Monday, May 10, 1999

Softball Falls; Done for the Year?

The Hokie softball team failed in its third crack at A-10 power UMass on Sunday, losing to the Minutewomen in the A-10 championship, 2-0. It was the Hokies' third loss to UMass in the last few weeks, and their second loss of the A-10 tournament, dropping them from the double-elimination event. As A-10 champion, UMass gets the automatic bid to the NCAA's.

After losing (surprisingly) 1-0 to St. Joe's in the first round Friday, Tech's softball team won two on Saturday (over Dayton and St. Joe's) to advance to the championship. The Hokies needed two victories over UMass to win the title, but were unable to even get one.

The question now is, will the Hokies get an NCAA bid? "HokiefromWV," who follows Tech softball very closely, gave the following information about the 48-team NCAA tournament on the message board:

"The NCAA Regional pairings will be announced on May 16th. The committee ranks the top 8 teams and those eight teams are separated into eight different regions. The committee then chooses the other 40 teams and separates them throughout the country. They do that regionally, by conference and by cost.

One thing I don't know for sure is what region are we in? We were not ranked in the latest regional poll. Because Maryland and Tennessee were ranked in the Southeast region, I would imagine that is where we would be. There are 26 automatic bids from tournament championships (PAC-10 and Big West don't have tournament, regular season champ gets bid). So there will only be 22 at large bids given out. My understanding is that all 8 teams in the PAC-10 are expected to make the tournament (the last place team in the conference is ranked #20 in the country). That leaves 15 at large for the rest of the country."

Will here again - it's hard to say what's going to happen. As a Johnny-come-lately to the national scene, a member of a weak conference (as I detailed the other day) and a very late entrant into the rankings (where they're currently #26), I'm not sure I like Tech's chances. But we'll just have to wait until the seedings are announced.

One more word about "HokiefromWV." He's going to graduate in a week or so, which is good for him, but bad for us, because the working world is not kind as far as giving linkmeisters time to do their thing. Good luck, HFWV, congratulations, and do what you can. We have appreciated - and hopefully will continue to appreciate - your efforts.

Ferguson's Hole Gets Deeper

On Friday, Blacksburg police added nine more felony charges to the list facing suspended Tech linebacker Lorenzo Ferguson (assuming I can count properly):

More felony charges filed against Ferguson - The Roanoke Times

The trickle down from the Ferguson arrests has already hit the national scene, as you can see in this CNN/SI article:

25 college football near certainties coming out of spring - CNN/SI

Get a load of number 5. I'm sooo proud. Despite my speech the other day about how I'm satisfied with the way Tech is handling things these days, you can't deny that when players get into trouble, it creates bad press, no matter how well you deal with it. Sigh.


An Optimistic Look at Tech's Big East Chances

Norfolk Virginian-Pilot writer Harry Minium caused a stir on the message board over the weekend with his article, Virginia Tech may soon join Big East conference in all sports.

While I appreciate the ink and the cheery outlook from the V-P, I'm a little leery of investing myself too much emotionally in possible Big East membership. I know I've spent a lot of time talking about the subject lately, but let's face it, with the rampant positive rumors of the last few months, the issue of Big East membership is in the forefront of almost every Hokie fan's mind, and it's a question I get asked a lot.

Optimistic or not, one thing is for sure - as I alluded to the other day, it doesn't look like anything is going to happen soon. Mr. Minium says "as early as next month," but I'm not so sure. Check out the quote from Big East Associate Commissioner John Paquette in the linked article: "No decision will be made at that time (this month's AD meetings), but it will be discussed.''

Ay caramba. More discussions? This thing is going to get discussed to death, and the more it gets "discussed," the more I think to myself that the basketball only schools are trying to talk their way out of inviting Tech in.

It's obvious that I'm rather up-and-down in my feelings on this matter. Sometimes I think we're a shoo-in, and other times, I don't trust the Big East "brain trust" as far as I can throw them.

Today, I'm a little guarded in my optimism, and in fact, my feelings are negative. Not for any particular reason, mind you, but I think it has to do with an article that "LaneRat" posted a link to on the message board over the weekend. It's a piece that appeared in The Roanoke Times back in June of 1994, three months after the Big East shafted us on the first go round, and it discussed what went on nearly five years ago.

Those of you who weren't Hokie fans back then or didn't follow the proceedings closely will benefit greatly from this history lesson (I hope the links still work):

Secrecy bothers Hokies - The Roanoke Times, 6/4/94

Secrecy bothers Hokies (part 2) - The Roanoke Times, 6/4/94

Reading that article is enough to make you leery of any dealings with the Big East, and is enough to leave a bad taste in your mouth.

I don't know about you, but I'll never forget what I was doing on that March day back in 1994, when I found out that the Big East rejected us. I still lived in Charlottesville at the time, and Big East membership was imminent for Tech … or so we thought.

I was flipping through channels, and I happened upon Bob Levy doing a SportsCenter story on ESPN. He had the Big East logo up over his shoulder, and he was saying something like, "The teams are expected to begin Big East play next season." From there, he went on to the next story.

Thinking it was a done deal, and that Tech was in at last, I called my parents up in Southwest Virginia to find out what they were saying down here. My mom answered the phone, and I told her, "Hey, I just heard about the Big East thing."

She said, "I know. Can you believe they did that to Tech?"

"Huh? Did what?" I asked. (Picture a train barreling down a tunnel at this point).

"Tech didn't get in," she said. (Wham!)

It seems like that was a loooong time ago, and I guess it was. There's been a lot of water under the bridge since then, and it's all been nasty, bitter water, as we have been told over and over the reasons why major conference membership is problematic for Tech.

What galls us is that it's always about money and TV contracts, and it has nothing to do with anything else. I've grown pretty tired over the years of hearing why Tech wasn't invited in, and I guess it would be nice to finally get in and to finally hear for once the reasons why we did get in.

One thing's for sure - if it does happen, we'll go into it this time with both eyes wide open, knowing that the next time we go to a Big East party, there will be several member schools there casting an unfriendly eye towards us, wishing we had never been invited.

But I'm rambling, when my only intention was to bring you up to date. So I'll stop now.


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