If you know me personally, you might know that I'm a big fan of driving twisty, turny, back roads. There's loads of them in Southwest Virginia that are not only really fun to drive but can provide some great views as well. (If you've never got off at Exit 128 and taken the back way to Blacksburg, I would advise you to do so at some point.) For me, it's one of the additional perks of living in this part of the Commonwealth.
Of course, back roads aren't always the safest roads and can be full of unexpected turns that catch you off guard and force you to check up more than you can imagine.
I'll always remember one night in college that I was driving back from the Salem area to Blacksburg and usually would take Bradshaw Road to the Ironto area and then work my way through the Ellett Valley given where I lived in Blacksburg.
This night though, I decided to take a different route home going down Blacksburg Road. It's a road I had rarely taken yet seemed like a faster way home and a new, fun route to drive more importantly.
While there was plenty of excitement initially, much of that went away quickly once I realized that this road was tighter than I was expecting, harder to judge where the edge of the road was given how dark it was, and had no lines in the middle or on the edges of the road to guide the path. There was some fun in it but it was one of those nights where I didn't realize the difficulty of the task ahead but the outcome proved to be like all the others fortunately, a safe trip home.
In many ways, that's where we're at with the Hokies after a surprising upset loss at Old Dominion to open the Brent Pry era. Yes, Tech largely outplayed ODU and handed the game away in many ways due to loads of turnovers and penalties, but there were also other issues that showed the depth of Tech's problems and the rebuild that'll be required to fix it.
I don't think anyone was under the impression that this wasn't going to be a rebuild that was going to take the time. But there was plenty of excitement to go down this back road that seemed like a familiar one, a road that you feel like you've travelled down before and been able to see the joy.
Instead, the ODU loss made us realize that this rebuild is a deeper one than most of us Tech fans and alums probably realized or at least wanted to admit was the case on a road that doesn't feel very familiar at all.
We thought the road would be lined or more distinct to see, but it wasn't. We thought that the turns wouldn't be as twisty but they were more than we expected. We thought that the tree cover and nature wouldn't be too close to the road but it was fraying our nerves.
It was an offseason that felt right, where the roots of what made Virginia Tech great were being embraced for a first time. It felt like Tech was no longer as deep in the wilderness in some regards but that return to home of being regularly in the top 25 and being nationally relevant maybe wasn't as far away as many nationally were hinting at.
Those things from the greatly improved in-state recruiting to the beginning of the restoration of traditions and the identity of what Tech football should be are good things that can't be forgotten even after the surprises of last night.
However, we got thrown a curveball of a road that was trickier than we thought yesterday, one that frayed our nerves and left us a little dizzy and exhausted when it was over wondering how we got here and how we underestimated what lied ahead.
Unlike how I only went down that road once, this road for Tech football is going to take a lot longer to travel, one that is going to be more twisty and turny this year than we thought.
Yesterday was the realization for Tech fans what many beyond the mountains of SW Virginia realized, that the road ahead is a deeper one than anyone could have imagined. Nerves and fears that Tech was getting left behind that had been quelled some by the offseason were brought back to the surface with another painful loss that damaged our great and rightful pride in Virginia Tech.
Going forward, patience and a calm head is going to be required with no guarantees of what the final destination will be. Understanding the magnitude of the rebuild is something that can no longer go overlooked or else the same unexpected twists and turns will catch us off guard again this year.
The question is where will this road lead us: back home to where Tech was for so long relevant in the national picture or deeper into the wilderness? It'll be a little bit before we have that answer so buckle up for the sharper turns, tighter roads, and darker paths than expected that lie ahead.