Wednesday, December 10, 1997

Suddenly, UVa's Concerned About "Fairness"

I don't usually stoop to UVa-bashing on this site, mainly because this is a Tech site and not an "I Hate UVa" site, but I saw something in the Richmond Times-Dispatch yesterday that got me fired up, and I have to vent about it.   Those of you who caught my comments on the message board have already heard this, but sit back and read it again, anyway.

It seems that with this year's UVa bowl snub, the Hoos are suddenly concerned about fairness in the bowl selection process.  There is absolutely no question in my mind that the UVa team deserved to go to a bowl.  They played a fairly tough schedule, had a fine 7-4 season, and beat three bowl-bound teams:  Georgia Tech, Clemson, and the Hokies.

But UVa was snubbed because their fans don't deserve to go to a bowl.   Sure, they buy 25,000+ season tickets and donate millions of dollars without batting an eyelash, but when it comes time to travel to a bowl and contribute to the bowl game's local economy, they don't show up in force unless the bowl is named Peach and the town is named Atlanta.

I spoke to a Hoo fan yesterday who has undergrad and a graduate degrees from UVa, has four season tickets, and goes to nearly every home game.  How many bowls has he been to?  Zero.  He's not unusual in that respect.

So UVa fans don't like to travel to bowls?  Fine.  If they choose not to place their priorities there, there's nothing wrong with that.  Where we're weak in season ticket sales, they're strong, and vice versa on traveling to bowls.

So it follows as simple logic that a bowl committee is not going to select a team that won't bring fans and contribute millions of dollars to the local economy.  Do the math.  If Tech takes 15,000 fans to a bowl and each fan spends $500, that's $7.5 million that goes into the local economy.  That ain't chump change.  By those numbers, 2000 fans are worth $1 million.

So what got me so ticked off when I read the RT-D yesterday?  It was a column by John Markon entitled Bowling Season Often Skips the Deserving, and of course, it was about how UVa got skipped over.   What sent me off the deep end were the following two paragraphs:

"If (ABC's Keith) Jackson had been hooked up to a truth serum IV, he also would have admitted that bowl committees don't send out their invitations without a nod of approval from their television partners. Bowl reps like to talk about the Five Rs, but Revenue and Ratings will always occupy a more elevated position in the hierarchy than Record, Ranking and Reward.

(UVa Athletic Director) Holland wants a few changes made. Yesterday, he provided a rough outline for a plan that would establish an NCAA Football Committee that would assign bowl bids based on some sort of merit system. He even invoked the dreaded letters "R.P.I.," indicating he'd like to see the selections heavily influenced by some double-secret power rating, as they are in basketball."

Wait a minute.  Is this the same Terry Holland who headed up the NCAA basketball tournament selection committee that in 1995 did not select a 20-10 Virginia Tech team with a #35 RPI power rating?  Since when did he suddenly become concerned with fairness?  Oh, I see - when fairness needed to apply to his precious Hoos, it suddenly became an issue with him.

Excuse me while my blood starts to boil over the hypocrisy of Holland's stance.

As another message board poster pointed out, this is also the same Terry Holland who moved three (I believe) home basketball games to Richmond in an attempt to assuage his Richmond alumni, increase interest there, and perhaps sell more tickets to games in Charlottesville.  Taking home games away from the students and into Richmond is a blatant move to improve the "bottom line," and suddenly, Terry is going to begrudge bowl selection committees the right to improve their own bottom lines?

One of the things I despise most in life is hypocrisy and double standards, and Holland is showing both with his goofy bowl selection committee idea.  I have this lurking fear that someone's actually going to listen to that idiocy.  For the record, Markon called it a "really, really, really, really, really bad idea."   Good call, John, and let me tell you, you're being diplomatic when you phrase it so gently.

If you want to go to bowls, Terry, then go to bowls when you get a chance.   Till then, have a nice New Year's watching the Hokies in the Gator.

I Couldn't Be Happier With the Bowl Selections

Frankly, I'm a little surprised that the Hokies received the coveted Gator bid.   I'm thrilled.  It's a great bowl, and we'll take a lot of fans, strengthening our reputation as the "Traveling Hokies."  Tech officials reported that as of Tuesday evening, over 7000 tickets had been sold, but I think that's probably a little misleading, because I'm sure it includes the advance orders that are placed ahead of time by season ticket holders and Hokie Club members.

Tech officials are estimating that 18,000-20,000 tickets will be sold, but I still think it will be closer to 12,000-15,000.  But if the Tech ticket office wants to go around shouting "18,000 to 20,000 tickets!" at the top of their collective lungs, that's fine with me.  The stat doesn't have to be correct, as long as it's quoted and perceived to be correct, heh-heh.  It works for politicians.   Why not the Hokies?

(suggestion to Terry Holland:  next time, lie about the number of tickets you've sold)

Here's another bowl matchup I'm pleased with:  Syracuse vs. Kansas State in the Fiesta.  I'm happy for K-State, whom I consider to be somewhat kin to the Hokies.   They're a solid, Top-20 team year in and year out, but they get no media coverage.  The last time I saw K-State on TV was in 1994.  So I'm happy that the Fiesta Bowl rewarded their efforts and their fans with a trip to the Alliance.

I also like this bowl game because although K-State is a pretty good football team, like us, they're not Nebraska, Florida, et al - like us.  This is a great opportunity for the Big East to shut up the BE bashers by bringing home another Alliance Bowl trophy.   If Syracuse wins, then we can answer the Big East bashers by saying, "The conference has won two out of its last three Alliance Bowls.  We do too deserve the bid."

Thanks for the Compliment, Heels

I picked up the following on-line yesterday at The Daily Tar Heel, under the title UNC, Hokies to collide in Gator:

-- begin article

The North Carolina Tar Heels have been invited to the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla. to play Virginia Tech. The Jan. 1 game will be played at 12:30 p.m. and broadcast nationally by NBC.

The fifth-ranked Heels finished the season 10-1, 7-1 in the ACC. Virginia Tech finished its season 7-4, 5-2 in the Big East.

Athletic Director Dick Baddour had the following statement:

"We are proud and excited that our players and staff have accomplished this great feat of being invited to our sixth consecutive bowl game. It is a remarkable achievement to once again play on New Years day in front of a national television audience."

"It truly is flattering for our program that Rick Catlett and the Gator Bowl officials would invite us to Jacksonville for a second consecutive year. We appreciate their confidence that the Tar Heels will offer an entertaining and competitive game. The stadium is one of the finest in the country and a fitting venue to play host to the fifth-ranked team in the country."

"I am so proud of our players, especially our seniors. They have given all Carolina fans many wonderful memories and the Gator Bowl is a splendid cap to their careers."

-- end article

Notice anything missing from the statement by the UNC AD, Dick Baddour?  That's right - he praises the UNC players and coaching staff, Rick Catlett, Gator Bowl officials, the stadium, and his seniors - and somewhere in there, I think he even says nice things about his cat.  But not one mention of the opponent, Virginia Tech.   What a class act this guy is.  And don't anybody try to email me any excuses, either.  If Baddour didn't know who the opponent was, he should have asked and paid us the customary compliment in his press release.

Time to Go, Before I Have a Stroke

That'll do it for me today, people - I think between Holland and Baddour, my blood pressure's gone through the roof.

Be at the Cassell at 7:00 Wednesday night for the men's basketball showdown with Radford.  There should be a large crowd there, and it should be fun!  Welcome the Hokies back from their good showing in Charlotte!


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