My brother and I used to have season tickets. It was a long, long time ago when I still lived in Virginia. He was still living at home and I was out on my own. The ticket office always sent the tickets to our mother's house. At that time my address changed quicker than the leaves during fall in Shawsville, and to be safe we always listed her house on our "account". Then I would get the call. "Hey bro, the tickets just got here, when do you want to draft?" I would immediately cancel all obligations and head to Salem for our ticket picks.
During this time, we were part of the Big East football conference. The schedule was set basically, just as it is now. Conference foes highlighted by a possible intriguing out of conference affair were on the table. The draft was who would get the outside seat in our proud two seat kingdom. At this point, I hope you are asking yourself, "What the heck is an outside seat?". The outside seat in our particular situation was the end row seat. You were right on main street. You had easy access to the stairs to concessions, restrooms, and riches beyond your wildest dreams. Extra leg room? Check. First guy the Coke guy propositions? Check. Bottom line, the outside seat was like having a little extra comfort zone in a tightly packed space.
The manila envelope the tickets came in looked innocent enough. But inside, oh boy, inside were sheets of uncut hopes and dreams. The tickets came in big sheets with all the tickets printed together with perforated tear strips to indicate how to separate them. We would sit down with the glossy thick stock paper and begin our analysis. Miami was usually first off the board. No question. In those days before conference championship games, the Miami, Virginia Tech game was the de facto Big East championship. That's O.K. though, because if you lost Miami, you could still get U.V.A.. Not the current mess that "school up north" calls football now, but a real team. West Virginia could also be found lurking. I can remember telling my brother that a Donovan McNabb led Syracuse team was a "value grab" in the fourth round of our draft. Generally at this time the kickoff time was also listed on the ticket. Which brings us to the current subject at hand.
After the ticket rotation was set, we went about our merry ways, both smug in our minds that we had one upped each other. This years' schedule has set off a firestorm unlike I haven't seen in some time. No Thursday night games. That's the big beef I am hearing from Hokie Nation. I have some bad news for those fans.
Thursday night games don't matter anymore.
In the early days of ESPN with their college football coverage, Thursday college football was the flagship. The best announcing crews, big time matchups, and plenty of the mother ship promotion was key to its success. You had S.E.C. matchups. You had top 10 matchups. Virginia Tech was the darling of this set up simply because we could provide the ingredients for compelling television. We had the best stadium. We would always provide either a huge upset, or signature victory on cue. We were ESPN darlings. The rest of America got to meet the Beatles, but we just accepted it as another win. At that time we were trying to break through as a national player. We were ready fit for ESPN. Outlandish crowd noise. Team with everything and nothing to lose. It was a script straight out of central casting. Then the N.F.L. started sniffing around. Hmm, maybe we show Thursday night games on the last half of the season on our own network. Then recently, it was year round. That previously sexy Virginia Tech vs. Miami matchup loses a little luster when it is scheduled head to head against the Packers and Vikings. The country has choices now. Instead of being force fed a decent college game, the country can pick the golden of all goldies, an actual N.F.L. game.
The game became a burden in reality. The big money that funds the program had to make mid week travel arrangements to attend the game. ESPN, in bed with N.F.L., had two choices what to promote. The matchups declined. Instead of Corso and Herbstreit, the game was called by the third tier guys. The Thursday night game lost its panache, its "swag". What began as a trend setting blockbuster has ended up like Monday Night Football, a sad imitation of what it was.
Don't be blue Hokie fans, the recently released schedule has plenty of punch. After all we face five, count them, five bowl teams from last year. If that is big statement as a program that we play five bowl teams, I'm more worried about that. At this point if you field a roster you go to a bowl. My son's little league team got invited to the Google.search.edu.com.org.Backslash.CoffeeTable Bowl. It's played in Rooster Poot, Kentucky, but fear not Hokie fans, it's on a Thursday night. If you find yourself in a ticket draft like my brother and I used to do, the smart money is on the Ohio State game. Don't worry about the schedule, worry about the results on the field.