Looking for a Different Perspective

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Fans have been asking me how I think the Hokies will do this year.

After all this time, I smile wryly and say, “Well, they’re going to win ten or eleven games, and I give them a 50-50 shot at winning the ACC.”

Because, since entering the ACC, Virginia Tech has … won ten or eleven games every year, and four ACC championships in eight years. Yep, I’m a genius.

I’ve been spending some time this offseason thinking about Virginia Tech’s consistency, about the ten or eleven wins every year, and being in the running for an ACC title every year, and having the winningest active coach in college football roaming the sidelines. Specifically, I’ve been wondering why I’m not enjoying it more.

Last year stung. The Michigan loss threw things out of balance. There was so much good about last season: David Wilson breaking the single-season rushing record (and accumulating a long highlight reel doing it), Logan Thomas introducing himself to the nation as the battering ram QB, the ESPN Classic-worthy win over Miami, and the 38-0 smackdown of Virginia, which demonstrated that there’s a big difference between saying you’re taking back the state and actually doing it.

That was balanced out by the two bizarre, inexplicable losses to Clemson. They were inexplicable not because they were losses, but because they were complete whippings, at the hands of a team that otherwise went 8-4 and lost three games by the scores of 70-33, 34-13, and 37-13.

That left the Hokies at 11-2, wondering what was up with the Clemson matchup, but otherwise pleased with how the season had gone.

Then came the Sugar Bowl, an at-large bid against a beatable Michigan team. It was a shot at redemption, but instead it turned into another painful memory, another loss on a big stage where the team and coaches — and a replay referee — did just enough to lose. It left a pall over the season, as bowl losses will do.

During the offseason, I reflected on all this. We’ve been at this a long time, winning all these games and conference championships; losing a bunch of games, too. Frank Beamer’s hair has gone from salt and pepper to all white, and Virginia Tech is what it is, as the saying goes: a good program, just a hair outside the top ten, nose still pressed to the glass when it comes to the national championship race.

As the years have gone by, I’ve come to appreciate