Some support for Hokie fans is in order.
Brian Marcolini’s prediction in his open letter in the Key Play was correct: our 10-win streak was lost, but it was because of the football players, not the football fans.
Brian is right. We have a bad team this year. Virginia Tech is ranked 70th in passing yards and 80th in rushing yards — perennial ACC stinker UNC is ranked 23rd and 54th in those categories. Oh wait, they also beat us on Saturday.
But the fault is not with the fans.
The blame should be placed directly on the players and the coaching staff of our Hokie football team. They are the ones out there on the field. No amount of student support – or lack thereof – can excuse three losses to bad teams.
To those students among us who go to as many games as we can, the remark “students are the worst fans in the building” is offensive. I have only seen waves of burnt orange at Lane Stadium, even at the games that are against bad teams.
Brian’s sentiments blaming fans miss the point. Praise and support from the fans must be earned. It cannot be taken for granted.
Hokies have unwaveringly supported Coach Frank Beamer and the team despite consecutive bowl losses in 2010 and 2011. Can you blame us if we feel a bit disappointed right now?
We have settled for too many mediocre 10-win seasons, too many bowl losses and too many mistakes. In short, we as fans have settled for too many missed opportunities.
So if Brian expects fan support at Lane to improve, he better hope the team turns the season around and starts winning. I am confident Hokies will reward a winning team with a full house even after four quarters.
To be sure, there will always be students who drink unholy amounts before games and fans who have the let’s-leave-after-three-quarters mentality. That’s endemic to every college, not just Tech. Trust me, it could be a lot worse.
The losses have all occurred away from Blacksburg this year, and playing well on the road is part of the success formula for any team in any sport. That reason alone makes Brian’s point about fan support moot.
Unfortunately, placing blame on fans could have another, more insidious consequence. Blaming fans for the poor performance of the team will only serve as an excuse to the players.
All the players know they are talented. They know Tech has the potential to become a top-ranking team once again, so we can’t give them the excuse of lazy fans lest they actually believe it.
If the players believe fans are the problem, they will have less incentive to work harder. They will wait until the fans become more excited, which won’t happen until this team gets it together.
Regardless, let’s thank the fans who have stood behind the team year in and year out with unwavering support. Fans here are terrific, considering the heartbreak this team has gone through in recent years.