Last weekend, what was the then-ranked 13th national college football program, Blacksburg’s Virginia Tech, played Harrisonburg’s James Madison University as a “gimme,” an early season practice game. Their world was rocked when JMU, a smaller division I-AA program beat them, 21-16. Tech, then 0-2, dropped from sight on the top-25 ranking.
Virginia Tech’s a sore loser. According to the Harrisonburg, VA Daily News Record, the school contacted James Madison University’s foundation this week threatening “legal action” if JMU students Rick Metzger and Ben Rellick continue to market a t-shirt commemorating the upset victory.
The t-shirt isn’t obscene, in poor taste, or demonstrate poor sportsmanship – at least unless one is an exceedingly thin-skinned Virginia Tech fan. According to Metzger and Rellick, graphic majors at the university, the t-shirt design consisted of a front-sided turkey, a “Hokie,” – Virginia Tech’s logo – with the back of the shirt listing each school’s name, the score and the game date. Oh, and the statement “Thanksgiving came early this year” also graced the front with the turkey symbol.
Jeremy Hunt, the Daily News Record reporter who wrote our local story added that neither Virginia’s Tech’s Legal Counsel and University Relations’ Licensing and Trademark Administration nor the James Madison University Foundation could be reached for comment on Friday.
Metzger and Rellick quickly redesigned the t-shirt and another version has been approved and is available for sale.
Our local Daily News Record does not publish a Sunday edition. However, a quick search of the online edition of The Roanoke Times, a largely pro-Hokie paper in nearby Roanoke, failed to find even a mention of the dispute. Virginia Tech’s archrival, the University of Virginia, didn’t deign to even look in the direction of the argument (although cheers were heard from the area shortly after JMU’s victory last Saturday). Even Virginia Tech’s own student paper failed to cover the “story” of the unapproved t-shirts.
The irony of Virginia Tech’s outrage over the t-shirts did not escape Daily News Record readers who responded to the article on the paper’s website. As Virginia Tech has freely created such apparel following their victories over the University of Virginia in the past, terms such as “sore losers,” “poor losers,” and “sour grapes” pop up freely. Who knew there were so many homonyms for Hokies?