Should I be excited about the white-out game this weekend?
The idea is that I should be excited simply by default. The whole point of the event, after all, is to pump up the students and alumni and create a fun, imposing gameday atmosphere for a nationally televised game. Plus there’s the free shirt.
My only problem—well, okay, my biggest problem—with this weekend’s white-out against North Carolina State is that it reinforces the idea that we’re holding the event just for the sake of having a white-out this year. It’s not that I don’t respect N.C. State; it’s just that…well, why are the defending ACC champs holding a white-out for a game against a team that hasn’t had a winning season since 2005?
This Wolfpack squad is talented, but we’re not whiting out this weekend because we expect them to go 10-2 and win the Atlantic Division. Really, we’re just doing it because it wouldn’t work out for the Miami game (since Tech is honoring the 1990 national championship team that week), and apparently, the prospect of holding a white-out at all trumped the idea of holding off for a year.
Truthfully, I wasn’t really a fan of it the last two times. It’s a gimmick, and beyond that, it’s a gimmick that was plainly thrown together as a response to Georgia’s black-outs in 2007 and 2008. The original plan was spawned days after Georgia’s 2008 black-out against Alabama failed miserably, with the idea that Tech would pull a white-out against Mississippi St. the following week; while that didn’t quite work out, it was the spark that led to the event being held at the Miami game later in the season.
Granted, Georgia’s black-out was itself stolen from Penn State, which has been fielding white-outs since 2004, but we didn’t get into this business because of Penn State. It’s just one of many, many ways in which we have copied the school up the road in Athens over recent years. As long as this trend persists, much as I hate to say it, there’s at least some truth whenever UGA fans accuse Tech fans of collectively acting like the little brother in this rivalry.
If we’re going to rip off this tradition from something that’s been done elsewhere, then let’s at least uphold the general idea and reserve it for special occasions. At first, I had believed that whiting out Miami in 2008 was a very large joke, a one-time thing to make fun of UGA, and so while I thought it was unnecessary, it was still fun. Last year’s event against Clemson, though? Heck, on some level maybe we were being sent a message when Clemson came all the way back from a 24-point deficit: don’t overdo it.
For now, here’s what I see: we’re drumming up extra support for a game against a team that went 5-7 last year, one that we have beaten in 17 of our 26 matchups all-time. Is it really worth it? N.C. State is an unranked team that, thanks to a relatively dull home schedule, happens to be the second-best team on Tech’s home slate. This game is important—just as any conference game is—but if Tech is to be a contender on a national scale, a home contest against a team that has never faced Paul Johnson’s offense and has not seen Al Groh’s defense since 2007 is a game that the Jackets should win handily.
We’re also whiting out for a game that starts at noon, eliminating the otherwise cool effect that occurs under the Bobby Dodd Stadium lights.
Oh, speaking of the effect… there’s also the fact that N.C. State will be the team wearing white uniforms on Saturday.
This means that the 50,000-plus fans in Bobby Dodd Stadium this weekend will show up fully clad in white just to cheer against the team wearing white uniforms. N.C. State informed Tech some time ago that they intended to wear their white road uniforms, provided that the game was not played at night. Note: I have no idea what uniforms Tech will be wearing this weekend. But if the Jackets take the field in blue, I will probably scream, regardless of whether I’m in the press box or in the stands. Look at what has happened the last two times Tech has played while wearing blue: losses in the 2006 ACC Championship Game and the 2008 Chick-Fil-A Bowl)
In some part, it’s just that I think color-outs are overrated. Looking back, the best environments I felt we had last year in ACC play were against Virginia Tech and Wake Forest, when nothing special was planned.
It’s just that we’re whiting out against N.C. State. This game is not a major victory if we win, and it’s potentially devastating if we lose. It’s not worth it.