Pack Fans Need a Hero

When I was little, my mom (bless her heart) was forced to watch hours and hours of the old-school Batman live-action shows and sound out all the “BAMs!”, “POWs!”, etc., that accompanied Adam West’s heroics in funky-color fashion. Why? Because her eldest son (yours truly) was obsessed with Batman … and he still is.

Now, my lovely wife gets to her me drone on about the Caped Crusader and how much of a bad mamma-jamma (not the word i normally use) the current Christian Bale edition of Batman is.

I wish our favorite football team was like Batman. Ominous, unafraid of anything, vengeful and mean.

But N.C. State is probably more like Superman.  Or, actually, Clark Kent.

The Wolfpack falls prey to so many Kryptonites, yet has certain “phone booths” that turn the Pack from a nerdy newspaper reporter to faster than a speeding bullet.

And sometimes what can be the Wolfpack’s phone booth can also be its Kryptonite.

Like playing in prime time on national TV on Thursday night.

Case in point: the beating State received from Cincinnati this week. But last year, the Pack’s two Thursday night games were perhaps two of its most memorable, both at Carter-Finley. How exciting was the late-game snafu by Florida State near the Wolfpack goal line that sealed the game for NCSU and the beating State laid on the Bearcats?

Seems as if the Pack uses Thursday night as a stage to prove one of two things to everybody in the country: NCSU is legit and should be taken seriously … or the Pack is a bunch of pups that whimpers instead of growls.

Last night, obviously, was the latter.

To provide a better context of State’s Jekyll-and-Hyde complex, here is a recent history of the Pack’s play on Thursday nights (thanks to data from http://www.jhowell.net/cf/scores/ScoresIndex.htm and my football-obsessed memory):

2009
-Lost to South Carolina 7-3 at home. Pack dropped a surefire TD pass that would have been the difference the game.

2008
-Lost 34-0 to Gamecocks in Columbia. Ruseell Wilson goes down with an injury in the first game.
-Lost 26-17 to Florida State at home. Pack must have ate too many corndogs across the street at the State Fair.

2006
-Beat FSU at Carter-Finely 24-20 in one of the more memorable wins in the last decade.

2005
-Defeated Georgia Tech in Atlanta 17-14 thanks to some late-game heroics in the secondary.
-The following week, State gets pounded at home 31-10. Thanks, James Davis.

2004
-Lost 17-10 to FSU at home.

2003
-I was a sophomore at State, living in Metcalf. The Pack — really, T.A. McLendon — whupped Clemson down in Death Valley, pushing State to a 8-0 record (best start in school history) and campus went absolutely bonkers.

But the 2003 Superman that exploded out of the gate in Clemson was nowhere to be seen this past Thursday night.

Kryptonite was in full effect.

And Pack fans could sure use a hero right about now.

 

 

 

 

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Conference Call

These days, news of schools changing conferences is about as common as the weatherman showing a 30% chance of rain in the 7 Day forecast or a former senator/presidential candidate being linked to a sex scandal and campaign finance misconduct (wait…that just happens to us??)

 The ACC had avoided the messes taking place in the SEC and the Midwestern conferences, but could only be subject to “peace” for so long.

 Rumors started flying that Clemson and/or Florida State would be moving to the SEC, causing preemptive panic in the ACC. I can’t stand Florida State but I’ve faced the fact that they are the top ACC contender for big bowl game money this year and will arguably remain the best team in the ACC during the 2011 season. Clemson just belongs in the ACC and I’d hate to see them go. Let’s just hope that these rumors are a drop in the bucket.

 This weekend in a turn of events, the ACC took on Syracuse and Pitt as its 13th and 14th teams, making it a “super conference” and maintaining it’s viability in the conference shifting. Knock on wood, the ACC doesn’t seem to have any chance of dissolving like the Big 12 does (which looks like it may be the Big 5 before too long??)

I, however, have no desire for Syracuse and Pitt to be in the ACC. Largely because I care more about football than basketball and I think they’ll do far less for us in football than basketball.

Plus, they are too far north for our fan base to travel to on a regular basis. We deal with a BC road game on an occasional season but Syracuse and Pitt don’t need to add to the schedule and cause a definitive need for annual northeastern travel.

There are plenty of other reasons, but I think I can be done whining about the point.

Instead, I’d like to propose the creation of an entirely new conference! (stick with me here…) I’ll give creative credit to my partner in female fandom of Wolfpack football, Sara Beth Duyck. We take our conference very seriously and think the creation of this new conference we’ve come up with will hopefully make it to the powers that be and be instituted for the 2012 season (“they may saayyyy I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only oneeee”)

 You ready for it?? Here it is…

 The Southern Atlantic Conference:

UVA

Virginia Tech

NC State

Duke

UNC-Chapel Hill

Wake Forest

USC

Clemson

GA. Tech

UGA

 BAM! I smell a winner here folks!

 We’ll be getting rid of all of the teams north of Virginia. They aren’t really the South after all, so it didn’t seem appropriate to have them as part of the Southern Atlantic Conference. Easy enough reasoning to me, although the rest of the country’s conferences can’t seem to figure out this logic.

We’ll also lose all the teams south of Georgia, which I just won’t shed one tear about. Florida teams should all be in their own conference as far as we’re concerned.

We’ll pick up UGA and USC, who we think would be perfect additions to our collection of teams. It’ll add to the intra-state rivalries within the SAC and maintain the caliber of teams we’re aiming for.

 Our other option of a conference we’ve come up with: Ohio State, UNC and Miami. We’d have to lose UNC, but we can be okay with that. Putting these three in their own conference would centralize the complaining and lies and make it easier for the NCAA to focus their efforts. I’ll leave you to come up with your own names for that group…

–Kate

What a Weekend

It’s not often that I call a weekend where N.C. State and the Carolina Panthers both lose a great football weekend.

But that’s exactly what this weekend was.

From Thursday night’s goal-line stand capping a thriller of an NFL opener to all the last-second drama in the college ranks on Friday and Saturday, to Sunday’s poignant tributes at stadiums across the country honoring true heroes of this nation: our troops, firefighters and police who have sacrificed for our freedom.

Following Saturday’s night’s epic three-touchdowns-in-72-seconds at Michigan Stadium, one of the ESPN commentators talked about how everything at the furious end of the Michigan-Notre Dame game happened so fast, it was hard to remember all the big plays that had happened.

I feel that way about the whole weekend.

Seems like I was watching one dizzying last-minute finish after another. Even the games I didn’t get to see the final minutes had wild endings.

Just when you think it can’t get crazier than unranked Arizona State upsetting Missouri in overtime, unranked Auburn upsets Mississippi State on a goal-line stand in the final seconds.

Just when you think there can’t be more of a Wild West Shootout finish to a game than Georgia-South Carolina, the Fighting Irish and Wolverines put up 21 points in just over a minute.

Such dramatic finishes defied my expectations, especially for the NFL team of choice for Kate and me.

I never would have thought in my wildest dreams Panthers quarterback  Cam Newton would have tied the record for most first-start passing yards for a rookie QB and put the Panthers in a position to win the game in the waning moments.

I never thought I’d be hoopin’ and hollerin’ with joy for the Panthers on Sunday and be on the edge of my seat at the end of the game.
But that’s exactly what I was doing.
Unfortunately, our Cats couldn’t come through.

But as a football fan, I don’t have anything to complain about. It’s been years since we’ve been treated to such an exciting football weekend.

And guess what?

There’s so much more to come.

Gridiron Grub

We awoke to the sound of the N.C. State fight song.

A couple of Bojangles biscuits later and our fried okra and peach pie in tow, Kate and I were on our way for a day of tailgating: good eats, tasty beer and good times with family and friends.

We welcomed with open arms the first tailgate of the 2011 football season.

While family and friends are certainly the most important ingredients to a successful tailgate, you can’t forget about the spread of food.

So if Saturday is sneaking up and you still don’t have any idea what dish you’ll be sharing with your crew, here are a few ideas:

Barbeque Sloppy Joe Tater Tot Casserole  

This one is inspired by recipes I’ve seen online. One layer of tater tots, smothered with BBQ sauced-drenched hamburger meat and sauteed onions, topped another layer of tater tots and cheddar cheese.

Pretzels with Special Dip

I have to give credit where credit is due here: Kate’s cousin Emma, who a few years ago at age 11 created an amazing dip blending a bit of honey, mustard and sour cream. The dip has the perfect blend of being tangy, sweet and creamy. And it’s perfect with pretzels. We may have a future chef on our hands.

Cheesy Chicken & Egg Scramble

If you’re having a morning tailgate, nothing kicks off the right like a good meat-and-eggs scramble. This particular concoction I cooked up the morning after a make-your-own-salad night we had with some friends. Eggs, chopped red onions, cooked and chopped chicken and feta cheese blended together before cooking. Anything you can throw in a salad, you can throw in a scramble.

–Joe

The Case for Russell: To Cheer, or Not to Cheer?

As N.C. State fans, we know not to take our players’ talent for granted. Sure, there have been plenty of seasons when our coaching staff’s ability to not do a darn thing with the talent has been outstanding.

But we, the fans, are not fair-weather and pour into the stands every Labor Day Weekend with the hopes that our team won’t be ranked 11th in the ACC (…again…) come December.

We’ll have those all-star players’ stats to use for water cooler bragging rights (anyone remember this such brag-worthy event?? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8t_CCmASDU)

We knew we’d found a savior in Russell Wilson when he was named ACC Rookie of the Year in 2008 and waltzed right into first-string status by Game 5 of the season (sorry Daniel and Harrison…we, too, wished that had been a harder decision for T.O’B to make…)

By our 2010 season, Russell got us to 9-4 with a bowl game win and a reason for us to stay proud of NC State Athletics, even through our basketball team’s poor performances that winter (hey, we’re N.C. State fans…we couldn’t expect two major sports to have good seasons in the same year!)

With Russell on the fence about his MLB status with the Colorado Rockies in Spring 2011, Coach had to release Russell from his last year of academic eligibility with the Wolfpack and move on to molding the team with Glennon as the leader.

We understood Coach’s decision and knew we couldn’t wait around for a miracle—those don’t come around but once in a blue moon here in Wolfpack country and we’d already figured we’d had ours for the decade.

Russell has migrated north to Wisconsin to be the starting quarterback for the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Wisconsin is ranked 11th in the AP Poll going into the first week with Russell slated as the dark horse to win the Heisman.

They play UNLV Thursday night for the kick off to the 2011 college football         (praise the Lord, we’ve made it!!!)

Here’s the question: do we State fans cheer for Russell or not? Are we still pro-Russell, after all he did for the Wolfpack family’s spirits over the last three years?

He left on amicable terms and only following his dreams to play in the NFL. After all, as far as we know it was Coach’s decision to let him go and not Russell’s to leave. Although, I’ve never been a Wisconsin fan and wouldn’t feel the need to start now if it wasn’t for Russell’s position on that team.

Do we stand behind Russell, wishing him success as a graduate of N.C. State and one of the best QB’s we’ve had to date? Or do we let him go, saying “we had a good ride!” and not pay a moment’s care to his time at Wisconsin? Are we only “pro-Russell” when Russell is “pro-N.C. State?”

I’ll let you ponder this while I go practice my “move the chains” arm signals and “Jump On It” bleacher twists (they are art forms, you know.) Kick off in 72 hours. “Shout out loud, to the men, who will play the game to win, we’re behind you, keep fighting for State…”

–Kate

Def-ening Entrance Song

To any football team looking for an entrance song (or perhaps willing to change their song-of-choice), please strongly consider one particular track from the new Def Leppard album.

Most pigskin fans would scoff at the notion of even listening to a late-career Hail Mary from a hair band whose prime was the 1980s,much less have their football team take the field to it.

But Def Leppard’s Undefeated is no such song.

(And for the record, Def Leppard is a big step above from the dime-a-dozen clones of Motley Crue/Poison  that dominated the decade).

It’s a song about not letting set-backs hold you down, pressing forward and finding a way to win. What coach or fan base wouldn’t want the players to hear that before charging out to face their opponent?

And just as important, Undefeated has a blood-boiling beat that is more in line with modern rock, while still taking a bit of the classic Leppard style and adding boot-to-the-behind intensity.

Earlier this summer, I was fortunate enough to hear DL rock out Undefeated in person, from about 200 yards away, thanks to my wonderful wife who won me tickets on the radio.

The Leppards “took the field,” so to speak, to that song and they couldn’t have made a better choice.

The heart-thumping drum beat and the war chants of “SHOUT!” launched the song — and the concert — into utter hysteria (pun intended, fellow DL fans). Playing this song as a team runs on to the field could have the same effect on the stadium and the team for which they’re cheering their hearts out.

Don’t believe me?

First, consider what are some of the best lines in the song (from http://www.elyricsworld.com):

Look in these eyes … these eyes don’t lie … and they say that if you don’t blink, then you don’t die.

Now feel this heart … It beats so tough … And if you ever gonna doubt my faith … Then I’ll call your bluff … Cause you ain’t that tough

The lies in your eyes can’t defeat me … I ain’t ever goin’ down .. I was down on my knees completely … And you will never take my crown … But I rise from my feet you can’t beat me

Next, listen to the song.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GaEOnFt0tx0

In the first five seconds of the song, as the pulsating beats reverberate, imagine the players gathered at the entrance of the tunnel, steam swirling.

Now, at the about the 5-second mark, when the war chants begin, picture a firework being shot with that “SHOUT!”

Then, with the second “SHOUT!” at the 10-second mark, even more fireworks are shot and the team bursts onto the field as DL burns into that blistering guitar riff.

On the jumbotron above, there are highlights of your defensive ends throwing quarterbacks to the ground and running backs leaping over goal-line piles. Picture on the jumbotron, video of players busting their tails in 100-degree heat at summer practice and sweating out every bench press and every squat.

The scoreboard flashes teammates jumping on teammates, patting their helmets to celebrate big plays together as the Leppards shout lyrics about not giving up and staring down their challenges and fears with relentlessness.

Makes you wanna put on pads and run out the tunnel yourself, doesn’t it?

Living a Fantasy

I’d be upset about her two straight fantasy football league crowns (and 4-0 record against me) if she didn’t care about football or even was just a casual fan.

But Kate lives, eats and breathes football — and is extremely knowledgeable on the subject.

And when it comes to fantasy football, she dissects it.

Like Peyton Manning walks up to the line of scrimmage and checks the defense before taking the snap from Jeff Saturday, Kate studies up on NFL defenses and pours over stats to determine who exactly should start on her fantasy squad.

It hasn’t been luck or coincidence that has made my lady a killer fantasy phenom. She’s got the pedigree and the football study habits to put her at the top.

But that doesn’t make me want to dethrone her any less. Heck, I’d settle just to win once in a head-to-head matchup with her.

This has got to be the year that my squad  finally gains the top spot in our household.

Our league is an auto-draft league, so hopefully things will roll my way and I’ll land a Michael Vick or a Chris Johnson. Then throw in some good trades, careful analysis and I’ll be well on my way to victory.

Or so I hope.

Either way, the Marital Blitz blog will have a weekly recap sharing how both Kate and I fared in our fantasy football battles.

Any tips, suggestions and strategy-sharing are more than welcome!

Knowing how we roll, there are will likely be some good-natured trash talk thrown in there. And hopefully some much-needed W’s  for yours truly.

— Joe