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    The Kroger Roth Report
    June 23, 2014
    Tech's first decade in ACC a success; has programs wanting even more
    The Roth Report
    By Bill Roth

    July 1 will mark the 10th anniversary of Virginia Tech’s entrance into the Atlantic Coast Conference. What a decade, eh? It has been a quick and ultra-successful 10 years since the Hokies’ logo was first added to the walls at the ACC’s office in Greensboro, North Carolina, and while 2004 began a new era in Tech athletics, so, too, does 2014.

    If you think about it, 2004 marked the beginning of a clearly definable new chapter in Tech history. And with a new president, athletics director and men’s basketball coach on board, 2014 will as well.

    The question in front of all of us is: Can the next 10 years be as successful for Virginia Tech as the past 10? With more schools – including some with some substantially larger budgets – joining the conference, winning league titles will be harder than ever for everyone.

    Tech has won 18 ACC titles since 2004, including four in football. Only Florida State – with two – has also won multiple football titles during the past decade. In addition, Tech has won more games – both conference and non-conference games – than any other ACC team since 2004.

    Most wins. Most titles. That's a good decade.

    Tech has reached the College Cup in both men’s and women’s soccer and had its wrestling and golf teams ranked in the top-10. Its tennis, track and field, cross country, swimming and diving programs have been consistent league title contenders and NCAA participants.

    Tech – unlike its conference brothers in Chapel Hill, Atlanta and Coral Gables – has avoided the NCAA’s penalty box, too.

    And academically – as David Teel wrote in an excellent piece last month – the Hokies, Clemson, Duke and Georgia Tech are the only ACC schools with a four-year APR of 970 or higher in football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball and baseball. You can read David’s complete story here.

    The biggest impact of being in the ACC, of course, is financially. For example, Tech reported revenues of about $39 million during its final year in the BIG EAST. By comparison, last year Tech’s revenues were more than $70 million. (For reference, please see the USA Today’s annual report on NCAA Finances).

    Thanks to ACC revenue distribution and other contracted revenue streams such as Tech’s multi-media rights agreement with IMG, which has built-in escalators, Tech’s revenue will continue to increase annually.

    So on the field, in the classroom, in compliance and in finances, 2004-14 was a tremendous decade for Tech.

    What’s next?

    Well, here is what we do know:

    More than 50,000 Hokies have graduated from Tech since 2004. That’s a lot of potential season-ticket buying, Hokie Club-joining, key-waving Hokie fans. But they’re a group that is used to winning and winning big. They’re also culturally a different group, one that is more likely to get its news and socially connect via Twitter, Instagram or some other social media site. How teams – and to be honest, companies everywhere – engage that demo will determine success.

    New ACC members Notre Dame and Louisville spend more than Tech – a lot more. Per the 2013 figures, Notre Dame’s ($109 million) and Louisville’s ($96 million) revenues for 2013 were greater than any existing ACC team. Florida State ($91 million) was the only team close. Yes, the ACC’s latest expansion will help the league overall in terms of quality athletes, coaches and programs, but it will make it a lot harder for everyone to win ACC titles. Clearly, Tech AD Whit Babcock showed he’s willing to ante up in key sports – like men’s basketball – and that’s a good thing. To compete in this league, the Hokies will have to spend like they’ve never spent before.

    In Babcock and new university president Tim Sands, the Hokies have fresh ideas and perspectives. It’s a new day at Tech, both at Burruss Hall and within athletics, and that’s why 2014 is similar to 2004 in that there’s a clear demarcation point in the timeline of the Tech program.

    I think back to the Hokies’ first 10 years in the ACC and think of those four football titles, wins over No. 1-ranked UNC and Duke in basketball, Angela Tincher throwing a no-hitter vs. Team USA, the incredible success of Queen Harrison, the emergence of Tech’s various Olympic sports teams, and so many other amazing stories in the pools, on the courts and in the classrooms. During Tech’s BIG EAST days from 1994-2004, Tech’s average finish in the Learfield Sports Director’s Cup was 91st. Now, the Hokies are consistently ranked among the top 10 percentile of schools nationwide, finishing among the top 30-40 programs annually. That’s been exciting to watch.

    But even more exciting is what’s in store for Tech fans in the coming years. A resurgence – or perhaps the better word is “renaissance” – in men’s basketball is underway. The leadership on campus and the demographics of the Tech alumni base has never been stronger.

    So, on July 1, take a moment to toast the success of the past 10 years. It’s been a very remarkable time. But understand the next 10 have a chance to be even sweeter.

    Dear Bill,
    Does true freshman Chris Durkin have a chance to see the field this year? Anthony, Salem, Ohio.

    Anthony,
    That’s a great question. Until preseason camp opens, it will be really impossible to get an accurate read on the Hokies’ 2014 quarterback situation. It would be great to redshirt both freshman quarterbacks. But that might be unlikely for this team. My sense is offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler will play the top two quarterbacks this fall – regardless of class.

    Dear Bill,
    How does new defensive lineman Wade Hansen look? Will he play a vital role this year? Bill, Troy, New York.

    Bill,
    Hansen played at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a Division III school in his hometown of Troy, New York, before transferring to Tech last year. He’s a reserve defensive tackle behind Luther Maddy, Corey Marshall, Nigel Williams, Vinny Mihota and Woody Baron, who is coming off ankle surgery. I know the coaches really like Wade, and he’ll have a chance to contribute somewhere this fall, if not at tackle, then maybe on special teams. He’s a great addition to Tech’s program.

    Bill,
    Assuming Michael Brewer (or whoever) is at least adequate at quarterback, I think Tech can win the division! The schedule stinks from a fan standpoint (we don’t play any of the good teams in the ACC), but that’s good in terms of getting back to the ACC title game. We need the offense to get better, and we will be in Charlotte. Thanks and GO HOKIES! Paul, Roanoke, Virginia.

    Paul:
    My keys for the Hokies’ success this fall deal with offensive efficiency. They are:

    • Run the ball better. Tech finished 13th in the ACC last year, averaging just 119.8 yards rushing per game and just 3.2 yards per carry.
    • Fewer interceptions. Tech quarterbacks threw 15 interceptions last season.
    • Better kicking. No ACC team attempted more field goals last year than Tech (26) and no team missed more either. The Hokies misfired on 11 field goals last season! Eleven misses in one season is a historically bad number for Tech.

    So, when you add up interceptions (15), missed field goals (11) and failed fourth-down conversions (7), you basically have 33 turnovers for the season. That’s not a recipe for winning. The run game is the key to it all, so let’s see how that group performs. Thanks for your note.

    Dear Bill,
    Saw your tweet regarding radio coverage here in Northeast Tennessee, and am pleased that WFHG will be carrying the Hokies for years to come. For those of us who live here, we get lots of Vols talk every day, but hearing you and Mike makes it somewhat bearable! We’re looking forward to the game at BMS, which will be one of the greatest sporting events ever in Tennessee. Thanks and GO HOKIES! Rip, Kingsport, Tennessee.

    Thanks Rip,
    WFHG-FM, “SuperTalk” has indeed extended its contract to carry Tech sports for three more years, and we’re delighted with our partnership. Of note: the station is now on 92.9 FM and has been reclassified by the FCC as a “C2” station. In simple terms, that means it’s now a 50,000-watt FM station with an exceptional coverage area in eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina. And it’s a great home for the Hokies! Thanks for listening.

    Dear Bill,
    Do you think the ACC will have a shot at having teams in the four-team playoff? It seems like the BCS seemed to favor the SEC and Big 10 and the “committee” may do the same. I’d hate to see Tech (or any ACC team) get left out because of conference affiliation and because of a typical Big 10 bias like what usually happened in the BCS era. Dan, Norfolk, Virginia.

    Dan,
    If there was any “bias” in the BCS era, it was in the weekly poll voting process. Computers handled everything else, as you may recall. The new committee will be similar to the NCAA basketball committee and rely on various criteria. And by the way, during the 18-year run of the BCS, only one Big 10 team (Ohio State) ever played in the BCS title game – and the Buckeyes went three times. In fact, in the history of the BCS, only 15 teams ever played for the BCS title. The playoff will be much more exciting, eh? Here’s a list of teams by conference that made the BCS title game and the won-loss record in the BCS title game of each:

    SEC (5)
    Alabama (3-0)
    Florida (2-0)
    LSU (2-1)
    Auburn (1-1)
    Tennessee (1-0)

    ACC (3)
    Florida State (2-2)
    Miami (1-1)*
    Virginia Tech (0-1)*

    BIG 12 (3)
    Oklahoma (1-3)
    Texas (1-1)
    Nebraska (0-1)

    BIG 10 (1)
    Ohio State (1-2)

    PAC-12 (2)
    USC (1-1)**
    Oregon (0-1)

    Independent (1)
    Notre Dame (0-1)

    *-Member of BIG EAST at time of game
    **-Vacated win of 2005 Orange Bowl

    Dear Bill,
    I want to ask you about stability on the offensive line. There has been a problem at Tech with recruiting great offensive linemen, or at least getting really good play from the guys we have. We have had three different o-line coaches in the past three seasons, so for guys like David Wang or Caleb Farris, they’ve had a different position coach each season. Do you think that’s had an impact on offensive line recruiting, and thus, performance? I’m eager to hear your answer. Tom, Radford, Virginia.

    Tom,
    Any time you have three coaches in three seasons, it can be a real challenge for the players. However, Curt Newsome (2012), Jeff Grimes (2013) and Stacy Searels (2014) are all really excellent coaches, so that’s probably not as much of an issue as you might think in this instance. Tech’s missed on some offensive line recruits, and some others didn’t pan out as hoped. Injuries have hurt as well. It’s been a combination of things, but last year, the Hokies got Grimes more involved in offensive line recruiting, regardless of the geographic area of the prospect. Tech signed a nice group of linemen in February, and that’s a major focus for 2015 as well.

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    The Roth report appears monthly in Inside Hokie Sport and is posted for the general public on hokiesports.com.

    The opinions expressed here are solely those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Virginia Tech Athletics Department, hokiesports.com, or its advertisers.
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