Monday Mail: An Interesting Hypothetical, Best Bowl Locations and Landers Nolley

Monday Mail is making a return this week, thanks to the beginning of bowl season and a Virginia Tech men’s basketball season that is becoming more interesting by the week.

Before diving into this week’s questions, be sure to read this week’s preview of Virginia Tech’s Military Bowl opponent — Cincinnati.

Without further ado, let’s get it.

I don’t know of a single person that would take that trade.

The loss to Old Dominion, albeit embarrassing and shameful, compares nothing to what a loss to Virginia would be. Imagine if Virginia Tech had actually lost to Virginia, despite the Hokies’ problems. The ‘Hoos pent up frustration and anger would have been unleashed inside Lane Stadium. Twitter would become unbearable for Hokies fans for weeks. Your estranged cousin that roots for Virginia would all of a sudden want to talk to you again.

The win streak over Virginia, along with the program’s bowl streak, set the program apart from everyone else. Outside of those two achievements, what else can Virginia Tech claim over other schools? Plenty of schools can tout a proud and energetic fan base, and Tech hasn’t won a conference title in years. Defeating your bitter rival 15 years in a row and making a bowl game for 26 straight seasons is impressive.

So yeah, losing to Old Dominion was ridiculous, but losing to Virginia instead would have unleashed all sorts of demons that Hokie fans don’t want to see.

I’ve attended three Virginia Tech bowl games in my career as a writer — the Military Bowl in 2014, the Belk Bowl in 2016 and the Camping World Bowl in 2017. So, I can only speak from a limited perspective.

Annapolis, Charlotte and Orlando couldn’t be any more different. Annapolis is a relatively small town that’s nestled away in a corner of Maryland. It’s a beautiful area and being around the Naval Academy is always cool.

Orlando is the exact opposite. It’s warm, for one, and is one of the largest cities in the U.S., in terms of overall acreage. There’s tons of stuff to do in Orlando and there’s two airports to choose from. I’ve had the pleasure of going to Orlando twice for Virginia Tech games, and I loved each of those trips.

But for me, Charlotte is the best. It’s a beautiful city and it’s close to a large chunk of the fanbase. It’s easy to get to and the downtown scene is awesome. I’ve been fortunate enough to go to Charlotte on several occasions for work functions and I get excited every time I get to go.

The Belk Bowl might not be the most prestigious bowl game in the ACC lineup, but it’s one of the best experiences for Virginia Tech fans. The stadium is beautiful, the city is beautiful and the media experience is top notch.

I wish I had an update on the Landers Nolley situation.

Nolley is being held up by the NCAA due to an ACT score that was higher than they expected, due to Nolley’s GPA in high school. The Roanoke Times’ Mark Berman clearly explained the situation back in November.

Presumably, Nolley re-took the ACT and since then, we’ve heard nothing. He’s now missed 10 games and with Tech’s conference schedule starting on New Year’s Day, Nolley could realistically miss the beginning of ACC play.

Whatever is going on, Virginia Tech and the NCAA need to provide some clarity to the situation. On the surface, the NCAA is wrongly penalizing a kid for scoring “too well” on a college entrance exam. The NCAA looks like a bumbling moron right now and if they’re justified in keeping Nolley ineligible, then they need to explain themselves.

Your guess is as good as mine when it comes to Chris Clarke’s situation. I’ve heard different things regarding Clarke’s status and why he was indefinitely suspended prior to the season. I’m not going to get into what I’ve heard because I can’t personally substantiate any of it.

Nolley is much more likely to play for Virginia Tech this season than Clarke is. Nobody gets suspended and removed from the roster just days after appearing as a representative for their school at the conference’s media day. It’s a rare situation, so we can infer that something is really going on here.

Despite all of this, Virginia Tech is 9-1 with a one-point loss on the road to Penn State. The Hokies earned a valuable win vs. Purdie earlier in the season on a neutral floor, and they just knocked off Washington on a neutral court on Dec. 15. Notre Dame will be a tough test for Tech on Jan. 1 inside Cassell, but Tech has been great thus far.

A return from Nolley and/or Clarke would no doubt boost this team. Tech is already knocking on the door of the top 10 and with a win over the Irish in a couple weeks, they could find themselves there.

 

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