ACC Football Notebook
The ACC football notebook …
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. ó Second-year coach Mike London hopes Virginia’s 8-4 record and flirtation with the ACC’s Coastal Division title proves that his program is heading in the right direction.
He’s also thrilled that his seniors will get their first real bowl experience.
The Cavaliers (8-4) will play last year’s national champion, Auburn (7-5), in the Chick-fil-A Bowl on New Year’s Eve in Atlanta. It’s Virginia’s first bowl since the 2007 Gator Bowl ó and an opportunity to wipe out the bad taste of a 38-0 loss to Virginia Tech to close the season.
“It’s a reward for those hard-fought victories,” London said Monday. “It’s a reward for the accomplishments of the season. It’s for the body of work, not just one particular game.”
And, in many ways, a testament to his senior class. Some of them got to dress for Virginia’s last bowl appearance ó a last-minute loss to Texas Tech ó and who set getting back to the postseason as their goal.
The fifth-year seniors also have an opportunity “to leave a legacy of success here,” London said, noting that the 2007 team was the last to win nine games in a season at Virginia.
The leadership of seniors like cornerback Chase Minnifield and wide receiver Kris Burd, London said, made an impact before the games began this season, before practices started and ingrained in players an attitude that will continue after the seniors have moved on.
And West Rowanís K.P. Parks will be a part of it. Parks is one of the main reasons the Cavs have made the bowl.
BLACKSBURG, Va. ó Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer is well aware that the No. 17 Hokies were one of the most controversial teams included in the BCS bowl lineup, and he has a ready defense of his program.
The Hokies will play No. 13 Michigan, another controversial choice, in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 3 in Louisiana. The selection committee chose them over No. 8 Boise State and No. 11 Kansas State, nothing that the Virginia Tech and the Wolverines have rich traditions and larger followings.
“I don’t think we have to apologize to anyone,” Beamer said, noting that the Hokies are the winningest football team since 1995, the one team to have won at least 10 games in each of the past eight seasons and one of three planning its 19th consecutive bowl appearance.
The Hokies, Beamer noted, also have been on the other side of the decision.
In 2001, Michael Vick’s final season as the quarterback, Virginia Tech finished the year ranked fifth in the BCS standings, but lost out on a spot in a BCS game to No. 11 Notre Dame.
Instead, they would up in the Gator Bowl, where they ironically beat Clemson, 41-20.
“I think what that says is our name has changed,” Beamer said. “Several wins later, our name has changed.î