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The most amazing statistic from the Virginia Tech-Miami game did not come on the field, but rather, off it. The news came from an odd place, the Louisville Courier-Journal, but in the linked article, the following paragraph is located down near the bottom:
"The importance of Miami and Virginia Tech was illustrated Saturday, [ESPN's senior vice president for programming strategy Len] DeLuca said, when the Hokies' upset of the Hurricanes became the highest-rated football game on ESPN in six years."
Wow. Six years? Are you kidding me?
That means that the VT/Miami game drew higher ratings than quite a few killer games involving some of the best teams in college football over the last half-dozen years. Six years would involve a lot of Notre Dame games, SEC clashes, Big Ten meetings, FSU games at the Seminoles' late-90's peak, and even Miami games during their recent strong run (that ended last Saturday).
The VT/Miami game ran opposite Arkansas/Kentucky, an SEC thriller that went 57 overtimes on ESPN2. Arkansas and Kentucky aren't the two biggest draws in the SEC, but that doesn't minimize Tech and Miami's accomplishment, because there are plenty of games that aired on ESPN in the last six years that either went unopposed or aired opposite dog games.
I have maintained since late June/early July that the ACC had no idea what they were lucking into when they voted to admit VT into the conference. For the most part, they did it because they thought they had to in order to make expansion happen, but when the dust settles, they'll find that the goods they were forced to buy wound up being the most valuable thing in their cart when they hit the checkout aisle.
The VT/Miami game was classic college football theatre. If you haven't seen it, the opening of the broadcast, which showed the VT students bouncing in the end zone as "Enter Sandman" played, and the VT players slapping the "Reach for Excellence" Hokie stone as they ran out onto the field, was beautifully filmed and sequenced by ESPN, which knows a thing or two about broadcasting college football. It was enough to send chills down the spine of not just Hokie fans, but any college football fan.
Lane Stadium was in an uproar for three and a half hours, and with the Hokies taking second-ranked Miami to the woodshed -- quarterbacked by the media-friendly Marcus Vick through most of the game -- there were many compelling reasons for college football fans to watch.
In the ACC offices in Greensboro, North Carolina, they're doing cartwheels. The league knew they were getting a great matchup in FSU-Miami, and they made a smart move by scheduling it as a night game on Labor Day 2004 and 2005. That'll draw huge ratings, and the loser will have all season to crawl their way back into the upper reaches of the BCS rankings.
Now the ACC has discovered that they have a valuable commodity in VT-Miami, a game that has turned into one of college football's fiercest and nastiest rivalries over the last ten years. The league now has, in FSU-Miami and VT-Miami, rivalries that are more competitive and bitter than any other rivalries in the conference over the years. UNC and UVa don't like each other, but an annual Tarheel-Cavalier matchup in football doesn't boil the blood and stir the passions, and it doesn't draw the national interest, like FSU-Miami and VT-Miami will.
The league will also discover in time that FSU-VT will be a good rivalry, though it will take a little time to develop. At this point, the FSU-VT series is too lopsided (FSU leads the series 20-10-1 and hasn't lost to Tech since 1975) and too infrequently played to be a good rivalry. Not to mention that they're not scheduled to play in 2004 or 2005. But I think that within ten years, the FSU-VT series will develop into a good, TV-attractive matchup, though VT has to start beating FSU, and some bad blood has to develop.
But the ACC has got to be digging the fact that as their negotiations with ABC and ESPN pick up steam, they can play the VT-Miami card and increase the value of their contract.
The obvious point here is Miami-BC or Miami-Syracuse (had the Orangemen gotten an ACC invitation) would not have been nearly as attractive as VT-Miami, proving once again that it's not the size of the market, but the quality of the football and the passion of the fan bases that leads to high ratings and good games.
Already, the ACC is happy with what it has done by inviting VT, and they haven't even seen Hokie fans filling up their stadiums for VT road games yet. In ten years, the ACC will wonder why it ever considered expanding without the Hokies, and what in the world took them so long to invite them in the first place.
Here are updates in recruiting from the last week. To access these links, and for updates and information on all these players and more, subscribe to TechSideline Pass. Information on how to subscribe follows.
Hopes to Narrow List Soon
Ferrine Adds Offer
Knows Four Visits
Hall Comments On Visit
Sets Two Visits
Visits Set for DeMatha Star
Takes In Game
Shuffles Up List
Comments on VT Visit
Shining at Hargrave
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|TechSideline.com Updates From the Past Week|
VT Recruiting War Room #5: Offense
Game Preview: #5 Virginia Tech at #21 Pittsburgh
2003 Miami Game Analysis
Hokie Hotline Notes for November 3, 2003
Wide Right: Scribbles
Small Pleasures: Miami
ESPN GameDay at Pittsburgh; Hall Out for First Half of Pitt Game
Hokies Flatten #2 Miami, 31-7
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