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   Welcome to TSLMail #98 - Friday, September 26, 2003    
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Hokies Crack the Top 5 (Yawn) Again
by Will Stewart,

Thursday through Saturday last week was pretty good to VT football. The Hokies first beat Texas A&M on the great Thursday night ESPN showcase, 35-19, and then on Saturday, three teams ranked ahead of the Hokies lost, propelling Tech from #8 to #5 in both polls.

That marks the fifth year in a row -- cough, let me repeat that -- fifth year in a row that the VT football team has been ranked in the top 5.

It used to be that such a ranking would lead to hysteria on the part of Hokie fans, but relatively speaking, the new ranking came and went without much comment. Hokie fans have gotten pretty savvy about early- and mid-season rankings and what they mean: almost nothing.

In 1999 and 2000, the Hokies held onto the early rankings the only way you can -- by winning. They finished #2 in 1999, and #6 in 2000. But in 2001, and 2002, the team tanked, finishing both seasons ranked #18 in the AP.

The last two seasons have taught Hokie fans what is more important than rankings: winning the Big East championship and going to a BCS bowl. They know that all the top 5 rankings in the world won't stop Rod Rutherford and Larry Fitzgerald of Pittsburgh, or the entire Miami Hurricane team. Or for that matter, Syracuse and West Virginia.

So Tech fans sit and wait and play them one game at a time. In a way, it's a shame that VT fans can't fully enjoy and appreciate a top 5 ranking anymore, but in another way, it's a good thing, because it shows that they're maturing as a fan base.

I also don't feel that the lack of interest in the latest top 5 ranking is a sign of being focused on the elusive goal of a national championship. The MNC, as it's called, is a goal that if you become fixated on it can ruin your appreciation of the little things that make college football great. I've preached that many times, and to be honest, I don't spend much time these days thinking about winning the national championship, particularly not this early in the season (not that what I think matters to Frank and the boys in Blacksburg).

I checked to see how many weeks the Hokies have spent in the top 5 the last five seasons, and it's an amazing number: 26. Twenty-six weeks in the top 5 in the last five seasons:

Tech in the Top 5 (AP Rank), 1999-2003
Season Preseason Rank Highest Rank Weeks in Top 5 Final Rank
1999 13 2 11 2
2000 11 2 7 6
2001 9 5 1 18
2002 16 3 6 18
2003 9 5* 1* n/a
Ave. 11.6 3** 6.25** 11*
* As of 9/26/03
** Four-season average

For a program that only cracked the top 10 twice before 1999, spending so much time in the top 5 is quite an achievement, and actually hard to fathom. The Hokies hit #10 in the AP after defeating Texas 28-10 in the 1995 Sugar Bowl -- I personally think they should have been ranked at least #5 at the time -- and they were #10 in the nation again before losing to Nebraska in the 1996 Orange Bowl.

Now, for a guy who doesn't profess to care that much about rankings, I will admit that there's one goal I crave: a #1 ranking. I mean at any time during the season, not necessarily at the end of the season (though that would be schweet).

A #1 ranking, whether or not the team lives up to it or "deserves" it, is a feather in a program's cap. It's an achievement that, for example, VT's pals in Charlottesville have achieved that VT hasn't. That 1990 UVa team didn't live up to its #1 ranking, but the fact is, they were ranked #1 at one point, and thousands of Wahoo fans have old T-shirts stored away as mementos to prove it.

Currently ranked ahead of the Hokies, from #4 to #1, are Ohio State, USC, Miami, and Oklahoma. If the Hokies ever want to be ranked #1, they're going to have to go through Miami to get there, and Tech plays the Canes in Blacksburg on November 1st. Prior to that (and including that date), here's who the other teams play:

Note that though any of these teams can lose between now and November 1st, I have highlighted the tougher games for each team up to and including the November 1st showdowns:

The AP Top 4 and Opponents Through Nov. 1st
(rankings as of 9/21/03)
Date #4 OSU #3 USC #2 Miami #1 Oklahoma
9/27 Northwestern @ California open open
10/4 open @ Arizona St WVU (10/2) @ Iowa State
10/11 @ Wisconsin Stanford @ #6 FSU #14 Texas *
10/18 #13 Iowa @ Notre Dame Temple Missouri
10/25 @ Indiana @ #18 Washington open @ Colorado
11/1 @ Penn State #21 Wash. State @ #5 VT Oklahoma State
* @ Dallas, Texas

It's worth noting that if #6 FSU wins out, including a win over Miami on Oct. 11th, they may jump the Hokies. The Seminoles also have to play @ Duke, @ Virginia, Wake Forest, and @ Notre Dame (Nov. 1st).

If my little dream of the Hokies being ranked #1 is to come to pass this season, that grid of games will tell the tale -- assuming VT can take care of business and win out until their meeting with Miami. The Hokies have this weekend's game against UConn, a road game at Rutgers, then two games against teams that beat them last year: Syracuse (Oct. 11th) and @ WVU (Oct. 22).

That's a few tough hurdles VT has to clear before they can even think about the Hurricanes. And sorry to commit the cardinal sin of looking ahead and all that, but it was an interesting exercise I wanted to go through.

Now focus, people, focus! The Huskies are coming to town!

This Week in Recruiting

by Chris Horne

Ely (Pompano Beach, FL) defensive lineman Brandon Daniel will take an official visit to VT this weekend. Daniel has also scheduled a visit to Kansas State (12/19/03). He plans to take all five official visits before deciding.

West Charlotte (NC) cornerback Rod Council enjoyed his visit to Notre Dame and now lists the Irish as his favorite over UVA (10/18/03 visit), Michigan, and Virginia Tech. He has offers from all four and will visit all four before deciding.

Eddie Royal set his first official visit recently, with the lucky team being Tennessee on December 12th. He will likely make official visits to Virginia Tech and Marshall as well and hopes to use up all five visits. UVA is heavily recruiting him although he is growing frustrated with no offer. Royal has no favorites at this time.

Michael Green, fullback/linebacker for Deptford HS (NJ), lists VT as his favorite school. He has not set any official visits but hopes to in the next few months.

DaJuan Morgan, an outstanding prospect from Suncoast High School in Riviera Beach, Florida, will take an official to VT on November 1st. No other official visits have been set. Morgan is a 6-2, 190 pound cornerback/wide receiver prospect. Florida is the leader right now.

Virginia Tech made the top six for Brian Toal, who also listed Tennessee, Miami (FL), Penn State, Boston College, and Notre Dame. No official visits have been set, though Toal indicated he would likely visit Virginia Tech.

Finally, running back George Bell (Jack Britt HS Ė NC) has taken two official visits thus far, to Michigan and NC State. Both schools are at the top of his list. He will visit the rest of his top five before deciding, and that includes UNC next weekend, Virginia Tech on October 10th, and then Miami (FL) on October 17th.

Also, don't miss our comprehensive TechSideline Pass VT Recruiting War Room: Defense update from Friday. Subscribers are raving about it.

For updates and information on all these players and more, subscribe to TechSideline Pass. Information on how to subscribe follows.

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-- Will Stewart Updates From the Past Week

VT Recruiting War Room: Defense
by Chris Horne, 9/26/03, 9:35 am
A comprehensive look at Virginia Tech's needs and targets on the defensive side of the ball.
in TSL Pass

Beerman's Picks
by Ben Shapiro, 9/25/03, 11:50 pm
Last Week: Isabowl 2003 was a rousing success!  Seems that we have a running game, and after some adjustment, a defense as well!  That, and three more pretenders to the throne came up lacking. This Week: Back to the routine.  Nooners on a Saturday, and softies on the schedule.
in Voice of the Fan

Connecticut Preview
by Jeff Ouellet, 9/25/03, 2:35 pm
Many fans scoffed at the notion of the Big East adding the Connecticut Huskies to the Big East Football Conference beginning in 2005. After all, UConn had no history, inadequate facilities at the time and a very small recruiting base that historically has been cherry picked by Notre Dame, Boston College and Syracuse among others.
in Football

Heroes and Goats
by Matt McKinley, 9/24/03, 11:15 pm
Ugh. Iím still soaked, and have a nasty cold. Thanks a lot, Isabel. It was nice knowing you. Really. I mean that. *snort*
in Voice of the Fan

Wide Right: Scribbles
by Jeff Cockey, 9/24/03, 10:20 am
The winds were howling and the rain was sheeting down on Lane stadium in waves. I am not even sure if rain can "sheet" but it did - I saw it. I was astounded by the number of fans. True fans are we Hokies. I understand those who were unable to make the trip and I applaud them for braving the storm at the home front, it could not have been easy or fun. And like all of them (those who had power that is), I too was absolutely amazed with the orange and maroon that filled my TV screen.
in TSL Pass

Hokie Hotline Notes
by Wayne Clevenger, 9/23/03, 11:05 pm
Bill Roth began the broadcast by announcing that both the Richmond and Norfolk radio stations that normally carry the show are unfortunately still without power. He then asked the eveningís callers to share their Isabel-related stories and utility outage situations. He went on to announce that VTís Michael Crawford is the Big East Defensive Player of the Week, while Walter Reyes of Syracuse and Roscoe Parrish or Miami respectively took the same awards this week for offense and special teams. He praised Crawford for his performance against aTm, which included 18 tackles.
in Hokie Hotline Notes

2003 Texas A&M Game Analysis
by Will Stewart,, 9/23/03, 12:40 am
When you look back at the history of Virginia Tech football, there are so many forgettable games that have been played. How refreshing it is to play a game that will be talked about for years and years, and this Thursday night clash against a ranked Texas A&M team, amidst the drama of Hurricane Isabel, is such a game.
in TSL Pass

Small Pleasures: Texas A&M
by Kevin Cuddihy, 9/22/03, 9:50 am
Hello, and welcome back to another Small Pleasures. Debuted last week here on TSL, Small Pleasures aims to take a look at the hidden gems of each football game. The big plays are certainly celebrated, and rightly so, but here we take a look at some of the smaller plays that are the building blocks to success, or even just cool to notice when the focus seems to be elsewhere.
in Voice of the Fan

Beerman's Picks
by Ben Shapiro, 9/19/03, 7:25 pm
Last Week: Let's just forget about it.  I'm going to use apathy as my excuse.  It was an off week for my Hokies, and evidently it was an off week for my prognostication as well...
in Voice of the Fan

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