Hokies' Short-Term Pain, Long-Term Gain

The Orange Bowl loss is "heartbreaking" for Sean Glennon (7), but "I think we helped the Virginia Tech community with this football season," he said.
The Orange Bowl loss is "heartbreaking" for Sean Glennon (7), but "I think we helped the Virginia Tech community with this football season," he said. (By Doug Benc -- Getty Images)
By Adam Kilgore
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 5, 2008

MIAMI, Jan. 4 -- It seemed a little unfair that Sean Glennon's season would end like this, sitting at his stall in the sullen Virginia Tech locker room with his face in his hands, a team official patting him on the shoulder and telling him he had better take a shower before the bus left.

Glennon was many things this season: an eloquent team spokesman, a deposed starting quarterback, an afterthought, a comeback story, a resurgent hero. And now, after the Hokies' 24-21 loss to Kansas in the Orange Bowl on Thursday, his only reward was wondering what comes next.

With spring practice some three months away, the Hokies in some ways are back to where they were during several portions of this season: They must decide whether Glennon, Tyrod Taylor or both will lead their offense, a story line that will dominate until the decision is made.

It will be difficult. Glennon will be a senior next fall, and he has built an extremely tight bond with quarterbacks coach Mike O'Cain. More importantly, his play was competent at worst, stellar at best once he returned in midseason from his benching. But Taylor's strong arm, running ability and humble demeanor make it nearly impossible to confine him to the sideline. (His talents, however, were not in evidence in the Orange Bowl, when he completed 1 of 3 passes for 11 yards, ran five times for minus-two yards and was sacked twice.)

Speculation will rage until spring practice and, most likely, through the summer as to whether Virginia Tech will use the dual-quarterback system once again.

"I don't want to say yes or no," O'Cain said. "But it's a possibility. If you asked me last year at this time, I would have said no. It's something that we'll consider. We'll go into spring practice battling. If they continue to both play well, we'll decide at some point in time."

The goal of the decision will be to improve Virginia Tech's recent bowl record, which dropped to 1-4 in its past five bowl games. The senior class departs having won more games than any other in school history and having made Virginia Tech, along with Texas and Southern California, one of three schools to win at least 10 games the past four seasons. But while the Trojans and Longhorns have each won a national title in that span, the Hokies have found scant success in the postseason.

"I wish I had an answer for you for that," outgoing defensive end Chris Ellis said. "We couldn't find the secret out for that with all the wins we had. As much as we pride ourselves on finishing strong, it's kind of plagued the program and our class."

Said Beamer of the latest loss: "We were ready. We had a good week of practice and all those things."

Years from now, even for Glennon, this season likely will be remembered fondly. The Hokies won 11 games and the ACC championship in the wake of campus tragedy.

"Right now, I'm feeling real low," Glennon said Thursday. "I'm disappointed. It's heartbreaking to put so much into a game and lose. But at the same time, I think we helped the Virginia Tech community with this football season. [The Orange Bowl] didn't go the way we wanted it to, but it doesn't take away some of the things we accomplished this year. Once the dust settles and I really look back on it, it was an amazing experience."

© 2008 The Washington Post Company