Believe me; despite what I portray on social media or what I ask on the mailbags on this channel, it isn't easy. And you can't expect it to be easy. We've been through a stretch that'll make even the most die-hard of fans question their commitment. Three straight subpar seasons with only three wins while our biggest rivals shine on the biggest stage in all of college football is no fun at all. And watching them take down giants while your team loses to a team they should beat on paper is enough to add salt to the wound.
Yet somehow, someway, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Some days it's a brilliant beacon of light. Other days it's just a faint glimmer. Sometimes it's easy to see and easy to get to. Other times it's shrouded by layers upon layers of cloud cover while a stiff wind blows straight into your face. But it's always there.
But how can this be? How can one expect to stay resolute when everything that can go wrong is going wrong? How can one stay firm after their team lost to the Citadel? After their team got shut out in two straight games? After one of the best players to ever put on the uniform transferred to a blue-blood program?
Well I don't claim to be an expert, having been only two years removed from graduation and a final season in the Yellow Jacket Marching Band that was, shall we say, rather rough on the football front (and that might be putting it mildly). But here's what worked for me.
As I have shared before, 2014 and 2015 were two years that completely changed my outlook on how to be a fan. In the span of 365 days we went from cheering on the Yellow Jackets through the highest of highs to experiencing one of the worst seasons that snapped a bowl game streak and gave us one of the most massive letdowns (second perhaps to a certain Super Bowl game that should never be mentioned again) we've ever experienced. And what I learned from that was that football isn't a game where you can afford to look past one game and look forward to another. I found myself doing that a lot in 2015, and who wouldn't that year? We all had that matchup against FSU circled on their calendars; the revenge game, the rematch of the ACC Championship, a chance to get back for a game in which we came one drive short of victory in what was otherwise an amazing season that ended with a Top-10 ranking. And then came loss after loss after loss, each one more frustrating than the other.
And then the FSU game happened. The team may have come off 5 straight losses, but there seemed to be a vibe of "let's just confront this challenge" in the air. And it seemed to persist the entire night. And then, it happened. Against all odds, we pulled off a dramatic, unexpected victory. And that was the game that finally drilled an important lesson into my head: take the season one game at a time and let the results surprise you.
It paid off in 2016. 2017 was another step back but I did not find myself looking past the current week to another game. Neither did I in 2018. And honestly, that's how I've survived this stretch.
There may be baggage that we are dragging along with us. Emotional drainage from compounding losses. Frustration from a lack of consistency that would drive anybody to insanity. And we can speculate all we want about what the future holds.
Yes, we've had subpar performance the last three years.
Yes, Coach Collins' job is gonna be on the line
Yes, there may not be much reason to look forward to this football season, especially with the gauntlet we're facing down this year.
But when toe meets leather, none of that matters. All that will matter is how we face down the next challenge. It won't matter whether it's with this coaching staff or another; all that matters is the next opponent, the next opportunity, and the next challenge. The only thing that can be done is to get to work and get better. And just like with any season, regardless of what challenges come our way on and off the field....
How do you do it? Comments are welcome.