Saturday, December 14th, 1996

I Knew That Would Get to You

As I expected, my tirade about Randy Holtz's ESPNet column (wherein he said we would lose to Nebraska by 30) and not getting respect drew some comments. I've posted the two best emails I received in the Mailbag page (yes, I actually dusted off the Mailbag. Don't have a heart attack!).

Now, having said that, ESPNet's official Orange Bowl preview was much kinder to us than Holtz's biased piece of inflammatory, ahem, journalism. Here's what ESPNet had to say about us in their "Bowls at a Glance" article:

"Underestimate Virginia Tech at your peril. The Hokies flaunt a relentless defense that ranked ninth nationally and an offensive attack that put up 417 yards per game. And don't forget: they're the defending Sugar Bowl champs. They're lobbying for national respect and would earn plenty of it with a win here.

For Nebraska, this New Year's must ring hollow. Last January the Huskers seemed invincible; now they're also-rans in their own conference. And in this bowl, they have little to gain and much to lose."

That's more like it. And another Hokie Central reader emailed me the full text of an article written by John P. Lopez for The Houston Chronicle. The article was about how BYU got snubbed by the Bowl Alliance, but in the middle of the piece, Lopez wrote:

"There should have been a Texas-BYU Fiesta Bowl or a Virginia Tech-BYU Orange Bowl.

Then, if the Longhorns or Hokies smacked a 30-point loss on the Cougars, all the skeptics rightfully could have said, 'I told you so.'

But the "I told you so's" should have been proven on the field, instead of by bought-and-paid-for bowl executives, who justified their silly bowl picks with equally silly explanations."

I like the casual way that Lopez deems the Hokies capable of thrashing BYU by 30 points. Now, that's respect. Thanks to the reader who sent that in.

By the way, in my reply to that email, I had this to say:

One thing I've learned while doing Hokie Central (since I started it in March of '95) is that Tech's victory over the Longhorns created a shockwave that still ripples throughout the state of Texas. About once every two weeks, I hear about another member of the Texas media talking about how good the Hokies are (no kidding). We do get an IMMENSE amount of respect in that state.

My own personal theory is that Texas's subpar year (in which they started out poorly before closing strong) has a lot to do with the fact that Tech pasted them in the Sugar Bowl. I think it really rocked the psyche of the Longhorns team and that they have only recently recovered. I think it made them start questioning how good they really are. How else do you explain the embarrassing early-season losses, including a loss to Oklahoma (a very down program at the moment) and the annihilation they suffered at the hands of a mediocre Virginia team?

Perhaps it's arrogant of me to assume that VT is responsible for Texas's early season swoon, but hey, I'm biased, so that's the kind of stuff I'm going to say.


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