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   Welcome to TSLMail #186 - Friday, July 29, 2005    
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   Tech Sports News

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Kroger Store Locator

A Tale of Two Programs
by Chris Coleman,

(Editor's Note:  Okay, we admit that an article about Virginia Tech and ... Rutgers? ... is an odd topic for TSLMail, but I just got to thinking about how close in stature the football programs were back when the Big East was formed, and how they have gone in completely different directions since then. So I tasked Chris Coleman with looking up some numbers and writing about the two programs. Don't shoot the messenger, shoot the editor. -- Will)

Virginia Tech and Rutgers entered the Big East Conference in 1991 hoping to turn around their football fortunes and improve upon their accomplishments of the past. Here we are in 2005, and one of those programs has met – exceeded – its goals and is still growing, while the other is still attempting to make its first bowl game since 1978. Guess which is which, and the first two guesses don't count.

Rutgers has a proud past, playing in the first ever college football game on November 6, 1869. That’s three years before Virginia Tech even opened its doors. The Scarlet Knights beat Princeton 6-4 that day, but success has been hard to come by since then, especially recently.

If you go back to the 1970s, Rutgers did enjoy a lot of success on the gridiron. The Scarlet Knights ran off nine consecutive winning seasons from 1972-1980, including an undefeated 11-0 mark in 1976. However, those records should have an asterisk beside them. If you are in the camp that believes Virginia Tech schedules lightly, you would probably consider the Hokies’ schedule to be highly daunting if you compare it to the schedules of the Scarlet Knights during the 70s.

For example, Rutgers' 1976 schedule included Navy, Bucknell, Princeton, Cornell, UConn, Lehigh, Columbia, UMass, Louisville, Tulane and Colgate. Four of those schools were classified I-AA at the time, and today, seven would be I-AA. Talk about scheduling for success. Unfortunately for the Scarlet Knights, that strategy backfired, as Rutgers failed to make a bowl game in 1976, despite their undefeated record.

In fact, Rutgers made only one bowl game in the 1970s. They lost 34-18 to Arizona State in the 1978 Garden State Bowl. To this day, that remains the only bowl trip in the history of Rutgers football, unless you count the 1989 Emerald Isle Classic, played on December 2 in Dublin, Ireland, in which a 2-7-2 Rutgers team got blown out by a good Pittsburgh team. But of course, it doesn’t count.

Rutgers crawled through the 1980s with just two winning records and then found a home in the Big East Conference beginning in 1991. It looked like a new beginning for Rutgers, who posted a 6-5 record in 1991 with victories over Boston College and Michigan State. They followed that up with a 7-4 record in 1992, including a 4-2 mark in Big East play. The Scarlet Knights beat Virginia Tech 50-49 that year on a last-second touchdown pass. You might remember that game. Or perhaps it has become a blur in your mind, mixed together with all the other blown fourth quarter leads by VT in 1992.

At this point, things were looking up for Rutgers. They were located in New Jersey, a state with a nice pool of talented recruits. They were in a conference with access to the Bowl Coalition games, and they were going to be playing teams like Miami, Syracuse and West Virginia every year.

But things have never moved up. The Scarlet Knights haven’t posted a winning record since 1992. Despite an expanded stadium in 1994, costing tens of millions of dollars and paid for by the state of New Jersey, fan support has not grown. Current Rutgers Coach Greg Schiano has improved recruiting and is making some headway, but the going is slow. With the departure of Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College from the Big East, the door is open for Rutgers to become a good football program, at least within their conference. Time will tell if they can succeed.

Of course, Virginia Tech has enjoyed the fruits of Big East membership and has now carried their still-growing program into the fertile grounds of the ACC. The Hokies were an up-and-down team throughout the 1970s. There were some decent teams, and some very bad teams. Tech finally started posting consistent winning records in 1980 under Bill Dooley. The Hokies were a solid independent program, with trips to the Peach Bowl (1980), Independence Bowl (1984) and Peach Bowl (1986). The Hokies got their first ever bowl win in the 1986 Peach Bowl and posted winning records from 1980-1986.

But then Dooley quit (or got fired, if you ask him) and the program was put on probation. Frank Beamer was hired as head coach, and it took him a while to get up and running. Beamer finally broke through with an Independence Bowl victory in 1993, and the program has never looked back, going to a bowl game every year since then.

Since then, Beamer has been able to establish a recruiting pipeline in the state of Virginia. He has kept the majority of his coaching staff together, and Virginia Tech has prospered. The Hokies have expanded their stadium and keep selling out no matter what the capacity. In fact, you can take a look at the attendance numbers for Rutgers and Virginia Tech for the last seven seasons and see what direction each program was heading in.

Virginia Tech and Rutgers Record and Attendance Comparison

Virginia Tech




































































Ave.: 57,882



Ave: 24,617

Back in 1998, Lane Stadium wasn’t that much bigger than Rutgers Stadium. Since then, we’ve seen the expansion of the North and South end zones, and the expansion of the West Stands will be ready for the 2005 season. This is a direct result of growing fan support and a sign that the football program is continuing to move forward.

Meanwhile, Rutgers Stadium has seated 42,000 since its expansion and refurbishment in 1994. Rutgers started off well in the Big East, posting winning records in 1991 and 1992, and it was thought that the program was on the rise. More seats would be needed to attract the growing number of fans (which, as it turns out, never showed up), as well as show recruits that Rutgers was serious about its football future. But that future was filled with a lot of lopsided losses, and it culminated with an 0-11 season in 1997.

But if the past two seasons are any indication, some interest in the program is forming. Attendance is rising, and Rutgers has performed better on the field for the past two years. There’s still a long way to go, but with VT, Miami and BC out of the conference, the road to the top just got a lot easier.

Virginia Tech and Rutgers were very similar at one point. They had some great offensive battles on the field in the early 1990s. Then the Hokies used their Big East membership to build some depth, and gradually developed into a top program. And now the Hokies have ridden to the greener pastures of the ACC, while Rutgers has exactly what they had back when the Big East was formed…potential. Time will tell if Greg Schiano is the man to fulfill that potential. Everyone already knows that for Virginia Tech, Frank Beamer was, and is, the man to fulfill VT's potential. The Scarlet Knights are still searching. Pass - Your Ultimate Ticket to Hokie Sports!

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-- Will Stewart Updates From the Past Week

Ain't Life Grand?
by Will Stewart,, 7/29/05, 7:35 am
July of 2005 is nearly over. It was the month in which Boston College officially joined the ACC, bringing ACC membership to 12 after two long years of waiting, and it was the month in which the league held its multi-day Football Kickoff media event, adding two more bowl games along the way. I figure we've got time for one more "Isn't being in the ACC great?" article … and here it is.
in TSL Columnists

Keys to the ACC Championship, Part 3: Florida State, Miami and Virginia Tech
by Chris James,, 7/28/05, 10:05 am
The final installment of our look at the Keys to the ACC Championship in 2005 covers the top three title contenders in Miami, Florida State and Virginia Tech. The general consensus is that Florida State will win the Atlantic Division, while Virginia Tech and Miami will battle it out for the Coastal Division. Although it’s possible that some underrated team will come out of nowhere, such as Virginia Tech did last year, it’s very unlikely to happen two years in a row.
in TSL Pass

Hokies Going Out of State Early This Year
by Chris Coleman,, 7/27/05, 10:30 am
Virginia Tech football recruiting is off to a fast start for the class of 2005. The Hokies have already picked up seven verbal commitments since July 3. The interesting thing is that Tech, known for the ability to recruit inside the borders of Virginia but not outside, has landed six players from out-of-state.
in TSL Pass

TSL Audio: Interview With Will Stewart on KDUS 1060 AM, Phoenix (MP3 Audio)
by, 7/26/05, 4:15 pm
Will Stewart appears on "From the Bleachers" on AM 1060 KDUS in Phoenix, talking about Hokie football with hosts Bill Lewis and Dale Hallestrae. After a rough start (which leaves the show's producer red-face with embarrassment, because getting someone's name wrong will do that to you), the trio talk about last season and the upcoming 2005 campaign. (Time:14:51, Size: 3.5 MB)
in TSL Audio

ACC Adds Two Bowls to Lineup for 2006-09
by Chris Coleman,, 7/26/05, 12:40 pm
ACC Commissioner John Swofford announced the new ACC bowl tie-ins on Tuesday morning, the last full day of the ACC Football Kickoff at The Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, VA. The ACC will keep all previous bowls, as well as add the Music City Bowl and the Emerald Bowl. This agreement will begin with the 2006 season and will expire at the end of the 2009 season.
in News and Notes

Hokies Picked to Win ACC's Coastal Division
by Chris Coleman,, 7/25/05, 10:25 pm
The ACC media released their preseason predictions on Monday from The Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, VA. Virginia Tech was picked to win the Coastal Division, nabbing 62 of 87 first place votes and 517 total points, enough to outdistance Miami, who had 24 first place votes and 487 total points. Virginia finished third in voting in the Coastal Division, getting one first place vote and 356 points.
Also: Four Hokies Named Preseason All-ACC
in News and Notes

West Side Construction Photos
by, 7/25/05, 4:10 pm
These pictures, taken Sunday, July 24th by message board poster HokieDevil, show the continued progress on expansion. Precast panels are being added to the walls that face the field, where things are finally starting to take shape.
in Lane Stadium Expansion

The Year of Our Discontent, Part 2
by Will Stewart,, 7/25/05, 2:00 am
By early 1986, eight years into Bill Dooley's reign as VT football coach and athletic director, Dooley had built a house of cards, mostly from a financial standpoint, that was ready to collapse. All it would take was a slight breeze, and in late February of 1986, Virginia Tech President Bill Lavery, having second thoughts about his decision to hand the two most powerful positions in VT athletics to one man, initiated a sequence of events that would lead to Dooley's departure, even in the midst of Dooley's most successful season as VT's coach.
in TSL Pass

Music City Bowl, ACC Close to a Deal
by Chris Coleman,, 7/22/05, 1:00 pm
The ACC is close to adding another bowl game beginning with the 2006 season. According to multiple published reports, the Music City Bowl and the ACC are in the process finalizing a deal that would send an ACC team to Nashville to meet an SEC team. Yet to be determined is where the Music City Bowl would rank among ACC affiliated bowl games, and how much money the bowl would pay out to participants. Currently the Music City Bowl pits a Big Ten team against an SEC team, with a payout of $1.1 million.
Also: WVU Game Time Set, Greg Boone Injures Knee
in News and Notes

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