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by Jim Alderson, 10/18/00

Last Thursday’s First Half scare by and Second Half demolition of WVU provided Win #6. There is a pleasant measure of security knowing that we move into the second half of the season having already qualified for a bowl. Which bowl remains open to speculation, and some difficult trips remain on the schedule (Frank’s Tech teams won’t have won in the Dome until they actually win in the Dome and the Canes’ Backness Index has risen dramatically in the last couple of weeks), but, come late December, we will be heading to somewhere between Miami and Nashville for the eight straight time. Times are good.

The Hokies also continue to occupy a lofty national ranking. This, IMHO, is a tribute to the coaching staff, and constitutes what I feel may be Frank’s best coaching job since the one-eighty done following the 92 disaster. Teams that replace multiple defensive personnel as well as all special teams specialists generally do not find themselves perched at the #2 spot in major polls, unless they reside in Tallahassee, and, lo and behold, even the vaunted ‘Noles don’t seem to find themselves there at the moment (way to go Canes).

As discussion centers on with whom we will be tangling for the MNC and which network is stiffing us this week, it occurs to me there was a time when qualifying for any, not just yet another, bowl would be cause for celebration. We are spoiled rotten. Certainly there are many who would gladly trade places with us, as a perfunctory trip through various message boards reveals that half the ones along the Eastern Seaboard are discussing exactly how soon the incumbent coach can be ousted, with many posters demanding that he be run out of Domeburg/Motown/Hooville/Dorkland/ Tarheelia/Joepapolis/Beardom/Back City (although not so much there these last few days) even before the next game, with at least one instance of physical violence threatened if the worthless no-coaching bum didn’t resign this very instant. Virtual lynch mobs are gathering all over cyberspace, and here we sit fretting that one of the BCS computer rankings is not awarding us our just due.

The ACC is currently providing much amusement to while away the hours until the next game. The engaging spectacle provided as Terry, showing the same subtlety he displayed when stomping his foot as Carolina faculty members masquerading as ACC basketball officials awarded yet another game to that dastardly Dean, attempts to pry loose the arms George has firmly around those columns is one we can hope is not being lost on future recruits.

Those of us along the shared border with the Old North State gleefully observe the trials and tribulations of Carl ‘I’m Trying My Best’ Torbush, chortling over that compelling example he offers on a weekly and yearly basis of the difference between his coaching staff and a staff that actually knows what to do with a highly-rated quarterback prospect (don’t you just know top scholastic QBs are lining up to wear the Baby Blue?) and chuckling over Mike O’Cain’s ‘If you can’t beat them, switch to the other side and lose for a while’ career. Message board posters of both schools joust to see which can be the next to add to the ACC’s rapidly-growing stockpile of Bowdens (Jeff can be the consolation prize) while Doc Ryan, taking note of Carl’s tearing asunder what Mack had wrought, revises his expansion proposals to include major-market teams such as Buffalo, UConn and Florida International (want to hazard a guess which division he plans for his Heels?). Other boards have such weighty issues to deal with while we stew over the latest Dunkel rankings.

Here in our own Big East stomping ground, we notice that many ‘Eers are shrilly demanding to discover that the number of coaches who can build a generally winning program composed almost entirely of recruits gathered from somebody else’s back yard is small, and headed by the man whose head they demand. Stop calculating our Orange Bowl chances for a second and ponder the fact that when Don exercises the right he has richly earned and calls it quits, the limited number of quality recruits that state produces and equal limitations on the amount WVU can spend on a successor just might give the BE another Rutgers on its hands. Few coaches have accomplished more with less than Don Nehlen. One wonders how many of the people so intent on his no longer gracing Mountaineer Field sidelines are the same as those who a few decades ago ran off Bobby Bowden, claiming he would never win? They were a bit wrong about that one, too.

Speaking of Rutgers, the book is about to be officially closed on the Terry Shea era, and it will read that aside from providing Rod Sharpless the opportunity to make one of the all-time dumb career moves, Terry has trashed a program about as bad as can be done. What a disaster. Oh for the days of Doug Graber, a guy who in five seasons had two winning ones, actually beat Tech and whose record generally hovered around .500, but was deemed not good enough for the proverbial ‘next level.’ Shea gave them the next level, all right, the one down.

As Terry is tossed into the Rapidan and the Dear Old Rutgers Knight of Scarlet digest that possibly the only coach in organized football who can produce a program so bad that it can lose so badly to Temple in consecutive years is their own, Bob Mulchachy must be scratching his head and wondering just who in the name of the Rutgers 1000 he can persuade to assume the disaster that is Rutgers football. How would you like to be discussing THAT? It certainly makes wondering about where to make the early bowl reservations seem like a hoot.

Then there are the masters of message board griping, our upcoming opponent: Syracuse. They spend their Autumns demanding that Paul P, a guy whose greatest crime seems to be that he only wins 70% of his games, be fired, before spending their Winters calling for the same for Jimmy B. What a fun gang. The day will come when MV tires of toying with Big East defenses and chooses to begin endorsing huge checks for displaying his athletic prowess by perhaps running for his life behind an expansion Texas line. Let’s hope we handle life After Mike a bit better than they did even when they had McNabb.

Let’s enjoy the second half of what is already a successful season. The road ahead contains some serious challenges as well as the potential for great rewards. Take a moment, however, and glance around at some of our neighbors. Boy, do we have it good. This is a great time to be a Hokie.

Jim Alderson, who first made his mark with his biting political commentary on the A-Line email newsletter, also brings a unique, sarcastic, and well-informed perspective on college sports, particularly (1) Virginia Tech sports and (2) ACC sports.  While Hokie fans currently have very little use for subject number 2, Alderson is an entertaining and informative columnist on subject number 1.  For even more fun, visit Jim's A-Line home page.


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