Monday, March 14, 2011

Sports columnist Aaron McFarling: This time, Hokies have right to complain

You want the whys, and you crave the hows, and you spray questions around in the hopes of getting an explanation that's open and honest and makes sense.

Instead, you just get a bracket spit out at you, and if you're not on it, deal with it.

Virginia Tech's coaches and players have to feel that way this morning. Their fans, too. And they're by no means alone. Call up Colorado, St. Mary's, Harvard -- they're all looking for answers today, too.

You mean you liked UAB more than me? Really? You think I'm ugly, don't you? Does this nonconference loss make my butt look that big?

The NCAA tournament selection committee has accomplished the unthinkable. Those guys have actually made the BCS look like an awesome system.

Wait -- you mean we actually get some numerical data and a poll? Sign me up!

This college basketball process, meanwhile, is just a bunch of dudes in a room making important choices. Have you ever been in a room with a bunch of dudes making unimportant choices? Like ordering pizza? Of course you have. And we can't even agree on the toppings. It's an all-out Lincoln-Douglas debate until someone with a strong personality steps forward and calls the shots.

Pepperoni in, mushrooms out.

Deal with it.

Tech coach Seth Greenberg thinks there might be someone with a strong personality who views the Hokies as a fungus.

"It makes you wonder if someone in that room has an agenda," he said Sunday night, "and it doesn't include Virginia Tech."

It makes me wonder the same thing.

Now, some vital background. Greenberg's been snubbed before, and I have never sided with him on his Selection Sunday speech. Never. I've always thought his interviews on TV and quotes to reporters have smacked of sour grapes, and I've written as much.

I know the masses love them some Seth Greenberg complainin', but the masses also love to whine about how the umpires cost their team a shot at the World Series. That's just not me. Quit carping, I've said. Schedule better, win more big games, finish with a flourish, and everything's OK.

But Greenberg did schedule better this time. And then his Hokies beat the No. 1 team in the country. And then they advanced to the semifinals of the ACC Tournament, picking off an NCAA tournament team in the process.

And then the committee members picked UAB (and others) over the Hokies. And then they emerged from their chamber and said what any leader says when he's just stuck a fork into another guy's rear-end cheek: "Virginia Tech is a very good ball club and well-coached team."

Yes! Committee Chairman Gene Smith actually said that Sunday night when asked about Tech's exclusion. Then he babbled on in vague terms about how they looked at "15 different quantifiable criteria," later adding: "At the end of the day, when we stacked Virginia Tech's resume up against all the other teams, we just didn't feel like they were a team that should be in the at-large field."

Well, that clears that up.

Smith was asked twice to be more specific. He never got there.

"I would just say look at their overall resume," he said. "Look at their schedule, how they did relative to their competition that they scheduled in their nonconference schedule."

OK. Looked. Seems better than UAB's. Now what?

Oh, that's it? You mean the person who actually was in the room has nothing more to say on the matter?

It's a joke. If crushing hopes is part of your job, you'd better be trained in the letdown.

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