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Hokies No. 19 In AP Rankings, 21 In Latest Coach's Poll

For the first time since the week of October 18th last year, Virginia Tech’s football team is nationally ranked.

The Hokies – on the strength of a 17-10 win over then No. 10-ranked North Carolina – are ranked No. 19 in the AP poll, and 21 in this week’s coaches poll. In the writers poll, UNC fell to 24th, while Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Texas A&M comprise the top 5. Clemson is the ACC’s top-ranked team, falling to No. 6.

In the coach’s poll,  North Carolina fell to No. 22, while Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Texas A&M comprise the top 5, which is identical to the AP rankings. Just like the writer’s poll, Clemson is the ACC’s top-ranked team, falling to No. 6.

Last year the Hokies were ranked No. 20 in the pre-season poll, and were ranked as high as 19 until a week 5 23-16 loss to Wake Forest bounced them from the top 25 list. The Hokies would beat Louisville in week 6, but then lost 4 straight to make their disappearance from the polls in 2020 permanent.

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Hokie Offense Is Going To Need To Take More Deep Shots

It’s now the Tuesday after Labor Day. Everybody’s back at work. The first full weekend of college football is over. So it’s time to empty the notebook about things seen this weekend before moving on to week 2.

Which Version Of Braxton Are We Going To See Saturday?

Oh, I know his name will be Braxton Burmeister, but Friday night we really saw two different players. First-half Braxton was smooth and cool, completed 7 of 8 passes with the only incompletion a dropped pass by Tre Turner in the end zone, and his team ate up huge chunks of time in running to a 14-0 halftime lead.

Second-half Braxton wasn’t quite so cool. He only completed 5 of 11 passes for 43 yards, threw an interception, and missed some wide-open people on what should have been easy throws. Some of that was caused by the plays being called, as Justin Fuente and Brad Cornelsen went very conservative in protecting that 14-0 lead.

But while seeing a lot of good things Friday night, it was the consistent lack of the Hokie offense taking deep shots again UNC that bothered me. You don’t have to be the Oakland, er, Los Angeles, er, Las Vegas Raiders and go deep all the time. But if you look at most successful teams over the last two decades, it has been the threat of a deep ball that keeps defensive backs from creeping up close to the line, and thus opens up the running game.

Of course, if you pass all the time, the running backs and offensive line never get in a rhythm and the running game doesn’t realize its potential, so finding that optimum mix is something coaches experiment with all season long. I didn’t think the Hokies really tried to find such a mix Friday, and you’ll notice in the second half that as the passing game stumbled, so too did the running game.

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Exactly Seven Years Ago Today, In Norfolk and Columbus...

When you get to be an old geezer like me, you look back, and at times remember really special occasions you did not expect to end up being so special.

Like what I experienced exactly 7 years ago.

That’s because September 6, 2014 was the date of my 40th high school reunion in Norfolk. That alone should have made the night special enough, because unlike earlier reunions where people try to impress their classmates with their success, 40th reunions don’t have such drama. The number one thing people are impressed with is that we all survived and are still standing. Nothing else really much matters.

But while I was reeling in the years hearing story after story from my friends, something else was going on. Virginia Tech was in the Horseshoe in Columbus playing Ohio State, and as anyone who knows me understands, my blood types are Type Orange and Type Maroon. I didn’t have great expectations for the Hokies, so it was being DVR’d back at my house in Ashburn, and I was going to get up early the next morning, drive home, and then watch what I thought would be athletic carnage.

But as I was donating my drink tickets to old friend Wendy Rieger (of NBC 4 fame here in the DC market), my phone started buzzing. Texts from multiple people – who happened to be in Columbus – filled my phone. Whatever I was doing, they all said, I needed to extract myself from what was going on and find a television.

The Hokies were beating the eventual National Champion Buckeyes.

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Rumors Of VT's Demise May Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

In the hierarchy of Hokie football games, there are those you want to win. There are others that you can only hope to win.

But tonight’s 17-10 victory over North Carolina was one Virginia Tech needed to win.

These last few years have seen a crisis of confidence in Hokie Nation. The glory days have drifted away to the point that it wasn’t a year or two since the football program was really good; it was a decade or two. Questions about whether Justin Fuente could coach, recruit, or even just smile in an interview were constantly asked.

Visiting teams no longer feared Lane Stadium and its fans. Even the signature moments of the team coming on the field to Enter Sandman grew great notoriety, but then you remembered when the game actually started, the team lost.

Add in the doldrums created by the pandemic that may never end, and folks during the summer talked in tones of a strange and unusual indifference when it came to the season. They needed to be awakened from this low-energy slumber by things like a huge crowd screaming its guts out so people even inches away from each other couldn’t hear what was being said. They needed a win over a top 10 team like North Carolina to give them hope this could be done more than once in a lifetime.

They needed a reason to believe.

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We All May Have Jumped The Gun On Comcast, ACCN

For a brief hour or two last night, ACC fans weren’t in Iowa. They actually WERE in heaven.

Thanks to the word being spread throughout social media, the biggest block of ACC fans who have not been able to watch the ACC Network – those who have Comcast/Infinity as their cable provider – were ecstatic after turning their televisions to an obscure channel and seeing the network in their homes.

Last night if you went to Channel 1322 on your Comcast guide, all you saw was a channel that said SEC Network, and all of the blocks of programming said “OFF.” But if you pressed on it any way, you got the three pulsating buttons you normally see while the cable box is searching, and after about 45 seconds, you saw the ACC Network.

The programming that was on was routine and boring, but that wasn’t the point. After two years of Comcast refusing to carry the ACCN, the channel at least was now coming into homes like mine in Ashburn without having to stream it on an app with a friend’s log-in. The long struggle to be like other neighbors with Cox, Verizon, Dish Network, DirecTV, etc. seemed to be over.

“Seemed” being the key word.

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Now We Know: Radford Reunites With Buzz At Texas A&M

Well, that didn’t take long.

Less than 48 hours after having all his legal issues settled in a Montgomery County court room, Tyrece Radford officially said goodbye to Virginia Tech’s basketball team, announcing on his Twitter account he was going to reunite with the man who recruited him to Blacksburg – Buzz Williams – at Texas A&M.

“I want to say Thank You to Virginia Tech for allowing me to be a part of this family. I am extremely grateful for my time here. Thank you to the coaching staff, my teammates, my advisor Alise and the entire Hokie Nation!” Radford said in a graphic that included him already in a Texas A&M uniform.

“I am proud to be a member of this community and to have earned my degree while in Blacksburg. After discussions with my family and closest mentors, I have decided to continue pursuing my dreams by transferring to Texas A&M and finishing what I started 3 years ago. Go Hokies & Go Aggies!”

As mentioned in this story from yesterday, it has been speculated for some time that Radford had made contingency plans pending what happened in Monday’s hearing. Some thought it was a distinct possibility he might have all charges dropped for probation violations stemming from an early February DUI conviction, but others were not so sure if the University’s judicial system would still allow him to play.

Now seeing Radford going to Texas A&M would seem to confirm that, because it’s doubtful after Monday’s hearing that he got a call from Williams Monday night, got photographed in a Texas A&M uniform Tuesday, and tweeted it out today. It would seem to have been in the works for some time.

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It's Time To Concede Tyrece Radford Isn't Coming Back

I think it’s time to concede that Tyrece Radford is not coming back to play basketball at Virginia Tech.

There’s certainly nothing official to confirm that, but there’s 8 seconds left in overtime and the odds are certainly pointing in a negative direction. Yesterday, Radford appeared in court, and as this rather thorough story by Mark Berman of the Roanoke Times points out, all of his legal issues were dismissed.

But there is much more to the story than that, as it looked to me as if Radford has already decided to put Blacksburg in his rear-view mirror. As previously written about in this story and a follow-up here, Radford’s issues involve alcohol, and his latest problems involve a positive reading on an ignition interlock device while he was already on probation.

He had been suspended for these issues from playing for Virginia Tech for several weeks back in early February before a deal for probation was reached in both court and the Virginia Tech student judicial system, which allowed him to come back and finish the season. His latest troubles center around a May 3rd positive reading on the device, and Berman’s story notes that during Monday’s hearing there was also a second positive reading on July 3rd, which would be two violations of his probation agreement.

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Extending Whit's Contract A Deal That Needed To Be Done

It’s not a huge secret that I’m not one of Whit Babcock’s biggest fans.

But today’s decision to extend the Virginia Tech Athletic Director’s contract through 2029 is an absolute no-brainer in my mind. It needed to be done.

That's because these are strange and interesting time in college athletics. With the looming specter of COVID in the background, I don’t think anyone can say for sure what’s going to happen one month from now, let alone 5 years from now. I’m sitting here in my office right now, with two tickets to a football game with North Carolina only 25 days from now.

I’m not 100 percent sure I’ll go. Or if it will even be played.

All because of COVID.

On top of that, the subject of conference realignment has come back from the dead like Lazarus, as  Oklahoma and Texas are supposedly leaving the Big 12 for the SEC in 2025 if not sooner. This supposedly will start a string of domino-like moves that could blow up the college football landscape as we know it, with teams changing conferences and maybe even breaking away from the NCAA.

The smart play in both of these is to have an experienced AD at the helm to navigate the proper course. As Ricky LaBlue wrote in this story, Whit hasn’t been perfect, but he’s done a lot of good things. He knows the lay of the land, he has assembled a team around him, and no school wants to be dealing with a brand new person driving the bus when all hell possibly breaks lose in college sports in 2025.

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This Is Why I Got A Reminder To "Check On Tyrece Radford"

Now that I’m retired, I can’t shake one habit I have followed religiously from my working days.

The habit was whenever anyone mentioned a date of any significance, I’d immediately enter it into Microsoft Outlook. Didn’t matter if it was a birthday, doctor’s appointment, sporting event, or anniversary. If it had a date and I had any interest in the subject, I typed it in as an appointment so every morning I could see all the things I’d wanted to remember, but had already forgotten.

For things I REALLY wanted to remember but was sure I’d forget, I included a reminder, which you can set up for anywhere from one hour to two weeks to jog your memory while you’re on your computer about the event.

I say all this because this morning when I fired up the old desktop, waded through a pile of email, and caught up on all the snide remarks posted on Twitter, a message popped up reminding me in one week to “Check On Tyrece Radford.” That’s because one week from today could be an interesting time for the Virginia Tech basketball program.

The Hokies look good for this coming season, but the one nagging issue for them is who plays the wing. There are really only three players on the roster suitable for the wing – Hunter Cattoor, Naheim Alleyne and Darius Maddox – and they were all probably expecting to be backing up Tyrece Radford. But Tyrece entered the transfer portal a little more than a month ago, and as this story suggests, that may have been a just in case move pending some legal issues Radford has.

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Two Numbers To Consider: $32.4 Million, and $1.3 Billion

Back in my corporate days, we used to invite key members of the sales force to product development meetings and ask for their feedback on what they thought we needed to add to our product line.

Dozens of ideas about product other competitors had would be offered. I was the “no fun” guy at times who would ask specifically why we needed to have a version of that product, wanting to know was it their best-seller? How many floors in your territory was it on? How much volume do you think we’d do with such a group? Whose product would we knock off retail floors to make room for this new addition?

In many cases the answer was they didn’t know. They just liked how the product looked and wanted something like that in our lineup. I would then say it’d be a shame for us to go through all the expense of developing a new group, only to find out that while visually appealing, it didn’t really sell well for the competition, and thus probably wouldn’t be making any money for us either. So get me more data or the answer was no.

Then they’d call me names 😊

My point in saying this is because after reading a bunch of stories and opinions about who the Atlantic Coast should consider adding, now that Texas and Oklahoma have launched the opening salvo in another round of conference wars, is that most fans and pundits sound just like those product development meetings. They suggest and want every shiny bauble that might be out there, with little to no regard to the bottom line.

The magic number I’ve seen that should be the basis of any suggestion is this one: $32.4 million. That’s the revenue split each team got in the most recent sharing of the pot of gold the league passed out from television and revenue sharing agreements. It doesn’t mean each team brought in that much – I’m sure Clemson brought in a lot more, and teams like Boston College brought in a lot less – but that was the average.

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Thanks For The Memories Max, Trea...Until We Meet Again

When you follow a team that has a run of great years, and even wins a championship during that time, you know it isn’t going to last forever.

But that doesn’t make you feel any better when that day arrives.

As a kid who marveled at this guy the Virginia Squires had from the University of Massachusetts named Julius Erving, I still remember the sting of picking up the Virginian-Pilot in my hometown of Norfolk to read that the Squires had basically given Erving away to the then-named New York Nets. They weren’t going to be able to re-sign him, the story said, so they got what they could. Which was very little.

The sting wasn’t so much the team traded away Erving. It was the realization that the good times were over, and not for just a year or two. It would be a long time, everyone understood, before the team would be this good again, if ever.

Fast forward to 1981 when Joe Gibbs took over the then-named Washington Redskins. From 0-5 to 8-8 to playing in Super Bowls, it was intoxicating to know that every year Joe Jackson Gibbs was at the helm, there was a chance the team could be one of the last two playing each year. Every Sunday was a party as we turned on the television, turned the sound down, and listed to Sonny, Sam and Frank on the radio usher us through these heady times.

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