So, I have a decision to make. And even if you aren't a sports person, I think you'll be able to appreciate the predicament in which I find myself. You see, Sept. 12, 2009, Marshall University and Virginia Tech will face off in a college football game at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Va. Why is this important, you ask? Well, it's likely to be a snoozer of a game with the Hokies of VT, the defending Atlantic Coast Conference and Orange Bowl champions, demolishing the Thundering Herd of Marshall, a Conference-USA team that finished 4-8 last season and tied for last place in its division and has been dismal since the departure of stars such as Chad Pennington, Randy Moss, Byron Leftwich, Ahmad Bradshaw and coach Bobby Pruett. But for me, an alumnus of both universities, I have a tough choice to make about where my loyalties will lie.
Now, it's possible that Marshall surprises the country and pulls off a win against the Hokies, and I'm definitely not so shallow as to just say right off the bat that I want to root for the team that has the best chance of winning. And while I can say that I want both teams to do well and that I will be happy no matter the outcome, on the inside, I know that I will pull for one team at least a little more than the other in my heart.
So do I go with Marshall, the school where I did my growing up, received an amazing education, made tons of great friends and attended one and a half football games? Or do I choose Virginia Tech, where I fell in love with college football, made even more friends (though for a shorter amount of time during which to get to really know them) and began to figure out where my life might eventually lead? As you can see, I experienced a lot of positives at both schools (and some negatives, but the positives definitely outweigh them), so just going by the experience at the school makes the choice no less tough. The one thing that I do know is that Virginia Tech was a football school through and through, and at Marshall only the most hardcore fans really cared at all. However, they did make a movie about the football team while I was attending MU. (See Warner Bros.' "We Are Marshall" if you haven't.)
Now, I'm sure I'll catch a little flak from friends at either school if I don't cheer for their alma mater. And of course I've heard the arguments about how your undergraduate alma mater should be where your loyalties lie and so on and so forth. But I've come up with a plan that I think is very suitable and well-reasoned, and it involves two different situations with two different outcomes.
Situation One: Cheering for the Hokies
Virginia Tech has been touted as a possible national championship contender this season. Now, some recent injuries and questions about quarterback Tyrod Taylor's development have a lot of people doubting any such prediction. However, with a team that was very young last year, VT won their conference and a BCS bowl, so why not a national championship this year?
The determination about whether or not the Hokies are in the race for the national title will be decided in their very first game. If they lose to the Alabama Crimson Tide in Atlanta come Sept. 5, then there is very little chance of them seeing a national title game because of the way the rankings are compiled. So, if the Hokies win in Atlanta, then they will still be in the hunt during the game against Marshall, and I will cheer for the Hokies in hopes of an alma mater national title.
Situation Two: Cheering for the Herd
Now, if the Hokies lose to Alabama, then the best they can probably hope for is a repeat of last year — ACC championship and Orange Bowl. Losing to Marshall would not affect that road in any way, as Marshall is a nonconference game, and the ACC champion has an automatic bid to the Orange Bowl. So even though losing to Marshall the week after losing to Alabama might knock them out of the rankings completely, they would still have all season to look forward to and nothing would be really different as long as they run the gauntlet of their conference schedule without error.
So, if the Hokies aren't in the national championship hunt come Sept. 12, here's to hoping the Herd knock them off, as it would be a really big win for my undergraduate alma mater (without really affecting the season for my graduate alma mater), a program that really badly needs a big win right now to get back on track to the prestige it had in the '90s.
What do you think about my reasoning? Anyone else out there had this dilemma before? What did you do?