Hoo Preview ’08: Better Than Expected?

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Jed Williams

It’s the oldest, most tired and trite motivational trick in the book – “no one thinks we’re going to be any good.”

Everywhere you turn, a sports team has a mountainous chip on its shoulder.

I understand why it’s so popular. I subscribe to basic psychology (even passed the darn course at UVa) and so does any coach worth his clipboard – nothing gives a good kick in the butt quite like the “how-dare-they” belief that everyone else thinks you’re going to get your butt kicked. I get that.

Problem is, it doesn’t work as much you’d think … or as often as those squads would like. Out of 119 Divisions I-A outfits, chances about 100 of them are driven by some form of negative motivation. News flash: not everyone can be THAT much better than expected and prove EVERY critic wrong; there just aren’t that many rooms at the overachievement inn. Which is why, more times than not, when I read the reverse motivation platitudes spouted by coaches and players alike, I yawn and flip the page.

Except this year, for one ACC member in particular, the Freudian shoe fits.

Meet the 2008 “everybody thinks we stink” Virginia Cavaliers.

That’s true – everyone does think they stink, Sabreites and season ticket holders notwithstanding. At ACC Football Kickoff, the media cognoscenti voted UVa fifth in the Coastal Division. College football wonk Phil Steele predicts that Al Groh’s charges will lose at Duke. I’ll repeat that, Duke! And just the other day, an ACC-based radio host for whom I have great respect admitted that the Cavaliers have been largely irrelevant as a talking piece.

And you know what: they all might just be wrong. As much as this columnist tires of cheap Jedi mind tricks doubling as fire-’em-up tactics, go ahead and play that self-sympathy card Virginia, because there’s a very real possibility that it might just work.
Let’s take a deeper look at what they (the media, the cynics, the naysayers) are saying – or not saying – and why they object to Virginia as a viable contender. Then let us answer those objections

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