Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bubble Fans Anonymous

(Who would like to speak this session…someone new perhaps? Todd, how about you?)

Well, okay, I suppose. Hello everyone, my name is Todd Salem.

(Hi Todd)

I am 25 years old and have been a fan of a bubble team for the last eight years now. When I first got hooked, it didn’t seem like being a fan of a bubble team was going to be anything worth worrying about. It would either happen or it wouldn’t. What could I control being on the outside looking in? But then, as the seasons wore on, the months turned to years, I could feel the despair building.

The one year we made it, we actually made the NCAA Tournament, 2007 it was…that just made things worse. Every subsequent failure was more severe, more to the core. It has gotten to the point where a lack of worry and doubt is just as good as success. Looking back, it was almost better to be worse than those bubble teams, not having to sweat through the grief and unknown, living in blissful ignorance.

That’s why I am feeling good this year. Even though it is only mid-December, I already know my team’s chances are slim to none. I won’t have to suffer through the release of the brackets as in past years. The resume just doesn’t hold up this season. We will not even make the bubble talk, and just saying that out loud is exhilarating. It feels good to tell others that my March of 2012 will not be like the others; it will not be stressful.

Everyone always told me, back when I was younger and naïve, that the bubble teams’ failures stemmed from poor showings in your conference. You needed to finish near the top of your conference to get in. That would prove to the panelists that your team was deserving. Now I know better though. Conference success is just a bunch of bologna.

The real killer is out-of-conference strength of schedule and wins and don’t listen to anyone who tells you otherwise.

My team, let’s just call them VT, has fallen prey to the lack of out-of-conference wins year after year. Finishing in the top three in their own conference has never been good enough. Beating top teams in the nation from their own conference has done little more than place them squarely on the bubble each and every March. The push over the top, into the Big Dance must come from victories over solid teams from other conferences.

And this is why I have my freedom this season. Our chances at impressive out-of-conference wins to bolster an otherwise weak resume have already come and gone. A win over a top ranked Syracuse team in New York would have been amazing. That alone might have been enough with a strong ACC showing this year, but it was not meant to be. Topping a slightly depleted Minnesota squad would have been tremendous but that also did not come to fruition. The following game, against Kansas State, was a necessity. It would be one of the last out-of-conference matchups that VT would face this season. But again, we fell short.

So here I am, not even at the first of the new year and I am already feeling good…no, good is not the right word.

I am feeling relieved.

I won’t have to sit on the edge of my seat, biting my fingernails this spring. Sure, my team won’t be in contention but don’t you all kind of wish you were in the same boat. Wouldn’t it be nice to be unencumbered by it, just once?

I appreciate everyone listening but I don’t think I will need to come to any more of these meetings. I have gotten what I needed from them. Thanks doc, thank you everyone.

(Okay, Todd, thank you for speaking. Would anyone else like to say a few words tonight?)

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