News With Commentary by TSL Staff

Thursday, January 17, 2002
by Will Stewart,

Hokies to Add 13th Football Game in 2002

The Richmond Times-Dispatch is reporting that barring any unforeseen complications, Virginia Tech will add a 13th football game for 2002 by playing a preseason game on August 24th or 25th against either Tulsa or Arkansas State.

The game is the Jim Thorpe Classic preseason game, and Tulsa is the more likely opponent of the two. Last season, the Golden Hurricane, short on talent and riddled with injuries, went 1-10, including 0-8 in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). They defeated 1-AA Indiana State in their opener 51-0, but it was all downhill from there, as the Hurricane lost ten in a row, some by scores such as 41-10 (Boise State), 58-0 (Oklahoma), and 63-27 (San Jose State).

The scheduling of a preseason classic for the Hokies has its plusses and minuses. Among the plusses:

  • Tech will have 8 home games for 2002, meaning more revenue from ticket sales and hopefully television;
  • The Hokies will get to tune up for the August 31st game with LSU by playing a team they should easily defeat;
  • Tech will get to break in many new players on defense, and possibly a new quarterback, before facing LSU.

Among the minuses:

  • More criticism for scheduling patsies to open the season, despite Tech's otherwise-tough 2002 schedule;
  • The Lane Stadium South end zone addition not only has one less week available on its construction schedule, but it will also be christened against an unknown, uninspiring opponent, instead of against SEC-champion LSU;
  • Risk of injury to key Tech players in a meaningless game, similar to the loss of Lee Suggs to a knee injury against Connecticut in 2001.

One subtle and small advantage the Hokies gain from scheduling the extra game is an almost-guaranteed win in a season where it will take 7 victories for the Hokies to become bowl eligible.

Teams must win over 50% of their games to be bowl eligible (there are special exceptions for conference champions, in case those champions don't go over .500, as happened last season when 5-6 North Texas went to a bowl game), and in the 12-game season Tech had previously scheduled, they would have had to go at least 7-5.

Now, with a 13-game schedule, Tech has to go 7-6, meaning they can afford another loss if necessary and still remain bowl eligible. It's not likely the Hokies will lose 6 games, but on the chance that they do, the extra game against Tulsa, assumed to be a win, will come in handy.

This situation is reminiscent of the 1995 season. That year, the Hokies agreed to schedule a season-opening conference game against Boston College, even though Tech Coach Frank Beamer usually likes to ease into the conference schedule and not play a key conference game right away.

After that game was set for ESPN on Thursday, September 7, Boston College scheduled a preseason game against Ohio State on August 27th. That meant that the Eagles started practicing 11 days before the Hokies did and got a game under their belts before taking on Tech. BC won a close-fought 20-14 contest, and many in the Tech camp were steamed at the situation, feeling that the Eagles had gained an advantage from their extra game.

Now the Hokies are doing a similar thing to LSU, playing an early game that may help them gain a slight advantage on the Tigers.

There is no announced timetable on when the Jim Thorpe game against Tulsa or Arkansas State will be made official. Big East football schedules should be released any day now. Future Virginia Tech football schedules, including what is known about the 2002 schedule, can be viewed on TSL's Future Football Schedules Page.


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