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Virginia Tech Hokies vs. North Carolina Tar Heels: Good, Bad, and Ugly for 2022

It’s not a pleasant duty to write up a loss, it’s even more difficult when it was a drubbing. What in the world could be remotely badder or uglier than what we saw on Saturday? Let’s talk about it. GO HOKIES!!!

Virginia Tech v North Carolina
Sort of how we all feel right now.
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

There isn’t any sense in going over the ground so well tread by Bryan in his Five Takeaways for the game. Bryan covers some serious ground in this one. The loss was tough and looking at it is tougher. The remaining schedule is going to be a slog with wins coming rarely. Instead of drilling down, let’s talk about us at high altitude.

We can glean some of the generalities out of this and come up with a slightly different angle. There are some good, bad, and ugly things other than the blatantly obvious factor about the drubbing at the hands of the Tar Heels.

The Good Stuff Might Not Seem That Way, But It Truly Is

The first really good thing is probably the hardest to take. Have you ever been rooting for something, believing in it and absolutely sure that it is sound, but it keeps failing? We all have. We have taken a course that we thought was good, and we thought that we were doing well, and when the final exam rolled around, we couldn’t answer a question. We’ve all started some household project and did everything right, but when we stepped back after not finishing it for the umpteenth time realized that it was just way easier to imagine than do.

Saturday was a real wakeup call to Hokie Nation. That is the one really good thing that we can take from this drubbing. This program has been bumping downhill on a bouncy path of some ups but mostly downs, since 2010/2011. It was like an old car, it ran sometimes, if you put good gas in the tank and kept the oil topped off, it leaked, it ran rich, it smoked, but it got ‘there’ without paying too much attention to the fact that ‘there’ was not far, and we made a real mess with the oil and smoke. Maybe we needed to call the car wizards at the MotorTrend Channel, but the hooptie finally seized up and stopped working in the middle of 2022.

It needs a full rebuild, pretty much like if we were buying a custom rest-o-mod car. It’s our car, though and we can’t part with it. So, that means we need to accept the reality, grit our collective teeth, and realize that the bill is going to be steep along with the time put into it. Whit Babcock and Brent Pry are starting from a nearly bare cupboard full of crumbs and cobwebs. This rebuild is going to take some serious time, effort, and a good deal of luck.

The Big Question

The question that is begged is simple. Do we have the patience as a fan and doner base (as parsimonious as it is) to allow the process to develop? There are many who want instantaneous results by demanding high-dollar talent being brought in and were brutally disappointed with the Pry hire. Maybe this brings some reality to that group and tells them to turn off the heat and the negativity? The ‘Good’ resulting from the slap of reality (other than the notion that it reminds me of getting hit in the face with a wet fish) needs to be accompanied by the acknowledgement that things are starting from the bottom of a dry well. We have nowhere to go but up.

The second good thing is that we see that the understanding is sitting squarely in the coaches’ offices, right now. There is not much in the way of excuse making and complaining about exterior factors. Pry and company are being tactful but reading between the lines is pretty easy. This is going to be hard, and the systemic changes are going to take time and effort. That’s a good thing. Basic honesty with the fanbase is essential. Rebuilds require trust. Coach Pry is working hard at building the trust.

The Bad

No, we don’t want to re-plow Bryan’s ground, but talent is what this team needs more than anything. That factor, the end result of the (Prestige + Money) * NFL Prospects = Talent equation, is what this program has a dearth. There is a lot of good heart, but the last six years have bled off far more talent than the program has attracted. That’s seriously bad, folks. We have really good players in too few positions, and no experienced depth to support them. We have mentioned this before, but the NIL issue is going to become a critical factor in the Money part of the equation, and the rather modest NIL contract for the athletes is not going to attract the 4 and 5-star talent necessary to compete in the top 20.

The current setup is promising five figures and the big boys are promising seven. The word is that Tayvion Robinson split for NIL considerations. That’s going to happen more and more and that’s a ‘Bad’ that we are going to face with no answers. We saw the big talent on the field courtesy of Mack Brown and UNC booster money. Right now, this Hokie football program is not breaking the 3-star player talent barrier with any recruits who have ephemerally promised to sign a letter of intent.

Tech’s recruiting situation is bad, and Brent Pry’s success in reigniting it with serious 3-star (and hopefully above) level competition coming from G5 FBS teams that are winning (JMU, Liberty, and ODU) along with heavy pressure from NC State, North Carolina (via Brown’s ‘magic’), Ohio State, and Clemson for the 4 and 5-stars. Solving the ‘T’ factor is going to make or break this program. Can Pry make some sort of headway just to get back to where Frank Beamer was in the late 90’s? The answer is still a complete unknown.

The Ugly

Pointing some fingers here, I’d apologize but the “firebirds” are already out in force, and it’s truly an ugly spectacle. The Ugly stuff that we are seeing out on the public boards and commentary is sad. It lacks serious perspective as to what this entire enterprise is all about, educating students by funding that via athletic entertainment. It also lacks something that I’d like to see Pry bring back from the Beamer Era, Hokie Respect campaign. We used to hold sportsmanship and respect for players, coaches, and fans of both sides in high regard. We really need to re-implement that. We all like wins and bowls and shots at national championships but paying for them with vitriol and venom is classless. Frank was always classy. This program was always classy and worked hard to keep it that way.

People are going to say what they are going to say but thinking about the impact of what you are saying and what the implications of what is said is critical. These young athletes from all the sports, not just football, work exceedingly hard. The young men and women seeking to entertain you are real people. They have schedules and obligations that would boggle your mind. They are someone’s son, daughter, brother, or sister. Personalizing and casting blame leads to no good. We are asking that all of us remember that in expressing our thoughts about the situation. Let’s not be ‘the Ugly’ here.

Did We Stop Digging, Yet?

The first rule of holes is that if you are in one, the first thing that you absolutely must do is to stop digging. This is a really tough rebuild. It might never happen fully as college football reorganizes. It might happen as the new conferences reform and other championships are instituted. (We will talk about those things sooner than I had anticipated, but nearer the end of the season).

From the looks of things Brent Pry is trying mightily to stop the shovels and start figuring a way out of the deep hole that he’s in. Let’s give him a chance to do that, shall we?

We’ll go over the game in the Post Game Blitz show that will go up around Tuesday.

As Always!