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ESPN/Blue Ribbon call out Hokie's lack of "national contention," plus my farewell

Note: This will be my final post on Gobbler Country for a while. I've been hired by the ACC as an intern to blog about Hokie football this fall. Once the blog site is up and running, I'll be sure to post the web address for all you Gobblers that want even more distractions in between Saturdays.

It was awesome to have helped out on the blog for six fast months. It's hard to believe that a year ago, I hadn't yet entered the blogosphere at all. I'm positive that my experience at Gobbler Country helped me land this internship. I'm not sure if I'll be able to return to GC at this time, but make no mistake about it, I'll still be blogging about the Hokies and I'll always let you know where to find me. I may not be posting on this site, but I've spent the only 19 years of my life in Gobbler Country, and I don't plan on leaving anytime soon.

ESPN and Blue Ribbon teamed up to release their ACC football preview Thursday and Friday. The Atlantic Division was previewed Thursday, and Friday was the Coastal's turn.

Most of the analysis was fair (a little spotty reporting at times), but in the overview of the program, the Hokies were shamed by their recent early-season failures and their lack of impact on the national title picture.

The second paragraph read:

A lot of Tech fans are too genteel to openly criticize their favorite football factory, but the truth of the matter is that there's a feeling of unfulfilled promise in Blacksburg. The Virginia Tech program is annually on the national contention doorstep but rarely knocking on the door and certainly never getting into the living room.

Is there really that much anxiety in the fan base? I think back-to-back bowl wins and three ACC titles in six years haven't unsettled the boosters as much as this review lets on. Sure, we'd all like to make a run at the national championship, but up to this point, the results haven't caused must unrest.

Now, if the Hokies miss the boat this year - with their best chance at a title maybe ever - then those feelings may be shared across the throngs of supporters.

The review challenged Tech's mentality of scheduling marquee non-conference opponents that kill the Hokies' national title chances at the onset of the season. In reality, the the 2009 team wouldn't have made the BCS Championship Game even if it had finished unbeaten, and the 2007 team overachieved, and the Boston College loss likely would have ended their hopes anyways.

Scheduling schools like Alabama, Boise State and LSU is a fantastic way of expanding the name brand of a program that is trying to make up for 60 years of mediocrity. It's not foolish, it's downright gutsy, and it has not killed any national championship run to date.

If the article really wanted to call the Hokies on their flaws, it would have told them to win more conference games. The only way Tech will ever make the national championship is to run the table in the ACC. It's something they've never done, and early season losses haven't affected.

That's going to be the hurdle this year. Short-sighted analysts can't see further than the season opener in Landover against the 2nd-ranked Boise State Broncos as the key to the Hokies' season. And certainly winning that game is what the coaching staff is focused on.

But it's our duty as unpaid bloggers to look upon the season as a whole, and by doing that, the key to the Hokies' season is found in November. I don't care if Tech is 8-0 and averaging 45 points per game to that point, it's going to take a month to remember for the Hokies to come away without having their feathers ruffled.

Am I scared? Yes, I honestly am. Georgia Tech comes in on a Thursday night, which up until the last couple years I chalked up as a win. My head has begun to overcome my heart in prognosticating those games. I still think the Hokies will beat the Jackets, but not as off-handedly as I would have said in the past. That's a very hard game.

Then to face North Carolina and Miami, probably the league's two best defenses, in consecutive weeks is downright cruel. By then, the Tar Heels should have discovered an effective quarterback between T.J. Yates and Bryn Renner, so it's fair to think Carolina will be a complete team by the end of the season.

Winning in Miami is going to be a fight. I think the Hurricanes still need to gel on offense. Jacory Harris is not the quarterback people make him out to be - yet. The running game is unproven, but the athletes are there and the defense is fierce.

That's just a quick look into my thoughts of what will make the Hokies national title contenders in 2010. I have not been this hopeful about a Tech team in literally 10 years, since Michael Vick's sophomore season, where a sprained ankle in the second half of Pittsburgh altered the Hokies' future as much as the 1999 run. We would have beaten Miami in the next game, and played Oklahoma for the national championship.

Anyway, glad I could take this opportunity to squeeze my last thoughts about the Hokies out on this blog. For any of you thinking about subscribing to ESPN Insider so you can access that preview, take the 60 bucks and buy yourself a turkey leg every week this fall.

At least you can't find the meat anywhere else.

For more of my thoughts on ACC football, visit my personal blog,