The road not taken has always been a source of endless fascination in life, and so it is with college football recruiting as well. Michael Vick signed with Virginia Tech in 1998, but he nearly ended up at Syracuse, if not for one well-intentioned mom.
"I really want him to stay in Virginia," Vick's mother said, according to McNabb.
Despite Vick's enthusiasm for Syracuse, mom won out and the dynamic dual-threat quarterback ended up a Hokie, representing a turning point for the two programs.
As a redshirt freshman, Vick led Virginia Tech to an undefeated regular season, the Big East championship and a berth in the 2000 Sugar Bowl for the BCS championship. In that game against Florida State, Vick accounted for 322 yards of total offense and one touchdown, propelling Virginia Tech to a 29-28 advantage late in the third quarter, but the Seminoles would run off 18 straight points in the fourth quarter to claim the title.
Still, that season and Vick's electrifying presence announced Virginia Tech as one of the standout programs in college football.
Without a capable successor to McNabb, Syracuse fell into a major funk almost as soon as he exited to be drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the first round. Under four head coaches, Syracuse has not won an outright conference championship and has recorded double-digit wins just once in the post-McNabb era.