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   Welcome to TSLMail #211 - Friday, January 27, 2006    
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Examining the Football Schedules Around the ACC
by Chris Coleman,

There has been plenty of talk throughout the years of Virginia Techís out-of-conference schedule. Many fans, rivals and college football analysts perceive it to be weak and a big part of the Hokiesí success year after year. With that in mind, letís compare Virginia Techís 2006 out-of-conference schedule to the rest of the ACC.

First letís look at Northeastern, a 1-AA school that plays in the Atlantic-10. Sure, Northeastern is a weak team that the Hokies will mop the floor with. Be ready to see a lot of backups play in the second half. But how does playing a 1-AA school differ from the rest of the ACC? It doesnít. Eight other ACC teams will play 1-AA teams this season. The only schools that fill their schedule with all 1-A teams are Virginia, Florida State and Clemson.

Maryland will host William & Mary to open the season, and Wake Forest will play a bad 1-AA team in Liberty. Miami will play Florida A&M, and Tech fans remember the quality of team they brought to Lane Stadium back in 2004. With one extra game on the schedule beginning in 2006, it is difficult to find one more 1-A team to play on short notice, especially when you are attempting to schedule an optimum number of home games.

Many people donít like it, and thereís a good chance youíre one of them. But thatís just what it has come to. College football is a big business, and like any big business, the idea is to maximize revenue. The Hokies arenít making as much money by playing at Ohio State, Penn State, etc. Those types of games are growing rarer as the years go by.

There is also the idea of scheduling for success, which the Hokies obviously do. All four of their out-of-conference games are at home. Florida State is the only other ACC team with eight home games. This type of philosophy certainly makes the non-conference portion of the schedule less appealing, but would you rather be UNC?

The Tar Heels finished 6-5 in 2004 and 5-6 in 2005. In 2004, the Tar Heels played William and Mary, plus top-six teams Louisville (#6) and Utah (#4), losing to both the Cards and the Utes. A softer schedule could have seen them finish 8-3 instead of 6-5. In 2005, UNC played Wisconsin, Utah, and Louisville, beating the Utes but losing to both Wisconsin and Louisville. If the Tar Heels had mixed in a 1-AA team and a weak 1-A team, they could have tallied a winning record and a bowl bid. UNC was 4-4 in the ACC, finishing ahead of 3-5 Virginia, but the Cavaliers went bowling and the Tar Heels didn't. Virginia played Western Michigan, Syracuse, and Temple out of conference.

UNC has also recently played games against Texas and Arizona State. The Tar Heels will play 1-AA Furman in 2006, but they also host USF and Rutgers, both of which went to bowl games in 2005. In addition, UNC will travel to Notre Dame, who went to the Fiesta Bowl.

Virginia Tech differs from some other ACC teams because they donít have a big-time non-conference rival to play each year. They are now in the same conference with Virginia, and the Hokies are no longer playing West Virginia. Tech has started a long series with East Carolina, but the Pirates are in rebuilding mode in Conference USA. Meanwhile, every season sees Clemson play South Carolina, Florida State play Florida and Georgia Tech play Georgia, not to mention Marylandís annual clash with West Virginia. The Hokies donít have a game like that to fall back on anymore, and that isnít helping their reputation.

Besides Northeastern, the Hokies will play Cincinnati, Southern Miss and Kent State. That schedule isnít much different than some of the other teams in the ACC. NC State plays Appalachian State, Akron, Southern Miss and ECU. Maryland has to step out of conference to play West Virginia, but the rest of their schedule features William & Mary, Florida International and Middle Tennessee State.

The Clemson Tigers play Florida Atlantic, Louisiana Tech and Temple. Boston College will take on Ohio, BYU, Maine and Buffalo. The Miami Hurricanes play an interesting game at Louisville. The Hurricanes have absolutely nothing to gain from going on the road and beating the Cardinals. Instead, they have everything to lose. Louisville knocked off Florida State back in 2002 and nearly won in the Orange Bowl in 2004. Besides Louisville, the Hurricanes play Florida A&M, Houston and Florida International.

So Virginia Techís out-of-conference schedule isnít much different from most other teams in the conference. Athletic director Jim Weaverís philosophy is to maximize revenue, and the Hokies will pull in a lot of money with eight home games. Weaver said on the Hokie Hotline this fall that each home game, after expenses and the payout to the visiting team, nets about $1 million.

More important is each teamís ACC schedule. With a 12 team league, it is impossible to play every team each year, so the schedules arenít balanced. For example, the Hokies donít have to play Florida State this season, but Virginia must play Miami, FSU and Virginia Tech.

Making a list of where teams will likely be projected to finish next season, I assigned a number rating for each team in the conference. For example, I project that Miami will be picked to finish first in the league, so I gave them a value of one. Duke will be last, so I gave them a value of 12. UVA is projected seventh, so they have a value of seven.

The lower the number a team has, the tougher schedule they play. The Hokies play Duke (12), Georgia Tech (5), Clemson (4) and Virginia (7) at home. Average those numbers together, and the Hokies have a home schedule value of seven. The Hokies play UNC (10), Boston College (6), Miami (1) and Wake Forest (11) on the road. Again, the average is a seven, making an overall average of seven.

By this formula, the Hokies have the second-easiest conference schedule in the ACC. Florida State has the easiest, with a rating of 7.125. Duke has the hardest schedule at 5.375, with Maryland close behind at 5.5. Letís take a look at how the entire league shakes out.

Schedule Ratings
(Lower Number = Harder Schedule)
Team Home Road Average
Boston College 6.75 5.75 6.25
Clemson 8 5.5 6.75
Duke 5 5.75 5.375
Florida State 6.75 7.5 7.125
Georgia Tech 7 6.5 6.75
Maryland 5.75 5.25 5.5
Miami 5.25 8 6.625
UNC 7 6 6.5
NC State 6 7.25 6.625
UVA 7 5.5 6.25
VT 7 7 7
Wake 6.25 7.5 6.875

As you can see, Maryland and Duke have the toughest schedules in ACC play, at least by the standards of this formula. Virginia Tech and Florida State have the easiest conference schedules. Pass - Your Ultimate Ticket to Hokie Sports!

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-- Will Stewart Updates From the Past Week
Countdown to Signing Day: Final Edition
January 27, 2006
Itís finally hereÖnext Wednesday is National Signing Day for the 2006 football recruiting class! Virginia Tech still has one more key recruiting weekend before Signing Day is upon us, so letís take a look at the remaining targets on Virginia Techís board as well as recent happenings and impending decisions.

Blue Devils Kick Hokies While They're Down, Duke Wins 80-67
January 26, 2006
#2 Duke jumped ahead of Virginia Tech early, kept their foot on Techís throat through most of the second half, and coasted to a relatively easy 80-67 victory in Cassell Coliseum on Thursday night. The Blue Devils avenged the 67-65 loss to the Hokies in Blacksburg last season and sent VT further into the ACC cellar. Tech is now 10-9 overall and 0-6 in conference play. Duke remains in first place in the ACC with an 6-0 conference mark and 18-1 overall record.

Ajiboye Switches Commitment!
January 26, 2006
Banneker (College Park, GA) standout Olufemi Ajiboye, who had verbally committed to South Carolina before making an official visit to Virginia Tech last weekend, has switched his decision and is now a verbal commitment to the Hokies. A 6-2, 290-pound defensive tackle, he is an excellent addition especially after former Tech verbal Budd Thacker committed to Florida State.

VT Gets Final Visit with 3-star LB/DE
January 26, 2006
Virginia Tech will be the final official visit destination for South Aiken (S.C.) linebacker/defensive end prospect Dekoda Watson. And, by early next week, the four finalists should know the future destination of the South Carolina prep star.

TSL Audio: "Tech Beat with Mike Harris" Interview With Will Stewart
January 26, 2006
TSL's Will Stewart appeared on "Tech Beat With Mike Harris" Wednesday night, and Will and Mike discussed a number of topics related to VT basketball and football: The new football schedule, football recruiting, the men's basketball matchup with Duke, and the 1-4 start by the women's basketball team in the ACC this season. (WMA format, compatible with Windows Media Player and MP3 players, 4.6 MB, 30:28)

TSL Recruiting Report from "Tech Beat With Mike Harris", for 1/25/06
January 26, 2006
On this week's show, Mike Harris and Chris Horne review Chris' recently-released top 30, talk about Hutch Eckerson and Olufemi Ajiboye, and discuss the huge amount of talent that is going out of state this year. (WMA format, compatible with Windows Media Player and MP3 players, 4.2 MB, 27:40)

McNeil Excited for VT Opportunity
January 26, 2006
New Town (Owings Mills, MD) star Douglas McNeil is anxious to get to Virginia Tech. He's anxious for the opportunity to play wide receiver, to show he has the ability to play the position very effectively on the next level. Basically, he is hoping to build upon what he accomplished in high school.

2006 Virginia Tech Football Schedule Announced
January 25, 2006
Virginia Techís 2006 football schedule was released on Wednesday afternoon. It includes eight home games, four of which come in the month of September, two Thursday night games, and four road contests against ACC opponents. The Hokies will play 12 regular season games between September 2 and November 25. They will have just one bye week, which will fall on October 7.
Also: Dick Vitale to Call Virginia Tech-Duke Game.

Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech vs. #2 Duke
January 25, 2006
Five games into their sophomore season in the ACC, the Virginia Tech menís basketball team finds itself at 0-5 in league play and dead last in the conference. This is the way things were supposed to be last year when the Hokies finished 8-8 in the ACC and near the top of the conference standings. Nothing has gone right for Tech this year. Theyíve suffered injuries, illnesses, dunks are popping back out of the nets, and countless other things have gone wrong. Last year it was the Hokies who won a lot of close games, and the karma is coming full circle this season. But on Thursday night, VT has a chance to get things turned around in a big way when #2 Duke visits Blacksburg.

Hokies to Make Final Pitch to DT
January 25, 2006
Banneker (College Park, GA) defensive tackle Olufemi Ajiboye made an official visit to Virginia Tech last weekend. The official visit went well but, as of now, the 6-2, 290-pound prospect is leaning heavily towards sticking with his commitment to South Carolina. Virginia Tech coaches will visit him today...can they sway him?

Hokies Eye Hall
January 24, 2006
Lee County (Sanford, N.C.) defensive end Joey Hall made an official visit to Virginia Tech last weekend. Since Virginia Tech is his childhood favorite, Hall was extremely excited to have the opportunity to go on an official visit but may have been more excited about the actual experience. Now, he will wait to see if the Hokies come through with an offer.

Godfrey Enjoys UVa Visit
January 24, 2006
Though it was a rough start, 6-3, 240-pound Lee County (Sanford, N.C.) star tight end/defensive lineman Dennis Godfrey eventually made it to his official visit at the University of Virginia this past weekend. The visit went well and Virginia continues to be in contention for one of the rising stars of the 2006 class.

Advance Auto Parts Hokie Hotline Notes for 1/23/06
January 24, 2006
Monday night's show featured Tech head basketball coach Seth Greenberg, who talked about the loss to Maryland, the upcoming games with Duke and Wake Forest, and the mindset of his team.

Past Recruiting Misses Explain Current Positions of Need
January 23, 2006
Despite the loss of Marcus Vick and the general hysteria of the Virginia Tech fan base in the days that followed, the Hokies will still field a football team in 2006. Chances are it will be pretty good, and the Hokies will find themselves bowling for the 14th consecutive season. Exactly how good remains to be seen. There are question marks at some key positions, and how those questions are answered will decide the fate of the 2006 Hokies. A look back at recruiting misses of the recent past explains the depth problems of today.

Decision Time for Cuffee
January 23, 2006
Deep Creek (Chesapeake, VA) offensive line prospect Billy Cuffee made his final official visit over the weekend, when he traveled to Virginia Tech. The 6-5, 320-pound Cuffee landed an official offer from the Hokies and will now take the week to make a decision among the five schools still under consideration.

In-State Star Chooses Hokies
January 22, 2006
Virginia Tech has landed one of the best in-state prospects remaining on the board and one of the best overall defensive prospects in-state. This morning, 6-2, 215-pound Phoebus (Hampton, VA) linebacker Matt Wright verballed to the Hokies.

Hokies Fall at Maryland 81-72
January 22, 2006
The Virginia Tech menís basketball team lost their fourth consecutive game on Saturday night, dropping an 81-72 decision to #22 Maryland in the Comcast Center. The Hokies had to play the majority of the game without point guard Jamon Gordon, who got in early foul trouble, and then suffered an ankle injury early in the second half. Tech led by one point at halftime, but poor three-point shooting and bad rebounding doomed them down the stretch.

Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech at Maryland
January 20, 2006
After starting 0-4 in the ACC with every game being decided in the final minute, things won't get any easier for the Hokies this weekend. Virginia Tech will travel north to College Park where they will take on the #22 Maryland Terrapins on Saturday night. The Hokies need to pick up a win in the ACC to get things going their way again, but that will be a difficult chore against the Terps.
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