The Kids are All Right

<I>I know only about one of you out there will get this analogy (and you know who you are), but I'll give it a shot anyway. ...</I>

As I listened to the N.C. State-East Carolina football game on the radio on Saturday (no network, thankfully, wanted to take a chance on airing the game), an old Kids In The Hall sketch kept popping up in my mind. In it, the diminutive (and in this case sporting a mustache and a bad perm) Bruce McCulloch picks a street fight with a behemoth of a man at a bar.

"First I'm gonna kick your ass," says McCulloch, "then I'm gonna kick your friends' asses - in alphabetical order."

To which McCulloch's sidekick Kevin McDonald replies, "so we're gonna need names."

The two parties leave the bar, where the much larger man (a good two feet taller than McCulloch) proceeds to begrudgingly beat McCulloch up again and again and again. (In one of the funniest parts of the sketch, as the "bad guys" slowly mosey away from the scene, McDonald helps his friend up off the ground and tells him, "Look at 'em scram!")

But McCulloch won't give up. He's determined to beat the bigger, stronger man, to no avail. It gets so bad that the spectators watching the fight plead with McCulloch to stay on the ground. At one point, the man picks up McCulloch (played at this point by a dummy) and throws him over the top of building. Moments later, from the dark of the alley, McCulloch comes running full-steam at the man, screaming like a banshee. The man stands still and calmly holds his fist out while McCulloch runs directly into the fist to finally end the fight.

Why did this innocuous sketch performed by a bunch of virtually unknown Canadians in the early 1990s (on cable TV, nonetheless) keep coming up? No. 1, because I'm weird that way. But No. 2, the ECU Pirates are analogous to McCulloch's character: smaller than their foe, pesky, persistent, and not afraid of a fight. Not bad traits, by the way.

But there is also a lesson to be learned here: you get what you asked for. ECU wanted this game. N.C. State, on the other hand, didn't; the fight was brought to the Pack.

Chuck Amato's team had little incentive to play the game, but State trotted out onto Bank of America Stadium's field and took care of business. It wasn't quite ho-hum fashion, but it was close. Many of the Pack players didn't quite know why they were playing the game; Amato and the State coaches had to build up the importance of the game by showing old clips (many of which, admittedly, were won by the Pirates). For a number of State's players - even for some from North Carolina - there's no instinctive hatred or even dislike for ECU. Just disinterest.

In the end, Amato's team was too big and too strong. ECU didn't quit, but the Pirates just didn't have the talent or the size to defeat the Pack. State was left to ponder bigger and better things in '05, and ECU was left to find a new coach, which should be announced very soon.

It should be noted, however, that the aforementioned Kids In The Hall sketch ends with Kevin McDonald leaning down to a beaten and dazed Bruce McCulloch to say, "They may have won the battle, but not the war." At this point, NCSU has an edge in the war, though with the right hire in Greenville and another sub-par year in Raleigh, the difference between the two may be small. And who knows? Maybe in a few years, when the two teams play again, there will be some true animosity from both sides.

This Week's Game Virginia Tech at Miami: We all knew these two would have an impact on the ACC football race, but this is a bit ridiculous. Long-time champ Florida State is Gator-bound; Virginia never did quite step up when it mattered; and the usual suspects - Maryland, State, Clemson and Georgia Tech - were disappointments.

The Hokies have a shot to go into the Orange Bowl and win the ACC title outright. Regardless of what happens, VPI coach Frank Beamer should be the league's Coach of the Year, and QB Bryan Randall should be the Player of the Year.

While the Hokies waited a long time to get into the ACC, the Hurricanes have been preparing the past 25 years for championships, and won't miss out on this opportunity for another BCS bid.

Miami 32, Virginia Tech 27

Prognostication Record So Far (based on picking the correct winner only): 44-8

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