Friday, December 5, 1997
The Bowl Outlook
The bowl outlook for the Hokies this year is even more complicated than usual, and I received a request from a reader to explain it. Unscrambling the maze of possibilities is not something I want to spend six or seven hours doing, but being the pirate that I am, I have two other sources to draw on that should help clear things up (yeah, right!) about what to look for this weekend and what might happen.
First of all, let me tell you that Georgia Tech has accepted a bid to the Carquest Bowl (my apologies for mis-capitalizing it as the "CarQuest" Bowl in previous postings), so that's a done deal. The information I'm about to pass on to you was written on late Tuesday and early Wednesday, so it may or may not included references to GT going to the Carquest. Also, I'm not sure it matters in the Tech scenario, but Pitt has accepted a (reluctant) bid from the Liberty Bowl and will be going there.
The first source of information is an excellent message board post by "Steve in Baltimore." Steve is a frequent poster on the message board, and in response to someone else's question about Tech's bowl possibilities, Steve actually did what I'm unwilling to do - he listed most or all of the possibilities in a long post. With many thanks to Steve, here's what he said:
Posted by Steve in Baltimore on Tuesday, 2 December 1997, at 10:52 p.m.
Here is as succinct a rundown as I can give you. It all starts with the Bowl Alliance. You can pretty much ignore the Fiesta, which is going to be Syracuse against either Kansas State or UCLA. Nothing that happens Saturday will likely change that. But what happens in the Sugar and Orange can have a ripple effect down to us. Also an important fact -- the Gator has its choice of us and West Virginia and the Gator Bowl director says the schools are very even in his eyes. So...
A. If Tennessee beats Auburn in the SEC Championship Game Saturday
This means: Orange is Nebraska vs Tennessee
Sugar is probably Florida State vs Ohio State
Thus North Carolina is shut out of Alliance
So the Gator has #2 choice ACC and #2 Big East. Obviously, they would take North Carolina for the ACC team. Then they would choose us or West Virginia. So possibility #1 is a Gator Bowl vs North Carolina. If the Gator chooses West Virginia, we would be in the Carquest, probably against Georgia Tech.
But there is a rumor that has been floating around that UNC wants a stronger (ranked) opponent, rather than the lowly Hokies or Mountaineers, who aren't fit to share the field with them. So the Gator could "trade" the Big East team to the Peach, for the Peach's SEC team (Auburn or Georgia). So the Gator would be UNC against Auburn or Georgia, and Tech (or WVU) would go to the Peach to play Clemson. I don't know why the Peach would make this deal -- but the rumor is widely reported.
B. If Auburn beats Tennessee Saturday
1. The Alliance could be reshuffled without including UNC (Orange = Nebraska/FSU, Sugar = Ohio State/Auburn). This would mean that all of the above scenarios still hold true (except it might be Tennessee in the Peach/Gator swap instead of Auburn).
2. The Sugar could take UNC instead of Ohio State to play Auburn. Then there are two scenarios:
-- The Gator takes the next best ACC team (Clemson) to face either us or WVU. The Carquest might end up with NC State in this scenario, facing us or WVU.
-- The Gator exercises a clause in its contract allowing it to bypass an ACC team since two ACC teams go to the Alliance, and take Notre Dame instead. If this happened, Tech would play Notre Dame in the Gator (because WVU just played ND).
So in summary, here are all the possibilities:
Personally I think Carquest vs Georgia Tech is the most likely. As you can see, it looks like we won't know anything until Sunday at the earliest, maybe not until Monday.
Finally -- if Texas A&M beats Nebraska and gets into the Alliance I have no idea what this will do! I don't think it will have too much effect on us, though.
-- end of Steve's post --
Will here again - as I said, GT is already in the Carquest, so you can eliminate bowl possibility #5 from Steve's two-day old list. Also, from what I understand, if this swap between the Peach and the Gator is to take place, the Big East must agree to it, and the swapped team (us or WVU) must agree to it. They will not do it without our okay, from what I understand. I'm not sure what extra money will be involved if a swap occurs. I'll tell you one thing - neither Tech nor WVU will switch if the result is less money, so don't worry about that possibility.
The second source of bowl info is Jack Bogaczyk of The Roanoke Times. Jack wrote an article that ran on Wednesday and talked about the bowl possibilities. To read it, click on Bowl Bids As Clear as Mud Can Be and see if you can slog your way through it.
Two important points on when you can gather some more info:
My own personal understanding from comments I've heard is that it's a close race between Tech and WVU for the Gator Bowl, with WVU being the slight leader. But if UNC goes Gatoring, they will not be matched up with WVU, since that was the same matchup in that game a year ago. If Notre Dame winds up in the Gator (remember, UNC has to go to the Alliance for this to occur), then they will play Tech, because N(bc)D and WVU played about two weeks ago.
I'll bet you money, though, that if it looks like Tech is slated to play Notre Dame in the Gator, the Irish will try to change that somehow. I can't see N(bc)D "lowering" themselves to play the Hokies. So that (VT vs. ND) is actually my least likely scenario in the bowl picture, although it's the one most Hokie fans want more than anything.
Hope that clears things up. Print this out, print out Jack's article, and have them handy this weekend!
Basketball Attendance Survey
I posted this on the message board Thursday, and I'm repeating it here to reach more people...
Dear HokieCentral readers: I'm working on a new Special Feature about basketball attendance. Please read and respond to the following:
I went to the Tech/Liberty men's basketball game on December 1st, and even though the students were back in town from Thanksgiving break, there was NOBODY there. The paper generously listed attendance as 4,000, but if that's 4,000 people, then I make $100,000 per year.
So I've got a question: why don't you go to basketball games? I know a ton of football fans read this web site, and most of you do not attend men's hoops games. Why not?
I want this question answered primarily by the following three groups:
If you go to the men's games, then I don't really want to hear from you. I only want to hear from people who don't go.
Answer the question honestly - send me an email with "Basketball attendance" as the subject line to firstname.lastname@example.org.
One answer I will NOT accept is "I never know when we have a game." That is not a reason! If you say that, then what you're actually saying is, "I don't care." I always know when the games are, because I carry a schedule in my pocket. If you cared, you would, too.
So email me and let me know why you don't go! I've got my own theories, but I want to hear the answers from you, the non-basketball-game-going masses.
This is not a criticism or a judgment of people who don't go - it's a survey, intended to gather data, so speak freely with me. I'm just fed up with the low attendance at hoops games, and I want some answers. I will post the results in a future Special Feature.