The Debut

Wednesday, August 10, 2011 | View Comments
- Jason Davis

You're a rational person. You understand how this game works, with its subtle interminable nuances and unruly moving parts. You understand that change is rarely quick, is never easy, and doesn't happen merely because you wish it to, and particularly not on this level with its stop-start nature. Executing a fundamental shift in approach and philosophy is a like turning around a speeding vehicle going 100 mph; if you want to do it without putting yourself in the hospital you have to do it gradually, and with patience.

But you let yourself dream a bit, didn't you? You couldn't keep that tiny grain of whimsy from growing just enough to crowd its way into your idle thoughts. You spent a few hours this week imagining a dynamic, attacking, different - in spirit and approach if not in body - collection of players taking to the rivals like a gaggle of mad banshees, wreaking havoc with slick movement and clever passing. Maybe you didn't dare dream of a convincing win, but you certainly allowed yourself to picture something resembling real and identifiable progress. That's why they hired him, after all.

And here you are, sleepless after a mostly ugly, yet somewhat salvaged performance, when you have an early morning ahead of you, ruing a showing that was all but preordained no matter the man in charge. That was still them, conquerors of the Rose Bowl and sudden favorites to do great things, and that was still us, chagrined aspirants with second-rate tools fumbling for a new grip. The new man doesn't play, nor does he have magical abilities he can use to imbue his new charges with skills they don't have. He gave you new names while he - like his fallible humanity mandates - worked to get his head around his new task.

Good enough? It should be. There are no miracles, at least not this side of Lourdes, and certainly not in the realm of athletic competitions. If you expected more, that's on you. Our Germafornian won't be cowed, and found reason to beam in the post-consummation afterglow. Coming off of an era filled with such befuddling stoicism, the new man's enthusiasm is our own drop of joy.

If ever there was a time to breath, to sweep any disappointment away with supreme prejudice and let yourself care more about the future than the present, it is now. The only thing on the line tonight was a helping of stolen pride, but even had it been reclaimed it would have come with a heavy dose of salt. Gains obscured by our poor understanding of the greater plan, a function of our perspective, are still gains. Learning is sometimes hardly won.

So that little dream you nurtured that was so rudely dashed because the first half was JUST THAT BAD and the better didn't come until the clock was approaching the second half of its second half, stow it away. Let it hibernate. Let it be there, existing but not intruding, saved for a time when its no longer so fancifully premature. Because there a signs, tiny motes of promise, that made themselves known just enough to feed the dream.

As a rational fan, that's really all you could have hoped for.

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