The beauty of sports is that you have the chance to see something special and unforgettable every single time you decide to invest your time into watching a game – whether it’s a quarter, a half or even just the last five minutes. Games are supposed to be like snowflakes, with beautiful patterns made up of play action passes, a strip sack off the blitz and all the other things it seems like fans of most colleges get a chance to enjoy.
However, if there’s anything 15 years or so of North Texas fandom has taught me, it’s that our snowflakes just happen to look way too alike more often than most schools. Sure, there may be a stray triangular tessellation where the diamond was last week, but everything feels the same. The quick score…the growing deficit…the glimmer of hope in the second…the middling third quarter that feels like the hell mouth has opened to swallow us all…then neatly wrapped up with some signs of life in the fourth quarter that this terrible pattern is not simply waiting to repeat itself. It may not be on consecutive weeks, but that same pattern will be drifting from the sky to tickle your tongue while you can still taste the bitter acid from the last one.
So how bad has it been? I’m glad you asked. I outsourced finding out to Adam because he liked the idea and I’m lazy, and the numbers are truly horrifying. Going back to 2004, we have played 127 games. Of those games, we have been down by 14 or more at the half 44 freaking times. The worst year was 2008 when we faced this deficit 10 times. The best was last year with only 2, but the deficit was still there. Oh, and if being out of the running at the end of the first quarter is your thing, we trailed by 14+ at the end of the first 26 times. I have no idea how we have so many new friends in the last decade, but I applaud everyone for being terrible decision makers who refuse to second guess the product. We need more of you unconditional lovers in the world. You are the greatest generation.
Last year was a blast and it is impossible to dig out of the hole the program put itself in with just one good season in nearly a decade, but it’s getting hard to look at the landscape of college football and not gulp a little about where the Mean Green really fit. We’ve found a world where the schedule we play should be soft enough to get us to 6 or 7 wins each year, and a steady pattern of that will lift the ship, but, with so much uncertainty for the little guys, everyone wants to make the jump quicker – or at least do something special to stand out.
The rest of the schedule has FIU, FAU, Southern Miss and UAB, so 6 wins is pretty within reach regardless of the other games left. I’m still excited to see how our young guys develop and there is real reason for optimism. It’s going to be a process, but here’s hoping we don’t see the damn Louisiana Tech/Indiana snowflake again this year.