The air was heavy with the scent of Corona and grilled burgers as I swam through a sea of football fans creeping toward Bank of America Stadium Saturday. It was hot too, and boy, did I want one of those Coronas, but I had to work after the Va. Tech-East Carolina game.
My old school was favored by about 10 over the Pirates, but I was not feeling particularly cocky like a Hokie Bird should. We lost one good player because he couldn't behave and another was redshirted after going 5-0 last year as a freshman starter. What gives?
So, the starting QB marches the team right down the field like he owns it to open the game...then throws an interception.
Heck, this is painful.
We took the lead, stretched it out some and then fell apart in the fourth quarter, giving up two costly scores to drop the season opening 27-22.
I had not been to a Tech game since the 1970s. When I was in Blacksburg as a student, we had this little dinky stadium with no bleachers in the end zones, just a nice grassy slope. Students sometimes rolled down those slopes, on purpose and occasionally because of ... well, you know kids in college.
Now, football is Big Time in Blacksburg. It is in Charlotte also, and the Pirate and Hokie fans pushed the limits of Bank of America Stadium.
It is neat.
You cannot help but love those panther statues outside the gates.
The drive to the stadium was slower than molasses flowing uphill in February. We creeped the last couple of miles so slowly you could hear the fan penants flapping in the reluctant breeze like the wings of Hokie Birds.
I mentioned burgers, but did I tell you I got the feeling WE were being herded as official-looking people kept whipping, eh, directing us to keep on moving along little doggie............? I now know what cows feel like on a big drive.
I thought I handled the defeat well enough. But then I couldn't find where I had left the maroon troutmobile. Did I mention nearly everything was maroon? And that everything in the Big City looks the same?
Half hour later I found it, sitting right where I had left it, steaming like a lobster in the sun.
I was dripping with sweat.
My feet hurt.
But, you know, the iced tea in the press box was sweet. And the food was good. And the game WAS exciting, even though in a negative way.
Now I have the remainder of the season to look forward to.
It can only go up.
Like a Hokie Bird.