A Rivalry is Born

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This
is contentious stuff. Players and coaches saying they lost a game because the
other team played outside the rules; coaches trading barbs in the media; the
media going from one program to another, fanning the flames with tit-for-tat
comments. This is positively… SEC-like. And in the span of just a few days, a
nasty rivalry is born.

Where to start? To bring you up to speed, the Hokies lost a critical
program-defining game to Georgia Tech on October 17th — you already know that.
Hokie defensive tackle John Graves was hurt when one of Georgia Tech’s offensive
guards tied him up briefly, and a GT offensive tackle blocked Graves at the
knees from behind. On film, it looks like an illegal chop block — not cut
block, chop block, a play in which one blocker ties up a defender up
high, and another blocker cuts him down below the waist. You can’t do that, per
NCAA rules. It’s a 15-yard penalty. And it’s a dirty play.

Georgia Tech Coach Paul Johnson, the smart, shifty architect of Georgia
Tech’s flexbone offense, has been accused in the past of employing chop block
tactics in his offensive scheme, toeing the chop block line with his team’s
blocking methods … and sometimes stepping over that line. At the very least,
it’s a violate-the-spirit-but-not-the-letter of the law situation, until his
team actually does violate the letter of the law.

Johnson
has made a successful coaching career out of pushing and bending the rules, as
he did against Clemson earlier this season, when he used a shady substitution
trick — having a player hang out near the sidelines as teammates ran onto and
off the field — to fool Clemson into leaving a receiver uncovered on a special
teams play. Georgia Tech threw for a touchdown to the uncovered player,
providing what was ultimately the cushion of victory in a 30-27 Georgia Tech
win, a win that is now critical in the ACC’s Coastal Division standings.

The ACC reviewed

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