Chick-fil-A Bowl a strong option, but not finalized
Each of the past two years, Virginia Tech earned automatic berths in the Orange Bowl by winning the ACC title game. Although variables could impact the Hokies’ bowl placement this season, it seems that the Chick-fil-A Bowl on Dec. 31 in Atlanta is their most likely destination.
Chick-fil-A Bowl President Gary Stokan said Tuesday night in a telephone interview that participants in the game have not been set. He said that Virginia Tech would not be ruled out because it has already made two appearances this season in Atlanta; the Hokies lost to Alabama in the Georgia Dome on Sept. 5 and lost at Georgia Tech on Oct. 17.
“Anytime we get the opportunity to work with a quality person like Jim Weaver and a Frank Beamer, we will do so,” Stokan said of Virginia Tech’s athletic director and coach. “I have no doubt whatsoever that Virginia Tech – if they were invited to the Chick-fil-A Bowl – their fans would show up in great numbers.”
Virginia Tech cannot be selected by a bowl game until it the Bowl Championship Series games have been finalized on Sunday night. Although the Hokies are eligible to compete in a BCS game, it seems unlikely that they would be an at-large selection for one of those elite bowls.
Boise State is ranked sixth in the BCS standings, Iowa is ninth and Penn State 11th; all are currently among the top candidates to earn an at-large bid in the BCS. The Hokies are 12th. To be eligible for an at-large BCS bid, a team must finish 14th or better in Sunday night's final ratings.
In a radio interview Monday night, Weaver said he believed the BCS would be able to pass on a team like Boise State. The Broncos could join No. 4 Texas Christian in becoming a second team from outside the six automatic qualifying conferences to earn a BCS berth.
“They have a number 4-ranked TCU squad that’s coming from a non-BCS conference,” Weaver said on “Tech Talk Live” in Blacksburg. “I don’t think there’s any pressure they have to take two teams from a non-BCS conference.”
In lieu of a BCS game, radio host Bill Roth asked, how the Chick-fil-A Bowl pass on Virginia Tech?
“I’m not going to go down that street because I’m not sure they’re going to pass,” Weaver responded.
The Chick-fil-A Bowl has the No. 2 selection from the ACC and the pick of a team from the Southeastern Conference. From the ACC, Georgia Tech, Clemson and Virginia Tech are the only teams eligible to be selected for that game. With the ACC’s No. 2 pick, the bowl can only select a team within one loss of the team with conference’s best record.
Georgia Tech is 7-1 in the ACC. Clemson and Virginia Tech each have 6-2 records in conference play. All other ACC teams have three or more losses, disqualifying them from consideration for the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
The Yellow Jackets play Clemson on Saturday in the ACC title game in Tampa. If Georgia Tech loses the conference championship game, it is not necessarily locked into a Chick-fil-A Bowl berth. Georgia Tech lost to Louisiana State, 38-3, in last year’s Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Asked if had any reservations about selecting Georgia Tech in back-to-back years, Stokan said: “Our bowl is built for a reward for the players, so you like to give the opportunity to different teams to have the bowl experience. So we’ve been in conversations with the ACC and Georgia Tech’s athletic director, Dan Radakovich, and talked to them to ascertain, if they did lost in the championship game, if they would prefer to make a trip rather than to stay in Atlanta again.”
Stokan said he was still in conversations with both parties to see whether the Yellow Jackets would be open to making a repeat trip to the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Stokan said he has watched Virginia Tech three times in person this season; he attended the Hokies’ games against Alabama, Georgia Tech and against North Carolina in Blacksburg on Oct. 29. Stokan said he has been in contact with the athletic directors of schools that are in consideration for the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
“I’ve talked to Jim about other things as well from the bowl side,” Stokan said of Virginia Tech’s athletic director. “We’ve been in touch a lot, and we have been in touch the last three weeks as we’ve gotten close to the selection process.”
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