First off, I want to say I’ve enjoyed the last couple of weeks on here discussing the game with everyone. If you don’t mind, I plan on hanging around for a while and enjoying the rest of the season with you guys – it's not like I have much to watch from Fayetteville this year. 🙂 I’ll be at the La Tech game for sure, wouldn't miss hearing the fans appreciation for the team’s performance in person.
I had to step back a little after the game and let you have your fun, it’s been a long time coming so I understand your excitement. I’m a hog fan though, so it was a little tough to take and I kept my visits to a minimum. I’m all better now though... mostly. 🙂
There are a few things I’d like to comment on now. First, I hope UNT stays focused and doesn't let too much of this go to their heads. Not saying that in a bad way, it happens. I know we’re SEC and all, but the reality of it is we suck right now. This is the worst team I’ve seen us field in my lifetime. Bert (not a typo) left us with a talent shortage in the areas needed for success with the new system we’re trying to install, and the good players we DO have aren't really meant for this scheme. It’s unlikely we’ll win an SEC game this year, let alone any more for that matter. UNT has tougher challenges than us ahead, from what I’ve seen from your coaching staff I don’t expect there to be an issue with success, but it’s happened before.
Next, I’ve seen some shots on here taken at our fans for leaving the game as early as they did. I get defensive when people talk about our fans because, in my completely biased opinion, we have some of the best/nicest fans in all of college sports. I’m not talking about the internet trolls, I’m talking about the actual fans in the seat. There’s always the asshats, but in general I challenge you to go to an athletic event and be treated better anywhere else as a visiting fan.
The pics on here of our empty stadium implied that we were just a bunch of butthurt, fair weathered fans abandoning their team. These fans have been through SO much over the last decade, and have stuck it out. We were lambasted by the national media for hiring Petrino. It was so terrible he left his professional team mid-season, never mind that coaches get fired mid-season all the time and it’s ok. We caught so much national grief over that, it was unreal – a hell of a lot more than OSU has gotten for keeping Meyer this year.
Then our fans became the laughing stock when Petrino crashed his motorcycle. We fired him, much to the anger of most of our fans, and replaced him with the incompetent John L Smith. 2012 was supposed to be one of our best years ever, maybe even making a run at a title (both Alabama and LSU were home games). Instead, it was one of our worst and we had to sit and watch John L tell us all to “smile”.
I could go on and on, but my point is it wasn't just this one game our fans were walking out of, it was a culmination of years of crap being dumped on them. Then, to see it pointed out on here, well it kinda stuck in my craw a little. I mean, in the end it’s about the product on the field. I’ve driven by your stadium many, many Saturdays and seen it pretty empty, now that you've got a good product to sell – you’re talking about a possible sell out. You guys pointing out crowd support is kinda hypocritical if you ask me.
Finally, the punt return. I’m sure I’ll get downvoted to oblivion for this but here goes. When it happened, I laughed my ass off. I thought it was funny as hell, and just shook my head at the ineptness of our coaching staff and the give up of our players. Plus, my kids had friends that went to Lake Dallas and know Keegan, so seeing the local kid do good made me proud.
However, upon further review… I’ve got mixed emotions about it. At the end of the day, your placing some dependence for the play’s success on the good sportsmanship of the other team. Reading the details on how the play was setup helped convince me of this. The fact the gunners, and all opposing players are engaged so they had to take their eyes off the punt returner, to put doubt it their minds about whether fair catch was called. Choosing a situation where 99 times out of 100 the returner will call for a fair catch to begin with - short punt, deep in their end of the field.
Plus, in this day and age, week after week players are coached not to hit a defenseless player, that they’ll be penalized and probably ejected and suspended if they do. So, the punt team, not having been able to see the returner, is supposed to tackle a defenseless player because he hasn’t heard a whistle? I know ‘back in the day’ when I was running down the field on kick coverage if everybody in front of me eased up I assumed I’d missed the fair catch call and eased up as well. I wouldn’t have thought about making contact with the returner.
I ask how you would have felt if Keegan really had called for a fair catch in that situation and one of our players had not seen it and took Keegan’s head off, what would you have thought about that player? Would you have called for his ejection? Would you have vilified him as being cheap? Think about it.
I still think the play is funny as hell and laugh when it’s shown, and I’m happy UNT is getting the good pub --- but I really don’t think it’s as black and white of a play as it is on first watch. It’s not just about lazy Arkansas players not finishing the play. Those of you that have played the game ask yourself, what would you have done if everybody in front of you stopped. Would you have said, “I didn’t hear a whistle so I’m going to light him up?”
Anyway, this was longer than I’d planned and seriously, I’m not trying to offend or downplay UNT’s success. You guys are great, like I’ve been saying for two weeks now!
Good luck the rest of the year and I’ll be seeing you at the games!