This week’s dumb sports controversy is the fairly innocuous comment from UVA freshman QB Anthony Colandrea about the Cavaliers’ game with Virginia Tech.
Setting the scene: after Virginia had just beaten Duke last Saturday, Colandrea offered a single line about the season finale that got blown up into Joe Namath guaranteeing a win in Super Bowl III.
“After this game versus Tech, after we beat Virginia Tech, this program is going to shoot up, and everyone in the country is going to know about us,” Colandrea said.
That’s it. That’s the quote.
Wasn’t really about Tech as much as it was about a glimmer of a lifeline for a moribund football program moving forward.
As these things go, one of the storylines after the 55-17 beatdown that Virginia Tech handed to Virginia was, yep, all Colandrea’s fault.
“It was on our TVs that we have in the locker room,” Tech QB Kryon Drones said.
That’s the proof right there.
Virginia Tech put it on the TVs in their locker room.
If the kid hadn’t said, “after we beat Virginia Tech,” who knows what’s on those TVs.
Probably the ACC Network, with replays of field hockey games from 2021, because that’s all they show on the ACC Network during the day.
You’re not going to get motivated to beat your in-state rival having to watch Syracuse-Boston College field hockey on loop all week.
This is where sports is dumb.
Colandrea wasn’t talking trash on Virginia Tech. Virginia Football has had a horrible last 12 months, and yes, part of that is a 3-9 season, but if you need to be refreshed on the rest, three of the guys’ teammates were murdered a year ago, and they’re reminded of that every day.
Virginia, the three murders as the backdrop, started this season 0-5.
The Duke win got them to 3-8, which works out to, 3-3 in their last six.
It’s hard to get too excited about 3-8 or even 3-3, but you cling to what you can.
It’s hard to figure that Virginia Tech’s kids needed a quote from the other side to motivate them; I mean, it’s not like the Brent Pry era is off to that much better a start than the Tony Elliott era at Virginia.
Saturday’s win finishes the Tech regular season with a 6-6 record, which gets Pry to 9-14 through two seasons in Blacksburg.
Elliott, who half the UVA fan base has already had enough of, is 6-16 through two seasons.
Don’t know about you, but there’s not much difference between 6-16 and 9-14.
Virginia Tech’s motivation going into Saturday should have been, win, we get to go to a midweek cold-weather bowl the week between Christmas and New Year’s.
Nobody will be watching, but it’ll give us something to do after final exams.
“It provided a lot of motivation,” Drones said, calling back to the Colandrea quote. “You shouldn’t really say things you don’t really know about. This is your first time playing college football, and you’re already speaking on stuff. That’s really a bad way to go. It was a lot of motivation. We had it up in our locker room and we just went on from there.”
“First time playing college football,” huh?
Strong words from a kid who couldn’t get on the field at his first stop, Baylor, and had to transfer down to try to find snaps.
“That riled us up, especially for our seniors,” Tech defensive end Cole Nelson said.
Nelson had two of the six sacks of Colandrea.
He wasn’t guilty of any of the three roughing-the-passer penalties assessed on the Tech D.
The Hokies were also flagged for two unsportsmanlike-conduct penalties.
“When you see a young man, a freshman, just talking about how he’s gonna beat us, like he never played us before, he never played in this game before, he never played in this type of environment, and we just had to go out there and show him what’s up,” Nelson said.
Important missing context here: the win for Tech, again, got them to 6-6 on the season; none among those six wins came against teams that finished with a winning record.
Forgive Anthony Colandrea for not thinking it’s a big deal to beat Virginia Tech.
Marshall beat Virginia Tech this season. Purdue, which finished 4-8, beat Tech.
That’s not hating on Tech, pointing that out. Virginia got its lunch money taken by a mediocre football team.
Not a good look for the Virginia side.
Also not a good look: the head coach throwing the quarterback of the future under the bus after the game.
“I told him you can’t do that. You can’t do that. You got to be smarter,” Tony Elliott said after the game, in response to a question on the Colandrea comment.
The question, from Mike Barber: “After the last game, Anthony Calandra gave us a quote, pretty confident. One, did you say anything to him about that? Were you OK with that? Did you like his mindset?”
The answer should have been: “not an issue for me.”
Instead, we got: “They gotta be smarter. They got caught up in the in the emotions of a victory and didn’t quite know, I want them to be confident, right, I want them to believe. I mean, in order to win, you gotta believe you can win, but what you what you can’t do is you can’t say those things, right. You gotta go live those things. You got it you got to go do it every single day, you got to work at it, so yeah, there was a conversation about it, and young guy learning I think, right. After he said that, he realized that he shouldn’t have, but I’m not gonna say that that’s the reason why the game went the way it did.”
No, Coach, it’s totally the reason the game went the way it did.
Tech, sitting at five wins, cold-weather bowl game on the line, in-state rivalry concerns also hanging out there for everybody to see, lazily goes through the motions all week, and lopes through the game, win, whatever, lose, whatever, who cares, if not for Anthony Colandrea saying a win would be a launching pad for a program that is in desperate need of something to get people excited.
This is why kids hit the transfer portal, is what I’m getting at here.