Opinion: KSU’s own ‘Land Before Time’

Josh Johnston

Let’s stop and take a moment to pretend the football team has a legitimate shot at beating an ACC team on its home turf . Ready? OK.

I was four months old the last time Kent State started a season 2-0. Giorgio Morgan wasn’t even alive yet. The last time Kent State started a season 2-0, the first “The Land Before Time” movie came out and Rick Astley was a big deal. Twenty-one years later, we’ve seen 12 more Land Before Times, people are still listening to Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” (not intentionally, though) and Kent State’s had one winning season.

Plucky animated dinosaurs have had more success than the Flashes in the last two decades.

Actually, Kent State football over the years sort of plays out like the cheap, straight-to-DVD movie series. Just go with me on this one.

As sure as a new LBT movie will hit Wal-Mart shelves, the Flashes will take to the field every season. Fans may cringe while watching the trailers, or preseason scrimmages, but they’ll still pay the $10 to watch. Movie critics and sports analysts argue for weeks whether this new edition is better than last year’s.

The opening credits roll. The Kent State Marching Band performs the same pregame show as last season. All the lovable characters from the previous versions show up: Littlefoot, Cera, Ducky, Doug Martin, Eugene Jarvis, Brian Lainhart.

Sometimes the movie starts off well – a thrilling escape from Sharptooth or a romp on a Football Championship Subdivision team. Those beginnings keep the fans in the seats, at least for a while.

Usually, however, the beginning is lackluster – a cheesy sing-along scene or a blowout loss, a start only the most die-hard fans can get through.

The movie progresses and only gets worse. Heartbreaking fourth-quarter losses, predictable sight gags – you get the idea. Students leave for the parties and kindergartners flip to “Power Rangers.” The only ones left watching are the geezers reliving their glory days and middle schoolers still attached to their childhood.

But for football fans and 6-year-olds, the ending is always the same: lessons learned, key players injured and hope that the next sequel will be better.

Here’s where the analogy falls apart though: The original “The Land Before Time” was a box office hit, grossing close to $50 million. An instant classic.

Kent State never really had that success. Maybe there was a football heyday in the 70s, but I bet more people remember watching “The Land Before Time” in theaters than watching Jack Lambert in a Flashes’ uniform.

Kent State has little reputation to lose with another poor season. “The Land Before Time” sequels just ruin the cherished childhood movie.

But who knows? Maybe Kent State will beat Boston College, which earned 12 votes in this week’s national poll, in to move to 2-0. Maybe the Flashes will continue the momentum and take down Iowa State and Miami at home to start 4-0 for the first time since sock hops were popular.

And maybe if Kent State starts 2-0 for the first time since 1988, Universal Studios will stop making “Land Before Time” sequels.

I can only hope.

Contact sports team assistant Josh Johnston at [email protected].