Several Hokies Enjoy Media Day
News From the Big Easy

December 31, 1999

By some strange twist of fate, the Nokia Sugar Bowl's media day took a rather dramatic turn.

Instead of the players getting interviewed, several of them conducted the interviewing.

Media darling Keith Short, tired of answering questions about his legendary trip to the Big Easy in 1995, grabbed the microphone from a WRIC television reporter and he and the cameraman started conducted interviews. Short's antics lightened the mood of the day and left everyone in stitches.

Short's first stop on his media tour - ESPN GameDay host Chris Fowler.

"Do you have any idea who I am?" Short asked Fowler.

"Of course," Fowler said. "You're the center. Believe it or not, I'm more than just the host of GameDay. I have studied both teams."

"Have you heard about my trip to New Orleans five years ago?" Short said.

"Oh yes," Fowler laughed.

Short asked several other questions before moving on to his next conquest - Tech head coach Frank Beamer.

"I tell ya what I'm worried about," Beamer said, laughing. "I'm worried about this interview right here."

"Coach, I want to know if we're going to get lunch any time soon," Short said. "I'm hungry."

"Keith, we're working on that," Beamer said. "John Ballein [Tech's assistant AD for football] is going to have a nice bag lunch for you."

"Coach, are you proud of me for persevering after that 1995 trip and making it back to New Orleans?" Short asked.

"Keith, I'm very proud of you," Beamer said.

Then he added laughing, "I think maturity has kicked in here."

Short also interviewed Tech president Dr. Paul Torgersen, offensive line coach Bryan Stinespring and several of the players. Those interviews will be shown on that Richmond television station in the near future.

"I might have a future in this field," Short said.

Short wasn't alone in his escapades. Tech kicker Shayne Graham also conducted several interviews, and he, like Short, interviewed Fowler. Graham is a communications major and has expressed an interest in getting into broadcasting.

The Hokies are getting tired of answering all the questions from the media. In fact, many of them are ready to play football.

"You answer the same questions every day," Short said. "It's just a different face asking them."

So the interviews conducted by the players relaxed everyone.


Changing his tune:
Tech defensive end John Engelberger held court on media day after Tech AD Jim Weaver told Engelberger to do an interview with ESPN's Steve Cyphers. Cyphers and Weaver are good friends and Engelberger, who normally shuns the media, did the interview.

"He asked me about being an NFL prospect," Engelberger said. "I told him I'm not a prospect. I'm just a slow, white guy who works hard. I'll probably be coaching high school football next year."

Everyone flocked to Engelberger after watching him do that interview. Amazingly, he conducted most of them.


Corso not revealing his cards:
ESPN Gameday analyst Lee Corso came to the media day, but he wouldn't reveal his pick for the national title. Corso, who picked the Hokies and the Seminoles to play for the title before the season, plans to reveal his pick the day of the game. So far this season, Corso is perfect in his predictions.

"I told Bobby Bowden I'm going for a perfect season just like him," Corso said. "He and I are old guys. We're battle for the AARP [American Association of Retired Persons] championship."


High praise for Vick:
Corso, surrounded by many members of the media, revealed his infatuation with Tech quarterback Michael Vick. He also delivered some disturbing news for Tech fans.

"Forget about it," he said when asked if he thinks Vick will stay in Blacksburg for four years. "I'd say two [years] and then he's gone.

"He's the best freshman quarterback I've seen and I've been around the game for 40 years. He can do it all."


Torgersen wins kicking battle:
In one of his last acts as the university president, Torgersen won a long anticipated kicking contest with associate AD Sharon McCloskey. Torgersen hit a beautiful 25-yard field goal, while McCloskey missed on her first attempt. And Torgersen showed no mercy, taking his new kicking shoe off right after he made it.

"It's over," he said.

McCloskey, however, did make a kick on her third try. But Torgersen refused to allow her any leeway.


Two return to practice:
Both cornerback Ronyell Whitaker and receiver Emmett Johnson returned to practice Friday. Whitaker showed no ill effects from a sprained knee suffered earlier in the week.

"It was a little tight at first," he said. "But once it loosened up, I was fine."

Johnson had his dislocated left index finger bandaged. But he practiced and showed very little trouble catching the ball.