Friday, January 7, 2000
by Will Stewart

The Virginia Tech Hokies, Media Darlings

Perhaps the most significant occurrence in Tuesday’s national championship game didn’t even happen on the field. It happened in the TV ratings.

The Florida State-Virginia Tech Sugar Bowl outdrew last year’s FSU-Tennessee Fiesta Bowl championship game. Granted it was by a small margin – just two percent – but nonetheless, more people watched this year’s championship than last year’s. For the exact figures, check out the following link on CBS Sportsline:

Title Game TV Ratings Rise – 1/5/00

Call your Hokie friends and tell them that the red-headed stepchild formerly known as Virginia Tech football is dead, and in its place, a glamorous, TV-friendly beauty queen now stands.

Aided by ESPN’s season-long hyping of the Tech program and the magic of Michael Vick, the Virginia Tech Hokies have turned from the classic "small-market" college football team that no network wanted to touch into a full-blown media phenomenon.

It was less than a year ago that ABC nixed a proposed Penn State-Virginia Tech preseason classic in favor of a PSU-Arizona game that proved to be one of the biggest mismatches of the season. In the time since then, the Hokies and Hurricanes game that appeared on ESPN on November 13th was ESPN’s second-highest rated college football broadcast of the season, and now we find that the Hokies/Noles was more popular than Noles/Volunteers.

Will wonders never cease? Perhaps should design and market T-shirts that commemorate the Hokies’ TV ratings instead of their undefeated season, because I’m telling you, I figured Tech might go undefeated sooner or later, but I never thought they would be embraced by the national media.

If you scan the articles in VT Hokie News, you’ll see a national outpouring of adoration for the Hokies in the wake of the Sugar Bowl, a unanimous conclusion that says not only did the Hokies belong in the national championship game, but man, they sure were fun to watch. The article that sums it up best was written by Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic, in which Mr. Bickley essentially says, "Finally! Someone new to watch in college football!"

Hokies Gave a Worthy Performance – Dan Bickley, The Arizona Republic, 1/5/00

Don’t forget to email Mr. Bickley your thanks for his great article. Beats the pants off that piece of tripe written by Christine Brennan of The USA Today two months back, in which she said if the Hokies wound up in the championship game, she wouldn’t watch it:

BCS Format a Charade – Christine Brennan, The USA Today, 11/11/99

Hey, Christine, how was the Home and Garden Channel that night? Interesting? I’d much rather watch a kitchen show than Michael Vick any day.

But please don’t email Ms. Brennan, folks – she already got plenty of "love" from Hokie fans when the article was released, so let it lie. ‘Sides, I’m sure she’s more than just a little embarrassed by now by that article. I would be.

But back to the subject: the Hokies. Their newly minted status as a media darling and TV ratings grabber could lead to instant dividends. The Hokies, previously under consideration for a preseason classic, must now be considered a frontrunner for the Kickoff Classic in the Meadowlands in New Jersey.

There’s no real solid "new" news there, but David Teel of The Daily Press did bring us up to speed on the subject recently:

Virginia Tech May Play in 2000 Kickoff Classic – David Teel, The Daily Press, 1/5/00

Tech against Purdue? I like that action. Where do we sign up?

Live it up, Hokie fans. It’s a strange new world, for sure.

Corey’s Loud Mouth

When Corey Moore stalked out of a Sugar Bowl media session last Friday and then threatened to punch a TV cameraman the following day, I was furious with him, but I held my tongue and didn’t post anything here on HokieCentral. I figured there were two sides to the story, and I wanted to hear Corey’s side before passing judgment.

Kudos to Angie Watts of The Washington Post for being the only reporter to dig for the truth in the story. She talked to Corey and wrote an article that ran in the post on Monday the 3rd, so you may have missed it. Here it is:

Moore Apologizes for Outburst – Angie Watts, The Washington Post, 1/3/00

And what about Corey’s "inflammatory" pre-game comments about FSU, in which he said that FSU had never seen anyone like Tech, and that the Hokies were going to burn down New Orleans after they won? Moore settled that issue too, like a man, face-to-face with the FSU players after the game.

So there you have it. I don’t always agree with what Corey says and does, but he’s not dumb, and he does the things he does for a reason. So finally, we can put that all to bed.


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