blah. Iím not looking past the Trojans; I have bought my tickets and will be in FedEx Field, yelling like a crazy person with the rest of you. I canít wait for Western Michigan, because I am certain some Bronco fan will need to be corrected for his wrong comments on what a Hokie is. I am certain my fiancť will wear orange and maroon. And I am certain I will probably turn the trip from I-64 to Lot 8 into a two and a half-hour journey just to be there quicker for the home opener. I canít wait to file into the stadium and hear the dull roar of the crowd, the opening notes of "Enter Sandman," and pandemonium that follows.

I suspect the State of the Program will remain in question well into the season, but know this . . . the fans will be there. I will be one of them, just hoping to put a new number one moment atop my list of Hokie greatest.


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