News With Commentary by HC Staff
Wednesday, August 30, 2000
GT Says No to Rescheduled BCA Game
Personal ad: Top 25 team ISO quality OOC opponent for December 1st date in BCA football game. Must enjoy travel, competition, and playing in front of hostile crowds. Willing to pay $600,000 to get you to come on this date. If interested, call 1-800-JIM-WEAVER.
It was reported late Wednesday afternoon by wire services (and released in this ESPN.com article) that Georgia Tech has decided not to participate in a rescheduled Black Coaches Association (BCA) game on December 1st. All other involved parties except for GT -- including Virginia Tech, ESPN, and the BCA -- had proposed rescheduling the game to that date, which is a Friday, but GT said no.
An alternate opponent is now being sought for the December 1st date. For more information, see this more detailed ESPN article.
By agreeing to the date and then waiting on Georgia Tech's answer, the other parties held the Yellow Jackets' feet to the fire, but to no avail. By turning down the game, Georgia Tech Athletic Director Dave Braine, who was the AD at Virginia Tech from 1988 to 1997, exposes himself and his school to a lot of criticism, on a number of fronts.
Not the least of those fronts is the fact that the BCA football game is the chief fund raiser for the BCA, which makes about $300,000 from the event. In a perfect world, all parties involved would be participating in the game for the benefit of the BCA and no other reason, but as you can imagine, it turns out that making money for the BCA is pretty far down the list of reasons why Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, and ESPN participate in playing and broadcasting the game.
Virginia Tech seeks to play the game in order to strengthen their out of conference schedule, have a seventh home game, and make money (approximately $600,000 goes to each participating school). ESPN seeks to broadcast the game to make money, of course.
On the other hand, Georgia Tech officials, including Braine and Coach George O'Leary, have stated that their primary reason for playing the game was to gain experience for new starting quarterback George Godsey prior to an early September 9th contest against FSU. As a matter of fact, Braine was against playing the game, but O'Leary agreed to it, and that's how it came about.
Georgia Tech never said they were playing for the money, and they never said they were playing for the benefit of the Black Coaches Association. So, if you change the August 27th date to December 1st, the Yellow Jackets suddenly have no desire to play, despite the fact that $600,000 is being dangled in front of them. The Jackets already spent about $100,000 on the ill-fated trip last weekend, so even if they had to come to Blacksburg again, they would still come out way ahead financially.
As you can guess, the cries of "Chicken!!" are going up on the message board as we speak, but the Jackets aren't afraid of the Hokies -- they're just a strange bunch, because you won't find many schools that will sniff at a $600,000 paycheck and walk away. There are a lot of athletic departments in the country that would kill to get that kind of money.
So now the Hokies, ESPN, and the BCA are at a crossroads. Namely, whom to approach? It's a question that you can attack logically and come up with a few candidates rather quickly. But the prognosis for a strong opponent and an interesting matchup is not good.
First of all, no "big-name" teams from the top conferences (Big 10, PAC 10, SEC, Big 12, ACC) are going to take the bid. They wouldn't take it as a preseason game, so why would they take it now? Barring anything unforeseen and amazing, let go of those dreams of Michigan, Arkansas, North Carolina, Kansas State and the like visiting Lane Stadium on December 1st.
Those other power conferences have championship games and BCS bids that provide plenty of income to their schools, plus their conferences have oodles of bowl tie-ins, so decent teams from those conferences will be going to bowls. So they don't need the money badly enough to take the challenge of visiting Blacksburg in the late, late fall.
You might be able to find one of the mid-level teams from those conferences that will visit Tech, but it's not likely, so start thinking MAC, or Conference USA. The problem is, the MAC has a championship game on the following Saturday, so picking a team from that conference is like playing Russian roulette, particularly if you pick a good team. Plus, the Hokies already have a 2-game series scheduled with Marshall in 2002 and 2005, so yet another visit by the Thundering Herd doesn't hold much allure for Hokie fans. And Tech's already seemingly playing every other team in the MAC over the next few years (but my cynical side realizes that that won't stop Jim Weaver and company from scheduling yet another team from the MAC).
So that leaves Conference USA. Hmm, Conference USA. The Hokies are already playing ECU this year, so they're out. Who else might be willing to take up the challenge? How about Southern Mississippi, one of the C-USA favorites and a preseason Top 25 team? The Golden Eagles might jump on the chance to make another $600,000 minus about $100,000 in expenses. They're cash-poor in Conference USA.
Or how about Louisville, the team that Hokie fans love to hate? (If you younger Hokies have no idea why that would be, ask the older Hokies on the message board, but be wary that the responses might set your hair on fire.)
Those are two good candidates that would be interesting teams to play, although Southern Miss would provide the more challenging game, by far. But from where I sit, after those two teams, the pickings grow slim.
It's possible that the Hokies might yet be able to land an intriguing matchup with a cash-starved, hungry-for-competition team. One thing is for sure: the BCA organizers could afford to be picky when they were first shopping around for teams, but now they're much more likely to take the first school that says yes.
So be warned: the Hokies' new date for the BCA might be a real dog.