Same story, different day

Published 11:29 pm Wednesday, January 6, 2010

We’ve seen it all before.

That’s the only thing that was running through my mind as I watched the final seconds of the GMAC Bowl last season.

There was Troy on a national stage against a good out-of-conference opponent.

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There was Troy in control of the game late and supposedly on its way to a major victory.

And yet, there was Troy’s opponent mounting a comeback to win a game that Troy should have put on ice.

There was a crucial special teams mistake costing the Trojans.

Yep, same story, different day.

It brought to mind memories of 2006, when the Trojans led Florida State in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t quite hold on for the victory.

Or 2008, when Troy led LSU 31-3 in the third quarter, only to completely implode and let the Tigers off the hook.

Or even this season, when the Trojans traveled to Bowling Green and led 14-0 early, but would not score again en route to a 31-14 loss.

But the game I was reminded of most was last season’s loss to Southern Miss in the New Orleans Bowl.

Troy led 27-17 late in the third quarter of that game, yet found itself having to go to overtime.

And there, in overtime, Troy had a field goal blocked that wound up being the difference.

Yes, everything we saw last night at the GMAC Bowl was something we had seen before.

But how many times do we have to see this before we are led to ask a very troubling question?

Is this a trend or merely consequence? At this point, I’d have to say that I honestly don’t know.

Critics of the spread offense often say it is hard to close out games since the offense is so reliant on the passing game and anemic at power football.

So, is it the offense? Or is it something more?

Great fourth quarter teams usually have one thing in common – great leadership, whether it be from players or coaches.

Now, I honestly believe that the likes of Bear Woods and Levi Brown are about as good as you can ask for in terms of leadership.

So, do you pin this trend on the coaching staff? Honestly, I don’t know.

I’m just a sportswriter. I don’t claim to have all the answers, nor should any other person outside the Troy locker room.

However, I do know this – there are questions that need to be answered.

Troy appears to have a tight grip on control of the Sun Belt, even if Middle Tennessee does look like it is closing the gap.

The team and administration has made no secret of its desire to become a “big time” program.

However, until Troy starts winning consistently when given the national spotlight or a chance to prove itself, that desire will be nothing more than a pipe dream.