Saturday, October 20, 2012
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Sports columnist Aaron McFarling: Virginia Tech faithful fresh out of faith in Virginia Tech

This week's Q&A-Mac is brought to you by confidence: Not sensing a ton of it out of the Virginia Tech fan base today.

Q: Well, their team is an 8.5-point underdog against Clemson. The game's on the road. What did you expect, a bunch of braggadocio from Tech fans heading into what could be a long day?

A: No, not that. But I did expect more Tech fans to argue they had a chance. I've not seen this solid a consensus since Tech played Alabama a few years back: The Hokies will lose, the sentiment goes, and it could get very ugly.

Q: So you've polled every Tech fan in the nation?

A: Of course not. Mostly referencing the blog crowd, which is a very level-headed bunch during the week (although game days can get kind of crazy). Folks are looking at Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins and Tajh Boyd and rightfully wondering how Tech's going to stop these guys.

Q: So are you saying it's hopeless, too?

A: No. Tech should be able to score plenty. The Hokies are going to need an element from the bygone "Beamerball" era - a pick-six, a blocked punt, something - to get the victory, but it's possible.

Q: Being an Orioles guy, you must have loved seeing the Yankees get swept by the Tigers in the ALCS, huh?

A: Actually, no. Maybe 10 or 15 years ago. But these days, if my team's out of it, I just want to see great baseball - and that was anything but great baseball.

Q: Jim Leyland disagrees.

A: Touche. But the atmospheres for Games 1 and 2 at Yankee Stadium were more depressing than celebratory. And even the Tigers fans couldn't get that into it, because the Yankees were whiffing more often than an overmatched high school softball team. There was a sense of inevitability that sucked all the drama out of it.

We were spoiled with all four division series going to five games. Hope this was just a hiccup and the World Series is a thriller.

Q: Do you blame A-Rod for New York's collapse?

A: A-Rod was awful, but I actually blame manager Joe Girardi - something I haven't heard many in the national media do. You have one job as Yankees skipper, and that's to keep your superstars feeling relaxed and confident so that their natural talent can shine through. Girardi failed miserably at this when it mattered most.

Q: Would you fire him?

A: I'd consider it; the Yankees won't. They're going to scapegoat the players on this one and unload a bunch of them. But they can hang on to this past week as Exhibit A if they decide to do the same to Girardi down the road.

Q: Gut sense: Will Dale Earnhardt Jr. return to race at Martinsville next week?

A: No. It's probably close to 50-50 - and certainly his goal to do so - but if there are any lingering headaches, there's no reason to risk it.

Q: Back to football: Florida State and Miami used to be one of the games of the year. You feeling that excitement today?

A: It's interesting to (some) ACC fans and that's about it. However, I did notice that the only other games of note in the 8 p.m. slot are Penn State-Iowa and Baylor-Texas, which aren't overwhelming. If the big 7 p.m. games - Alabama-Tennessee and Kansas State-West Virginia - get out of whack, this one might trap a lot of wandering eyeballs. The ACC really needs this game to stay tight and interesting.

Q: Comment o' the week on the blog?

A: Let's go with shaun, who's experiencing a general sports malaise: "So frustrated with UVa I can barely stand to watch. The only football I am into at the minute is anybody ranked 10th or better, high school football, and my son's little league football team. The older I get, the less time I want to waste with any sport or team that does not play with excellence."

Q: So, I'm guessing the entire ACC is out for shaun right now?

A: Sure sounds like it.

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