See other templatesSee other templates

0

Hokies Add Another Big With Clemson Transfer Lynn Kidd

Yesterday, Virginia Tech needed an associate head coach, and they got one in Mike Jones.

Today, Virginia Tech was in need of another big man. They got that too.

After earlier in the week entering the transfer portal, 6-10, 230-pound Lynn Kidd has decided to move from Clemson to Virginia Tech. He was a true freshman last season, meaning he has four more years of eligibility.

When signing with Clemson, ESPN had him ranked as the No. 77 prospect in the country. At the time of his signing, he chose Clemson over Virginia Tech, Miami, Wake Forest, Auburn and Florida, but was seldom used last season by the Tigers.

He appeared in only 7 games last season and played only 33 minutes. He only scored 8 points and grabbed 7 rebounds.

But he was also ranked as a 4-star and at 230 pounds, has room to grow. He didn’t get much of a chance to show what he could do at Clemson, but has a big upside, as in high school he was a consistent scorer and rebounder. He may not be done growing yet either, as in researching this, I found high school stories of him as a senior at IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL, listing his size at 6-9 and 220.

3
Continue reading
0

The Man Who Probably Made It All Happen? Oliver Purnell

While Hokies fans are sitting back and celebrating their good fortune in the hiring of DeMatha Coach Mike Jones as associate head coach at Virginia Tech, perhaps we should all pause and raise a glass to the person who probably made all this happen.

To your good health, Oliver Purnell.

If the connection isn’t clear, let’s take a look at the career of one Oliver Purnell. He started as a player at Old Dominion so long ago, I cheered for him while in high school. When he finished as a player in Norfolk in 1975, he was a graduate assistant at ODU for two years. He moved up to being an assistant at ODU from 1977 to 1985, then became an assistant under Lefty Driesell at Maryland for 3 years before getting his first head coaching job.

The position was at Radford, and when he assembled his staff in 1988, one of his assistants was a local guy named Mike Young. The two would work together during the 1988-89 season before Young would leave for Wofford.

Purnell would leave Radford too, heading back to be the head coach at Old Dominion from 1991 to 1994. One of his best players on those ODU teams was….Mike Jones.

3
Continue reading
0

Hokies Make Home Run Hire Of DeMatha's Mike Jones

In what has been a poorly guarded secret this weekend, Mike Young and Virginia Tech made a home run hire today as the Hokie basketball program named DeMatha head coach Mike Jones as associate head coach to fill the vacancy left by departing coach Chester Frazier.

Word had spilled out over the weekend that he would soon be a Hokie assistant, but Dematha pushed back on those reports. Today, Jones and the school officially announced he was leaving and heading to Blacksburg.

What makes this such an impressive hire for Young and the Hokies is Jones’ recruiting connections. Frazier had been a major factor in his ability to scout and persuade prospects to come to Blacksburg, something that helped the program make a quick turnaround from when Buzz Williams left for Texas A&M. They needed to find someone of equal ability to replace him.

"Virginia Tech is first and foremost getting a great person who not only fits our program, but embodies what our University is about," Young said in a statement released by Virginia Tech. "Mike Jones is a tremendous basketball coach, who brings a wealth of success from DeMatha and USA Basketball. I have had the privilege of watching Mike over the years and have continually been impressed with his ability to teach the game of basketball and mentor players. We are excited to add him to our family and look forward to continuing on what we have built over the past two seasons."

Jones has been the head coach at DeMatha since the 2002-2003 season, where a number of major college prospects have passed through. He currently has five former players in the NBA, including 2017 No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz, and also has extensive ties to USA basketball. He was set to serve as the 2021 USA Men’s U16 National Team head coach, but withdrew Monday from that position after accepting the Virginia Tech job. 

3
Continue reading
0

It Wasn't Just A Good Weekend. It Was A Great Weekend.

As sports weekends go in the Nation's Capital, local teams may have just finished a rare great one.

Think about it. The Capitals won an opening-round Stanley Cup playoff game. The Wizards rallied to win and clinch an 8th-seed in the NBA playoffs. The Nationals won a series on the road. Plus the Mystics opened their season, DC United took to the pitch, and even the Washington Football Team and Hokies down in Blacksburg had an eventful last few days.

Not  bad. Not bad at all. Here are the details:

Capitals Win A Postseason Thriller

Caps fans had their hearts in their throats early when starting goaltender Vitek Vanecek left in the first quarter due to injury, leaving the game in Craig Anderson’s hands. Anderson only had two starts this season, his last win was in May of 2017, and while they said he was 39, it was just barely. He'll be 40 this week. So on top of concerns for injuries to TJ Oshie and the return of Alexander Ovechkin from injury, Caps fans had plenty to worry about.

But soon after realizing Anderson was even on the team, Caps fans realized they were seeing a calm, experienced goaltender who kept the Boston Bruins in check. Tom Wilson scored the game’s opening goal, showing he can score AND fight, then Jake DeBrusk responded – which was also the play on which Vanecek left with an injury. The call-and-respond action continued in the second period, when Brendan Dillon and Nick Ritchie traded goals, and the teams held each other scoreless throughout the rest of regulation.

0
Continue reading
0

For Virginia Tech, It May Be A Case Of Kill...Or Be Killed

Last night, I posted something about the state of the Virginia Tech athletics program after yet another depressing loss by the football team, and in doing so, committed a sin I have often scolded others for doing.

I identified a problem, but I didn’t offer any solutions. And as even Maggie The WonderBeagle knows, anyone can complain. But it’s all just mindless noise if you don’t talk about how you’re going to fix it.

I’ve never been an athletic director, but I’ve been a businessman for many decades and the challenges the Hokies are facing right now aren’t that different. You have a product that was once thought of to be in high demand and of great value, but now the product is faltering. The lack of enthusiasm and the eroding perceived value of ticket price to experience are serious trends that can throw many a company up on the rocks.

Which is why you always have a Plan B. It happens eventually to everyone.

So what would I do if I were AD? I can tell you one thing you should not do: Change coaches. That’s admitting defeat as well as signaling to everyone that rebuilding is coming and people need to be patient. People are tired of being shut in their houses during this pandemic, they’re cynical and they are in no mood for a “be patient and one day all will be well” speech.

I mean, look at the Washington whatever they’re called in the NFL. They’re on year 37 of their rebuilding. Big chunks of their fans are no longer being patient. They’re also no longer being fans of the team.

What you should do, however, is recognize there is a problem and come up with short-term moves to try to shore up confidence the athletic department at least knows what it’s doing. They cannot afford to be as tone deaf as they were yesterday, as after the crushing defeat, season ticket holders and Hokie Club members got a renewal email asking that fans pay up for 2021 season tickets BEFORE CHRISTMAS.

That’s rubbing salt in the wound, as well as making people think “do these people even have a clue?”

4
Continue reading
0

These Are Not Autographs You Will See For Sale On Ebay

Yesterday, I wrote a piece about Mitchell Gold, and in it I mention that I ended up getting a chair autographed by both Mitchell AND his dog. Some found that a little unusual.

“That’s not the only thing unusual about my Dad,” would be my daughter’s response.

But I will grant you that I do look at the whole autograph deal a little different than most. I have some sports memorabilia – an autographed picture of Julius Erving in a Virginia Squires jersey, a throwback Redskins helmet (the gold one with the big “R”) signed by Sonny Jurgensen, and a Virginia Tech helmet signed by Frank Beamer and Michael Vick.

The first one I ever pursued was Erving. I grew up in Norfolk watching the brief tenure of pro basketball in the area, and Erving was amazing. At the same time, Jurgensen was the quarterback for the Redskins, and at the age of 13, I thought he was the best quarterback of all time (still do, for that matter).

But it was Erving who soured me on any further sports hero worship. Later in life in the late 1990s, a great friend and business partner knew one of the then-minority owners of the Orlando Magic, and Erving worked for the team at the time. My friend and I were in Orlando, so he arranged for us to get tickets to the Magic game that night and meet my childhood idol.

Tags:
5
Continue reading
1

When It Comes To Virginia Tech Sports, It's A Small World

If you’ve been a sportswriter AND a sales guy in your life, you’ve told thousands of stories.

I know I have, and I’ve never written about the one I’m about to tell. But it is by far my favorite, plus the next time someone says “it’s a small world,” this will now be the standard you’ll have to compare it to.

It’s no secret I’m a big Virginia Tech sports fan. I was a student there in the 70s and worked my way through school covering Tech sports for a small weekly called the Blacksburg Sun (they went to Wednesday and Sunday editions when I was there and gave us shirts that said “Blacksburg Sun: Now Doing It Twice A Week.”)

It was there I got to meet many people, but my favorite was basketball coach Charlie Moir. He answered all my questions, gave me all the access I could ever want, and even invited me along with the writers from much bigger papers for dinner when we were on the road.

Big stuff for a 20-year-old.

To get any access in college sports back then, the main gatekeeper was the head coach’s secretary. Charlie’s was a very nice lady named Jean Farmer, and I was extremely lucky she liked me. If she liked you, you could call just about any time and she’d find Charlie. If she didn’t, odds are you’d hear about him being in a meeting.

Over the next few years between the Blacksburg Sun, Roanoke Times and newspapers in Martinsville and Lynchburg, I would deal with Jean quite a bit. Her, Charlie, many of the players and Sports Information people Wendy Weisend and Dave Smith are among my warmest memories of that time in my life. 

Fast forward about 20 years.

6
Continue reading
Recent comment in this post
Guest — Patsy N. Spurrier

great story; love watching Cin...

Great stories; love watching Cindy on Fox8. Patsy
Friday, 15 January 2021 18:35
2

Here Is How I Hope The Frank Beamer Story Ends...

One week from today, I hope to be hearing of a press conference in Blacksburg, where Frank Beamer announces his retirement at the end of the season.

It’s not that I don’t like Frank. Quite the opposite, I think Frank is a legend who has taken Virginia Tech football to heights unimaginable. The two images I will always have when I think of Frank are the Sports Illustrated cover that said “We Belong” and standing on Bourbon Street the night before the 2000 National Championship game in New Orleans watching 40,000 Hokies adorned in maroon and orange.

Those two images showed the Virginia Tech program I have watched since the early 70s had mushroomed into college football royalty. In our wildest dreams, none of us thought that could ever happen. And it’s all because of Frank.

As such, I have looked forward to the day I could stand, cheer and give ovation after ovation at the final home game Frank coaches. He deserves to hear the love, support and respect he’s earned for what he’s done. Unfortunately in sports, that rarely happens as the decision to no longer coach – either due to health or performance – comes after that final season and there is no adequate way to say thank you.

Frank’s farewell has been coming for some time. The program is in a 4-year skid, sliding from playing in the national title game and being a regular occupant of the top 10, to a barely ranked team, to a team not ranked at all fighting to just have a winning record and keep the streak of making a bowl every year since 1993 alive.

That streak will end this year as the team is 3-5 and will not win its remaining 4 games. The Hokies play this week at Boston College, a venue they have historically struggled at; go to Atlanta to play a Georgia Tech team that is sky high after an upset of Florida State Saturday; come back home for 6-1 UNC, then finish on the road at UVA. Going 2-2 would be a best-case scenario, 1-3 is more likely, and 0-4 is certainly possible.

Nothing good lasts forever, and it has been the hope – and fear – that things do not end badly when it is time for Frank to retire. To quote an old movie line, however, “things usually do end badly…or they wouldn’t end.”

More importantly, Frank – who just turned 69 – doesn’t look or sound good health-wise. He couldn’t be on the sidelines for last year’s bowl game because of a medical procedure and if you listen to his postgame interviews on the radio, he just doesn’t sound 100 percent healthy. I’m no doctor, but I’ve heard Frank for decades, and something isn’t quite right.

All this reminds me of Bear Bryant in his final year at Alabama, and illustrates exactly what my biggest fear is. Bryant – who turned 69 in September of that year (Frank turned 69 in October) – decided toward the end of the 1982 season that the sixth-place finish in the SEC wasn’t good enough. He was quoted as saying, "This is my school, my alma mater. I love it and I love my players. But in my opinion, they deserved better coaching than they have been getting from me this year."

Bryant too had health issues, having suffered through a mini-stroke and heart problems the previous year that affected him to the point he occasionally slurred his speech when being interviewed. Only four weeks after he coached his final game in the Liberty Bowl, Bryant died.

I don’t want to see that happen to Frank. I want to see a full crowd in Lane Stadium for the game against North Carolina with the sidelines packed with all of his old players. I want to see him carried off the field by all of them win, lose or draw. I want to be there for if nothing else, to say thank you for the memories of a lifetime. Then I want to enjoy seeing pictures of him living the good life with his grandchildren while being a great ambassador for the university in any way he chooses.

In a way, I wish Frank had done this last season. He had beaten the eventual national champion, beaten in-state rival UVA in the final game of the regular season to make a bowl, then won that bowl game against a pretty good Cincinnati team. All despite struggling all year to barely have a winning record.

In any event, I have two tickets on the 30 for the Nov. 21 game with UNC in Blacksburg. I will be there to cheer on Frank one more time, because whether any of us know it officially or not, it probably will be his last game in Lane Stadium as head coach.

It would just be great if an announcement could be made beforehand so we could all celebrate the moment. And say thanks…for some great, great football memories.

12
Continue reading
Recent Comments
Guest — Doug

Doug

I am totally with this opinion. Its time for a great celebration for the outstanding career of a great man and college coach, and... Read More
Monday, 26 October 2015 12:04
Guest — WoodyHogg

A Pirate's salute to Frank!

I am not a Hokie. In fact, I am a Pirate! An avid one! We have had a great rivalry over the years. It is a good home and away ... Read More
Monday, 26 October 2015 21:55
2

Not Sure I Understand What The Hokies Were Doing Against UNC

I suppose it’s just a function of age, but the older I get, the more things I don’t understand. For example, I don’t understand some of the music my daughter likes. Or the appeal of avocado toast. Or why anyone would spend over $1,000 on a cell phone.

Then there’s the Virginia Tech game plan for yesterday’s loss to North Carolina.

Since I've never been a coach, perhaps there are secrets to the coaching fraternity I haven’t been privy to. But going into yesterday’s game, the Hokies seemed to have one big strength and one big weakness which UNC had to deal with. A proper game plan could have and should have accentuated the strength in such a way that it might have covered or at least minimized the weakness.

VT’s game plan didn’t.

The weakness was obviously the defense. That side of the ball has seriously been hit hard by COVID, with depth being so slim, walk-ons were seeing significant playing time. Add to that a change in schemes after long-time defensive coordinator Bud Foster retired, and you had inexperienced players under a new coach in a new scheme against UNC’s explosive offense.

A recipe for disaster.

Common football wisdom would say part of the solution is how you approach the game on offense. Shorten the game with long, time-consuming, run-oriented drives. Do your best to get ahead and possibly force the opponent’s offense to become more one-dimensional while trying to play catchup. Doing so then allows you to blitz more, apply pressure and possibly force a mistake or two. Keep your defense rested in the first half while battering your opponent’s defensive line, and good things can happen in the second half.

2
Continue reading
Recent Comments
Tracy Lee

Another record setting day!

I agree, the coaches got away from what worked the first two weeks. I thought about it during the game. Why would you not continue... Read More
Sunday, 11 October 2020 19:58
Dave Scarangella

Agree

There were a lot of very good things that came out of that game. Like the Virginia game, would have liked to play this one at the ... Read More
Sunday, 11 October 2020 20:09
0

Colleges Need To Pay Attention Or Risk Having A Kodak Moment

This morning, I was working on the details of a focus group I will be involved in later today, where I will work with an organization to help determine what their brand really is, what they believe differentiates themselves in the market, and what they think people really value them for.

As is usually the case, I jotted down a few stories to illustrate what we will try to accomplish, and for most marketing people, the story of Kodak usually makes an appearance. That iconic company was known by everyone because of their success in the area of film and cameras, and they actually invented the first digital camera in 1975. Thanks to that invention, we now carry and capture all of our favorite memories on something as small as our phones.

But Kodak eventually went bankrupt in 2012. They thought their unique ability in the marketplace was making film and cameras instead of capturing all those memories. Others (like people who build phones) did see that, and developed products that made most of what Kodak was selling obsolete.

The story immediately reminded me of what’s going on in sports these days. Turn on a television and you will see more and more fans dressed up as empty seats. Whether it’s college football, pro football, auto racing, etc., Athletic Directors and Team owners – to use a bad pun – are not getting the picture.

Just one month ago, I returned to my alma mater at Virginia Tech to see a football game between the Hokies and Notre Dame, the first time I've done that in three years. Even though the Hokies lost, it was a fantastic time. It was a chance to see dozens of old friends, experience the electricity of "Enter Sandman" as the team made its way into the stadium, tailgate with some great people, etc. The experience - and the related memories - were what made it great.

8
Continue reading
0

A Simple Act Of Kindness I Will Never Forget

Because the patio on the back of my house seems to perpetually be covered in shade, I’ve just finished an hour or two of doing exactly what my wife, doctor and friends have all told me not to do: chipping and shoveling away all the ice.

I mean, I could wait until it melts in late June. But there’s a WonderBeagle who enjoys seeing just how far she can get me moving on the ice, and I don’t wish to fall down out there between now and late spring.

In the course of wrestling this frozen bear, I had to take breaks because – as everyone seems to very much enjoy reminding me of – I’m an old man. It was during one of these breaks I found myself scrolling through Twitter, and two posts caught my eye. One was the fact today is Giving Day at Virginia Tech, and as the name suggests, they want you to give something to the University.

The other involved a younger journalist with a small newspaper here in Virginia. He was mentioning he was using a gift card to buy himself lunch instead of making one because he was too tired from all his long hours at work.

It hit me right in the feels.

I have a complex relationship with journalism these days, because many of the larger publications have turned the profession from a search for the truth to a search for ways to repeat the narrative. Not surprisingly, there are many out there who rank the profession’s popularity right up there with used car salesmen and telemarketers who somewhere during the call say “but wait, there’s more.”

5
Continue reading
light rain

71.7°F

Ashburn

Light Rain

Humidity: 96%

Wind: 1.99 m/h

Wed

heavy intensity rain

68/71°F

Thu

moderate rain

56/69°F

Fri

sky is clear

50/70°F

Go to top