College football’s Week 1 didn’t produce any earthshattering storylines. Mack Brown, Justin Fields, Tennessee, Bo Nix….a few of the names that made small headlines. There were two games that featured division opponents against each other; only one of them made a ripple, and it was the one with a preordained outcome because Vandy is as bad at football as they are good at baseball.
Even Hugh Freeze’s back spasms made more noise in the media than UVA’s win over last year’s division champion.
This is partly because UVA did it in grindingly efficient fashion rather than because of star-power highlight stuff. Also partly because it’s still taking people a while to get used to the idea that UVA is any good at football. Both are understandable to an extent. The Heisman-obsessed media would rather see Justin Fields account for five TDs against Florida Atlantic, even if some of them were to wide receivers so open that you and I could make the throw. Throwing for 184 yards, as Bryce Perkins did, doesn’t interest people.
The one thing UVA-Pitt did have going for it is the major implications in a P5 division race, so on that level it’s a little disappointing there wasn’t more attention paid. I call it the biggest game in the ACC this week after all’s said and done. UNC beating South Carolina is a plus for the conference; the Florida teams fell flat but without much effect on the ACC’s positioning and none on the actual conference standings; BC over VT was a joy but it doesn’t say as much about BC as UVA’s win about UVA, because VT did it to themselves as much as BC did, what with five turnovers and all. It’s interesting that VT spent a lot of time talking about renewed harmony going into the season and spent most of their first game playing like it not at all – but from a standpoint of predicting who might find their way to the ACC title game, the Atlantic is unchanged and the Coastal is more informed from UVA’s win than Tech’s loss.
Still – nada. I mean, the Coastal will have no effect on the national title chase, and it’s not in the SEC and its flagship programs are in slo-mo decline, so none of the formula exists for getting any ink thrown its way. UVA basketball needed a few seasons of far better than “pretty good” results to get any attention, so UVA football is not ready to blip any radars yet.
It’s going to be this way for a little while. From where I sit writing and you sit reading, this kind of win is better, and not just because of the opponent. It’s more sustainable. Not just for the next 11-13 games, but into seasons of the future. Bronco Mendenhall isn’t going to recruit any five-star quarterbacks, because even though those guys don’t mind hard work, they still expect a few certain things to be given them, because they always have been. Like a jersey number. But what he will do is consistently put people into position to make plays. It’s called “outcoaching,” and it’s going to keep happening on every day of the week for as long as he’s employed.