Now that I'm Sober.

Now that I'm Sober.

   Last night I probably angered and pissed-off a lot of you. Today I'll admit being a bit
humiliated. I feel like I'm the family member that got in a fight with his spouse at the
in-laws' Christmas party. A couple too many egg nogs, a snide remark about my worth
around the house, that hand-on-hip/look across the eyebrows toward just set
me off in an uncontrollable way.
 This morning I woke up in a state of epic despondency.

  Anger. Denial. Bargaining. Acceptance. Those are the stages they say you go through
when facing death or a negatively life-changing situation. Last night I actually hit
"acceptance" first...or maybe it was "denial." Truth is, either way, I actually did pack
all my SU gear up and put it in the back corner of the attic. I don't regret it. It might
just stay there for a while. It may be like when I quit smoking, the farther away from
using I got, the less I missed it.

   Packing it up was relatively a great exercise in restraint for me. In 2005 I made a
huge scene in front of people who didn't share my huge addiction to SU sports.
I made fun of the crying Kansas kid on Saturday because I used to be that kid.
I tossed a trash can across Adams Ave outside Darwins in 2004 after the 'Bama
loss. There are several instances where I have invested too much emotionally
in my sports teams growing up (don't even get me going on Scott Norwood).

  Last night the relief of letting go was short-lived. All the calls and texts started flying in.
The ribbing from non-SU fans I can handle, it's the patronizing ones from Mom
& Dad that send me over the edge. I feel exposed, duped, used, like everyone
has been secretly saying "Haha, he's STILL spending all this time on SU? He's
just gonna get his heart broken's ok tho, he's a nice guy, we'll be there
to pick him up and give him a pat on the back when it happens again."

  Last night I felt like the kid at the end of the bench who gets put in for the last 10
seconds on Senior Day when his team is getting killed by 30 points.

 Then I lashed out. For that, I'm sorry. I should have waited a while to digest
what was really going on.

  In contrast, Mr. Keeley had every right to react like I, or any Cuse lifer, may
have last night...but instead he showed somber class with his
"greivences" post. His even-keel (pardon the alliteration) spirit is something
severely lacking 'round these parts, and lends this forum a level or credibility that
has previously never been attained in 'Cuse-dom. If I've done anything to
tarnish that validity, I'm apologize for that too.
  However, I'd be lying to myself and setting all this up again if I wasn't honest
about some things that genuinely concern me. Realities about our program
that need to be addressed...and honest candor that the younger ones who
started saying "wait til next year!" last night need to hear.

  Firstly, Jim Boeheim is a fantastic coach, outstanding recruiter, and good
humanitarian. He is not a great in-game tactician. We take that with the good
because it has resulted in 830 wins, a slew of conference titles, and a lot of
national exposure and pride in our school. However, if you're waiting for a
Howland, Izzo, or Calhoun-style string of deep runs, it's not happening.

  What happened last night will happen again. Flat play followed by no adjustments.
Can anyone tell me why Rick Jackson has the ball at the top of the key all night?
Can anyone tell my why Triche is still in the game when Scoop was the catalyst
for all that worked? Why did we wait until down 10-1 to call TO (for long
time fans, the delayed Boehiem TO is a classic)? You have to accept that rooting
for this team after a bad start to a game is like reading the first couple chapters
of "Who Moved My Cheese" over and over again. If you're waiting for something
different, it's ain't gonna happen. I could list dozens of examples not named
'Richmond', 'Indiana,' or 'Vermont.' Just the entire class of Nichols, Watkins, &
Roberts comes to mind.

 Again, James Arthur is a fantastic, Hall-of-Fame, Coach of the Year talent.
So is Bobby Cox. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but you have to
accept the realty that in exchange for always being "very-good," we will only
rarely be "elite". It's a catch-22. To us lifers, the dirty secret is that our program
has done the least with the most talent, but without that talent wouldn't even sniff
success to begin with.

 Secondly, we won the Championship because of Carmelo Anthony. It took 7 years
of denial to accept this. I wanted to think that our program was continuing to grow and
improve in stature, but in reality, having Melo on our team and Wayne Simian being out
for the season had as much to do with it as anything else. Enjoy it as a sublime
moment in history, but don't ever get caught looking at it as a benchmark for the future.

  Thirdly, don't ever, ever, EVER expect to shut up the haters. That's what they do.
Hate. Last night they got a huge log to throw on the fire, a fire that illuminated that,
what felt like, we were wearing the Emperor's New Clothes. If you're waiting til next
season to rectify all this, it's not happening either. Maybe we'll get lucky.
If we do, enjoy it as that, just a stroke of luck. We could win the next 5 titles, but the
haters will still find an excuse to hate.

  Lastly, stop spending all the money, especially if you live in vicinity of the Dome.
By the end of the season they were charging $20 to park as far down as the Irving
garage. People in the OTHER end zone paid $45 bucks (after Ticketmaster fees)
to 'see' that Nova game. I went to 3 games, got a bunch of gear, spent time at
Chucks, and now look back at having spent enough to get a golf membership for
this season. It's not worth it, they'll break your heart.

 I guess my whole point is that I am in just as much need as anyone to put this in
perspective. I think I am going to keep those clothes in the attic as long as I can
stand it. Not because I'm truly fed up with this team, but because I've put too
much stock into it. Maybe it's a reflection on the uncertain times. I work doing private
commercial and promotional production for real estate companies, talk about an
amalgamation of the two most shaky industries right now! We all need a release
valve, and I've spent 25 years making the Orange mine. It doesn't work. Growing
up in a religious home I should have heeded my parents advice when they said not
to put too much stock in "Earthly Things."

  I would be worried that I'm sounding too dramatic, but I know there's at least a few
of you who truly, honestly, and empathetically know what I'm talking about.

  "But James, it's just a GAME!" In context of the game itself, yes, but going to college
and getting an education, latching onto the spirit of the region you grew up in,
and making a name for all that's around you reflects one great truth:

   We all want to succeed in life.

  We need to get to a point that we can look back and not feel like we wasted EVERY
moment God has given us.

  Last night was a hugh kick in the gut for that pursuit. Think I'm crazy? Quickly, estimate
in your head how many hours, days, & years you've spent on this team.
That's a LOT of time. A lot of passionate time.

 At this point I should disclose that I wasn't under the influence of alcohol last night.
My lack of sobriety was purely a result of my vulnerability being ravaged.
I let it get that way. It's my fault. I'm ready to accept that.

 I'm still going to take it easy, take some time off. Not obsessing over,
not learning the height and hometown of every new recruit, not breaking down the
schedule, not making projections.

  I'm not lowering my expectations, but rather I'm just going to learn to enjoy having
the privilege of spinning around in my office and seeing that glorious degree
adorned in Orange, accept that I don't need anything more from them, and instead
realize that I should give back, and enjoy the company of the greatest collection of
fans the sports world has ever known.
 I'm asking you to all please accept my apology. I am not a fair-weather fan, just a
hurt one. I'm going to take some time off and heal.

  Last night, we all, like Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption, entered
a 500 yard tunnel of shit. Maybe by next season, with some time,
understanding, and healing, we will all come out clean on the other end.

 Have a good summer everyone. Good luck to the Lax team and Tremendous
Standpoint 2.

 My weekend is already booked for Homecoming, in the meantime, I'm going to
see if I can finally break 85.

  Catch you all on the flip side!

- James L. Graham.
   Television, Radio, Film '04

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