On Monday ESPN’s Heather Dinich published a piece that basically declared that Virginia Tech was dead and buried for the 2012 season after their loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday. She also made the claim that this was a good thing for the ACC. I disagree with both of these claims and find them to be unreasonable.
Ask any Virginia Tech fan about ESPN’s coverage of the Hokies and you will usually here the same answer; it will be something along the lines of “ESPN dislikes Virginia Tech”. Those same fans can also give you a long list of examples where this has been the case. A couple of those examples would be the Lee Corso rental car lighting strike in Blacksburg and Corso referring to the college town as Blacksville when talking about the incident years later.
Dinich broke the cardinal rule in regards to Virginia Tech in her piece; she counted the Hokies out after an early loss. It is a mistake that many have made in the past, but it is something that should no longer happen.
The Hokies follow the same script every year. They lose a game they shouldn’t early in the year only to rebound and win 10 games and compete for the ACC Championship. This precedent goes all the way back to the 1995 season when Virginia Tech lost their first two games of the season and then responded with 10 straight wins and a dominating victory over Texas in the Sugar Bowl.
The exact same thing happened in 2010 when the Hokies lost to Boise State and JMU in the first two weeks of the season, only to go through their entire ACC schedule unscathed. This same script has been followed in almost all of Virginia Tech’s ACC Championship seasons. The Hokies play one huge game early and usually lose (USC, LSU, Alabama). The result tempers expectations and then Virginia Tech becomes the ACC juggernaut it is every season.
There is one simple rule to follow when it comes to Virginia Tech football: never count them out.
Now on to Dinich’s second claim, which basically states that the ACC would be better off if the Hokies are actually down and out so that another team can reign supreme.
When the ACC first raided the Big East in 2004 and added Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech the Hurricanes were considered the top prize and the Hokies were just a nice addition. Miami has been a consistent underachiever since then while Virginia Tech has been the class of the conference. The Hokies have simply been the better team because they are better coached.
To say that the ACC is better off with Virginia Tech off their game just doesn’t make sense. A conference is at its best when all of its members are at their peak. It would be good for the conference if a team like Florida State, Clemson, Miami or even Georgia Tech knocked the Hokies off when they are on top of their game.
Putting these teams above the Hokies simply by default doesn’t do a thing to help the ACC’s reputation but rather harms it. If you kick the king while he is down it doesn’t improve your station in life, but if you overthrow the king while he is at his peak then you really have something. Clemson appeared to start this process last year, but until a team consistently beats Virginia Tech for a few years, then the ACC torch will not be passed on to another team.
Virginia Tech is the best coached team in the ACC and one of the best coached teams in the country. That is the reason that the Hokies win 10 games every season and have been to a bowl game every year since 1993 and there is only one thing that hasn’t changed in the past 19 years and that is the coaching staff. As long as Frank Beamer and Bud Foster are still there it is foolish to declare the Hokies dead.
The Hokies laid an egg in Saturday’s game against Pitt. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it. The fact that Virginia Tech has a poor running game for the first time in recent history is alarming, but it is also something that can be turned around. The same can be said of all the errors made by Virginia Tech on Saturday. Dinich’s Monday piece didn’t take this all into account.
I’ll just put it this way: return your funeral flowers because the Hokies aren’t dead yet.