I’ve found myself saying multiple times this season, “Well, I didn’t see that coming.” I didn’t see Clemson crushing VT the first time or the second time, and I didn’t see the Hokies mauling UVa in Charlottesville 38-0, either. But Sunday night, I got the biggest “didn’t see that coming” surprise of all when the Hokies got invited to the Sugar Bowl as the ACC’s first at-large BCS bid since the conference expanded in 2004.
Others were aware this might be coming before I was, but for the rest of us, the rumors started circulating Sunday evening, around 5:00 or 6:00 PM, that the Hokies might get a Sugar Bowl bid. It sounded too good to be true. Virginia Tech was bypassed for an at-large bid in 2000, when the #5-BCS-ranked Hokies, featuring TV-friendly Michael Vick, were passed over by the Fiesta Bowl in favor of #11 Notre Dame and #6 Oregon State, both of which were at-large bids.
The Hokies had a chance again for an at-large bid in 2005, when they finished #10 in the BCS standings, but were two spots behind #8 Miami and also lost the ACC Championship Game to #22 Florida State. Tech was passed up again, but so were #5 Oregon, #8 Miami, and #9 Auburn, because #4 Ohio State and #6 Notre Dame automatically got at-large bids, filling up all spots.
That was back in the days of just four BCS bowls, but for the 2006 season, the BCS added a dedicated BCS National Championship Game, creating ten BCS spots instead of just eight.
The BCS also gave better access to non-AQ teams, leading to bids for Boise State (2006 and 2009), Hawaii (2007), Utah (2008), and TCU (2009 and 2010). From 2006-2010, the non-AQs took up at least one spot a year, and every AQ conference but the ACC and the Big East benefited from extra bids.
That’s all over with, as the ACC has their first two-bid season, thanks to Virginia Tech’s longstanding relationship with the Sugar Bowl and the Hokie fan base’s reputation for traveling well to New Orleans. In extending a bid to the #11 Hokies to face #13 Michigan, Sugar Bowl rep Paul Hoolahan said the Hokies’ fan base was “extremely important” to their selection.
Chris Coleman did a good job in his column earlier tonight (linked at the bottom) of breaking down what led to the Hokies being selected over #7 Boise State, #8 Kansas State, #12 Baylor, and even #14...
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