Embrace the Hype … and Other Musings

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Embrace the Hype

It’s the preseason, as the old saying goes, and everyone is undefeated.
Optimism abounds. The Hokies are picked to win the ACC, are in the discussion
for the national title, and have matched their highest preseason ranking ever,
at #7 in the coaches’ poll. The hype is strong. Should you embrace it? Sure.
Give into it.

It’s been a crazy ten years, as I noted in End
of a Quiet Offseason
. We’ve gone from the once-in-a-lifetime-high of 1999 to
the depths of despair in 2003, to one of the most highly anticipated seasons
ever in Hokie football in 2009.

1999 changed our perceptions of Hokie football forever. In the 1998
preseason, a Golden Hokie buddy of mine told me that he had talked to a true
freshman offensive lineman after an early fall practice, and the lineman had
said, “I came to Virginia Tech to win a national championship.”

How cute, I mused. Big boy wants to pretend VT can play with the heavy
hitters of college football. We’re talking about the same program that lost at
home to Temple, right? Oh, well, if it keeps him happy, he can dream.

I don’t laugh at thoughts of Virginia Tech in the national championship
anymore. Frank, Michael Vick, Corey Moore and all the others changed all that. I
do, however, understand how extremely difficult it is just to make the game. A
team can do everything right, and a mere twist of fate can send them to a loss
that prevents them from reaching the pinnacle. It happens all the time.

A twist of fate can also boost a team into that game, and help them win it.
Tennessee’s 1998 national championship team is a prime example. The Vols were
very good that year and were ranked #10 in the preseason. They started out 8-0
and rose to #1. In their ninth game, they played
#10 Arkansas at home
in Neyland Stadium, and fell behind 21-3. Tennessee
clawed their way back into it, but late in the game, they