Saturday, November 30th, 1996
ALLIANCE BOWL BOUND!!
We deserve this.
Don't forget that, because now is when the trash-talking begins. If you think last year's Sugar Bowl victory made people take us seriously, you're wrong. I predict that from this point on, all you're going to hear about is how the Hokies don't belong in the Alliance, about how the only reason we're in it is because of the Big East's bowl deal, and because Miami is having an off year. I hope I'm wrong, but we've been here before, so you know what to expect. In the end, all we can do to earn respect is to keep winning.
But I don't mean to immediately cop an attitude that takes away from the glory of the moment. Our second Alliance Bowl bid in as many years is a huge accomplishment - so big that my brain, which is roughly the size of a walnut, cannot begin to comprehend it. Miami's victory over Syracuse was a $2 million dollar swing for Tech, which was facing the $1.5 million Gator Bowl, but now gets to play in the $3.5 million Orange or Fiesta Bowl.
That $2 million will buy a lot of weightlifting equipment for the new Merryman facility.
For those of you who live under a rock, the Miami Hurricanes beat the Syracuse Orangemen Saturday, 38-31 (why did everybody doubt that Miami, a proud and talented football team, could win?). That throws the Big East into a three way tie between Tech, Miami, and SU at 6-1, and in that case, average ranking is the tie-breaker to determine who goes to the Alliance. Thanks to the coaches poll, and no thanks to the AP poll, it'll be Tech who straps it on in one of the Big Three bowls, for the second year in a row (yes, I know that the Rose Bowl makes it the Big Four bowls, so don't email me...).
It's huge for the money, it's huge for the recruiting, it's huge for the respect. My poor little walnut is cracking with the strain of trying to comprehend that four years ago, we were 2-8-1, and Sports Illustrated was saying about us, "Dark Days in Blacksburg."
Conventional wisdom holds that the Hokies will wind up in the Orange Bowl against Florida (shudder). Follow me on this: first, the Sugar Bowl picks Alliance #1 and #2 (FSU and Nebraska, if they win over Texas in the Big 12 championship). Then comes the Fiesta (with the #3 and #5 Alliance picks), which will take Notre Dame, because Lou Holtz's last game is way too big of a ratings Holy Grail to pass up. The Orange Bowl (#4 and #6 picks) will then take home-state Florida, whereupon the Fiesta will take Penn State, ensuring an ND-PSU ratings bonanza. The Hokies will then be left over for the Orange Bowl.
Here are your monkey wrenches, which can screw up that scenario: as I write this, it's 10:00 Saturday night, and Notre Dame is struggling with USC. If Southern Cal wins, Notre Dame is out of the Alliance. The other monkey wrench is that Florida still has to get past Alabama in the SEC championship game.
In any event, in all possible Alliance Bowl scenarios, the Hokies are the TV ratings "dog" of the bunch, and they'll be like the fat kid in grade school - picked last. That means that Tech's likely bowl destination is the Orange, and it's only the opponent that is still in question.
For those of you that want to check out the official Orange Bowl web site, here's a link:
Did I forget to mention that Tech beat the hated Wahoos 26-9 this weekend? It went pretty much the way everybody expected it to. The difference in the game was at quarterback, where Tech lines up a future NFL draft pick, while UVa lines up two guys (Jim Sherman and Erin Brooks) who make Matt Blundin, Shawn Moore, Don Majkowski, and even Mike Groh cringe in embarrassment. Not even Tiki and a great defense could save the Who's from the inevitable, as the Hokie offensive line and some great play-calling by Ricky Bustle wore the Who's down.
I'll post my game report on Monday or Tuesday night. Till then, keep an eye on the television and newspapers to see what they're saying about the Hokies and the Bowl Alliance, and don't get ticked off when they disrespect us! Two in a row speaks for itself!!