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Aug
10

So Now The ACC's Bold Plan Is To Hire Consultants?

I will admit, I have not been impressed with new ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips since hearing his comments at ACC Media Days last month.

Work in Corporate America long enough and you’ll see certain types of people in charge. Some are leaders, ready to charge the next hill and find a way to get their company to the top. Some are dreamers, not necessarily being all that interested in all the numbers on the profit and loss statement, but always asking “why can’t WE do that?” and pushing the envelope at every turn.

Then there are some that just want to be the person in charge. Many get there because of longevity, as someone left and it was “their turn.” They generally make sure the lights are on and the doors are open, and they serve as an ambassador for their business at meetings with customers and the community, but they don’t really add a lot. If there’s a problem, they talk in terms of studying the problem, maybe even appointing a committee to figure it out.

That’s the vibe Phillips gave off when asked what the ACC would do in the face of the Big Ten poaching UCLA and USC from the PAC-12. He spoke in analytical verbiage, all but said everything was fine, and that the ACC would not be left behind.

About the only thing Phillips didn’t do that day was say the ACC would hire consultants to make sure everything turned out fine.

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Aug
08

Pry's First Season Will Show Us A Lot About The Hokies' Future...

First-year coaches generally get a pass in college football, but I’m taking a different approach this year with Virginia Tech’s new Head Hokie Brent Pry.

The future of the Virginia Tech football program will become a lot clearer this year. Pry has his work cut out for him — the Hokies weren’t very good last year and many of the returners from that roster have been inconsistent throughout their careers.

Theoretically, this will be the worst roster Pry ever coaches while in Blacksburg, but it is also the perfect time for us to get a framework of the kind of coach Brent Pry can be. Rather than coast on the traditional hall pass that is Year One, we should be able to see Pry flexing his coaching acumen.

The strength of the decisions he makes, as well as wins and losses, will matter quite a bit this year.

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Aug
02

It Was Only A Few Years Ago That Everything Looked So Bright...

I don’t know why, but it seems the universe is punishing me.

Well, the sports universe is.

I came to this conclusion thinking back to 2016. Virginia Tech football had a new coach in Justin Fuente and the Hokies went 10-4, including a big comeback at South Bend to beat Notre Dame, and an even bigger comeback in a bowl game against Arkansas. VT was down 24-0 at halftime and still won.

This new guy could be OK, I thought.

That same year the Washington Redskins were coming off a 9-7 year where they made the playoffs and Kirk Cousins had everybody saying “you like that?” There was a Sunday night in late November where Cousins threw for 375 yards and Washington kicked Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers all over the field.

Things were coming together for this favorite team too.

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Jul
22

A Question For The ACC Commissioner: What's The Plan, Jim?

As the esteemed owner and editor of Dulles District will attest, if you’re not getting better at something then you are getting worse.

It’s applicable in all areas of life. If Juan Soto doesn’t continue to get better as a hitter, he’ll eventually be surpassed by his peers and watch others slug their way to a Home Run Derby title. If Dave doesn’t continue getting creative in the kitchen with his signature cooking skills, I’ll eventually catch up to him.

Maybe.

But for the Atlantic Coast Conference, the plan seems to be to stand pat while the rest of the Power 5 aims at getting better. And you know what that means.

The ACC is getting worse.

Rather than lay out a vision for the ACC to solidify its future as one of the premier athletic conferences in America, newly minted commissioner Jim Phillips seemed to simply point at the ACC’s Grant of Rights and say, “we’re fine.”

Sure, on paper, the Grant of Rights, which binds member schools’ media rights to the ACC through 2036, would seem to lock each school into the ACC for the foreseeable future. But as Phillips himself noted at ACC Kickoff earlier this week, that doesn’t mean much when many of the folks at the table had nothing to do with the creation of the document.

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Jul
14

Man, I Can't Wait Until Ricky Turns 40 :)

College football is quite unstable, and this uncertainty makes it difficult to have fun conversations about the sport knowing that it all might be tilted onto its head over the next 10 years.

So instead, I’d like to write a little about the past. After all, now that I’m the ripe age of 28, I can start providing some historical context that I actually lived through and didn’t just read about.

My journey to Virginia Tech football fandom began in earnest in the early-to-mid 2000s. I could start to understand the game at this age, and NCAA Football 2005 was the never-ending fix I never knew I wanted.

This was an exciting time for the Hokies. The National Championship Game berth wasn’t that long ago, the Hokies were moving into a larger conference with a better future and Tech was always competing for conference championships. BCS bowl games were a regularity. Something was amiss if Bud Foster’s defense wasn’t one of the best in the nation.

Two linchpins of Foster’s defenses in that era are two of my favorite players to ever watch — Xavier Adibi and Vince Hall. Adibi was inducted into Tech’s Sports Hall of Fame last year and this coming fall, we’ll watch his battery mate join him.

Adibi and Hall combined with James Anderson to create one of the best and most explosive linebacking corps in the country. Adibi and Hall, in particular, were especially intimidating up front. The pair started together for the first time in 2005, immediately helping the Hokies finish first in the nation in yards allowed and second in scoring defense. Tech finished first in scoring defense the following season and in 2007, the pair’s final season, Tech finished third in scoring and fourth in yards allowed.

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Jun
13

While Loss Was Disappointing, Season Meant Something For Hokies

If you've seen the movie "Moneyball", you may remember when Brad Pitt - who portrays Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane - masterfully delivers this blunt quote in the middle of the film:

“If you lose the last game of the season," Beane says, "nobody gives a s***.”

While this quote oversimplifies every team’s season but the one left standing at the end, the sad reality is that there is some truth to it. No matter how outstanding a team may play for a majority of the year, losing the last game of the season puts a damper on everyone's memories of the journey to get there.

Virginia Tech baseball is experiencing this sad truth right now. The Hokies’ 11-2 defeat to Oklahoma in Game 3 of their NCAA Super Regional series will probably leave a bit of a bad taste in the mouths of everyone associated with the program. Fans will undoubtedly be disappointed in how things ended, but nobody will be more upset than the players and coaches who lost the game.

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Jun
08

This Could Be A Special Weekend For VT's Hammerin' Hokies

In case you haven’t noticed, Virginia Tech baseball is on the cusp of doing something that's never been done and shattering the program's glass ceiling: doing something of national relevance.

The Hokies entered the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship tournament last weekend as the No. 4 team in the country and hosts of a regional in the first round. They scored a combined 39 runs in their first two games, and then defeated Columbia 7-2 to earn a trip to the Super Regionals – which they will also host at English Field, starting Friday at 3 PM.

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May
10

If This Is A Dream, Try Your Best Not To Wake Me...

Perhaps it’s just me, but at times I’m having a tough time believing what’s going on with recruiting for the Virginia Tech’s men’s basketball team.

It’s nothing bad. Quite the contrary, in fact, to the point I wonder if this is just a dream and I haven’t woken up yet. In my 50-plus years of watching Hokie basketball, there are certain hard truths I’ve learned, and one is that while there will be good years and bad, there will never be a year that blue chips flock to Blacksburg.

The Hokies will be in the dance with many. They’ll be included in the final two with a few. But typically when final decisions are made, most times they’re left at the altar watching the bride drive off into the sunset as a blue blood school makes a late move and sweeps a recruit off their feet. Doesn’t mean the Hokies haven’t had great players come to Blacksburg, but the marquee players among the nation’s recruiting elite tend not to end up in Southwest Virginia.

This year has felt different.

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May
06

Hokies Depth Chart Right Now Is One Big Unanswered Question...

(Photo Courtesy Of Virginia Tech)

It’s been nearly a month since Virginia Tech wrapped up their spring practice schedule and since then, I’ve spent far too much time thinking about hypothetical depth charts and special packages that we might see in 2022.

I’ve also spent a fair amount of time coming to grips with a hard truth — this year’s roster has too many questions for my liking.

Surprisingly, my main concerns have nothing to do with quarterback. Grant Wells played rather well in Virginia Tech’s Spring Game and while Jason Brown wasn’t very productive, he spent much of his afternoon trying to escape Tech defenders.

And that’s a great place to start.

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Apr
30

Four Hokies Selected In Final Rounds Of The 2022 NFL Draft

This year's NFL Draft was never going to be a flashy weekend for prospects from Virginia Tech, but during the three-day event that started Thursday, several were projected to be picked during rounds 4-7 on Saturday.

By and large, the process played out as expected. Tight end James Mitchell (pictured above), defensive end Amare Barno, offensive tackle Luke Tenuta and guard Lecitus Smith were each selected by NFL franchises on Day 3 of the draft and will have their football playing dreams live on.

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Mar
13

One-Trick Ponies No More. The Hokies Are Now ACC Champs

It was March of 1973, Bobby Stevens hit a last-second overtime jumper to give Virginia Tech an NIT championship, and I went running through my house in Norfolk as only a teenager can do, yelling and screaming about how “the Hokies did it.”

What is wrong with you, my mother asked.

Now in my 60s, I watched last night as the Hokies claimed their first Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament basketball championship with my arms held high and maybe something moist in my eye. I’m too old now to run through the house and my wife of 41 years already knows what’s wrong with me.

But it felt just like that day 49 years ago.

Last night for long-suffering Hokie fans wasn’t just a basketball victory. It was an exorcism, a confirmation that after decades of being the red-headed stepchild, the Hokies belong. If you grew up in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina or South Carolina in the 60s, there were certain regional and cultural entities you enjoyed, and when it came to sports, ACC basketball was one of them.

The ACC was that group of cool kids at the table who scoffed at the notion of you even talking to them, much less sitting down at the table. And for most of my life, Virginia Tech has tried its damnedest to pull out a chair at the ACC basketball table and say “hey, what’s up?” For decades, however, the Hokies were turned down for admission into the league, and really only because they had developed a good football program at exactly the same time the league needed more good football teams due to television demands did Virginia Tech gain admission in 2004.

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