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VanGorder, forgive our attacks

     I’m thinking about writing a letter to former GSU coach Brian VanGorder. I’m not sure how to express the subtle embarrassment I feel over the personal attacks he had to endure while visiting our village.  I know he did not succeed in winning the number of games our Eagle fans have come to expect over the years, and unfortunately, we will never know how many games he would have won in light of his untimely departure. I also want him to know that most of us dearly love the Sewaks, and think of Mike as a lovable teddy bear whom we were fortunate to have for years at GSU. We also think highly of Mitch Ware and the others, who really did a great job with the football program. Perhaps I could convey that the vitriolic comments Brian had to endure were owing in large part to that affection for his predecessor and the penchant we have for assuming there will be a celebration after most every football game. I hope he will forgive the personal attacks, including the affront to his name in the recent headline regarding his being a “goner,” someone we usually think of as moribund, or at least pretty sick. While a cute play on words, he must understand that we as hospitable south Georgians really meant no harm, but were just innocently insensitive to what must have been his grief over the less than stellar season. 
     It seems we don’t provide good send-offs for our coaches in this neck of the woods. I think back to Coach Busby at the high school level. Although we really have great affection for his successor, Coach Pennington, and even like his offense much better (in my case, especially, since my kid is a passing quarterback and not an option one), we still felt as though our southern hospitality was less than well communicated when we decided his predecessor’s tenure should end.
      Maybe with both departures, we fans were too focused on the past and unwilling to place faith in the redemptive power of the future. Perhaps Coach VanGorder could have perpetuated the dynastic success of GSU if he had been given an opportunity. Perhaps, and this is a long shot, he could have had success on par with Coach Russell. We’ll never know.  Our looking at the glass “half empty” causes us to demand instant success.  Forget the concept of the rebuilding year. Forget the sometimes slow maturation process that producing a dynasty requires. We want it NOW.  And, I think I’ll say in my letter, “unfortunately, Coach VanGorder, you have to forgive us for coming down hard on you when you didn’t produce it for us NOW. Maybe we should have been more visionary. After all, we are good Christians (and Jews, and others). But, football here is real. It matters. Football losses are catastrophic. And, Coach, we may have gotten personal. You’ll just have to forgive us. When many of us criticize, we tend to be of one mindset, that is, to use a football metaphor, we “pile on.” We know not what we do. See you in Atlanta. Stay in touch. Come back to Statesboro often and visit!”
Carl T. Cone, J.D.

P.S. Don’t be coaches just aren’t like that!!

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