College Football 2019 Week 4 What to Watch: State bragging rights

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College Football 2019 Week 4 What to Watch: State bragging rights

In terms of local action, Week 4 is a little bit of a down week. Maryland and Penn State are both on bye weeks before their big matchup on Sept. 27. Navy and Virginia Tech also have the week off as well. But fear not! There is still plenty of college football to watch without your beloved Terps, Lions, Midshipmen or Hokies. Virginia hosts in-state rival Old Dominion and there is some big-time college football down south.

Here is a breakdown of all the local action.

No. 21 Virginia vs. Old Dominion

When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, Va.
How to watch: ESPN2

The Cavaliers host Old Dominion in the first-ever meeting between these two programs. After narrowly escaping with a win over Florida State, Virginia remains perfect with a 3-0 record and already two conference wins. Because of that, the Cavaliers now sit ranked 21st in the nation, the highest the team has been ranked since 2007. Now the task before them is to not stumble or get caught looking ahead to next week's matchup at Notre Dame because the Monarchs love surprising the bigger in-state programs. Just ask Virginia Tech.

Game of the week: No. 3 Georgia vs. No. 7 Notre Dame

When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Sanford Stadium, Athens, Ga.
How to watch: CBS

In 2018, Notre Dame was a playoff team. Georgia was not. Ask anyone in Athens, however, and they will tell you the Bulldogs were the better team and deserved to be in over the Irish. Whether they are right is debatable. Notre Dame entered the playoff undefeated but was embarrassed by Clemson in a 30-3 romp in the Cotton Bowl. That loss certainly looks less embarrassing than it did initially after the Tigers blew apart Alabama in the National Championship, but that does little to comfort Georgia fans.

Luckily, this year offers Georgia the chance for revenge as the Irish travel to Athens in one of the biggest games of the college football season

Georgia comes into this game with something to prove. Not only do they want to show who the better program is after last year's perceived snub, but they also want to reassert themselves as one of the top teams in the nation. With Alabama dealing with injuries and Clemson's schedule leaving much to be desired, there is room for the Bulldogs to insert themselves into the conversation for the top team in the nation.

Notre Dame, meanwhile, has a chance to topple our preconceived notions about the dominance of the SEC's top teams and to reassert themselves into the playoff race. Georgia is easily Notre Dame's toughest game. There is no reason the Irish can't go undefeated if they win on Saturday and a win over the Bulldogs in Georgia would be a pretty nice feather in the cap for any playoff resume.

On NBC Sports Washington

Wake Forest vs. Elon

When: 12 p.m.
Where: BB&T Field, Winston-Salem, N.C.
How to watch: NBC Sports Washington

North Carolina vs. Appalachian State

When: 3:30 p.m.
Where: Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, N.C.
How to watch: NBC Sports Washington

Other local teams

Morgan State at Army, 12 p.m. Saturday on CBSSN
Robert Morris at VMI, 1:30 p.m. Saturday on ESPN+
Howard at Delaware State, 2 p.m. Saturday on ESPN3
Norfolk State at Montana State, 3 p.m. Saturday
James Madison at Chattanooga, 4 p.m. Saturday on ESPN+
William & Mary at East Carolina, 6 p.m. Saturday on ESPN3
Hampton at Liberty, 6 p.m. Saturday on ESPN+
Villanova at Towson, 6 p.m. Saturday

After opening loss, Virginia Tech’s prize bowl streak is in serious jeopardy

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After opening loss, Virginia Tech’s prize bowl streak is in serious jeopardy

It has been a few years since Virginia Tech has been a national power.

A team that had won 10 games or more for eight straight seasons from 2004 to 2011 has only one 10-win season in the past seven years. The Hokies won the ACC four times in the first seven years after joining the conference, but have not won it since 2010. Yet, despite the down years for a program used to consistent success, Virginia Tech has maintained its bowl streak through it all.

The Hokies currently boast the longest bowl streak in the nation having gone to a bowl game every year since the 1993 season. That is a streak of 26 straight seasons. That streak is in serious jeopardy of coming to an end in 2019.

Normally a team must reach six wins to become bowl eligible. Virginia Tech, however, has two FCS opponents on its schedule this season in Furman and Rhode Island. By rule, a team can count only one win against an FCS team towards its bowl eligibility that year. The Hokies then would have to win five games in addition to the two games against Furman and URI, so seven total.

A Hokies team then that just lost to Boston College is going to have to find five wins on the rest of its schedule:

Sept. 7 vs. Old Dominion
Sept. 27 vs. Duke
Oct. 5 at Miami
Oct. 19 vs. North Carolina
Nov. 2 at Notre Dame
Nov. 9 vs. Wake Forest
Nov. 16 at Georgia Tech
Nov. 23 vs. Pitt
Nov. 29 at Virginia

It’s hard to find where those five wins are going to come from.

It can be easy to overreact from Week 1’s results when teams are sloppy and not playing as well as they will as the season progresses. Having said that, the Hokies are going to have to improve dramatically from what they showed in Week 1 to keep the bowl streak alive.

Virginia Tech transfer Brock Hoffman loses bid for immediate eligibility despite mother's health issues


Virginia Tech transfer Brock Hoffman loses bid for immediate eligibility despite mother's health issues

The Brock Hoffman situation is truly the NCAA at its worst.

Hoffman transferred to Virginia Tech from Coastal Carolina and sought a waiver for immediate eligibility. It wasn't because he had lost a position battle, it wasn't because of a coaching change, it wasn't because of grades (Hoffman had a 4.0 GPA in the spring and fall semester in 2018). Hoffman transferred because he wanted to be closer to his mother who is suffering aftereffects after having a brain tumor surgically removed.

And the NCAA denied him.

This is the latest misstep by an organization that is seemingly incapable of making reasonable, smart decisions regarding student-athletes that no one could possibly have a problem with.

The decision by the NCAA, issued Tuesday, is a blow to the Hokies' offensive line. Hoffman would likely have been the starting center this year. But that is completely beside the point. Virginia Tech fans should not be mad about this because of what it does to the offensive line, people, in general, should be mad about this because of how outrageously stupid and indefensible it is and because of a total lack of consistency in the process when it comes to granting immediate eligibility.

The background

Stephanie Hoffman was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma, a non-cancerous brain tumor, in January 2017.  Brock enrolled at Coastal Carolina that year. After several surgeries, the tumor was removed, but Stephanie still suffers from its effects.  Coastal Carolina is located in Conway, S.C. which is about a four-hour drive from the Hoffman's home in Statesville, N.C. Brock decided to transfer in February to be closer to home and chose Virginia Tech. Blacksburg is about two hours from Statesville, cutting Brock's trip home in half.

Filing and denial

When the words "brain tumor" and "mother" are used in the same sentence, no more explanation should be necessary. But the NCAA has its rules for immediate eligibility so Hoffman filed for a family medical hardship waiver in March. One month later, he was denied. Hoffman filed multiple appeals and provided documentation of his mother's condition, but to no avail. His final appeal was denied Tuesday.

The NCAA's process

In June, the NCAA changed the language regarding waivers for immediate eligibility saying a player must have "documented extenuating, extraordinary and mitigating circumstances outside of the student-athlete's control that directly impacts the health, safety or well-being of the student-athlete."

The NCAA made the rule stricter in the wake of criticism over granting too many waivers, such as quarterback Tate Martell who transferred from Ohio State soon after quarterback Justin Fields transferred in. This led many to assume Martell was transferring because of competition. Yet, Martell was granted immediate eligibility at Miami.

A situation like Hoffman's, to most sane and rational people, was not the type of situation the NCAA's stricter wording was meant to target.

No straight answer

Not only was Hoffman's waiver denied, but every explanation for the denial was baffling.

As Hoffman noted in his Tweet, Blacksburg falls just outside the 100-mile radius the NCAA gives in its guidelines. The real egregious explanation, however, is the fact that the NCAA apparently felt Hoffman's mother's condition had improved since he was at Coastal Carolina.

Her condition improved in that she no longer had a life-threatening brain tumor, but, as noted by Hoffman,  she still suffered from facial paralysis, hearing loss and eye issues and still has multiple doctor visits that are difficult for her to get to on her own without help. That part, the NCAA evidently did not take into account.

Hoffman's final appeal, however, was denied for a different reason. According to Andy Bitter of The Athletic, Hoffman's final appeal was denied because he did not transfer quickly enough after his mom's initial diagnosis.

To be fair, the final appeal was adjudicated by seven people who were not NCAA employees. Common sense and basic human decency were evidently not required to participate in the said committee.

Imagine you are a kid just about to start college on a football scholarship. Your mom gets diagnosed with a brain tumor and has to undergo several surgeries. Not only do you not know how the life of your entire family is about to change, now you have to worry about a ticking clock hanging over your head because if you don't transfer right away, the NCAA won't think it's all that serious.

Seriously, what's the message here? Does the NCAA think Hoffman is using his mother's brain tumor as an excuse for immediate eligibility?

Oh, and just in case you are not mad enough by this decision, Bitter also noted that the NCAA made its decision without ever talking to Hoffman's family directly.

Well done, NCAA. You are finally getting tough against families with brain tumors. Now you can go back to telling everyone how you have the students' best interests at heart.