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Hoo Week and the Fatal Flaw

And now the Hoos. With Tech’s perfunctory thrashing of a Canes team that showed that while it might be Backless it is not quite spineless out of the way, it is off to Hooville for the first Really Big Game in the long history of old rivals Tech and the Hoos. The winner grabs the ACC’s Coastal crown and a berth in next week’s ACC Championship gala in Jacksonville. Speaking of the ACC’s version of Championship Week in Jax, once again we get a good look at the Fatal Flaw in Little Johnny’s Grand Expansion Strategy.

Tech handled the Canes with relative ease. They should have, since all available evidence, including the actual playing of the game, showed the Hokies to be the better team. Tech also looks very much like a team that is hitting its stride and peaking at exactly the right time. While it remains to be seen whether that will be enough to spoil algroh’s FINALLY year, Tech will be taking what looks to be a very good team to the Smithsonian.

As for the Canes, there was a bit to admire about their effort in Lane Stadium last Saturday, despite what Randy ‘In Over My Head’ Shannon seems to think. While Shannon continues to demonstrate that the biggest thing he learned from those years on Butch’s staff was the fine art of Blaming Other People for losses, his team showed considerably more heart than they had displayed against the Hoos.

They actually made a game of it in the Second Quarter before getting buried under the Tech avalanche. It was hard not to admire the effort of Canes’ QB Kyle Wright. He took an absolute pounding from the relentless defense thrown at him by Bud Foster but kept coming back for more. Wright demonstrated that he is made of sterner stuff than was the last Miami QB to take such a pounding in Lane, Kenny Kelly back in 1999. Kyle certainly did not fake an injury to get away from Bud’s d-line. Wright deserves much better than to be blasted in the media by his nominal head coach AKA the Guy Who Would Take The Job.

With What Used To Be A Big Game Until Shannon Was Hired out of the way, Tech now heads to Hooville for the Current Big Game. It will be a decided change of scenery for the Tech team. The frenetic atmosphere of Lane Stadium will be replaced by the somnolent Smithsonian one. Instead of the Tech team charging onto the field to the pulsating sound of Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman,’ we will see the Hoo team strolling onto Carl’s meadow to ‘Postcards From Paris’ by Ferrante and Teicher. Instead of the high energy provided by the Marching Virginians, the Prancing Hoos will treat us to Champagne Music. It will be different.

As happens every two years, we are seeing the usual pleas from Hoo AD Craig ‘Tubby, Not Only Can I Not Fire The Great NFL Legend, I’m Going To Have To Eat Thousands Of Bowl Tickets’ Littlepage for his ‘fans’ not to sell their tickets to Hokies. That never seems to work. Despite the e-mail begging to keep the barbarians out of the Smithsonian gates, I suspect we will see a fair amount of Tech fans in the House Carl’s Checkbook Built. As former Hoo AD Terry Holland noted when George went behind his back and got Carl to Write The Check that shoved the new basketball arena back for a decade, ‘at least it will be full once every two years.’

For the first time in this long series, Tech and the Hoos will be playing for something other than the Commonwealth Cup. The winner gets a trip to Jacksonville to play Fredo for the ACC championship. Want to guess who the folks in Jax will be rooting for?

Worst Case Scenario I hit Jacksonville last Saturday night when the Tommy Bowden-coached Clemson team suddenly began playing like a Tommy Bowden-coached Clemson team. Way to grab defeat from the jaws of victory and millions of dollars from the Jacksonville economy, guys. If the Landing thought Wake and Georgia Tech was bad for business, wait until Fredo shows up.

Not only does the Jacksonville hospitality industry have to brace for the economic collapse that accompanies any appearance by Fredo in a post-season game, there is at least the possibility that their one chance at salvaging at least a few hotel room and restaurant sales, Virginia Tech and its fans, will join the Clemson ones in sitting out the weekend. While contemplating the Nuclear Winter of conference championships, chew on this one guys: if Fredo beats the Canes this Saturday and then loses in the ACC championship, that annoying two-loss rule could very well mean that you might be stuck with Fredo AGAIN come New Year’s Day. Yikes!!

This is perhaps not the time for Little Johnny Swofford to be entertaining bids for the ‘right’ to host the next three ACC championship games. Fredo alone means that each ACC school will have about $100k shaved from its annual revenue-sharing check come 2009. Covering all of those field hockey scholarships is going to get tougher.

When the ACC athletic directors were listening to that Denver consultant wax eloquently about the value of all of those northeastern television markets, I bet it never once crossed their minds that Fredo might actually be playing for the ACC football championship barely a year after Wake and GT did.

Thus we again see the Fatal Flaw in Little Johnny’s Grand Plan. The SEC never seems to have this problem. I imagine any Vandy alums living in the Atlanta metro area will be asked to get out of town next weekend, just to make sure they don’t get anywhere near the Georgia Dome. The SEC has only one lightly supported private school and the Commodores have proven to be no threat to upset Roy Kramer’s economic apple and cash cart by actually playing in the SEC’s Big Game or a bowl.

The ACC, on the other hand, not only has too many, they based an entire ‘football strategy’ on acquiring more of them. And to compound the problem, they keep winning football games. With NC State and Maryland jousting for Boise this Saturday, some ACC bowl east of the Mississippi will be stuck with somebody that won’t sell many tickets. Little Johnny might have asked Mikey how that worked out before taking the Li’l E’s biggest football problem, Fredo having a good team, off his hands.

There are reasons why the SEC championship game next Saturday will be a prime time extravaganza played in a television-friendly jam-packed Georgia Dome. They are the same ones that now have the ACC’s championship played in front of at least a half-empty stadium during a ratings-challenged early-afternoon hour. The SEC and Atlanta could care less whether it is Georgia or Tennessee playing LSU next Saturday, since both will easily fill their side of the Georgia Dome. That ain’t gonna happen at Alltel.

The ACC and Jacksonville are forced into throwing all pretense of neutrality out a Smithsonian press box window and avidly rooting for a Tech win. The ACC just doesn’t have enough football schools to go around, even when all you need is two. The ACC wanted the Canes and Fredo and they got them. Now they are dealing with the fallout. And to think, they just missed on Syracuse.

In the meantime, the one team that has actually added something to the football side of the ACC heads to Hooville Saturday for a very Big Game. That would be Virginia Tech. See you in the Smithsonian.

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