It was an interesting couple of days, to say the least.
Fans of Virginia Tech on Saturday went through the emotional wringer early that Saturday of realizing that, should they win the ACC, they would be facing the Cousins, giving, finally, the Hill folk the chance at getting at those Hokie traitors. Midway through the Third Quarter Saturday night, it became obvious that wasn’t happening. Then, Sunday afternoon, when it seemed assured that, of Tech’s two annual bowl destinations these days, Atlanta was back in the spotlight, something happened.
Word began leaking out that ACC commish Little Johnny Swofford was engaging in some back-room dealing with Sugar Bowl honcho and fellow UNC alum Paul Hoolahan and executives of BCS-televising ESPN [also presided over by yet another Carolina grad]. Before you know it, a deal had been struck and Tech fans were awarded the consolation prize of a trip to their all-time favorite bowl destination, New Orleans, to play Michigan in the Sugar Bowl. Those Tar Heels really hate the Hokies, eh?
As for the ACCCG, the less said about it the better. Tech usually has to play an SEC or other power to have its two lines exposed that badly. It’s not often seen in their own conference [s]. Tech’s major weakness remains both lines, and the Tigers sure exploited it.
Clemson represents the ACC in Miami, where Tech has played often. Well, they earned it and, given that they haven’t been in the lifetime of most players, are certain to enjoy it. They are welcome to the Cousins.
Tech, on the other hand, gets what Hokie fans consider the bigger prize, especially given how many times Tech has played in the Orange Bowl. New Orleans will be a nice change of pace.
The selection of Virginia Tech seemed to set off a firestorm of controversy among the sports reporter set, curiously enough, more than that of Michigan, which actually ranked below the Hokies in the BCS standings. The griping was loud and highly-amusing. Herbie, your bitching might carry more weight if your network wasn’t the one televising the Sugar, and, make no mistake, given how much cash ESPN is laying out for the BCS, they had a huge say in which teams got selected.
Tech immediately became the target of the BCS-bashers. This, despite that three of the teams chosen, Clemson, the Cousins and Sugar opponent Michigan, ranked below Tech in the final BCS standings. Nor were the Hokies the last team chosen; that honor, as always, goes to the Li’l E. The Orange this year got last pick in the order that rotates from year to year. With the Sugar recoiling in horror at the notion of the Cousins showing up in southern Louisiana, taking one look at Lake Ponchartrain and exclaiming, “Caleb, look at the size of that toilet,” Tech’s two losses to Clemson didn’t seem like a deal-breaker.
The chattering and keyboard-pounding classes immediately pounced on the BCS exclusion of poor, pitiful Boise. Sucks to be you, eh, Broncos? Also drawing sympathy tweets was Kansas State. Both Boise and KSU might have a point, but, so what? It’s not exactly the first time there has been a BCS controversy, is it? Tech- Michigan isn’t even this year’s biggest, as the decision by Mike Slive and the boys in Bristol to eliminate both MNC-game RUTS and the OOC middleman by simply having the SEC decide things among themselves attests.
The BCS was designed to accomplish a few things; placing the most deserving teams in the bowls ranks pretty far down the pecking order. Number 1 on the to-do list was match the top two teams in the top game. Despite the braying from Stillwater, that seems to have been accomplished. Second was to reward the conferences that generate the college football interest and cash with the bulk of the post-season money, rather than allowing college football’s end-of-season to turn into another welfare system the NCAA’s basketball tournament provides, where cash is distributed to most everybody but the teams and leagues that earn it. With no mid-majors grabbing a BCS share this year, check that one off, too.
Then there is the matter of generating business for the hospitality industries of the host cities. That Tech fans have a long history of doing just that, particularly in New Orleans, meant very much in Tech’s selection. This display of capitalism might irritate some of the ivory tower types, but tell that to Bourbon Street restaurant and hotel employees. They will very likely be way too busy that week to hang around any Occupy movements.
This was a business decision, pure and simple. Tech has been on the other end of this, most famously following the 2000 season, when Notre Dame was selected for the Fiesta Bowl over what was considered a much more deserving Tech team. Tech dealt with it then and Boise and Kansas State can deal with it now.
I did spend a day reading the various denunciations of Tech’s Sugar invitations all around the Internet. I found all of them highly-amusing. The sputtering rage exhibited by sports keyboard jockeys was quite funny. I don’t consider constipated national sportswriters a bad thing and enjoyed every word.
However, not all Hokies seem to find the same amusement in all of the sturm und drang as I. To those upset at the Tech-bashing or attempting to engage in arguments of message boards or Comments sections I have a simple suggestion: Ignore it. Pay no attention whatsoever to the columns, blog postings or whatever trashing Tech. It will put you in a much better frame of mind. Spend the time planning your Sugar trip. It will be the last laugh.