BL:.. Stars Aligning w/ Sleeping Giants… and The Athletic
As most (all?) of you know. The white-clad NC State Wolfpack’s trip to South Bend did not go as it’s loyalists had hoped… nor as my scenario had suggested. Hopefully not wearing the lucky(?) gray unis was not a factor.
The Fighting Irish are, alas, a deeper, more talented team. That coupled with several dubious officials’ calls. Would it be an NC State sports loss without “dubious officials’ calls”?
…and several devastating injuries to key personnel, likely put the kibosh on State’s going to a major bowl this year. Anything other than Orange for an ACC team is “just a game with a swag bag”.
A certain hated rival, of course, was essentially eliminated from ANY bowl game back in mid-September when it’s “out for the season” list hit double figures.
Swofford’s Bowl – Division title – ACC Conference title is still possible for NC State, of course, with a W over The Fightin’ Dabos this coming Saturday and then running the table. ALL is not lost.
As the outcome in South Bend became obvious around 4:30 Saturday; I thought about this season’s Wolfpack and the 2015 UNCers.
Both squads are/were “very good” college football teams with notable “skill players” and capable of being very competitive with, and defeating, 90% of major college teams on a given day.
That UNC team went 10-3. This State team could do likewise or better… IF the stars align properly.
With due respect to “Sleeping Giants”… at last count, there are 27-29 official “Sleeping Giants” across college football as perceived by delusional fan bases – did you know there is actually a Sleeping Giants Registry? Getting “your school” listed involves being referred by an existing member and a check for $25. Both UNCCH and NCSU are lifetime members.
There is also a Juggernaut Registry. This one is a bit more exclusive. Juggernauts fire Head Coaches for less than 10Ws/season or for losing to a hated rival two years in a row.
The single biggest difference between a Sleeping Giant and a Juggernaut is second team OL / DL linemen on a Juggernaut would be starters on a Sleeping Giant.
In order for a Sleeping Giant to even achieve Temporary Juggernaut status… The Stars Must Align Properly… and there-in lies the rub.
This year’s Wolfpack has several outstanding players. Certainly, Samuels and Chubb could start for any team in America; several others on O and/or D are very very good. A solid corps of seniors form a highly-rated Defense. Finley is a fine QB… and so on.
Dave Doeren is a solid coach with a solid staff…. They have an IPF with lots of charging stations….
No waterslide or nap room but even some Juggernauts can’t match Six Flags Over Death Valley.
UNC had a similar roster of very good starters when they played in Swofford’s Bowl in 2015
The Bugaboo twixt a Juggernaut & a Wannabee is INJURIES. Wake Forest dodged injury bullets in their Dream Season in 2006.
Every team is one play away from losing any player… Superstar or simply “a solid cog in the wheel”.
When a Juggernaut has a key player go down, they “reload”. When a Wannabee loses a key player… they pray. The Wolfpack was praying when Hines and the DT when down at ND. The Football Gods were not smiling.
It’s a matter of DEPTH of Talent. If your 2nd teamers could start for most Power-5 schools you are a Juggernaut. When you have that quality of roster depth you can keep fresh players on the field for four quarters and “reload” when a key player goes down.
A Top Five Famous BobLee-ism… Any Football team
…is only as strong as its 3rd string O-line.
By early November, you ARE going to be starting guys in your OL that were 3rd teamers on Labor Day. That is a Universal Law of Attrition in Football at every level.
As much as I despise “Recruiting” which ranks with “Kiddie Porn” and “Drug Cartels” among the three most heinous activities on the planet, it is essential to even dreaming of “your school” evolving from Sleeping Giant to even a Temporary Juggernaut.
If THAT is your Ultimate Dream… and may God have mercy on your tortured soul if that IS your Ultimate Dream.
Not simply recruiting “skill positions” … QBs, WRs, RBs … but The Big-uns on OL and DL. The Big-uns are the split-second differences that open/close holes or sack a QB just BEFORE he gets the pass off.
If your team is not stockpiling Big-uns… you ain’t gonna play in “a major bowl”.
Then you will also need … (1) a Home/Away schedule that sets up right… (2) a few key calls to go your way… and… (3) some lucky bounces. “Lucky bounces” ALWAYS help a lot…
… and (4) The Stars Aligning Just Right.
I am becoming Pentecostal about a subscription-only sports site called The Athletic.
It is veteran sportswriters like Peter Gammons and Ken Rosenthal and others from all major sports writing “old school” columns about sports. Not just “who won” but human-interest stories and behind-the-scene stories.
These are not “the millennial mutts” i.e. “fan boys” i.e. “board monkeys” you deal with on the rest of the sports crap on the Internet. I un-bookmarked six websites when I got The Athletic.
And… there are no ads… no pop-ups… no auto-videos… … just quality sportswriting in all major college and pro sports. It is $45/year and worth every penny.
I appreciate that no matter how much I enjoy watching baseball some / many of you are NOT going to do it for all sorts of silly reasons… whatever..
After tonight or at the latest tomorrow (Wed) none of us will watch Baseball until mid-March. Then I will resubscribe to MLB.tv and watch 150+ Cardinals games next season. I might start following these Astros. These kids are pretty darn exciting…
UPDATE on CNR… as of Tues noon-ish… CNR is on-the-ground in LA waiting for “Everett Case’s nephew” to pick him up for lunch in Pasadena . Of COURSE it’s Ev Case’s nephew! He says he is “giddy”. His term, not mine.
He plans to be in DodgerStadium in time to watch batting practice and, knowing CNR, swap Pee Wee Reese anecdotes with Vin Scully… and get that hug from Mary Hart.
Just so you know… I told you what a HUMDINGER Game Two was. Well… Game Five Out-Humdingered Game Two. The Fox Sports Post-Game guys… David Ortiz, Frank Thomas, Keith Hernandez, etc were saying Game Five was THE most amazing game they had EVER seen. THAT’S pretty high praise.
It WAS “A Thrilla” with Five lead changes and that rare game where even fans of the losing team (the Dodgers) said “That Was Something”.