Tuesday, March 28, 2000
by Will Stewart, HokieCentral.com

The Hokies and the Sears Cup

Slowly but surely, Virginia Tech is seeing improvement in its non-revenue sports. Perhaps the best measurement of non-revenue sports success is the Sears Cup rankings produced by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. You can check out the Sears Cup rankings, updated through the winter sports, by visiting the NACDAís web site at http://www.nacda.com (click on "Sears Directors Cup" when you get there).

The Sears Cup awards a school points for its rankings in just about every sport you can think of that universities offer, including rifling. Iíll leave it to you to take a look at the scoring structure to read what sports are part of the rankings and how the rankings are done.

The rankings are updated after each sports season (fall, winter, and spring), and the points after the spring season represent the final rankings for the academic year. At the end of the spring, the team with the most points receives the Sears Directors Cup, and bragging rights on the UVa message boards over at TheSabre.com, which is the only place where people actually talk about the Sears Cup.

Perusing the Sears Cup rankings for the last six years or so doesnít exactly make you burst with pride, if youíre a Hokie fan. Tech consistently ranks in the 90ís, often getting beaten out in the standings by, say, William and Mary. Hereís the rundown on where the Hokies finished every year since 1993-1994, which is as far back as NACDAís on-line database goes:

Year

Final VT Ranking

Points

1993-1994

90

141.5

1994-1995

129

81.5

1995-1996

91

147.5

1996-1997

92

152

1997-1998

96

70

1998-1999

86

90

1999-2000*

37*

200.5*

*Through Winter Sports

You can see that until this year, the Hokies have had a hard time crawling out of the 90ís, and 1993-1994 was pretty much a disaster. But so far this year, a #3 finish in football (according to NACDA) and strong performances in menís indoor track and wrestling have propelled the Hokies to a #37 ranking going into the spring.

In case you have missed it, the Hokies placed 24th in the menís NCAA indoor track championships due to long-time Tech pole-vaulting great Brian Hunter finishing third, and Techís Erick Kingston taking 15th in the weight throw (itís not clear from the Tech press release if Kingstonís placing contributed points to Techís team total, or if it was all Hunter). Tech also came in 19th in the NCAA Wrestling championships behind the performances of Chris Martin and Sean Gray, both of whom finished as All-Americans.

The current Sears Cup ranking for the Hokies bodes well for a strong finish, because typically, the Hokies have scored well in the spring. Tech often gets points from both menís and womenís tennis, and if that pattern holds this spring, and baseball or softball contributes, then it should drive Tech to its first top-50 finish.

Itís difficult for Virginia Tech to compete at the highest levels in many of the sports that comprise the Sears Cup rankings. The Hokies have not traditionally had strong non-revenue sports. Outside of football, a Tech team from time to time will fare well, and some teams do well year after year, but typically, Virginia Tech has not consistently had deep, high-performing programs across the board, such as those found at Big Ten or PAC 10 schools.

Schools from those conferences, along with the ACC, SEC, etc. have a history of well-funded non-revenue sports due mostly to their conference affiliations and large alumni bases that contribute to their athletic funds. Techís funding and commitment to its overall sports programs started to take off in the 1990ís when the Hokies joined the Big East for football and starting making some serious bowl money and TV money that could be funneled into other sports. The result has been a boost in facilities, including a new softball field, one of the top indoor tracks in the country, and a new outdoor track facility. Non-football teams also benefit from Techís Merryman Center.

So Techís non-revenue, or "Olympic," sports are steadily evolving into a broad-based athletic program that befits a university of Techís stature, and the Hokiesí impending exit from the Atlantic 10 into the Big East for all sports will only improve upon that. Even those of us who live and die with football and basketball can appreciate that.

The Curious Case of the Volatile RC Bottles

Reports are starting to surface on the message board that the RC bottles that commemorated Tech's undefeated 1999 football season are starting to explode spontaneously. I didn't think much of it until one of the five bottles I own busted, dousing the contents of a bookshelf it was stored in.

On the surface, this sounds alarming. The idea of a glass container "exploding" is enough to give you pause, and it does indeed spray RC around the immediate area. My own particular bottle didn't spray glass everywhere, though, it just cracked into four or five large pieces, most of which just fell outward from where the bottle was stored. Still, if you've got one or more of these things on display, it would behoove you to crack the seal on them to release the pressure.

The good news is, the tops are twist tops (although they're not marked as such), so you don't have to destroy or bend the tops to crack the seal, just loosen them a little bit. The RC folks I have corresponded with suggest emptying the bottle and replacing the contents with colored water. Sounds like a plan to me. Then you can just screw the tops back on and put the bottles back on display.

It's really not unusual that this is happening. Soft drinks are consumables that aren't meant to be saved and displayed, and it's not clear what saving an unopened container will do over time, particularly when that container has been trucked and handled several times from its production point to its destination. RC reports that they haven't experienced any significant or unusual problems with the VT commemorative bottle.

But just the same, you should heavily consider cracking the seal on any bottles that you own. My wife has a Coke bottle from Penn State's 1982-83 national championship football team that is still sealed and has survived the years, but my RC bottle didn't last three months. So you just never know, and leaving the bottle sealed is probably a game of chance you shouldn't participate in.

And actually, the RC folks tell me that it consistently wins blind taste sampling test with both Coke and Pepsi, so what the heck -- open it and have a cold one. You'll enjoy drinking from the bottle, and your bookshelf may thank you for it.

Project Thank You for the Basketball Players

Now that the basketball seasons are over, it's that time again -- time for Nova Hokie 95's "Project: Thank You." PTY gives you, the Hokie fan, an opportunity to write a letter to a Hokie athlete and thank them for their sacrifices and contributions to Tech athletics (sure, you could do that any time, but you know what I mean -- this is an organized effort).

Without further ado, if you're interested in participating in this version of "Project: Thank You" for the 1999-2000 versions of the men's and women's basketball teams, then click here, and NH95 will set you up. Thanks!

          

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