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No Bummer Here

It’s all a matter of perspective. That came through loud and clear in Sunday’s fish-wrap edition of the Daily Hoo. Splashed across the front of the sports section in large type and big bold letters was the summation of the previous day’s activity from the local point of view. It read: BUMMERBALL. Not from where I was sitting.

Tech knocked off the Hoos, again. The major difference between this beating and the last few inflicted on algroh by Frank is that the Hoos made a little better game of it. The end result, however, was the same: Tech is the better team and by the end the scoreboard showed it.

There have been few times in the history of this rivalry that dates back to the late 1800s when one team has so dominated the other as Frank is doing now. Probably the last was when they first started playing back in 1895 and the Hoos won the first several. It took Hunter Carpenter’s sixth year of eligibility, after four at Tech then one more at North Carolina, for the Hokies to finally knock off the Hoos. That sent the Jeffersons into such a snit that they cancelled the series for the next few decades. Since the option of no longer playing is no longer available to algroh, perhaps he will try to get Chris Long on the six-year plan. Nothing else seems to be working.

It has been six years since algroh hit the Grounds bragging about his excellence as a coach and pointing out how much smarter he was than Frank. We don’t seem to be hearing the Great NFL Legend expounding on chess much anymore. To say Frank met the challenge of algroh is akin to saying Germany met the challenge posted by Belgium in 1914. Both were steamrolled. The hiring of algroh has produced the greatest period of domination by one school in this series in over a century. How has ‘retiring’ George worked out, Hoos? And, given that algroh seems to be essentially writing off the state in recruiting, it ain’t likely to change for the time being.

The Daily Hoo, being the hometown paper and all, was a bit kinder to the local boys than were the rest of the state. Columnists from Tidewater to Roanoke, none particularly fond of the Great NFL Legend, had a field day. My favorite was the Pilot’s Bob Molinaro opining that the Tech-Hoo rivalry is now similar to the rivalry between a hammer and a nail.

To his credit, algroh had finally produced the FINALLY year that he had promised since he hit the Grounds running his mouth. Well, not quite, as, once again, Frank and Tech screwed up The Plan. The Hoos have gone 9-3 with a decent bowl in their future. Still, there is that in-state annoyance of Tech. It’s a bit tough to dominate all of college football when you keep losing to the guy just down the road.

The Hoos played pretty well against Tech this time around. They kept the game close by often holding Tech to field goals following the many drives up and down the field by the Hokies. They took advantage of Tech mistakes and kept the game close on into the Fourth Quarter. It really wasn’t necessary for the Hoovision video board to keep urging the Smithsonian crowd, ‘Don’t Leave.’

There was only a little time left when it switched to ‘Leave Now’ and the race for the exits was on. algroh did his best to preserve the time-honored Hoo tradition of having the stadium empty by the final gun by extending the game through calling his times out with under a minute to play while down by two scores and Tech holding the ball. The only Hoos left by then were the students passed out on the Hooville bank who had upheld the Fourth-year Fifth tradition, or at least tried to [a phone chat with the Hoo Lawyer on Sunday found him expressing disappointment over and above his usual with algroh; a proud participant and proponent of the Fourth- year Fifth, the Hoo Lawyer is not pleased with the seeming reluctance and inability of the current generation of Hoos to carry it on].

It also should be noted that while the Rivalry-that-is-no-longer-much-of-one still qualifies as a rivalry game, it is definitely a friendly one. While there was plenty of venom spewed on message boards of both sides, those inhabiting the real world seem to get along just fine.

Whether it was talking with them while waiting to check into the hotel, tailgating with Hoos before the game, meeting some while roaming the upper deck concourse of the Smithsonian at halftime or chatting with one while walking back to the parking lot about the overall friendly nature of the fans of both sides, there is very little animosity displayed.

Conversations that ranged from the misery of NOVA traffic to the best restaurants in the Shockhoe Slip to the easiest way to get from 58 west of Tidewater to the oceanfront at Virginia Beach indicated a shared frame of reference among people that live, work and often are related to each other that transcends whatever happens on the field. I decided long ago that I would never return to Morgantown even if they still played the game but always have a pleasant time in Hooville and look forward to returning in 2009.

To be sure, there is lots of ribbing that takes place between both sides. I am perhaps guilty of producing more than my fair share [which I receive in kind from my Hoo buddies]. However, virtually everybody understands that it is just a game.

It was also a game that Tech won, again, something that happens a lot these days. That is certainly the outcome preferred by the thousands of Hokies who once again found their way into the Smithsonian despite the best efforts of algroh and Hoo AD Craig ‘Gee, I wonder if Tubby could beat Frank?’ Littlepage to keep us out. Once again, that ‘Please, PLEASE, don’t sell your tickets to Hokies’ campaign, did not succeed as planned. Well, neither has The Plan.

Tech beat the Hoos and in doing so captured the ACC’s Coastal Division. They now move on to their home away from home in Jacksonville with a chance to avenge THAT GAME. I strive very hard not to offend the Weauxf Gods so I won’t type what I think will happen. I will point out that Frank and Stiney are putting a little different offense on the field these days than the one that could not produce the kill shot when they had the ball on Fredo’s 31 a few weeks back. We shall see if it is that much better this weekend.

In the meantime, those of us who regarded the latest win over the Hoos as something other than Bummerball are heading back to Jax to again vie for the ACC championship that keeps eluding algroh. Bummer, Hoos.

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