Flashes’ flop seems oh-so-familiar

Tom Gallick

Most of the fans had left. Not because they had to beat the traffic, mind you, but it was patently obvious to everyone in Dix Stadium that even the Flashes couldn’t blow this one.

Everyone, except the sportswriters and the Kent State faithful.

The truth is, if you’ve watched a lot of Kent State football, you know that even if the Flashes are up 35-23 with just under five minutes to go, the game is far from over. Kent State football is about finding a way to lose, and it’s hard to diagnose why.

It’s killing the coaching staff, the players and the fans, but no one seems to know how to change the team’s crunch time performances around. The team certainly isn’t lacking the talent.

The Flashes hung with Baylor and deserved to win against Bowling Green despite playing with backups at quarterback and running back. Even when they went down before halftime to the Falcons, they came back right after halftime with a scoring drive to steal the momentum back.

Up until the final five minutes, all of the bounces and calls even seemed to go Kent State’s way. No special teams disasters and just one turnover, but it still wasn’t enough for the team.

But as I sat up in the press box with five minutes to go, and the Falcons starting a drive after the Flashes went three and out, I was writing two headlines for Monday’s paper. One was the cheesy “home, sweet homecoming” that I knew I would probably change if the Flashes won and the other was simply “Choke!”

And I wondered if reporters covering other teams would even think about what the headline would be if the team blew a two-score lead in five minutes. But as a journalist covering Kent State football, it’s pretty much in the job description.

Just look back at the game stories from the Akron and Ohio games last year.

It certainly seems like the “culture of losing” Kent State coach Doug Martin kept referring to last season is still haunting the team. But haven’t we come to a point where we have to start assigning a huge amount of blame for the “culture of losing” to Martin’s staff?

The players may not be used to winning, but isn’t it the job of the coaching staff to get the kids past that point? And are we really just recruiting class after class of losers and chokers?

It’s hard to place blame on a coaching staff that really wants to turn this program around and seem so close every season.

But college sports is a cutthroat business. Someone is going to get blamed if a team loses close game after close game.

It takes a long time for the psychic scars of a team that’s been as bad for as long as Kent State, but we brought Doug Martin in because we were confident he would be the man to turn the program around. We didn’t bring him in so we could look better in practice or have closer losses.

The coaching staff needs to prove this is a different Kent State team. After Saturday’s loss I can’t imagine any of the Kent State faithful are thinking anything except “same old Kent State.”

Contact sports editor Tom Gallick at [email protected]