After compiling a 7-3 record through ten games, and coming off one of the most dominant games they've played in recent years, the Virginia Tech Hokies football team is still fighting to get back to national respectability. The Hokies, who are currently unranked in the latest USA Today Coaches' Poll and AP Poll, received 15 and 5 votes respectively in the Week 12 iterations. While Frank Beamer is respected far and wide for how he runs the program (as the David Teel tweet below points out), the on-field performance has taken a precipitous fall in the last few years.
Beamer said 10 of #Hokies' 13 seniors have graduated, others will next month. Last 4 years, 59 of 60 seniors graduated.— David Teel (@DavidTeelatDP) November 11, 2013
The Hokies lost to two-time defending national champion and three-peat title favorite Alabama 35-10 to open the season, a loss in which, despite the score, the Hokies held their own. The pollsters wouldn't fault an unranked Hokies team (at the time) for that loss, and certainly aren't penalizing them for it now. But include to that embarrassing losses to unranked Duke and Boston College this year, games in which the Hokies looked hapless against objectively inferior opponents, and you've got an altogether different picture.
Those two teams, though unranked, are both better than advertised. For example, somehow, after a 7-2 start with a victory over the aforementioned ranked Hokies on the road, Duke is still unranked, a borderline criminal offense. And Boston College, rediscovering their identity under first-year head coach Steve Addazio, has played Florida State, Clemson and subsequently Virginia Tech as well as any other team.
But that said, the Hokies are STILL a three-loss team, and that is significant because there are only two three-loss teams in the AP Poll and only one in the Coaches' Poll. LSU, despite being a three-loss team, is somehow still ranked No. 18 and 19 in those polls respectively, and Georgia is No. 25 in the AP Poll. So for the Hokies to slide into the rankings at this point, they would have to have an equally good résumé, or perhaps better, than some of those three-loss or even two-loss teams near the bottom. And right now, it would be hard to argue that they do. The Hokies' body of work and strength of schedule is not BAD, but it also doesn't merit them being ranked at this moment. Perhaps we're making a better case for those teams to be ranked than for the Hokies.
Perhaps the Hokies deserve to be ranked over the Hurricanes, the team that Tech just beat comfortably on the road after back-to-back weeks of grueling travel, because these rankings are based on timing. Miami, having dropped two-straight, stayed in the rankings at No. 23 and 24 respectively.
As you may read any number of places, rankings that don't pertain to who's ranked No. 1 or No. 2 are irrelevant right now. Those teams whose BCS standings place them near the top are potentially fighting for positioning and to not be left out of the national championship game. But for the Hokies, being ranked right now isn't significant and is probably for the best. They have the opportunity to prove themselves once again, and if they should win out, things will take care of themselves and they will once again be ranked.