Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sports columnist Aaron McFarling: Sugar Bowl bid a dream come true for Hokies' Foster

This week's Q&A-Mac is brought to you by the Sugar Bowl: Wake up and smell the majesty.

Q:You're befuddling us from the get-go today, thanks. Care to explain?

A:Defensive coordinator Bud Foster had the line of the day at Saturday's Virginia Tech bowl news conference. He said that he was worn out from travel and meetings after the ACC championship game - so much so that he actually slept through the televised announcement that the Hokies had been invited to the Sugar Bowl. His wife informed him two hours after the fact.

Q:So the coaches and players were as surprised as we were that Tech got the bid, huh?

A:Definitely. Free safety Eddie Whitley said he told his family after the Clemson loss: "Meet you down in Atlanta." Receiver Danny Coale said that, after the game, his family already had started making plans to get together in the Peach State for Christmas. They all thought Chick-fil-A for sure.

Q:Guess nobody's mad about holding the pickles this year, huh?

A:Not at all. The Hokies are understandably thrilled. But they're also somewhat defiant. The national criticism that's accompanied Tech's surprise bid has resonated with the team. Said Foster: "I think we deserve to be here. There's been years maybe where we didn't get a chance to go to the BCS and we probably belonged, maybe even more so than this year †I hope our kids are a little ticked off by this [criticism]."

Q:Are they?

A:Not publicly. But you can bet by kickoff on Jan. 3, they will be. This coaching staff has a way of finding the motivational nuggets in the media, context be darned, and delivering that message to the team.

Q:New Orleans is a fun place but also an easy city in which to find trouble. Can you guarantee us that no Tech players will be sent home this year for disciplinary reasons, a la the infamous "Greyhound Six" from a year ago?

A:Nope. I can't guarantee that I won't be sent home for disciplinary reasons, much less a bunch of 18- to 22-year-olds. But I like that the Hokies have that system in place. Coach Frank Beamer said the first page of the bowl manual handed out to players details how many days, miles and stops are required to get back to Blacksburg by bus. Seems like a decent deterrent.

Q:How are the Hokies going to stop Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson?

A:They don't know yet. Film study wasn't set to begin until this weekend, when they'll start developing a plan. But they're well aware of who Robinson is. Whitley said he's received a number of text messages on his phone, all saying the same thing: "Denard†Denard†Denard."

Q:What does that even mean?

A:Stop Denard, I guess.

Q:Don't know if you've heard, but Tom Brady and Tim Tebow are squaring off this afternoon in Denver. Many are predicting that this is the week Tebow finally gets embarrassed/exposed. Who do you got?

A:Tebow! Man, I want this story to go on forever. You know, the funny thing about the Broncos' success under Tebow is this: As much individual acclaim as the quarterback has received, this actually has accentuated the team aspect of football as well as any other event. It underscores the need for collective belief and cohesive play. Despite being 9-point underdogs, I say the Broncos win outright again.

Q:Best reader comment on the blog this week?

A:Let's go with Rick H, on a high-profile coaching hire in the Big 12. "Charlie Weis going to Kansas was perplexing. The guy just really wants to be a head coach, I guess. That, and perhaps he figures he can fit in to some of Mangino's old duds, and look skinny."

Q:Speaking of which, doesn't Foster still want to be a head coach? There's got to be some vacancy out there for him, right?

A:Easy, now. Let the man rest.

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