Well, gang, it’s time to clean out the top drawer of the desk, one that’s grown too full of Post-It notes and story ideas, as we head toward Memorial Day Weekend 2011.
CRANK UP THE HYPE MACHINE: I was personally a bit surprised when Athlon ranked the Hokies No. 7 in it preseason football magazine. Athlon, however, has traditionally been remarkably accurate in forecasting Tech football, and it’s basing this pick on the Hokies’ returning talent, plus its schedule that, as of now, seems somewhat favorable. The magazine, which picks the Hokies and Florida State to meet in the ACC title game again, picks the Seminoles No. 4 in the preseason.
Another magazine, Lindy’s, picks Virginia Tech No. 12 in its preseason poll. Of course, these magazine polls mean nothing in reality and are generated to sell magazines, but the folks do their homework on all teams, rosters, returning players, plus, the all-important ‘schedule factor.’ Personal preference in these polls makes it highly subjective, too. For example, how could anyone rank a team that will be without its starting quarterback and its head coach for almost half the season in the top 10? Well, Ohio State will certainly be there despite missing those key ingredients for the first five games. There will probably be a surprise team in the ACC this year, too. Miami? NC State? Maryland? UNC? BC? But as of now, Hokies-‘Noles is still the safe bet.
NFL THOUGHTS: Gil Brandt, who was player personnel director for the Dallas Cowboys from 1960-1989, is writing a column these days for NFL.com. He recently ranked prospects for the 2012 NFL Draft and had Tech cornerback Jayron Hosley as the 23rd-best prospect. Since 1985, the Hokies have had only two defensive players picked in the first round of the NFL Draft – Bruce Smith and DeAngelo Hall (betcha didn’t know that, eh?). Anyway, Hosley looks like he’ll be the third regardless of whether he leaves after his junior year or stays for his senior season in 2012.
Another note: Brandt suggests 10 ACC players will be picked in the first round of next year’s NFL Draft – more than any other conference. He was also very high on North Carolina defensive tackle Quinton Coples and linebacker Zach Brown, whom he projects as first-round picks next year.
WOODY: Speaking of the Tar Heels, legendary Carolina voice Woody Durham announced his retirement earlier this spring after 40 years of serving as the play-by-play radio voice for UNC. Durham called more than 1,800 football and men's basketball games, including four NCAA men’s basketball championship victories, the 1982 and 1993 titles under Dean Smith as well as the 2005 and 2009 titles under Roy Williams.
As good as Durham was on the air, his class and the gentlemanly way in which he carried himself off the air is what made him such a popular figure at Carolina and throughout the ACC. He’ll be missed by Carolina fans and broadcasters everywhere, but I’ve got a hunch he’ll be at Kenan and in the Smith Center the next time we visit. Congrats, Woody, on a tremendous career.
HOKIE TENNIS: We recently held our annual sponsor dinner at Tech for all of the folks who are the Hokies’ corporate partners, and men’s tennis coach Jim Thompson was one of the guest speakers. It was enlightening to hear him talk about the tremendous success of his program. Under Thompson’s direction, the Hokies have made the NCAA Championships eight times in 13 years, including the past five years in a row. Getting into the NCAA Championships is tough in all sports and to accomplish it consistently year after year is even tougher. Thompson’s teams have very high GPA’s, and he recruits excellent students as well as outstanding players. This year’s senior class made the NCAA’s every year they attended Tech, which is a credit to their hard work.
IMG: As many of you know, ISP Sports is now IMG College. This was news, of course, from last summer’s blockbuster business deal (http://usat.ly/aSfC8j), but as a fan, you’ll hear more and see more IMG imaging this summer and once the football season begins in the fall. You can learn more about IMG College here (www.imgcollege.com) and how we’ve created an even stronger team – one that should open more doors to potential national sponsors interested in college sports marketing in general, and the Hokies specifically.
Virginia Tech IMG Sports Marketing will head up all Tech sponsorship endeavors. On the air, you’ll hear “Virginia Tech IMG Sports Network.” And while the name has changed slightly (a couple of letters, actually), the scope of what we’ll do is the same, just on a grander scale. More details to come on our radio and TV network lineups for this coming season, so please stay tuned!
STABILITY: When Penn State basketball coach Ed DeChellis resigned to take the coaching job at Navy this week, it left the Hokies and Texas Longhorns as the only two BCS schools remaining who have had the same head football and men’s basketball coaches since 2004. The Hokies (Frank Beamer and Seth Greenberg) and the Longhorns (Mack Brown and Rick Barnes) are the only two BCS schools that can make that claim. Hard to believe eh? It’s true. Virginia Tech is the only school in the ACC that’s had the same head coaches in football and men’s basketball since expansion in 2004. And, like Texas, the Hokies have had the same athletics director, Jim Weaver, in place since that time, too.
As for the ‘Horns, 73-year-old Texas AD DeLoss Dodds has been running the show in Austin since 1981. The stability and the success go hand in hand. Here’s a cut-and-paste stat: since ACC expansion, only Virginia Tech, Boston College and Florida State have cumulative winning records in both football and men’s basketball. That’s really astonishing, no?
CONVERSLY: And then there’s Miami. Since the Hokies last played the Hurricanes in football at Sun Life Stadium last November, the ‘Canes have hired a new football coach, a new AD and a new basketball coach. First, Al Golden, the former UVa assistant and Temple head coach, was hired to replace football coach Randy Shannon, who was fired following the 2010 season. Then, Shawn Eichorst, who had been the deputy AD at Wisconsin and at South Carolina from 2004-06 as senior associate AD, was hired as the school’s new athletics director on April 12. Finally, when basketball coach Frank Haith bolted for Missouri, Jim Larranaga, the head coach at George Mason, was hired to lead the ‘Canes program. That’s a lot of musical chairs and a big change for one school in a very short period of time.
Larranaga should experience immediate success – his team will probably be picked among the top four in the ACC next year and is a legit NCAA Tournament team at worst. As for Golden, he inherits perhaps the ACC’s most talented football team, and I’m interested in seeing how it plays out over the next few years because, to be honest, the success of the ‘Canes directly impacts the Hokies.
Football coaches who have won at Miami (Howard Schnellenberger, Jimmy Johnson, Dennis Erickson, Butch Davis) have bolted for more money or the NFL. Those who didn’t win really big year after year (Larry Coker and Shannon) were fired. Traditionally, that’s been Miami dilemma. If the coach contends for national championships yearly, an NFL team or a deep-pocketed rival will offer millions to hire him and he bolts. And if he doesn’t win at that very highest level, he gets canned. This is totally new era in Coral Gables, though, and all eyes will be on Golden this fall.
Maryland, which hired AD Kevin Anderson at the start of last season, has brought in Randy Edsall (football) and Mark Turgeon (men’s basketball). They’ll both start their first seasons in college park this year, too.
INJURY UPDATE: Good news on the injury front for the Hokies. Per Assistant Director of Athletics for Athletic Training Mike Goforth, Tech receiver Dyrell Roberts is “100 percent and back over 200 pounds for the first time.” Goforth said he’s never seen anyone so excited to get back on the field as Roberts, who endured a painful injury and rehab from his compartment syndrome incident in last year’s Georgia Tech game. Goforth says that lineman Greg Nosal, who had shoulder surgery, will be at 100 percent by the start of the second summer session and should be ready to for the opening of preseason practice. Safety Theron Norman, who also had shoulder surgery, could return by the end of September or early October, per Goforth.
MY KIND OF TOWN: I’m really looking forward to meeting Chicagoland Hokies on Saturday night, June 11 at a special Virginia Tech Alumni Association event at the 111 East Chestnut Street Building, which I’m told is “conveniently located” just off the “Magnificent Mile” across the street from Mike Ditka’s restaurant. Here are the details and a wonderfully designed PDF flier that no doubt has been posted on light poles throughout Chicago: http://www.chicagohokies.org/bill-roth-voice-of-the-hokies/
We’re going to drop a little Orange & Maroon into the heart of Big Ten country for a night and have a blast, so please spread the word.
First, congratulations on a very interesting and informative broadcast format you and Mike offer. One of my broadcasting heroes, Brad Sham of the Cowboys network (he is the only thing I like about detested Jerry Jones' organization) is so honest and knows the team so well. I recall many years ago when the Cowboys were playing at Green Bay and he said, “Folks, this is just not a very good Cowboys team.” Wow. But to the point – my son is a graduate of Stanford and we took the opportunity of a lifetime to go meet in Miami and go to the game together. He met a bunch of his buddies from both undergrad and business school (both Stanford) there and it's no surprise they were a tremendously impressive group. I enjoyed being the only Hokie in the group.
We watched the game separately; I in the VT section (Charles Steger's box, actually), and he with his friends in the Stanford section. It was the most decisive trouncing I've ever seen Tech suffer, at least in 20 years, or as my questionable memory allows. I had season tickets for nearly 20 years, giving them up only three years ago due to the cost of going to one or two games a year and the hassle of travel these days, plus the fact that I get to watch VT on HD TV now for most of the games. But watching them unravel, letting Stanford go on that 97-yard drive in three plays, play with them on defense and humiliate them. It was just too much.
I suppose that was what caused Coach Beamer to make the substantial changes this past year. I think you have commented on this already, and most of us want to put last year behind us since it was so difficult at the Orange Bowl and the team looks promising this year. I'm wondering if you ever saw a Tech football team get so thoroughly beaten in the last decade. Stanford literally was playing with them the last portion of the fourth quarter. It was really sad.
Thanks for representing Tech so well over the air. I follow you and Mike on both football and basketball on XM radio and over the Internet.
Regards, Jim George, Austin, Texas.
Thanks for your very kind words and for listening down in Texas. But why did you have to bring up such a bad memory from this past January? Geez. To answer your question, the only other game in the past decade that was similar was that 2007 game at LSU. Long night for our guys. 48-7, remember? Trying to forget that one, too! Regardless, you have good taste in Brad Sham, no doubt one of the best ever to call games. He’s a legend in our business.
Several years ago, you printed a list that showed Virginia Tech’s preseason and postseason rankings. Could you please re-print that and update it? I couldn’t find that information dating back to the 90’s. Thanks so much.
H. Ramsdale, DC
Here is where Virginia Tech landed in the preseason and final (post-bowl game) AP poll each year over the past 18 seasons.
|Year||Preseason Poll||Final Poll|
First let me thank you for sharing your time w/me during one of my recent visits to Blacksburg. I'm glad I finally met you in the flesh. That said, I thought you'd be interested in a recent article I read in the ESPN the Magazine that ties active NFL players to their colleges. Not surprisingly, the SEC accounts for 308 active NFL players, but amazingly enough, the ACC is second w/278, followed, in order by the B10 (256), B12 (221), PAC-10 (215) and BE (115) among the six (6) BCS conferences. The others account for 641. Obviously w/the impending re-alignment of CU (16) and Utah (21) to the PAC-10 and Nebraska (29) to the B10, changes in order will follow.
When it comes to individual schools, Miami (45) and LSU (44) lead all comers. Here's where it gets interesting. In the ACC, Tech is tied for sixth place w/BC, w/23 players, behind FSU (31), UMD (29) and GT and UVa (25 each). Thus, whereas Miami has nearly twice as many former players in the NFL, they have not only not won an ACC title in the seven years we've both been in the league, but they've never finished ahead of us in the Coastal Division either.
Further, consider that since 1995, we've beaten the 'Canes 10 out of 16! Year in and year out, they have more talent than we do, but we win and they don't. Is it then any surprise they're now working on their fourth coach since then? All this to prove coaching matters, and we're lucky to have one of the best. Larry Cherney, Annandale.
Thanks for your note. Yes, we have a tremendous coaching staff in Blacksburg, and it looks like it got even better this spring. The number of NFL players from Miami is staggering, and that’s why I noted the hiring of Golden earlier in this report. If Miami can get its players coached up and keep them from bolting to the NFL early, they’re going to be a handful in the Coastal.
Good Afternoon Bill,
Love reading your column and hearing your thoughts on the Hokies. I also follow Gregg Easterbrock on espn.com and appreciate the attention he pays to concussion risks and how the NFL and collegiate sports needs to set the example for the high school and youth leagues. I found the following article (http://www.vtnews.vt.edu/articles/2011/05/051011-engineering-helmetratings.html) connected to the hokiesports page and was shocked that the article said that the college of biomedical engineering was paying to replace the helmets of the football team and not the athletics department. The engineering department should be using its money to fund further research and not pay for new helmets for the football team. Astounded that our athletics department wouldn't have the funds needed to make sure the football players have appropriate equipment. And if the athletics department isn't providing the newer helmets to the players, is it possible the players won't be required to wear the newer helmets?
Looking forward to hearing you speak in Chicago in June! Thanks!
Thanks for your note Gretchen. Good question.
Over the past seven years, the engineering department and the football program have engaged in an on-going study that the article mentions. As part of that research, the engineering department is going to buy 40 maroon helmets in the next step of the study. I talked this over with Mike Goforth, who said that, in addition, athletics is buying hundreds of other of the newer helmets (various colors) for the rest of the team. “This season, every kid on our team will be wearing a Speed or Revolution helmet,” Goforth told me. So, whether the Hokies are wearing white, orange, maroon, or black helmets, every player will have the Speed or Revolutions moving forward.
See you in Chicago.
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