See other templatesSee other templates


I'm Still Stunned And Can't Believe What I Just Saw

We’ve all been hearing it for months about Virginia Tech’s basketball team.

You know what I mean. That sentence that says “yeah, Virginia Tech is good. But wait until they play someone really good.” When the Hokies beat No. 3 Villanova, that was supposedly because Villanova was playing it’s third game in 4 days. When they beat Duke, it was because Duke was having an off year.

Even when they beat Notre Dame Wednesday on the road, it was “Mike Brey has retired and just hasn’t told anyone.” Wait, they said, until you play someone good like Virginia.

I guess we can now stop waiting.

The Hokies clobbered the Cavaliers 65-51, who are still in first place in the ACC and hadn’t lost a league game in so long, it came back when you could walk into a grocery store and buy toilet paper and paper towels, all you wanted, with no limits. With plenty of inventory to choose from.

Even playing without their leading scorer for the second game in a row, the Hokies sent UVA packing with an L for the first time since the Cavaliers lost to Louisville on Feb. 8, 2020. The Cavaliers also beat Virginia Tech twice in 2020 with a combination of tough defense, slow tempo, and completely suffocating the Hokie offense, holding them to 39 points in one game, 53 in the other.

Which kind of seemed to be UVA’s plans for the evening tonight too.

It certainly seemed like the same was going to happen when Virginia held a 42-34 lead with 13 minutes left in the game after Sam Hauser hit yet another of the circus 3-pointers UVA had launched all night that looked more like desperation passes, yet went right through the net.

Virginia Tech’s Keve Aluma, conversely, was apparently having a game so good, his teammates seemed to be standing around and just watching. Other than Aluma, ball movement wasn’t great, outside shots weren’t falling, and the only thing standing between the Hokies and a trip to the woodshed of biblical proportions was Aluma.

Continue reading

He Uttered 105 Words, But All I Heard Was "I Care"

One of the great things about technology these days is you don’t have to sit around for an hour or more to listen to radio shows, particularly if all you want to hear is an interview of a particular player or coach. All you have to do is wait a day, and someone, somewhere will transcribe it.

Such is the case for a radio program called Tech Talk Live, and I was particularly interested in Virginia Tech Coach Mike Young’s reaction to the indefinite suspension of Tyrece Radford.’s Jake Lyman did not disappoint, posting this transcription of the entire show.

Young’s answer when asked about Radford did not disappoint either. It was pretty close to what I expected he would say, and the reason I earlier this season wrote a story saying I would run through a wall for Young if I was one of his players.

(NARRATOR: It was also the story I texted a link for to Cindy Farmer about, with the words “I really am impressed with your prom date." That led to me writing this story, and it’s been the most read story on the site this year. But I digress….)

“The first thing you want to see is that he’s contrite,” Young said on the show. “He recognizes it, and he’s a good man. He made a poor decision, needless to say. We’re working through some things. There are a lot of things that I can’t talk about here. I love that man, and I will not turn my back on him. I believe in him. I feel awful and Tyrece Radford feels awful. We will support him and hang in there with him. Time will tell how it all plays out. His best interests are at heart as we try to work through this.”

It reminded me of a conversation I had one late night after a high school football game with a very successful coach who I think the world of. Having come from the corporate world, he and I were talking about the art of managing people, and how it compared to coaching young athletes.

Continue reading

Hokies' 2021 Football Schedule Could Be A Tough Row To Hoe

One thing that has always amused me is the reaction of a fan base when a new football schedule has been released. They treat it like the old days when Microsoft would release a new version of its operating system, immediately dropping everything to grab it, analyze it, find all its strengths and find all its flaws.

Virginia Tech’s 2021 schedule was released today, and no doubt that’s now happening. In fact, that clicking you hear in the background is the legions of scribes who cover the Hokies, pounding out 800 words to give the proper perspective.

Me, I’m a little more practical in my assessment. You’ve got a coach on the hot seat who has to get off to a good start or we’re going to return to the good old days of bitching and moaning of 2020, when it seemed every day of autumn was an exercise in complaining.

A quick look at the schedule reveals that getting off to a good start may be a tall mountain to climb.

History, I'm afraid, may repeat itself.

The good news is it looks like a competitive schedule that would be enjoyable to watch from the stands, assuming things in the world get resolved and folks are actually allowed to leave the house by September. There are not four versions of a Southwestern Arkansas State in the non-conference portion of the schedule, and in addition to the ACC slate, Notre Dame and West Virginia are listed as opponents.

Notre Dame is part of the home schedule, along with Middle Tennessee, Richmond, Pitt, Syracuse and Duke. Without the Irish, it’s not a particularly sexy home slate, but with them, it’s not bad.

The road schedule is brutal. It starts at West Virginia, a place I thought Hokie administrators had said they would never play again, insisting only on neutral sites. But there they are in Morgantown, and a quick internet search reveals the latest agreement with the Mountaineers involves one neutral site, one game in Morgantown, and one game in Blacksburg.

The rest of the road schedule includes games at Georgia Tech, at Boston College, at Miami and at Virginia.

Two things immediately catch your eye: the schedule is front loaded with home games, when the weather is hot and the team is working through the kinks of a new season. Six of the first seven games are in Lane Stadium, while going down the stretch, 4 of the last 5 games are on the road. I mean, what ever happened to balanced scheduling where your season alternated reasonably between home and road games?

Oh, that’s right. The ACC made the schedule, meaning they put a lot of time and effort into their favorite teams, then just dumped what was left on its least favored programs.

Continue reading

It Wasn't Perfect, But It Didn't Need To Be

I’ve heard many an old saying in all my years of watching basketball, and it sure looked like Virginia Tech Coach Mike Young put several to use tonight in a nice 62-51 road win over Notre Dame.

The first involves the belief that the mark of a good team is when that team can go out and beat someone when they’re not playing anywhere near their best. The Hokies only hit 25 of 62 shots from the floor (barely 40 percent), yet aside from Notre Dame hitting the first basket of the game, never trailed the rest of the way.

I’d say that should qualify Virginia Tech as a good team.

Even more impressive, the Hokies had a 9-point lead at halftime, then maintained a double-digit lead the entire second half. Tough defense overcame some ragged offensive play, and the team that looked so out of sorts Saturday against Syracuse tonight looked like a team that knew they were going to win from the opening tip.

I mean, how often in Hokie basketball history have you been able to say Virginia Tech won a ho-hum game by 11 points against Notre Dame on the road in South Bend?

Another old axiom involves what to do when a key player is out of the lineup, which the Hokies suffered when Tyrece Radford was suspended indefinitely earlier in the week. The answer, of course, is never let one person become that important to your lineup, instead fashioning a balanced attack the makes it easier for one player to step up and fill the void when another is gone.

Yeah, it’s easier said than done.

But the Hokies did that tonight. Four different starters were in double figures with Nahlem Alleyne scoring 15 (plus 5 really nice assists), Keve Aluma and Justin Mutts with 14, and Hunter Cattoor with 13. Jalen Cone was the starter to replace Radford, and he continued his shooting slump, but it didn’t really matter with Cattoor coming off the bench and nailing 4 three-pointers, grabbing 3 rebounds and coming up with 3 steals.

Continue reading

What Happened With Darryl Tapp?

Exactly two weeks ago today, Virginia Tech co-defensive line coach Darryl Tapp tweeted something indicating he was serious about trying to repair relationships around the state, which had been the foundation of much of Frank Beamer’s success during the Hokie glory years.

I wrote about it in this story.

“To the former OG Hokies and my Hokie Brothers PLEASE HIT me up in my DMs,” Tapp tweeted. “VT will FOREVER be YOUR HOME. WE WANT YOU BACK AND NEED YOU BACK. Sincerely, Not A Random Guy. This is your brother.” Then he finished it with 17 turkey emojis.

Today I learned in addition to being “Not A Random Guy” he’s also “not a Virginia Tech assistant coach” any more. Last night it was reported Tapp has joined the San Francisco 49ers as their assistant defensive line coach.

That was quick.

Consider, if you will, the high probability executives from the 49ers did not wake up yesterday morning, decide they needed to look for an assistant DL coach in Blacksburg, VA, and by night time had worked out a deal to bring Tapp and his family 3,000 miles West.

Usually “the dance”, as I call it, involves about two weeks of contacting a person, talking through details of the new job, vetting the person, giving them a chance to come back with any other questions and comments and then securing a commitment to take the new job.

Which would mean “the dance” started at just about the same time Tapp sent out his tweet.

Which I find very curious.

Continue reading

To No One's Surprise, I'm On Team "Old Guy"

When you’re covering a game as a sportswriter, you’re taught from the very first time you step in a press box to never pull for a specific team. “No cheering in the press box” is an old and timeless saying you’re supposed to abide by.

But there are no rules against pulling for a good story line. That’s what I was doing Sunday, since I seem to have the bad habit of being drawn like a magnet to teams that perpetually give me hope, then break my heart in the end.

Sunday, I got my wish.

The next Super Bowl will feature the matchup between two quarterbacks I wanted to see. The old man versus the young gunslinger. Experience versus youth. 80s rock versus hip hop. A QB that runs like a pregnant cow (even though he throws like a machine) versus a QB that runs like a gazelle. A ’67 Chevy versus a Tesla.

Tom Brady versus Patrick Mahomes.

I’ve never been particularly fond of the Patriots, but being part of the “old man” demographics, I feel obligated to pull for Brady. There are several reasons for this, and one is past memories of so many really good quarterbacks who had their day in the sun, then were dumped on the NFL scrap heap to finish off their days with other teams in less than stellar conditions.

Memories of Joe Namath only a few years after pulling the greatest Super Bowl upset ever in a Rams jersey is kind of depressing. Same with Johnny Unitas in a San Diego Chargers one. How about Kenny Stabler going from the ultimate Oakland Raider to finishing his days getting the heck beat out of him as a Houston Oiler?

Some weren’t all that bad, although I still do a double take when I see Brett Favre in a Minnesota Viking jersey or Joe Montana in Kansas City Chiefs colors. They did well, but never made it back to the big game. Only four QBs have gone on to another team – Brady, Peyton Manning (Colts and Broncos), Kurt Warner (Rams and Cardinals) and Craig Morton (Cowboys and Broncos) – and made it back to the Super Bowl.

Just hearing Craig Morton and the Broncos in the same sentence makes me thirsty for an Orange Crush.

Continue reading

Time For This Team To Stop Being Pushed Around

So much for a fun, peaceful Saturday afternoon, thanks to Virginia Tech’s basketball team.

The Hokies went up to Syracuse for a noon game and simply got bludgeoned by the Orangeman, losing 78-60. They had one of those days where they completed the grand slam of things you try not to do, as they didn’t shoot well, didn’t rebound well, didn’t play very good defense and threw passes that ended up in the scorebook as turnovers.

One or two of those you can survive. All four? Somebody warm up the bus.

It’s just one game in what has been a wonderful season, so I don’t know that it’s time to get too concerned. They've got good players and a great coach, and these types of games happen. But their strength has been balance: Naheim Alleyne, Hunter Cattoor, Jalen Cone and Tyrece Radford have all shown they can step up when needed and bury a 3-pointer. When that’s not working, they’ve had an inside game with depth too, as when a team doubles leading scorer Keve Aluma, Justyn Mutts and David N’Guessan can score and rebound just as well.

No longer are the Hokies a team that live by the three or die by the three. No longer are they a team where if their primary big man gets in foul trouble, the inside game goes in the round file. There’s depth, and it’s not just a big person coming in. It’s competent depth.

All of that was hard to see today. Syracuse figuratively punched Virginia Tech in the mouth from the very beginning, playing extremely physical against the Hokie bigs. The bigs then became like a quarterback that’s been hit on his last 7 passes. They played tentative as if they were bracing to get hit again, and it seemed to really affect Aluma.

He came into the game averaging close to 15 points per game and over 7 rebounds, but finished Saturday in Syracuse with only 2 points and four rebounds. There were missed shots normally made, missed dunks, and a general hesitation that led to indecision on whether to shoot or pass.

As one of the 10 commandments of basketball clearly states, he who hesitates is lost. Or at least prone to missing a shot or committing a turnover.

Continue reading

We Dug Coal Together, And I'm Glad We Did

I know I’ve been hammering this “small world” theme the last couple of days, but I experienced something yesterday morning that is on my mind, and makes me want to talk about it one more day.

I had dropped by a bulletin board for a website called I used to be a regular there for a couple of years, but lost interest two years ago. I had written this story Thursday, and since Cindy and Jean Farmer were probably well known to many there, I thought I would post the story for all to see.

There were replies to the story, which brought back more memories, which sparked more replies from me, which brought back more memories. After an hour or two, I realized I was having conversations with 15 to 20 people who I’d never met, whose real names I’ll never know, yet people who shared mutual friends with people I’ve known all my life. They even shared memories of some of the very things I remember warmly, and even one mentioned I was the Resident Advisor in his dorm.

Small world, indeed.

It kind of reminded me of the television show “Justified” (no, we didn’t shoot each other) that was based on a short story by Elmore Leonard two decades ago called “Fire In The Hole.” If you haven’t watched the series, it went on for years and was very enjoyable. It chronicled the exploits of Raylan Givens (the good guy) and Boyd Crowder (the bad guy).

The short story’s first sentence is “they had dug coal together as young men…” and the book launches into a fast-paced adventure where each tries to kill the other. Despite that, they still sort of remained friends, something that boggled the minds of every other character in the story and television show.

On the book’s last page, one character asks Raylan why that is. He answers with the final words of the story: “I thought I explained it to you. Boyd and I dug coal together.”

Continue reading

Some Stories Just Seem To Live On Forever

Thursday, I posted this story about what a small world it’s been for me in the universe that is Virginia Tech athletics.

It ended up being read by quite a few people, and I got several emails in response. They all had the same request: Post the pic of Cindy Farmer and Mike Young in high school.

Sorry, can’t do that.

On a closed subscription site, maybe that could happen. But we’re out in the open for everyone to see, and while I have no issue with someone grabbing a picture of my dog talking into a microphone, or a big ol’ sandwich I just made, a prom picture is a little more personal. There's no way I could control where that pic went, so I’m not posting it.

But I will post one pic related to that story. Over the years I’ve been needled by a few friends when I’ve told the story because I did not put together Cindy and her Mom Jean having the same last name. In my defense, I’d like to point out I thought Farmer was Cindy’s married name, not her maiden name, so the fact that those two had the same last name did not register.

That hasn’t stopped a few wise cracks about all that from time to time. Take back in 2014, when Virginia Tech was playing Cincinnati in the Military Bowl in nearby Annapolis.

Cindy and her oldest daughter came up from North Carolina for the game and they sat near me and my old friend Doug during what ended up being a 33-17 Virginia Tech win. They had taken a shuttle over to the Navy stadium before the game, and since their hotel was on our way back to Ashburn, I told them to forget the shuttle and I’d give them a ride.

Walking back to the parking lot to get the car, we passed the sign you see in the picture above. Of course one of us said “you related to that Farmer too?”

Some stories, you see, just seem to live on forever 😊

Continue reading

I'm Pulling For Darryl Tapp To Make This Happen

I don’t participate in social media any more, but I have some young friends who do. One of them sent me a screen shot of something Virginia Tech Co-Defensive Line Coach Darryl Tapp tweeted yesterday, and on one hand, it made me happy Tapp was bringing awareness to a problem that’s been brewing for quite some time.

On the other hand, it made me somewhat wary, because he can’t do anything about the problem alone. The tweet kind of made it seem like he was.

Tapp’s a great guy originally from the Tidewater area, and he tweeted “To the former OG Hokies and my Hokie Brothers PLEASE HIT me up in my DMs. VT will FOREVER be YOUR HOME. WE WANT YOU BACK AND NEED YOU BACK. Sincerely, Not A Random Guy. This is your brother.” Then he finished it with 17 turkey emojis.

It made me smile, as I thought “finally.” It has always been my thought as a career sales guy that some of the recruiting issues in major places like Tidewater and Richmond have been because of a lack of work building the necessary relationships with coaches, former players and the people on the ground who can make or break you. It’s hard work, takes time, and does not give you any sort of instant gratification.

But that was Frank Beamer’s edge for many years. He had the same assistants for most of his 28 years and they worked certain geographic areas hard. Coaches knew the Hokie assistants because they were in the schools frequently, not just to scout a player, but to build a relationship for when there was a big time recruit down the road they hoped to steer to Blacksburg.

It’s what you have to do when you are not Alabama, Notre Dame, or some brand name that can come in, sweep you off your feet and get you to change your mind on the strength of one visit. You build trust, and instead of finding yourself selling a commodity where the highest bidder wins, you end up selling a program, an experience, a family to join.

Tapp seems to be realizing that with this tweet. But Darryl, my man, you’re not getting it done with a tweet, a text or an email. That’s not selling. That’s casting out 100 lines on the ocean and hoping some fish bites on a couple. Anyone can do that.

Now’s when the hard part starts.

Continue reading

It's Not Every Day I Mention Hokie Basketball AND The Bible

It’s not unusual for me to call out the name of The Almighty when watching Virginia Tech sports, particularly in the final minutes of a close game.

But it is unusual for me to be reminded of a Bible verse when watching Hokie basketball.

Last night, as Virginia Tech was routinely beating Duke in basketball (something I don’t ever recall typing before), I started noticing more and more not just how good some of the players are, but how they seem to be improving from game to game.

It’s the benefit, I believe, of a well-rounded group of players with depth, and a coach who teaches them, believes in them, and lets that make mistakes to learn from.

The Hokies have had good teams before, but even in the Buzz Williams era, it was 2 or 3 players, mostly wing players, who lived and died by the outside shot. Buzz never seemed to like big men in his offense, so he didn’t recruit them much, and when he got one or two, he didn’t play them much with the exception of Kerry Blackshear. Opposing teams knew who they had to stop, and it’s a lot easier to rattle a shooter from the 3-point line than stop a strong inside player 3 feet from the rim.

But not this team. They have a bucket full of big men, and it’s not just Keve Aluma. Justin Mutts can run the floor, block a shot and then hit a 3-pointer. David N’Guessan can too. Cordell Pemsl and John Ojiako are injured, but they have proven they can be just as physical in the middle. As a result, it’s not one big man on the team battling a tall, slow walk-on in practice. These guys are getting after each other and pushing each other every day.

As Proverbs 27, verse 17 notes, “as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

Continue reading
Go to top