Guarantee: Matthews doesn't like these games
“I’m not real wild about it,” Matthews understated at the top of his Media Day press conference when the topic came up.
And why would he be? JMU is a I-AA playoff contender, sure, but Virginia Tech begins the 2010 season as a I-A national-championship contender. it’s not like Richmond getting ready for a season opener at Virginia that the Spiders are going into assuming that they will win or come thisclose.
“I see some really great I-A programs go into Blacksburg and get pummeled. You watch the tape, and it’s no contest. You can imagine the rest of us going there to play. It’s difficult,” Matthews said.
The reason the Dukes will take the bus down 81: “Everyone in college football does things for money,” Matthews said.
“I’m sure if Coach Beamer had his druthers, they’re going to play Boise State because they get $2.2 million or something to go up there and play. That’s a great reason to go up and play Boise State. I’m sure he’d rather be playing someone in Blacksburg than going to play Boise State. Boise State’s going to make over a million dollars when they go, so that’s the reason they’re going. We’re going to Virginia Tech to make money. it’s a reality of college football that you’ve got to pay a lot of bills through our sport,” Matthews said.
It’s not as if a loss doesn’t hurt JMU’s chances at a I-AA playoff spot.
“I’ve said before, when you play those games and get beat, your margin for error was zero, and I thought last year was a great example,” said Matthews, whose Dukes lost at I-A Maryland 38-35 in overtime in their 2009 season opener.
“All the sudden, we fumble on the 4-yard-line against Richmond, we played a bad game at Hofstra, and all the sudden we’re out of the playoffs. If we had been 7-4, if we had played a I-AA opponent in Harrisonburg that night, instead of being at Maryland, we’d have been 7-4 and in the playoffs. Instead we’re 6-5 and at home,” Matthews said.
“That game counts against you for the playoffs. it counts as a loss. I’ve watched the committee over the years, and they do not discount those losses. They count them as losses. So it makes it more difficult,” Matthews said.
A reporter asked Matthews if he was discounting the idea that JMU had a chance at all of winning at Tech.
“It’s a game where you feel like you have a chance to win,” he said. “We just have to play better. In the last few games, we played very poorly at Duke. At Duke, we turned the ball over. At Carolina, we gave up a lot of big plays, which is not what we are accustomed to doing around here. And at Maryland last year, we played solid. We made Maryland earn everything they got. We didn’t turn the ball over. We played very solid. That’s why we had a chance to win it. That’s what we’ve got to do against Tech. We need to not turn the ball over. You just can’t help them.”
His real thoughts came out in response to another question about whether he is “excited” to be going down to play in Blacksburg.
“Everyone’s excited. I’m excited. My neighbors are all excited, you know. But when you go play someone like Virginia Tech, which has a great chance of winning the national championship this year, I mean, they’re a legitimate contender, it’s about like your neighbor calling you and telling you that you get to play golf with Tiger Woods. And you’re real excited about it. And then he tells you in the next sentence, You’re going to play Tiger, you’re going to play for $1,000 a hole, and you don’t get any shots. And it dawns on you, This is not going to be as much fun as I thought it was going to be. Plus you have to go play on his golf course playing by his rules. And after you think about it for a while, you think, This is not as much fun as I thought it was going to be.”
Can’t wait, is the final answer.
Story by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at email@example.com.