Saturday, September 29, 2012

Sports columnist Aaron McFarling: Plenty of good seats available at FedEx

This week's Q&A-Mac is brought to you by neutral-field college football games: If nobody goes, do they really exist?

Q: Surely you're going to FedEx Field today, aren't you?

A: I am, and traffic might be lighter than originally thought. David Teel of the Newport News Daily Press reported this week that officials are expecting about 45,000 in the 85,000-seat stadium for today's Virginia Tech-Cincinnati game.

Q: Why so few?

A: Sports are a tough sell almost anywhere these days; a lot of people prefer the comfort of their own home. Throw in the fact that this is a nonconference game between two unranked teams, well, I can't say it's all that surprising that interest is tepid.

Q: Does Tech win today?

A: I think so. My confidence in Tech winning games tends to improve as the season goes along. Still, I'd expect it to be low-scoring. There's been a lot of talk about Cincinnati's quarterback - and for good reason, the guy's name is Munchie, after all - but the Bearcats are ranked third nationally in scoring defense, too.

Q: What does Virginia have to do to beat Louisiana Tech at home today?

A: Score on every possession, or close to it. Louisiana Tech has put up no fewer than 52 points in each of its first three games. The Wahoos can't have three-and-outs and definitely can't have turnovers if they hope to secure a victory.

Q: Are you happy that the real NFL refs are back?

A: I am, but I'm also happy they were gone for a while.

Q: Why's that?

A: When the regular refs got a standing ovation in Baltimore on Thursday, that marked the first time I can remember officials receiving some genuine appreciation. Ever. I know quite a few high school and rec league officials, and they take their jobs very seriously. If those replacement guys taught us anything, it's that not just anybody can waltz out there and confidently make calls.

Q: If you saw a referee "waltz" onto the field, would you boo him?

A: Yes. Generally, I'm anti-waltzing. Especially if the guy's wearing a Saints hat when he's officiating a Saints game.

Q: We're into the third week of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Are you getting into it yet?

A: Usually my interest revs up when the series visits Martinsville in late October. The baseball season ends and I get NASCAR fever for a few weeks - provided the championship hunt is close.

Q: Think it will be close at that time this year?

A: Tough to say. With Chase ace Jimmie Johnson already atop the standings, he could run away with the thing. But Kyle Busch had an interesting suggestion on how to prevent that when he visited the area this week.

Q: What's that? Slash Johnson's tires?

A: Nah, he was speaking more generally than that. He suggested awarding points to the 12 Chase participants independent of the rest of the field. So the guy who has the best finish gets 12 points; the last of the Chase field gets 1 point, regardless if he's 20th or 43rd.

Busch correctly argued that this would keep the field closer throughout, and one poor finish wouldn't be as punitive as it is now.

Q: You like this idea?

A: Add two points for a victory in the race and I think he's onto something. I've long argued that a great day should help you more than an awful day should hurt you. NASCAR has long struggled with this concept.

Q: Comment of the week on the blog?

A: Let's go with Zman, on the Hokies game: "CIN killed PIT. We didn't. I just don't see us winning if we can't play better than we have the first four games. TACKLE SOMEBODY. HIT SOMEBODY. PLEASE."

Q: Hmm ... Do I sense we've found at least one Tech fan who'll be at FedEx, screaming his head off?

A: Nope. He lives in San Antonio. But they have TVs there, too.

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