Sunday mornings in the fall, beginning right at daybreak, are very magical for me. For the majority of my life I’ve read just about every word and every article in the newspaper’s sports section this time of year. College football has been a huge part of my life for almost half a century – I love everything about it -- but yesterday I came within seconds of letting an unknown jerk steal some precious minutes from me.
My deal is that I get my coffee, my dog and my cigar on the back porch and thumb through the sports section fast, my thirst for scores intense. Then I go back to the front page and methodically read every story from beginning to end. Unfortunately, my reading included a “Letter to Sports” that a bandwagon fan named David Betty had written to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
One of Life’s Rules, right at the top of the list, is that a man should never embarrass himself, most particularly if it’s on purpose. But Betty’s letter, entitled “Mocs again a big letdown,” released a long string of memories where very shallow UT-Chattanooga boosters have made me wince. For years I have wondered why some people lose every trace of class, poise, and sportsmanship when they put on Blue-and-Gold. I am mystified by it.
This isn’t all of UTC’s fans, not at all, but David Betty has got that disgusting whine that comes every time the leaves turn colors and, Great Golly, the Mocs are just one game into the season! Here is how Betty’s letter to the newspaper read:
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“Same ol’ Mocs. Again Chattanooga is let down by Russ (Huesman) and his Mocs. He was soundly beaten by the man he beat out for the job.
“All the hype has turned into a windstorm instead of a hurricane that was predicted. Russ tries to make his son the star when everyone knows that (Terrell) Robinson is the heart and soul of the team. He won’t run the big back (Keon) Williams, like he should (5 yards a carry isn’t bad). Coach, your son is good but you don’t put it all on his back.
“Maybe the coach who won on Thursday night should have been the one hired. Enough of the promises. We are tired of broken dreams.”
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David, not only did you just embarrass yourself, you embarrassed many good and loyal Chattanooga supporters who have been the backbone of the program instead of Good-time Charlies like you that seem to come around all too often. Nothing you can say, write or spew will make Russ Huesman or his players feel any worse than they already do. But for you to incite malice between the players – Huesman vs. Robinson, or mumble about Williams’ lack of carries – clearly shows your lack any knowledge of the game as well as any compassion, loyalty or support in a season that has hardly begun.
Any opposing coach knows a key element to UTC’s offense is to have Huesman and Robinson in the game at the same time. Jacob’s arm and Terrell’s hands and feet are a dual combination feared throughout the Southern Conference. What if Terrell had been healthy and could have played in the opener? He most certainly would have helped.
As it was, Huesman wanted to get him healthy for the road ahead. Keon Williams will get plenty of carries, but his skills as a blocker are superb. When a quarterback is fighting for every inch, a guy like Keon is just as valuable blocking would-be tacklers.
You bashed the coach but, from where I sit, Russ Huesman has UTC’s total football program at the highest place I have ever seen it, and that’s after 47 years of watching pretty closely. Actually, Thursday’s loss could be a Godsend, reminding players and staff alike that there are no “gimmees” in college football. That’s what makes the game so wonderful, and then somebody like Bandwagon David comes along.
Are you kidding me? A record eight FBS teams (big schools) lost to FCS opponents (little schools) over the weekend: Georgia State (Samford), Iowa State (Northern Iowa), Kansas State (North Dakota State), No. 25 Oregon State (Eastern Washington) San Diego State (Eastern Illinois), South Alabama (Southern Utah), UConn (Towson) and South Florida (McNeese). Bandwagon David is the type that laughs at the big losers; I happen to be the type that delights in the little winners.
The Southern Conference, a dismal 2-7 in openers, is still very wide open and UTC has an outstanding chance to win it. Elsewhere in the Sunday sports section, Huesman said the Mocs missed 36 tackles in the 31-21 loss to UT-Martin. Chattanooga is 10 times better than that because the team has clearly demonstrated the players know how to hit. Any player knows an arm tackle is a missed tackle. That can be fixed quickly.
No, this was simply a case where the Mocs came out flat. Too many press clippings, too big an ego, not focused, “We got an All-American”? Whatever the reason it happens, and the same thing happened to half the teams in the country Saturday. Yes, the Mocs were out-played and out-coached but to smear Huesman with the taunt that UTC hired the wrong coach is cruel and childish. Both Jason Simpson and Russ are personal friends of mine and they are each where they can succeed and do well.
I’ll admit I was disappointed UTC lost the opener because guys like Bandwagon David will shrink the Finley Stadium crowd. The fringe UTC followers are notoriously fickle and have been for years. Good riddance, I say. But I know Chattanooga is better than they showed. The season is young. The conference race is going to be great fun with the best collection of athletes ever assembled to answer the call.
The lesson I learned yesterday is not to read anymore “Letters to Sports.” I refuse to allow a guy like Bandwagon David to take away my joy or put a dent in my Sunday mornings. What an embarrassment in Blue-and-Gold.