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When the team you love can't get its act together

You work hard all week, getting up early and coming home late while doing your best to keep up with the rat race. All you ask for is a little fun on the weekend, a way to relax and recharge until it's time to get up Monday morning and do it all over again.

Seems like an easy plan. Not too much to ask. But what happens when the very thing you do to relax makes you crazy? When your time of pleasure turns into a weekend of pain? When your optimism turns to cynicism, your joy to sorrow?

What happens when your favorite football team hits the skids?

For most fans, it's different variations on the same theme. And it's not pretty. Subjects become sullen, lose their appetite and then their interest in daily activities. Symptoms include hoarseness, headaches and general nausea.

There are two main ways, most sufferers will tell you, that these symptoms can be remedied: By getting a new starting quarterback or a new head coach. Getting a new quarterback can happen more quickly, but it sometimes leads to wanting the old QB back - football's version of having a hair of the dog that bit you.

My team, the University of Miami, has already tried both remedies. Before the season we switched coaches and after it started we changed QBs, going back to the guy nobody wanted last year.

We thought it would work because we are fans (the word is short for fanatics, which denotes craziness, which is what you have to be to think the model you threw on the scrap heap will drive like a Ferrari this year) and because we wanted so desperately for our Saturdays to be exciting and victorious like the good old days.

Instead we get scenes like the one I witnessed a few weeks back while watching a game with my alumni club. As our team struggled against Florida International, a team that has the longest losing streak in big-time college football with 18 straight defeats, my table got bored.

That led to discussions, political discussions. Political discussions between guys who know each other well enough to raise their voices. Guys in no hurry to go home because there were still wings to eat and beverages to drink.

It was not a short chat. Nor a timid one. And after awhile the guys noticed my disdain and asked if their political views upset me. No, I replied.

"I just can't believe that it's come to this," I said. "That our games are so boring that we have to discuss politics to pass the time."

I concluded that things couldn't get worse. But I was wrong. Because winning a boring game over a bad team amid boisterous political discussion is a million times better than trailing a bad team 27-0 at halftime before losing the game.

That loss to North Carolina ruined my Saturday. But I'll be back at the same place this week (did I mention the word fanatic?) watching when we play Georgia Tech. I'll be rooting and hoping for a win, but I've got a topic ready just in case things go bad again.

Religion, anyone?

E-mail Todd Cline at todd.cline@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Tuesdays.