During the media timeout with four minutes left in the first half of the Florida State/Virginia game, if Leonard Hamilton had asked his team “We have two options, you can finish this game against Virginia or you guys can have root canals – what do you want to do?” I think the answer would have been “How much time do we have to decide?” or “Will they use novacaine?” You could see it in their play at the end of the first half. FSU was done. Absent a Beyonce concert, John Paul Jones Arena was the last place FSU wanted to be.Continue reading
The Night of:
The Red Sox had the curse of the Bambino. The Cubs had the curse of the goat. I am not sure what Virginia’s football curse is, but it’s there. Maybe it is the revenge of the “Huggable Hoo” – Virginia’s mascot abomination from 1983 that lasted less than half-a-season. It was justifiably pummeled with ridicule and bourbon & cokes during home games and pulled from the marketing plan fearing for the safety of the Hoo inside the costume. As curses go, it’s as good as any.
Bryce Hall’s touchdown-saving tackle on the 7 yard-line is all you need to know about the Virginia football team and how they upset No. 16 Miami in Charlottesville. Miami’s Travis Homer was on his way to a 77-yard touchdown run when Bryce Hall came streaking across the field to knock Homer out of bounds at the Virginia 7. Instead of a 77-yard touchdown run, Miami settled for a 28-yard field goal. Hall kept 4 points off the board, Virginia won by 3. While not quite that simple, this play was emblematic of how and why Virginia won.
I know, we’ve all said it a thousand times. Being a UVa fan is never easy. When it looks like it might be easy, it’s not. It’s hard. It’s stressful. It’s complicated. Even the location of Virginia’s game against Ohio wasn’t easy. Early in the week when it looked like Hurricane Florence would be churning over central Virginia all weekend, AD Carla Williams adeptly moved the game to Nashville, so Virginia could avoid a disruptive cancellation. Demonstrating that no good planning goes unpunished, Florence stayed well south of Virginia and game-time conditions in Charlottesville were not much different than those in Nashville.
Before jumping into Virginia’s game against Indiana and a few other tidbits from around the ACC, I’d like to make a comment about being a “visiting” team on the Big10 Network. My comment is short and to the point. It sucks. It’s a lot like being the professional wrestler who doesn’t have music and a bevy of girls around when he’s introduced for his match. I suppose it is understandable, but the Big10 Network is really the “homer network” – from the announcers to the incessant Big10 propaganda. I hope we never play on it again.
It would be easy to say that Virginia football delivered on expectations in Saturday’s opener against the Richmond Spiders. It might be more accurate to say that Virginia exceeds the tempered hopes of the fanbase. The Commonwealth of Virginia is blessed with a plethora of strong FCS programs. Good for football in The Commonwealth, sometimes problematic for the state’s FBS programs.
I really liked the movie “Moneyball”. I liked the book even more. I don’t think you have to be a baseball fan or even a sports fan to appreciate the game-changing, innovative strategies deployed by Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane. Similarly, Malcolm Gladwell’s book “David & Goliath” provides a non-sports related peek into the world of winning through innovation and differentiated thinking. The bottom line of these books – if David tries to beat Goliath in a traditional fight, he dies. If the Oakland A’s try to out-spend and out-market the New York Yankees or Los Angeles Dodgers, they get steamrolled every time. I think both of these books and their underlying themes are perfectly applicable to the strategy Tony Bennett has deployed for the UVa Basketball program and is manifest in his recruiting strategy.