2009 Monday Thoughts: The Reasons This Game is Important

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It’s opening game week. And this year, it isn’t Northwestern, Central
Florida, Arkansas State, or even East Carolina the Hokies open the season with.
It’s Alabama. The ESPN hype gods have lined up a huge week of promotion for the
Chick-fil-A Classic, and the Hokies are at the center of it, matched up with the
Tide. It’s Tech’s biggest season opener since the USC Trojans in 2004, and it
has galvanized Hokie Nation to look forward to the season opener more than ever
before. How important is this game? Let us count the ways.

In 2004, the Hokies opened with USC at FedEx Field in the BCA Classic. The
Trojans were ranked preseason #1 and featured future Heisman Trophy winners Matt
Leinart and Reggie Bush. USC was national championship-bound that year.

From a rankings and star power standpoint, the 2004 Trojans exceeded the 2009
Crimson Tide. But on the other sideline in 2004 stood a Virginia Tech team that
had just finished three straight years of late-season slides and had suspended
backup QB Marcus Vick for the 2004 school year. Very little was expected of the
Hokies that year, and the preseason AP Poll didn’t give Tech a sniff. The Hokies
appeared far down in the Others Receiving Votes category, with a mere six
points, tied with Southern Miss and Marshall, just two points ahead of Miami of
Ohio. That gives you some idea of where Tech’s program resided in the national
consciousness at the time.

Five years later, the opponent doesn’t have the bright, shiny sheen of the
2004 Trojans, but the 2009 Alabama Crimson Tide are nothing to sneeze at. If it
weren’t for the Florida Gators and over-exposed QB Tim Tebow (watch soon for
ESPNTT, which industry insiders are referring to as “The Tim,” to be
launched soon on your cable or satellite system — it’s all Tim Tebow, all the
time … er, much like the current ESPN), Bama would be the darlings of the SEC.
The Tide were picked to win the SEC West by a large margin over LSU, and are
projected to face the Florida Fighting Tebows in the Tim Tebow Championship Game
in the Georgia Dome.

Two things, as I digress: