Since 2004, the ACC conference champion had at least one school that was always mentioned: Virginia Tech.
With a 16 -10 win on Dec 4, 2004 over the Miami Hurricanes, Virginia Tech secured the ACC championship their first year in the conference after 50 plus years of snubbing.
The ACC has had the Hokies as one of the favorites ever since.
Fast forward to 2008. The defending champion Hokies are still a favorite but not THE favorite. At least not in the preseason.
The popular pick was the Clemson Tigers until their dismantling at the hands of the Crimson Tide of Alabama. Lo and behold, the Hokies lose to ECU and the ACC's credibility is in serious jeopardy.
The Hokies righted the ship for the next five games, some would say in spite of offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring, and assumed their role of ACC favorite. Others stepped up as well including Georgia Tech, North Carolina and the return of the Sunshine State representatives, Miami and Florida State.
Then losses to Boston College, Florida State, and Miami in three of their next four games put the Hokies in a position they have not known often since their ACC occupation.
The 2008 Hokies will need losses by Miami along with wins in their final two games to get to Tampa. Miami faces Georgia Tech in a Thursday night contest which could easily go either way.
N.C. State is the last conference game for Miami. The Hokies may be asking for a lot if they have to pin their hopes on the Wolfpack. And this is all assuming the Hokies can handle a newly tough UVA team and improved Duke team.
With the offense sputtering essentially all year long, no game is a given. After all, the Furman Paladins were only down by three in Blacksburg earlier this year.
Regardless of tiebreakers and the necessary scenarios for the Hokies getting in the ACC Championship, the question is: do the Hokies really deserve it? As a Hokie alum, I say no.
The defense has been pretty good, not as good as we are used to, but they have still kept the Hokies in games. In some ways, I think a no-show in Tampa, along with a struggle (with a win) in a second tier bowl game may be better for the program.
This year's preseason ranking was a rep ranking. With 40 percent of the team never having played a college game at the season start, it's somewhat ludicrous to have put this team in the top 20.
Ideally, the offensive debacle will lead to Frank Beamer regaining some of his own respect by showing Bryan Stinespring the door. There are plenty of sites, blog posts, and comments out there that will illustrate the faux-pas the Stinespring reign has been.
Unfortunately, his follies have taken a program that rose on hard-work, effort, and fundamentals and made them a background detail. Frank Beamer may very well lose defensive genius Bud Foster next year. Without Bud, and without an offense, what will become of Hokies football?