"It was a catch!" - The case for retiring the Danny Coale Caught it mantra
Lets hop aboard the Magic School bus and take it back to 2012.
Mercedes Benz Super Dome in New Orleans, Louisiana. The 11th ranked Virginia Tech Hokies face third and 5 on the 20 yard line vs. the 13th ranked Michigan Wolverines.
Logan Thomas gets set in the gun with 4 wide. The snap is taken and Logan lofts it to the back corner of the End zone... TOUCHDOWN!
Of course you know how it ends... "After further review the receiver did not maintain control of the ball... The pass is incomplete.". Tech settles for their FIFTH field goal attempt of the night -> wide right -> Michigan takes ball -> night night.
Sadness. It was certainly a catch. The reversal was wrong. It was indeed a gut wrenching loss. All of these are valid and fair gripes. To be fair, losing a game you out gain your opponent 2x and hold the ball for more than 60% of the game is pretty inexcusable, but I digress.
This is not a normal sadness though and to understand the root of this upset we need to take a look back at what has happened to both programs since this moment in Hokie history.
In the 2011-'12 campaign, the Wolverines won 11 games in Brady Hokes first year at the helm. Some memories include one of the best games I have ever seen in my life. "The Miracle Under The Lights". In what was the first EVER night game at "The Big House" vs. Notre Dame (Yes, Michigan played 84 years without lights), Denard Robinson and company crawled back from down 24-7 late in the third quarter to win in the closing seconds. The Wolverines also beat Ohio State that season!
Since then, Michigan has not been able to get back to the 11 win mark and hold a 1-6 record in Bowl Games. They have not won the Big10, and lost every single meeting vs. Ohio State since. Brady Hoke was fired following the 2014 season, and I keep hearing that Jim Harbaugh guy is going to resurrect this program. He has made strides, but the gap between them and OSU continues to widen year in and year out.
The Hokies just notched their EIGHTH 10+ win season in a row and 6 of those seasons, they played in the ACC Championship game. Virginia Tech was a powerhouse and nationally relevant year in and year out.
This was the last year tech would win 10 games in Coach Beamer's Tenure. From 2012 to 2015 the Hokies went a modest 29-23. There were some great memories along the way. None better than the win at Ohio State in 2014. 2016 comes around and Tech brings in Coach Fuente. 10 win season, trip to the ACC Championship and a historic Belk Bowl comeback! Since then we've had ups and downs, but not back to the national relevance we had seen back in the early 2000's - 2011.
What's the Issue
January 3rd, 2012 is almost a decade in the past. I was a junior in High school, Bad Romance by Lady GaGa won a Grammy, and (Future Hall of Famer and best QB in NY Football history) Eli Manning was leading the Giants to their second Super Bowl. That's quite a long time ago, right?
Yet, here we are in 2020 STILL tweeting about the "catch" and going back and fourth with Michigan fans on the Twitter-sphere. I can understand every once in a while thinking back on the moment. I find myself once in a blue moon having flashbacks of the Daniel Murphy error in game 4 of the 2015 World Series. There are times where I think "What if" the Celtics were able to close out the Miami Heat in game 6 at the Garden in 2012. The Sugar Bowl gripes are much more than that. It is nonstop and has become a part of our fan bases "brand" at this point.
Harping on this call is counterproductive and at this point just embarrassing. I cant go 3 days without seeing a Danny Coale caught it tweet. For what?! The Braxton Miller Spin move is enough. When you think of the most over saturated College Football related tirades what comes to mind for you?
Here is my top 3
The Kick 6: Auburn, Incredible moment. 3-6 in last 9 Iron Bowls
Michigan has trouble with the snap: Still funny TBH.
Colt McCoy injured in 2009 National Championship: Maybe don't run the speed option with your 6 foot QB at Marcell Dareus?
You know which programs incessantly complain or boast about games from yester-year? The ones with nothing to look forward to. Here is my theory. A large portion of Hokie fans look back at that 2011 -2012 season as the last year Tech was clicking on all cylinders. For the most part, that is true! The last few years of the Beamer Era weren't pretty. We went through a significant overhaul of the program and (naturally) we have seen some growing pains. This season will mark the first year Coach Fuente has both a staff of his own and roster he recruited (aside from my guy Tyrell Smith! Keep holding it down Juice.).
There are programs out there that were once great and likely won't ever see their previous success repeated. Look at Nebraska, UCLA, and Miami. Each of these programs have had a tough time adjusting to the new age of College Football. While UCLA and Miami are plagued by a lack of institutional support, Nebraska struggles with well... trying to sell Lincoln Nebraska. Its highly unlikely that those programs will ever peak their previous peaks.
When I look at Virginia Tech, we are 4 seasons removed from going toe to toe with the program that has set the standard in the back half of the 2010's (Clemson). We have incredible leadership in the Athletic Department, spearheaded by Whit Babcock, and Virginia Tech is a world class institution touting one of the most beautiful campuses in America. We have one of the best fan bases in all of college football and a game day atmosphere that will stand out to anyone who steps foot on campus on a fall Saturday (or Thursday).
Let it go! Nothing is changing the result and it makes us look foolish to constantly complain about this. Let's worry about getting back future Sugar Bowls and getting back to pounding opponents into oblivion on a regular basis.