In 1931, writer Ted Cook in his “Cook-Coos” syndicated column ascribed a quote to Irish dramatist George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) wherein Cook referred to an interview given by Shaw where in response to a question the dramatist said, “Youth is the most beautiful thing in this world – and what a pity that it has to be wasted on children!”
In our vernacular, this adage has become, “Youth is wasted on the young.”
For all of the wisdom that we all wish we had when we were young, you know, saving money, delayed gratification, not fearing failure, not overreacting, follow your passions, etc., there is one thing that youth serves youth well…not understanding your limits.
This past weekend’s 24-21 win over Old Dominion was absolutely huge for the Pirates (3-2) and it matters very little whether or not ODU (1-3) was a juggernaut or just a naut…what matters is that a young ECU team, having been in this spot over and over again in the past three years, finally found a way to emerge with a meaningful victory. Five games into this season and the team has equaled its win total in each of the last three dismal seasons. All of its season’s goals are still there to be achieved.
The defense put together a great performance and forced turnovers. The offense, while still a work in progress, made big plays – enough for a solid win. And, when a chance for it to slip away arrived, this team closed it out with a victory.
Thursday night, the Pirates have an opportunity to even the slate in the AAC against fellow AAC East mate Temple (3-1). The Owls come in off a strong 24-2 win over Georgia Tech following a 38-22 loss at Buffalo in a game where Temple simply looked like a bad football team.
There was a time, years ago, when the Pirates won more than they lost to the Owls but that has long since changed with Temple having won the last 5 outings (and by increasingly lopsided scores). Coach Houston referenced Temple’s blue collar approach and how that culture is what he is trying to build at ECU and instill in these young players.
And most of us can see the signs of it starting to take root, but when you are a young team with young players, there are setbacks and challenges and less predictability than coaches and fans would like. All those traits on their way to being streamlined into a blue collar, lunch pail culture can sometimes stun (like the complete reversion against Navy) and sometimes surprise (like the successful closing out of ODU).
One of the greatest attributes of youth is not knowing your own limits. Not knowing what you don’t know or are supposed to know yet.
The Pirates will be expected to lose to Temple. Expected to be out-muscled in the trenches and out-executed in the play. Expected to not even hang with the Owls for even a half.
You and I may know it. Our coaches might quietly know it. And, the college football world definitely knows it. But, there is a hyped up 3-2 team coming off a game they were too naïve to let get away from them, made up of young players who don’t know that they are supposed to be out-classed Thursday night. And that, is a potentially powerful thing.
What matters is not how we see this game or how the coaches do. What matters is how those young players see themselves. And, what they believe to be their limits.
Unlikely…yes. Impossible…not at all.
Perhaps this time, youth will be served, not wasted.
Go Pirates, Go!