This week we are joined by Joe James of WoffordFans.com. You can find Joe on Twitter at @Village_Terrier.
Tell us about yourself and your blog.
I’m a Wofford graduate who lives in Arlington, Virginia. I made the move up here during the pandemic. I’ve been watching Wofford football since 2003, the year we made the 1-AA semifinals. I’ve watched Wofford athletics for 20 years (which makes me sound old, but I’m not yet 30). Wofford had a message board for a long time that went under during the pandemic (the guy who bought the domain didn’t renew it and was MIA). So some passionate fans reached out to me, an avid poster, to start it up, and it went from there. Thankfully, we have a computer science professor at Wofford who does all the technical stuff. I do the moderation of the forum, and I also occasionally blog, because I like to write and go in-depth with “effort posts.” Unfortunately, it’s a dark time of Wofford football (and I’m not smart enough at basketball to produce anything valuable there) and so I’m laying off the blog posts because they’ll turn unavoidably negative. Things aren’t great right now… we’ll get to that in a second.
What are your thoughts on Mike Young and his departure for Virginia Tech?
I love Mike Young so much and I’m rooting for him to win a national title at Virginia Tech. We were so lucky to have him for as long as we did, and he was probably fortunate that Wofford, in his early years of employment, didn’t have an expectation of instant gratification or winning consistent conference championships. It took him a while to find his feet, but man, when he did, it was amazing.
But also, Mike Young is a great guy and I just want to share a short story about that. For the 2018-2019 Wofford basketball season, we made the championship game in Asheville, North Carolina, and Wofford fans made the pilgrimage for the game. It sold out! My friend was a mutual Twitter follower of Coach Young and tweeted that she couldn’t get a ticket. He heard and found a way to get her in. Terriers won! That’s not even the nicest story I’ve heard about him, but the point is MIke Young is an amazing human being, and I know he’s from the Roanoke Valley and he wants to bring home a title at Virginia Tech. He also has an amazing sense of humor that I would summarize as “Steve Spurrier but not a jerk.”
Wofford still loves Coach Young. Go Hokie Basketball!
Tell us about your team this year. What are your expectations for Wofford this season?
This is where we turn negative. As I write this on the Sunday before Wofford plays Virginia Tech, I’m not sure if Wofford can win a game this season. It really pains me to say this and repeat it to other fans, because I don’t like trashing my team or flowing the virtual air waves with negativity. Players and coaches read this stuff and it can be demoralizing and I don’t like contributing to that.
Having said that, the reason why Wofford is bad this year is not because fans are mad online but because our head coach has basically run our program into the ground. When he first started out, we were good, as we had talent and staff from our previous coaching legend, Mike Ayers. We were able to tie together two Southern Conference championship teams in Conklin’s first two years.
But even then, there were cracks in the armor that suggested some deeper problems. We have been trying to move away from the triple option, which is what we ran under Ayers for 30 years. For the first 2.5 seasons (.5=Spring 2021), we had our previous OC, Wade Lang, a Triple Option guy calling the shots, and we were actually pretty good still. We had the same typical limitations of an option team, but we scored points and we generally knew what we were doing. Heck, in the Spring under Lang (editor’s note: FCS played football in the Spring of 2021), we averaged 26 points a game and we weren’t a triple option offense at all.
Well, Lang retired before the 2021 fall season and our defensive coordinator for the two championship games also left. We suffered from lots of injuries in the fall, ran a non-existent offense, and our defense was also bad. We finished 1-10, our worst record since 1987 (the year before Mike Ayers). And our administration…did nothing? Well, they fired half the staff and brought on two new coordinators, but the net outcome is we are likely better on defense but certainly worse on offense.
We have played 120 minutes of football and haven’t scored a point, and even though our defense isn’t awful (averaging 25 points a game against decent FCS opponents) you just can’t overcome that.
There’s a lot of other things that contribute to our dysfunction, but I will spare you the details. What Hokie fans need to know is Wofford isn’t good on offense and we’re likely not going to get better.
A big elephant in the room is that basically every fan at Wofford wants Josh Conklin fired. He tried to leave our program twice before we went downhill (once as a defensive coordinator position in Tennessee and once as the head coach of South Carolina – you can google the articles), and we’ve been awful ever since. From our perspective, he came in, rode the coattails off Ayers’ success, saw us as a stepping stone to greener pastures, failed, and is in over his head. It’s wild he hasn’t been fired yet in my opinion (coming off a 13 game losing streak in conference play, 12 straight losses overall)
What are your thoughts on the playing Virginia Tech?
I would be excited for this game if it were played at any point in 2017-2019. Now I just expect pain. Usually when a FCS team plays an FBS team, you don’t expect to win, but you expect if you’re good to be competitive for a few quarters, if not possessions. And if you’re not, well, you have nothing to lose because you’re outmatched. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. But knowing what I know about this team through two games, I would rather just not think about this game.
How do you view the Virginia Tech program?
I think they’re a program like Clemson, that has a vibe, tradition, and enthusiasm about itself that wants to compete for national titles, but things haven’t worked out. They’re 1 or 2 variables away from turning heads, they’re just not there yet. A sleeping giant.
What are your thoughts on coming to play at Lane Stadium?
I honestly don’t have any opinion! Enter Sandman is hype though.
What are your expectations for the Virginia Tech game?
I honestly don’t have any.
What’s your prediction for the game?
Wofford pulls a major upset by actually scoring some points, but Virginia Tech’s superior athleticism and coaching is just too much. Virginia Tech 49 Wofford 6