One look at Virginia Tech’s future football schedules online told you when athletic director Jim Weaver preferred to play Notre Dame. The Hokies’ lone opening in the next three years was in 2015.
Instead, the ACC scheduled Tech to play at Notre Dame in 2016, part of the Fighting Irish’s five annual games against conference schools.
“That’s life,” Weaver told me late Friday night, hours after the ACC announced Notre Dame’s rotation of league opponents for 2014-16. “So you’ve got to keep plugging.”
Weaver had asked ACC officials for a 2015 date with Notre Dame and only recently learned the request wasn’t granted. Fortunately, he found a cooperative partner in Old Dominion athletic director Wood Selig.
Weaver adjusted by moving a 2016 home game against ODU to 2017, and adding a 2017 Blacksburg date against Delaware, which completes the Hokies’ non-conference schedule for that season. Selig had no trouble with the one-year delay and didn’t request compensation for the contractual change.
Tech’s issue now is that 2015 vacancy.
Weaver said he would like to arrange a home-and-home against a program from one of the power conferences – Big Ten, Big 12, Southeastern, Pacific 12 – for 2015 and perhaps 2019. But he conceded that the gap between proposed games might be a deal-breaker for potential opponents.
I asked Weaver if he might schedule a one-time game for 2015 against a marquee opponent at a neutral venue such as the Washington Redskins’ or Baltimore Ravens’ stadium. Tech has played three games at Fed-Ex Field in suburban D.C., in the last nine seasons, versus Cincinnati, Boise State and Southern California.
“The only neutral site I’m interested in is the Chick-fil-A Kickoff,” Weaver said. “We have a great relationship with those people.”
The Hokies open the 2013 season in that Atlanta game against two-time defending national champion Alabama, as they did in 2009.
That moratorium on other neutral sites applies to Notre Dame as well. So when the Fighting Irish play the Hokies in the next rotation, in 2017, ’18, or ’19, the game will be at Lane Stadium.
Weaver said the Tech faithful who spend money on season tickets, club seats and suites deserve to see Notre Dame play in Blacksburg.
Although he plans to retire at the end of his current contract in December 2015, Weaver said he continues to work on home-and-homes for 2020-2021 and 2022-23 with Big Ten opponents he declined to identify.
Candidates might include Weaver’s alma mater, Penn State, Tech’s Sugar Bowl opponent from two seasons ago, Michigan. The Hokies play the Big Ten’s Ohio State in 2014 and ’15, Wisconsin in 2016 and ’17.
“I was a great proponent of nine conference games,” Weaver said. “Then you play a game against another BCS school and you only have two more (non-conference dates) to get.”
The ACC approved a nine-game league schedule after adding Syracuse and Pittsburgh to bring membership to 14 schools. But after welcoming Notre Dame for basketball and Olympic sports in exchange for those five annual football games, the ACC returned to its eight-game set-up.
“It takes an awful lot of time,” Weaver said of football scheduling. “You have to really use your contacts.”
Here are the Hokies’ non-conference games for the next seven seasons:
2013: Alabama in Atlanta, Western Carolina, at East Carolina, Marshall.
2014: William and Mary, East Carolina and Western Michigan at home; Ohio State on the road.
2015: Furman and Ohio State in Blacksburg; at East Carolina.
2016: Liberty, Wisconsin and East Carolina at home; Notre Dame on the road.
2017: Delaware and ODU at Lane; at Wisconsin and East Carolina.
2018: William and Mary and East Carolina at home; ODU on the road.
2019: Charlotte and ODU in Blacksburg; at East Carolina.
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