GC: Well hello there long-time foe. Glad to have you here for a chat about the two worst FBS teams in the state of Virginia. Oh, wait, I'm being told that they are still the only two FBS teams in Virginia. That however does not preclude them from being the worst. Thoughts?
STL: Confirmed. Which is a real shame. Last season we were playing for the right to play in the ACC Championship Game. This season you're just hoping for a bowl game and we're looking to spoil the party. With all this conference realignment talk, we might both be in trouble if the ACC looks to pick up JMU as its 12th/14th/16th team. I know that's not actually probable, but I'd be remiss if I didn't at least conjure up some memories of your loss to JMU.
GC: Well, let's get right into it. It hasn't been pretty this year for either of our teams. While nobody expected the Hokies and 'Hoos to be this down, was there anything that led you to believe the Cavaliers could be in store for a letdown season after what took place a year ago?
STL: This is certainly a down year for us (having a 3-win and a 4-win season in two of the past three years wouldn't lead you to believe that, but it's true), but if Virginia is able pull off the win in Blacksburg, I think the season will be deemed a success. Fans might not agree with me there, but most of the pundits picked us to finish with somewhere around five or six wins on the season. If one of those is against Tech, I don't know how any can characterize this as anything other than a successful season. Sure, things have gone wrong. But the Hoos did pick up wins against Miami at home and State on the road, and a win in Blacksburg would be huge. Last season there was a lot of luck involved, and Virginia came away with five wins by less than a touchdown. This year was a regression to the mean, as the Hoos came up on the wrong side of that four times.
GC: Do you think that this season does anything to put Mike London's job in jeopardy long-term, or are we a ways away from that right now?
STL: We're a ways away from that. He outperformed expectations last year, which is what earned him an extension and ACC Coach of the Year honors. He's matched or maybe slightly underachieved this year - that won't be enough to put his job in jeopardy. What it does do, however, is create an expectation for a staff shakeup following the end of the season. Our special teams have been somewhat atrocious, and our offensive playcalling and protection have left much to be desired. Our defense is young and has actually performed pretty decently given the circumstances. But no, I don't think there's anything coming out of this season that will jeopardize London's position.
GC: With the 2014 recruiting class being stocked in the Commonwealth, how much do you think this season will affect the Cavaliers' chances to land some of those guys? The Hokies?
STL: I'm probably the worst person to ask about recruiting - I can't wrap my mind around people's obsessions with tracking the whims of a bunch of 17 year olds. Still, I don't think this season will have that great an impact on the 2014 recruiting class. Virginia obviously has some holes to fill, and London's willingness / need to play true freshman should resound well for high schoolers. I think we can both be grateful that the other team has had a pretty bad season...neither one of us wants a terrible season while the other is looking at BCS success, for recruiting purposes.
GC: Do you foresee these two teams to continue struggling over the next few years, or would you say that these seasons are isolated occurrences?
STL: Yes. Virginia Tech will continue to struggle over the next foreseeable future as the Cavaliers rise from the ashes just in time to make playoffs.
But seriously, at least for Virginia, this shouldn't be a long term problem. Maybe I'm drinking too much of the orange Gatorade, but next year will be London's first with all of his own recruits, and with multiple Top 25 recruiting classes working for him now, I think Virginia should be poised in the top half of the ACC for at least the next few years.
GC: A little bit unrelated, but I think we would be remiss if we didn't find a way talk about Maryland's defection from the ACC somehow. Feelings? Also, do you think the ACC retains enough of the DC market with the likes of the Hokies and Cavaliers to prevent them from going all Georgetown on us?
STL: HOOS excited they don't have to see Maryland's flag year in, year out anymore?? This guy!!
DC won't be going all Georgetown on anybody - I wouldn't worry too much about that. Will it turn into B1Gtown though? That's less clear. The area considers the Terps its hometown team, no doubt about that. When they head over to the B1G, nothing will change. The real question is whether Tech and UVA have enough draw to keep it an ACC city, and I think the answer is yes. While Terps and Hoya fans will still be in the area, you've got to remember that a large portion of the DC area comes from other ACC schools, more so than from Big Ten schools.
I think it's sad that Maryland is going to the Big Ten. As a founding member of the ACC, it's hard to imagine Maryland as anything but. I'm hoping that Virginia doesn't follow suit, as the internet rumors are suggesting, but I think where UVA lands will depend in large part on where UNC goes.
GC: Let's do a little word association. When I say Hokie, first thing that comes to your mind is ____ (note, I left a four-letter blank should you feel the need to go that route)?
STL: File my answer under "Does not follow instructions."
It's not the first thing that comes to mind, but I would say "tunnel-vision." Since I have the attention of your fan base, I just want to take a second on this soapbox and question why, on the whole, there's no attention given to any of your other sports teams. Look, I get that it's tiring and sometimes downright annoying that, whenever you talk trash to a UVA fan about football, the response is something related to lacrosse or soccer. But if UVA wins a national title in Rowing, why is the response vice versa? Why is the response immediately "LOL who cares about rowing we crush yall in football!!!!11oneone"? That's my only point. You don't see me joking when your bass fishing team finds success. Even your passion for basketball leaves much to be desired. There's more to fanhood than football, and being a fan of another sport doesn't make you any less of a fan for football.
GC: I'm guessing you've been a UVA fan for a long time. And as a result of that, you probably feel a certain way about the Hokies, Tech fans, or the university in general (probably should just say 'see above'). But, despite that, is there any one thing you've found that you'd call a redeeming quality amongst Tech fans?
Next question, please.
Alright, fine. If I dig down real deeplike (that's what sh...oh never mind), I would say that I'm jealous of your tailgating scene over in Blacksburg - likely because there's nothing else better to do in a one hour radius. Your fans come out big - in part because you all haven't had to experience losing seasons - and your tailgates are early, bourbon-filled and spirited. So props to you on that.
GC: On the other foot, what do you think most Hokies fail to understand about our Commonwealth brethren from Charlottesville?
STL: I don't think they make Zima anymore. Or at least I don't think they do. In fact, I'm not entirely convinced I've ever seen a Zima in my life. I like a good cabernet sauvignon just like the next guy (right?? Right?? Okay ignore that then) but it doesn't mean I won't shotgun a Coors Light and do a few shots of Jameson with you.
GC: Back to the game, and I'm throwing you a curveball here. Let's say we lived in a universe where you could play only ONE quarterback (I know, I know, pretty far out there, right?) all season long. If you were the guy to make that decision for Virginia, who would it be?
STL: Wait. Why would you ever only want to play just one quarterback? I don't understand the premise.
Michael Rocco. No doubt about it in my mind, though obviously even our own fan base is conflicted. Rocco can't throw the long bombs, sure, but he's proven some level of consistency with screen passes. Both Rocco and Sims have issues with respect to a willingness to dump the ball when necessary, but I think Rocco has shown some more football IQ out there. He of course knows the playbook better than Sims does. So far, Sims is still just represents a bunch of promise and hope. He has a stronger arm, but for me, that hasn't turned into anything reliable for the Virginia offense. Sims supposedly has some better mobility, but Rocco has shown some flashes of that (now I'm starting to sound like a recruiting guy) over the past few games.
GC: What would it mean if Virginia were able to beat the Hokies on Saturday? What would that feel like? By the same token, what would it feel like if the Hokies did another 38-0 number on the Cavs?
STL: Had to find a way to fit 38-0 in here, didn't you? Typical.
HUGE HUGE HUGE, if Virginia can win on Saturday. HUGE. I don't think I need to rehash the infrequency with which we beat you all. Your commenters will remind us. Neither a big win nor a big loss will mean much in the long term, but I don't know what a win would feel like because it's been entirely too long since I've experienced that. A 38-0 loss would be painful, for sure, if for no other reason than us having to hear about it (and heaven forbid if you start combining scores for the past three years... "It's been three seasons since Virginia's scored on Tech," but I don't think it would have a long term effect on recruiting, etc.
GC: It's time to put the Commonwealth Cup on the line. Is it staying in Blacksburg or are Hokie fans everywhere going to drain their sorrow in a tall glass of whatever will make the pain go away? Who wins, what's the score, and why?
STL: Wait. The Commonwealth Cub is mobile? Huh. Okay we should be trying for it then. Despite the two teams' records being so similar, I think Virginia Tech is still more SEC-like this year than UVA is. Hoos go home empty handed in a game that starts out close, but is blown out in the second half. 21-7.