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The Crowe who crowed eating crow
We’re two weeks into Jacksonville State’s football season. JSU fans, do you know where your Best Team of the Jack Crowe Era is?
It wasn’t at Chattanooga on Saturday. The Mocs, then ranked No. 23, socked it to the Gamecocks, then ranked 10th, 38-17.
JSU’s best team in Crowe’s 12 years wasn’t seen on the field in the season-opening, come-from-behind win over Tennessee-Martin at home.
Dramatic and fun though the Martin game was, the home team looked more like JSU, circa Crowe’s 11th year. That team started with a landmark victory over SEC member Ole Miss and ended with three losses in four games.
Fastforward, and JSU stands at four losses in six games. The Gamecocks have lost their past three road games and haven’t won on the road since beating Martin 30-20 on Oct. 9, 2010.
This isn’t the team Crowe boldly promised on media day back in early August, and fans are squawking over Crowe’s crowing.
Don’t believe it? Think JSU fans wouldn’t be so unreasonable two games in?
Then check out this Facebook post from Fran Blanchard, JSU alum and father to JSU quarterback Coty Blanchard.
“Forums, Anonymity, Anonymous, Pen names, or whatever…let me tell you this; we are at JSU BECAUSE of JACK CROWE!!!!!” the older Blanchard writes. “He is a great Coach, honest person and has done EXACTLY what he said he would do for Coty.
“Now, you don’t have to like him; BUT, you will NOT disrespect him on my forum!!! Please, if you’re not with me you’re against me. Feel free to remove me from your friends list as I will CERTAINLY remove you!!! GO COCKS!!!”
Fran Blanchard obviously regrets time spent on message boards, where a vocal minority of malcontents goes to stoke each other and get stoked. He took to Facebook, where names are not optional.
At last look, his Facebook post had 37 “likes” and 66 comments, mostly agreeable or respectfully disagreeable.
“I disagree, Fran, but the head coach usually takes the blame for a lopsided loss,” Michael Allison wrote. “I know Bill Burgess did. They should be playing better, especially on defense.”
Funny, how a lack of anonymity breeds moderation, but one gets the picture. Discontentment won’t wait at least until October, when the Ohio Valley Conference race begins to take shape. Not this year.
That’s the nature of an ugly beast, and Crowe poked the beast this August.
Sure, familiarity breeds contempt, and JSU fans have heard it before. Crowe does it every year to some degree. He just outdid himself this year.
Why does he do it?
He has a recently expanded, 24,000-seat stadium to fill, never easy for a Football Championship Subdivision school in a state where folks would just as soon stay home and watch Alabama and Auburn on TV.
He also knows that crowing louder in preseason can goose JSU’s preseason poll position. We’re talking FCS. It’s not like voters battle information saturation.
He didn’t count on losing injured offensive lineman Odie Rush in preseason camp and starting quarterback Marques Ivory in the second quarter of the first game.
Crowe expected linebacker Clarence Jackson, who transferred from Ole Miss, to be on the field. Jackson awaits word on his appeal of the NCAA’s decision not to grant his waiver.
Crowe also expected linebacker Nick Johnson to play, but a groin injury has shelved him for all but a brief appearance in the Martin game.
And that gosh-awful JSU defense that gave up so many yards at Chattanooga on Saturday?
It didn’t help that Chattanooga offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield was on the same UT-Martin staff with new JSU defensive coordinator Chris Boone. It also didn’t help that Satterfield has quarterback B.J. Coleman, a Tennessee transfer, and preseason all-American wide receiver Joel Bradford, who has played with Coleman since junior high.
Events and timing have conspired to help make a liar out of Crowe.
Then again, JSU’s defense struggled in the opener against Martin, a continuation of its struggles in 2010. It’s not hard to foresee an already-struggling defense struggling to learn a complex new system under a new coordinator.
It’s not hard to foresee a young offensive line taking time to jell.
So, Crowe has made better calls than calling this JSU team the best in 12 years, especially with an opponent like Chattanooga looming in the second game. At the very least, he should have used more ifs and buts.
There’s every chance the Gamecocks can still produce a special year. They remain in the top 20 in the polls and haven’t lost an OVC game.
Until things turn right on the field, though, Crowe will just have to live with feisty fans. He gave them every reason to expect better than what they’ve seen.