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Thanks for joining us! We write about sports, food, life and anything else interesting here in Ashburn and Loudoun County, all while cramming as many features into the site as possible.

Our staff consists of one old man and a dog named Maggie The WonderBeagle. Want to know more? Click on the icon below:

About Us

Biggest Issue With The Hokies Yesterday Wasn't On The Field

Lord knows, there were plenty of things in yesterday’s Virginia Tech-Pitt game to be unhappy with.

But for me, it wasn’t the predictable play calls, the missed tackles, the going for it on 4th and 4 and only getting 3, or losing by a wide margin to a team that had lost 4 of its last 5 and had 16 players out.

It was a single answer by Justin Fuente to a fair question by Richmond’s Mike Barber after the game.

The question involved the Hokie offense and the perception of a lack of imagination in play calling that has been voiced by many Hokie fans on social media. The team had gotten off to a great start offensively, averaging over 40 points a game and going 3-1 in their first four games.

But a wheel seemed to come off the high-scoring bus at Wake Forest, as Virginia Tech was held to only 16 points in a loss to the Deacons. The Hokies have now lost 4 of their last 5, and instead of averaging 40, they scored 16 against Wake, 24 against Miami and only 14 yesterday against Pitt.

During those games, there have been flashes of versatility and imagination that led to big plays. But when things got tight, the Hokies seemed to crawl back into their shell and run the same handful of plays they always run, specifically a quarterback keeper by Hendon Hooker.

Because of that, Barber asked the question many fans would like to know the answer to: With an open date coming up, which would allow for some changes to be made that would address some of the shortcomings shown during the current 3-game losing streak, would Fuente consider taking over play calling for the final two games of the regular season?

Fuente reacted with not only disgust, but almost contempt for Barber. “That’s the most ludicrous crap I’ve ever heard. Next question.”

I’ll take that as a no, coach.

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Even My Dog Knows Nothing Is Going To Change Right Now

As I do every Sunday morning, I got some hot coffee, then Maggie the WonderBeagle and I thrashed out the results of the previous day’s Virginia Tech football game. It was another loss, and I was trying to develop some level of outrage about how the state of the program has fallen so far since the glory days of the 90s and early 2000s.

I couldn’t.

It was at this point Maggie looked up from sniffing every leaf in the back yard and said “why would you? Do you really think anything’s going to change?”

Admittedly, the hound is right.

If you take yourself through what would happen if you made the change this morning, you see the foolishness of such a move. Unless you’ve got a name coach ready to come in tomorrow who can lead the program back to the 10-win seasons of yesterday, the first thing you’d have to do is name an interim coach for the rest of the season.

That alone says to fans we’re punting on the rest of the season, not to mention the question of which assistant would you elevate to the job temporarily. This isn’t your father’s program where if Frank Beamer left, Bud Foster could grab the helm and the program would keep on trucking. Indeed, one of the bigger issues on this team is the performance of some of the key assistants. You going to promote one of them?

Then there is the danger that the assistant does really well those last few games. With nothing to lose, many times the team plays better as they rally around their teammates. Then there’s pressure to let the interim stay as the head coach, the school does it for the sake of continuity, and you soon realize why that coach was an assistant and not a head whistle.

You certainly don’t save any money in that scenario, as you’re going to pay the head coach any way. If anything, it costs you more because you have to pay the assistant you promoted more. So you’ve spent money you don’t have just to make a change that doesn’t make the situation any better.

I’m not arguing you shouldn’t consider a change at the end of the season. But this is an unusual year where all players get a mulligan and can come back next year regardless of eligibility. And there is a possibility that head coach Justin Fuente might just “get it” before the end of the season. There were signs of that yesterday.

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Maybe The Problem Here Is A Matter Of Trust

It has taken me 8 games into the season to see it, but I think I now have a feeling why this program isn’t going anywhere.

It’s a decided lack of trust. Or for lack of a better word, fear.

Not just fear of dialing up a daring play when the game is on the line, although that certainly happened in the fourth quarter. The coaching staff actually put together an imaginative offensive game plan where early plays set up later plays and for three quarters, they ran it well. It wasn’t until the fourth period that they became like a turtle going back into its shell, afraid to do anything other than the basic core plays they run all the time.

But I’m talking about more than that.

One of the things you’ve probably noticed if you’ve been a long-time watcher of Virginia Tech football is that the most hated man in Blacksburg is always the offensive coordinator. Half of the profane words I have accumulated into my vocabulary were acquired sitting up high on the alumni side of Lane Stadium around the 20, listening to old-timers describe the job they thought Ricky Bustle was doing.

Fans weren’t much kinder to Gary Tranquil, Bryan Stinespring or Scot Loeffler, and under Justin Fuente, Brad Cornelsen is the man getting his time in the barrel.

Over the years, sometimes the brutal criticism has been warranted. Other times it has not.

But if you’ll look at the years when the Hokies’ performed well no matter who the OC was, I think there’s a trend that’s hard to ignore.

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One Year Ago, We Both Found What We Were Looking For

This morning, Maggie the WonderBeagle crawled up in my lap to rest up from a tough 12 minutes running around a 37-degree cold backyard to, as we say, “take care of business.”

As I always do, I rubbed her head and ears, gave her the extra treat I always keep in my pocket for her, and told her it’s hard to believe that one year ago, we met, and my wife and I took her home to live here forever.

I asked her if she felt any different.

Almost on cue, she jumped down from my lap, walked out to her kennel, grabbed the pink blanket my wife wraps her with every night when she goes to sleep, then dropped it from her mouth to my lap as if to tell me she’d like blanket service before her morning nap.

I guess she didn’t have a personal butler one year ago to take care of such things.

She didn’t have anything a year ago. She was only 10 weeks old, but she’d spent some of that time roaming the back roads of South Carolina, where she got to meet animal control and ended up spending some nights in a kill shelter. Then after being rescued by HART (Homeless Animal Rescue Team), she spent a week with two different foster families.

I’d like to think she was out looking for me.

We had just lost 2 dogs in the last 12 months. They lived to be 16 and led full lives, but now the house was empty of animals. If you’ve had pets your entire life, you know the feeling. Your head says don’t get another one for a while and grieve. Your heart, however, tells you that you need another animal to love and the place is always going to feel empty until you do.

A year ago, I said wait. My wife  - as she often does -  ignored me and found a candidate. I’ve always liked Beagles, and this little spud weighed all of 8 pounds; a perfect lap dog. We went to Petsmart, and the little dog looked at me as if she was asking “what’s your story?”

Indeed, her life had been a revolving door of people, so for all she knew, we were more temps. But that night after being bombarded with toys, treats and blankets, she came back to my office and crawled into my lap. She soon let out a contented sigh as we watched a football game together.

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Explain To Me Again Why You Don't Care About Saturday's Game?

After finishing what I believe was my 8,000th career pizza on a Friday night for dinner, was just noticing a few people on Twitter saying they really don’t care about the game tomorrow with Miami after last week’s disappointing loss to Liberty.

I get it, I really do. Actually heard an old friend say the same today.

But here’s five things I’d counter with:

  1. This isn’t some nameless team of people who come and go any given week wearing a jersey that says Virginia Tech on it. It’s Hendon Hooker and Quincy Patterson and Tre Turner and young men we’ve seen and gotten to know the last few years. I don’t care what jersey they’re wearing, they’ve become family. Family doesn’t give up on family when things get tough.
  2. It’s Miami. The U. The team that’s always back once they win more than one game in a row. Yeah, they’ve got some good players, but they've always got good players. They talk the talk yet rarely walk the walk. Many years ago, the Dallas Cowboys were perceived this way and one day after San Francisco was routing them at halftime, viewership actually went up in the second half despite the game having no suspense to it. People just wanted to tune in to see the Cowboys get their backsides kicked. Miami is like that too.
  3. If you play golf, you know you’re not going out on the links and shooting 70. You’re playing for moments, like that birdie on No. 5, or the 5-iron on the par-3 No. 12 that just missed being a hole in one. Then you drink a lot of beer and make it sound like it was much better than it was. Well, that’s also the way Virginia Tech football is going to be this year. Remember that win over N.C. State with half the team not playing? That was the birdie on No. 5. The loss to Liberty was the driver in the woods than turned into an 8. Tomorrow could be that 5-iron on the par-3, which is the beauty of this team. You know it has weapons, just like you have a bag of golf clubs. Question becomes if in either situation, the tools are used correctly.
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Doug Johnson

Big Ten

You might want to reconsider the diss of Indiana and Rutgers.......
Sunday, 22 November 2020 15:37

Podcast 3: Ricky Don't Lose That Number...To Call Into The Podcast

Episode 3 of our podcast is now complete, and it features the man who is most responsible for us diving into the podcast end of the pool.

That would be Ricky LaBlue

Ricky is a great young sports journalist and is representative of the field his generation has to play on: being a writer, being a broadcaster via podcasts, and being a social media personality to engage readers and subscribers.

I've always felt comfortable writing, but wasn't sure I had the technological capabilities to do what I think makes a great podcast: the ability to talk with another person or two all while making it not sound like one of you is in a studio and the other is using a string and a tin can a few blocks away.

Ricky pointed us in the right direction to set all that up, so it was only natural that he be the first guest. We of course talked about Virginia Tech, but even got to tell a few stories, one that even involved Clemson Coach Danny Ford and two half gallons of vodka.

Spoiler: Danny won the drinking game.

So give it a listen. Search for “The Old Man And The DD” on just about any podcast app to find us, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts in addition to several more. We do all our podcasts on  Anchor, so you can either listen on their app, or you click and subscribe here.

When you're done with that, check out Ricky's work at the LaBlue Review and his podcast work at Hokie Hangover.

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There Are Some Hokie Memories That Just Last Forever

I have to admit, I’m getting tired of all the negative Virginia Tech stories. I understand they need to be written, and I’ve written several myself. But it’s a rainy Wednesday that’s probably going to turn into a rainy Thursday, so I’m ready to read something positive.

As noted in a previous post, I was digging through the basement for some old newspaper clips involving Wichita State Coach Gregg Marshall last night. Having found what I was looking for, I returned to the basement this morning to put them away. In the box I was returning these artifacts to was the program you see to the right.

Which sparked one of the greatest Hokie memories I’ll ever have.

That game back in 1995 wasn’t one filled with joy and anticipation. My wife and I had sat out in the rain the previous week against Cincinnati, a miserable contest where Virginia Tech didn’t even score. They were 0-2 after losing to Boston College in the opener, and there were even grumbles in the car driving to Lane Stadium that we may have wasted a bunch of money for these season tickets if they were going to continue playing like this.

As history will note, the Hokies bounced back in this game, beat Miami, and would not lose the rest of the season, winning 10 straight and culminating in a program-defining win over Texas in the Sugar Bowl.

But that’s not what made the day special.

As I noted in a different story the other day, the world was not only given the likes of Chase Elliot in 1995, but also received a beautiful baby girl born to a single mother in Eastern North Carolina. She would later become our daughter, but it was not without some legal issues that made for more than a few sleepless nights for my wife and I. We had hired a lawyer to help us get through all these issues, and as we were driving from High Point, NC to Blacksburg, my Leroy Jethro Gibbs-style Motorola Startac flip phone rang.

We were on I-77 closing in on the North Carolina/Virginia line, and it was the attorney. She had good news, explaining that the last of the paperwork had been completed Friday, and everything was in order so that Monday morning, we could go get our new daughter and bring her home with us.

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Just Because You Can Combine Ingredients Doesn't Mean You Should

An old friend once called it culinary sky diving, and I’ve practiced it more this year than I ever have.

It’s the art of going through the refrigerator, seeing items that may end up going to waste, and figuring out what combinations you can put them in that the residents would enjoy.

As I was also reminded by this chef, just because you can put ingredients together doesn’t mean you should.

Today’s items were 3 strips of bacon in a Ziploc bag that were starting to get pushed to the back of the refrigerator (this is how stuff in my house dies; no one throws it out, but newer stuff gets bought, is put on the shelves, and the unwanted food ends up in the back corner of the middle shelf). There were two hots dogs that no one seemed to like, a tomato just on the verge of AARP membership, and some homemade cole slaw that was made last week.

With visions of big overstuffed sandwiches from the New Yorker deli in Roanoke, I fried the bacon, sliced the tomato, and chopped the hot dog into small slices. That would make it easier to both put it on a sandwich as well as dole out the proper renumeration for my sous chef, Maggie the WonderBeagle.

A bed of cole slaw was put on one side with the hot dog slices, everything else went on the other side.

Was it good? It was OK. The satisfaction came in knowing it was out of the refrigerator and that Maggie thought I was the best Dad ever after getting her fair share 😊

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The Issue Isn't Forgetting Sarah; It's Remembering Gregg

About 10 or more years ago, there was a movie out called “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.”

These days, however, my issue has become “Remembering Gregg Marshall.”

I pride myself on remembering all sorts of sports minutiae and it’s not unusual for me to hear a friend say “how do you remember that from so many years ago?” The only thing I hear more is “why can’t you remember what I asked you to do as well as you remember sports trivia” from one member of my household.

Which brings us to Gregg Marshall. He’s the embattled coach at Wichita State who has been quite successful in the world of college basketball. Many times on social media when his name comes up, it is noted that he grew up in Roanoke, a town I have a lot of fondness for, as I met my wife and started my sports journalism career there.

I'm also hopelessly addicted to a sub sandwich from the New Yorker Deli on Brambleton with extra cole slaw on it. But I digress. 

Each time Marshall's name comes up, I think for a moment and have zero memory of him. I can remember about 100 other athletes I covered during that time of my life. But no Gregg Marshall.

Last night there were stories of Marshall’s problems in Wichita on social media. Again, there was the mention of him being from Roanoke, so I went to Wikipedia to see if they mentioned when he lived there. Turns out he graduated from Cave Spring High School in Roanoke County in 1981.

This sparked more curiosity. From 1978 until 1981, I was the high school sports guy for the Roanoke Times. My wife went to Cave Spring. We even got married in Roanoke in 1981. I was in Roanoke for every game of his high school career working for the newspaper that covered his school and district.

Still no memory of Gregg Marshall.

So at close to midnight last night, I went down into the basement and found a big box that has been stored away and untouched for decades. Somewhere in this box were a bunch of clips from all my newspaper jobs, something I had no need to ever look at again after leaving the profession in the late 80s.

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Podcast: Give Me Liberty, Or Give Me Another Football Coach

We’ve now recorded and published our second podcast, this one being entitled “Give Me Liberty, Or Give Me Another Football Coach.”

After we did the first one last week, I wondered to myself where we’d get the material to talk about anything for at least 30 minutes. After Virginia Tech lost to Liberty Saturday, that no longer became an issue. I think you could talk for days about all the issues that people are complaining about after that loss. I don't know if this episode will end up being as entertaining to you as it was to me, but it was like 35 minutes of therapy.

I now feel much better :)

As I also mentioned last week, we sort of rushed the first one out so we could make sure we knew what we were doing in terms of publishing a podcast. We got some of it right, but had a technical issue or two and even embedded a commercial…but didn’t hit the right button to get it to play.

That’s all fixed now. The other reason we rushed just to get anything up was the company that hosts our podcasts – Anchor.fm – distributes the podcasts to a variety of places to make it easier to subscribe. That takes a couple of days, so for this edition, you should be able to search “The Old Man And The DD” on just about any podcast app and find us, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts in addition to several more. And of course Anchor has it’s own app to listen on. Just subscribe to our podcast and you're automatically notified of new episodes.

If you’re not all that familiar with podcasts, you can click here and it will take you to the Anchor website where you can listen.

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There Is ONE Good Thing About All The Unrest In VT Athletics

While things are not a lot of fun these days in Blacksburg, there is one good thing about all the unrest around Virginia Tech athletics: You get to hear from all your old Hokie friends.

They all want to know the same thing. What the heck is going on?

Then there are the two friends I’ve known since my freshman year: Bob and Doug. The three of us have seen every twist and turn there has been involving Virginia Tech. Bob and I drove 12 hours to New Orleans to see Michael Vick and the Hokies in the national championship game. Doug and I flew to Chicago, rented a car and drove to South Bend to see Virginia Tech play Notre Dame for the very first time.

We’ve followed the Hokies for so long, we’ve gone from being able to fit in those narrow seats in Cassell Coliseum (it was actually just the Virginia Tech Coliseum for a couple of years before being renamed for Stuart Cassell) to growing to the point of being uncomfortable in those seats, to now seeing Hokie leadership show some compassion and just make the seats bigger.

We’ve seen coaches fired, coaches hired, buildings built, crushing defeats, and wins that made us disturb the neighbors with our celebrations. We’ve followed the Hokies through divorces, deaths of friends and family, and a variety of moves by the three of us to different parts of the country.

Together, we’ve seen fire and rain.

So it was no surprise I heard from Bob yesterday. It was his question I found unusual.

“Just wanted to check in on you and make sure you’re OK,” Bob said.

Why would you be concerned about that? I replied.

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