Don't Do It, Bobby!
by Joseph Spiwac, 1/28/04
In my opinion, a large part of being successful in life is seeing things that you hate, accepting that you can’t change them, and then moving on. Why waste time and energy solving the unsolvable? Here are a few examples that I think apply to most of us:
Obviously, unless you devote your life to it, these problems will always exist, so it is best to just let them go and get on with your life. I have always followed my own advice on this subject with two notable exceptions: the movie "Heat" and Hokie football.
It wasn’t until this season’s collapse that I started to see a lot of similarities between the two.
WARNING: if you have not seen the movie, "Heat", but you would like to, stop reading here because this article will spoil it for you. Also, this article is pretty long, so you may want to read it in shifts much as you would the State of the Program articles.
"Heat" was released in theaters in 1995, and it is in my top 5 movies of all time, yet I have only watched it all the way through about 4 times. For comparison, I have watched The Hunt for Red October, which doesn’t enter my top 25 movies, over 40 times. Why the discrepancy? First, I have set out to watch "Heat", in its entirety, at least 40 times. Once I start thinking about "Heat", I have to watch it as soon as possible (looking forward to watching it often makes the day better). But as the movie progresses and I see the inevitable, unchangeable ending coming at me, and all of the characters making the same mistakes, it hurts too much to watch and I have to turn it off. Seeing the connections to our beloved Hokies yet? Let me walk you through my "Heat" and Hokies experiences simultaneously to explain my point.
At some point in my day, I think of a facet of "Heat" that I love. It could be Pacino’s "She’s got a great [rear]!!" line or the way Deniro gets revenge on people. It doesn’t matter, the movie is now stuck in my head and I have to watch it. Once I have some free time, I pop it into my DVD player and get ready to watch greatness.
At some point between the spring game and opening day for the Hokies, I think of something the Hokies have done that I love. Kick blocks, safeties, sacks galore, or running up the middle, it doesn’t matter. The urge to watch my Hokies dominate increases until the day of kickoff. Once that oblong ball is in the air, I feel near-total bliss.
A Great Start
The movie starts with Deniro’s crack team of thieves pulling off a near-flawless heist. A new addition to the team, Slick, gets a little out of line, but they set him straight. The team almost gets blasted trying to collect their money but they turn the tables on Roger Van Zant’s assassins and come out winners. They also set up their next job, which is to be their last big score. All things are good and I am enjoying my movie experience.
The season starts with the Hokies crushing their OOC opponents. JMU and LSU type schools fall equally to the collective dominance of the Hokies. A few times they let up on their opponent in the fourth and make some dumb mistakes, but who cares? They were way ahead when these things happened. I start thinking that this is the year of the Hokie, the year everything works out and we win that MNC.
A Bump in the Road
Val Kilmer gambles his money away, Slick escapes certain death by ride in a trunk, and Al Pacino has started watching Deniro’s team (unbeknownst to them). These things are not good, but these guys are pros and should be able to overcome them with a little hard work and good planning…right? At this point, my ability to sit still on my couch has been compromised. Each time an opportunity to fix one of these problems is missed, I mumble under my breath and/or gesture at the character whose fault it is. I can feel the bad ending coming, but I am still in denial and truly believe the movie will change for me and let them come out winners.
We are starting to get into the meat of our schedule and we still haven’t had that "perfect game" yet. Will we always run a prevent defense in the 4th quarter like that? Why aren’t our linebackers developing quicker? Why don’t we have more sacks? Is the short-side option working for us? Year to year, the questions change but they are always there. At first I am scared by them, but then I find some article that allows me to think of them as good things and I can yet again believe we are going all the way.
A Step Back
While hitting a precious metals deposit, Deniro’s team is nearly busted by Al Pacino. The team walks away before taking anything, so Pacino lets them go. Deniro et al now see that this "heat" that is on them threatens their big score and their way of life. After the team decides that the big score is worth the risk, Deniro outlines a rough plan to find out where the heat came from and how to get rid of it. While breathing a sigh of relief that Deniro’s team got away, I am still a nervous wreck as I wait to see how they will pull off the big score. 80% of the time this is where I call it quits. At this point, Deniro has the most to lose (he just convinced Eady to go to New Zealand with him), Deniro’s team has made too many mistakes, and Pacino is on them like stink on fecal matter. It is just too painful to watch the end game play out.
The Hokies have their first loss and, of course, it is in-conference (in ’99, WVU is as close as you get to this). The Big East has not been lost, but the Hokies no longer control their own destiny. More to the point, the way the Hokies lose has me wondering if winning the Big East is just a pipe dream. I have given up on the MNC, but still hold out hope of a BCS bid as Big East champ.
Stickin’ it to the Man
Just as Pacino is ready to pounce, Deniro’s team disappears completely. They have dumped all of Pacino’s surveillance so they can complete the big score uninterrupted. It would take betrayal by one of Deniro’s boys to tip off Pacino enough to stop them and that couldn’t happen…could it? And even if Pacino finds them again, he just had coffee with Deniro, so maybe he’ll let him go if push comes to shove. I am always amazed at the simplicity with which Deniro gives Pacino "the slip". That amazement, plus their bonding over coffee, translates into hope that, this time, Deniro will use his skills to make the score and get away.
The nation has just pronounced the Hokies dead. Naysayers abound and then BOOM!! We beat an opponent we weren’t supposed to beat. A Big East title and very long-shot MNC are back on the radar. This game doesn’t happen in 2000, but the situation does. The Hokie nation (I included) rejoices and the naysayers shut up. I am glad that loss was just a fluke; now let’s get back to some Hokie football.
The Sky Falls
Deniro’s getaway driver turns on the team, Sizemore gets killed, and Kilmer gets shot. However, there is still hope. Deniro and Kilmer got away WITH their gigantic bags full of money. If they can lay low long enough to get another "out", they will get away. I would have to be a moron to still believe, after all of that, that they will get away with their money, and half the time I’m still watching up to this point (10% of total times) I give up and turn the movie off to avoid the ending. But the other half of the time, I say to myself "All they have to do is wait and then leave…it’s that simple…maybe they can do it." What can I say? I’m stupid.
More losses…in conference…sometimes at home (I must pause to weep). All hope of playing in the BCS is gone. I have just one shred of hope left: perhaps we can win our bowl game. In 2000, this came in the form of our Notre Dame BCS snubbing. In 1999, this didn’t happen at all but keep reading because the story line does pick up later.
The Coup de Grace
Val Kilmer gets away but has to leave his family behind. Deniro picks up Eady and is all set to get away and live a life of luxury when he stops. HE STOPS!! Why? So he can get revenge on Slick for turning his driver against him. At this point I am screaming at my TV "Don’t do it, Bobby!!" I won’t lie to you…sometimes I’m crying as I yell that. And finally, Pacino chases Deniro to the airport and Deniro pops out to shoot him and I’m still thinking that Deniro can get away once he shoots Pacino…then Pacino shoots Deniro. While Pacino holds Deniro’s hand as he dies and ‘God Moving his Face over the Water’ by Moby starts playing into the credits, I sit on my couch, numb. I am thinking a little of all the things Deniro and Kilmer could have done to avoid this ending but mostly I am just amazed at how I truly believed that Deniro could get away this time and what a sucker I am.
Multiple-game losing streak, loss to UVA, or a bowl game loss occurs here. I have lost all faith in my Hokies. If the season is not over, do I stop watching the games? Of course I don’t, but I no longer really care what happens. Most of the time I sit around asking myself how I could have believed we were BCS caliber. It may sound like sacrilege, but at this point, I just want college football to end so we can get started on kicking butt next year.
"Heat" vs. Hokies Chart
Now, perhaps to spark a little debate, I will give you a breakdown of the seasons since I started watching Tech football and how they compare to "Heat".
And finally, for those familiar with the movie, I will break down the cast of characters and how they apply to Hokie football.
Lt. Hanna (Al Pacino): All of our opponents. Not just the ones who beat us. In short, it is everyone who wants to beat us. And like Lt. Hanna, it is just business. With a few exceptions (rivalry games), they like us as people but hate us as a team.
Neil McCauley (Robert Deniro): Players and coaches on the football team. If you want to stop the Hokies from getting that MNC, you have to stop the players and coaches first. The rest is just window dressing. The same goes for Deniro’s team. You can stop Kilmer and Sizemore, but unless you stop Deniro, the scores will just keep being hit.
Michael Cheritto (Tom Sizemore): Hokie fans. Michael follows Neil almost blindly. Whatever decisions Neil makes, Michael backs up. The same goes for Hokie fans. We may complain about aspects of the team at home or with friends, but when we are in the stands, we cheer until the game is over or our lungs collapse. Unlike Philly, and now, St. Louis fans, we NEVER boo our own team. Seriously…who does that?
Chris Shiherlis (Val Kilmer): our schemes. Chris has his flaws (poor husband, compulsive gambler) but they are outweighed by his pros (good father, great thief). So go the Hokie offensive and defensive schemes. It doesn’t matter what you run. There is no "perfect scheme" out there. You simply have to keep up with the times enough so that more of your opponents can’t exploit your weaknesses than those that can. Anyone who tells you different is full of Caca.
Roger Van Zant (William Fichtner): Every opponent that was supposed to give us a good game but who got crushed because of the talent gap. Van Zant had a great plan to get his money back from Deniro and win some street cred, but he just didn’t have the evil henchmen to get the job done right. One could say the same about UCF, UConn, Clemson, Pitt (in years we beat them), and many others.
Waingro aka "Slick (Kevin Gage): The person or thing that will ultimately undue the Hokies from within. Slick was on Deniro’s team but he just couldn’t get it together and fit in, so they kicked him out, tried to kill him, and then got busted because he turned snitch on them. While the Hokies don’t kick the person or thing off the team and try to kill it, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t there. I’ll let you use your imagination for which it was year to year that hurt us.
Well, that is all I have for you today. I hope you enjoyed my first article on TSL. If you have any comments or questions on my article or pretty much anything, just send me an email…firstname.lastname@example.org