Monday, January 4, 1999
Basking in the Aftermath
One of my favorite sayings is a simple slice of truth: Winning sure beats losing.
As I predicted in my Music City Bowl game report, the national media is truly impressed with Virginia Tech's dismantling of tradition-rich (but talent-thin) Alabama. We're going to wind up getting a ton of mileage out of this victory, even though, as I said before, I think that beating WVU and Miami was more impressive.
The latest example of this effect is something Brent Musberger said in the closing minutes of the Sugar Bowl the other night. As the game was winding down, ABC displayed a graphic showing the bowl records of the conferences. At the time, the Big Ten was 5-0, and only one other conference was above .500 - the Big East, at 2-1. And Brent, who is not the brightest candle in the window, took the opportunity to say, "What a job Virginia Tech did, beating Alabama."
God bless Brent. I consider him to be an atrocious play-by-play announcer - AWFUL - but God bless him for ignoring the Miami Hurricanes' win over N.C. State in the Micron PC Bowl, and for mentioning the Hokies. And you can bet your sweet bippy that if the Canes had beaten Alabama and the Hokies had beaten the Wolfpack, it would have been the other way around for Brent, who is probably more of an old-liner. He, and many like him, are way more impressed with a victory over Bama than a victory over NCSU.
Anyway, it's just one example of the fact that the victory over Bama is a great springboard for next year.
One thing the media and opposing fans are slow to catch on to is that "Beamer-ball," a deadly combination of defense and special teams, is good football. One interesting characteristic about beating people with defense and special teams is that it tends to make them look bad, instead of making you look good, so fans and media of opposing teams walk away from a loss to the Hokies thinking that they lost the game, not that the Hokies won it.
Until the Hokies get a more high-powered offense, they will have trouble getting respect from opposing fans, and to some extent, the media. Look at UCLA - they had a terrible defense and a great offense, and they were ranked highly all year long. But put an anemic offense on the field with a great defense, and for some reason, people aren't as impressed.
Whatever. A "W" is a "W." Eventually, if you keep winning, they can't keep ignoring you.
For a great collection of still captures from the Music City Bowl game tape, visit DaveVT's Music City Bowl page commemorating the game (about 20 pics, approx. 300k total in size).
The Big East (Syracuse) Stinks up the BCS, Again
Another niiiiice job of representing the Big East in the BCS was turned in by Syracuse, as the Orangemen lost a squeaker to Florida in the Orange Bowl, 31-10. And it wasn't even that close, folks.
Goodbye, Donovan McNabb, and now we'll see if Syracuse can be anything but mediocre with someone else at the helm. I'm betting they can't, and that Tech and Miami will be top dogs of the Big East for the next few years. But you never know. Sometimes teams play better after a marquee player leaves. Everyone else steps it up, and it becomes more of a team effort.
As much as I hate to admit it, Miami's victory over UCLA on December 5th was huge for the Big East, especially since the Canes followed it up with a bowl victory. Miami will probably be overrated at the beginning of next year, as media pollsters will be anxious to vault the Canes into the Top 10 again. I say "overrated" because, until their line play improves and becomes more physical, I don't think they're a Top 10 team. Well, maybe Top 10, but certainly not Top 5, where they may actually wind up in some preseason polls.
With the Hokies' rousing victory over Alabama, Tech might wind up about #15 going into next year, since the Hokies return 14 starters from this year's team. Syracuse and WVU might be fairly highly-regarded due to name alone, but they'll both be depleted at key positions. It's going to be up to Miami and Tech to carry the load next year for the Big East.
A Tale of Two Basketball Teams
The men's basketball team started their A-10 schedule out in inauspicious fashion, losing to a very mediocre UMass team, 55-40. A point a minute is a sad result, and this came against a UMass team that was 3-6 going into the game, with a home loss to Davidson.
The effort for Tech was great once again in the areas of rebounding and defense, and non-existent in the offensive department. And the Hokies turned in a characteristic 10-19 free throw shooting result.
Over on the women's side, the Hokies continue to rip through their schedule, pushing their record to 12-0 by winning the Diamond Club Classic over the holidays, and beating Fordham over the weekend.
In the Diamond Club Classic, the Hokies beat Akron to go to 10-0, and then faced Mississippi State in the finals, the day of the Music City Bowl.
Ready for some blasphemy from Will? I was convinced - convinced - that the Hokies were going to lose to MSU. They had played subpar basketball since whipping UVa in the fifth game of the season, often struggling against teams they should have stomped from the opening gun. I thought they were very tight, pushing too hard, and in need of a loss to shake them out of their funk.
And what better team to give them a loss than a surprising 8-1 MSU from the powerful SEC?
Shows you what I know. Amy "Big Game" Wetzel sparked a 28-9 run to open the game, and Tech never looked back, cruising to a 73-52 win. Wetzel always saves her best for important games, and for a guard, she has proven to be a great rebounder.
Two other players I wanted to talk about are the inside tandem of Tere Williams and Nicole Jones. First of all, every time I see Tere Williams talking into a microphone, I'm proud she's a Hokie. She's poised, intelligent, articulate, and a credit to the university. Not to mention a hell of a basketball player.
As for reserve forward Nicole Jones, she can flat-out play. Jones pulled a rare feat, not missing a single shot in the Hokies' game against Fordham on Saturday. She was 9-9 from the field and 4-4 from the free throw line, totaling 22 points - all in the second half. Tech was struggling a little with the Rams, and Nicole just said, "We'll have none of that," and single-handedly carried Tech to the 78-61 victory.
The kicker? Wetzel is a sophomore, Williams is a sophomore, and Jones is a freshman. Cool.
Clear some room on your schedule the morning of Sunday, January 10th, because the Hokies are playing at GW at 11:00 a.m. ... on ESPN2. More coolness. As long as Mrs. HokieCentral's not in labor or something, I'll be watching that sucker.
Speaking of ESPN2 games, don't miss the men on The Deuce Wednesday night, at 8:00 against Xavier. If you're local, head out to the game, because it's a home game for the Hokies.
1999 Membership Plan Announced
In case you missed it over the weekend, I finally launched the 1999 HokieCentral membership plan and incentive items. To check things out, click on over to my Membership Page.
I have received a couple of questions since I launched the new stuff, and the answers have been incorporated into my Membership Page, so take a look. The questions were:
The answer to #1 is important, so read it closely.
I hope you think the membership stuff is as neat as I do, and that those of you who are hanging on the fence decide to go ahead and become members.
One note to the folks who are signing up now - please be patient, because I'm accumulating orders for a week or so before I issue Members Only access, charge the credit cards, and place my merchandise order with my supplier. And as you can imagine, I always get a rush of orders at the beginning of the year, so it gets a little hairy for me. Hang with me, and I'll take care of you.