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Worst Fears Realized In Tonight's Loss To Georgia Tech

I’d like to tell you Virginia Tech’s 69-53 loss to Georgia Tech was a huge surprise.

I’d also like to tell you they made a mistake and delivered a pizza with everything to my doorstep and I’m about to eat it.

Neither would be true.

Instead, the Hokies took the road more traveled for teams who have had long layoffs in the ACC, looking rusty, tired and at times disoriented. ACC teams this season that have had layoffs of 10 days or more have ended up scoring in the 50s in their first game back, while getting beaten like a drum. Clemson had issues with COVID and after sitting out 11 days, lost to Virginia 85-50; Louisville was off 19 days and upon their return got pole-axed by UNC 99-54; the Hokies hadn’t played in 17 days and scored a season-low 53 points in losing by 16.

The game marked the return of Tyrece Radford to the lineup from what had been an indefinite suspension, and that may have added at first to the lethargic play on offense. The Hokies are at their best when they move the ball around quickly, finding either an open 3 or going down low and attacking the basket, and it’s usually done in a decisive manner.

Virginia Tech, however, started out as if some of the players had just met. Radford seemed more content to let the game come to him, and over the first 10 minutes, it did not seem as if anyone other than Nahlem Alleyne wanted to shoot the ball.  Alleyne hit several of his first few shots, which opened up things for Keve Aluma and Justin Mutts as the teams tied 24-24 at halftime.

But then the two teams just went in different directions. Georgia Tech shot 61.5 percent from the floor after intermission, and when not hitting 3-pointers, the Yellow Jackets were pounding the ball inside to Moses Wright, who finished with a game-high 26 points.

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This Is What I Want, What I Really, Really Want

Over a decade ago, there was a musical group called the Spice Girls, who had a hit with a song that started off “I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want…”

Which is what I’m about to do involving a tin of popcorn and the marketing department at Virginia Tech.

What I want, as you can see in the picture with this story, is a one-gallon tin of popcorn with Coach Mike Young’s smiling face somewhere on it. It can have one flavor, or it can have three flavors, that doesn’t matter. But Young has made eating a bag of popcorn before each game sort of his trademark. And there’s a marketing opportunity here that the Hokies just shouldn’t miss.

The whole popcorn tie-in has been talked about for over a year, and the school did finally allow people to buy a replica of the kind of popcorn box you’d see in an old-time movie theater. It has a caricature of of Young, and it’s cute.

But it’s not what I want. And judging from the response to me posting this picture on social media yesterday, a lot of other people want the same thing I do.

 Popcorn is one of those products that is sold around the holidays, or special occasions, in one gallon tins. You can go online at this very moment and find quite a few options if you’re seeking this, and they range in price from the $15 range up to $29. Many prefer buying it this way because the tin has a lid that keeps the popcorn fresh for a longer period of time, and the tin can be decorated in ways that makes you want to keep it well after the popcorn is gone.

In my case, there is a tin sitting here in my office that was a gift from a friend after the Washington Nationals won the World Series. The popcorn was nice, but it will stay in this house for many more years because of the World Series printing on the can. It serves as an enduring memory to a special moment for me as a fan, and it will eventually get filled with either more popcorn, stuff from my workbench in the basement, or who knows what else I need to store somewhere.

But it’s not going to ever be thrown away.

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Two Weeks To Go, And I Still Have No Idea Who Wins

I think it is pretty safe to say this season is not turning out the way ACC media folks thought it would in looking back at their preseason predictions.

Also pretty safe to say it’s not turning out the way anyone thought it would, for that matter.

Back in early November, the ACC scribes liked Virginia and Florida State to be in the top 3, with Virginia the solid No. 1, Duke second and the Seminoles No. 3. As Meatloaf used to sing back in the day, two out of three ain’t bad.

That’s because there are only 13 days left in the ACC regular season and here is the top 3: Florida State is first with a 9-2 league record, Virginia is second at 11-3 and third is not Duke, but an 8-3 Virginia Tech team, which the pundits picked to finish 11th. Three weeks from today when the NCAA hands out bids to the Big Dance, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Florida State look like the only teams in the league with a relative lock at getting in. The rest of the teams appear to be on the bubble or worse.

Yesterday’s games just added data points to the field known as “I really don’t know how this is all going to turn out.” North Carolina and Louisville were preseason picks to finish 4th and 5th, and a month ago the Cardinals were 9-1 and ranked No. 16 in the nation. North Carolina, conversely, hasn’t been ranked in 2021, and dropped to 12-7 a week ago while only scoring 48 points in a loss to Virginia.

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Recent Comments
Doug Johnson

Postponements Have Protected V...

VT's four recently missed games: UNC, UL and two with FSU. Likely VT would not still be in 3rd place if these had been played.... Read More
Sunday, 21 February 2021 12:20
Dave Scarangella

I would agree

The lack of games has in some ways helped the Hokies, and this week we will see how much it has hurt them when they finally take t... Read More
Sunday, 21 February 2021 12:28
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In Search Of The Perfect Flavor Of Popcorn

We all have our areas of expertise, and one of mine involves food.

I have talents related to eating it, cooking it, and talking about it. I was even once at a dinner with company executives, and the president turned to me and said “I don’t believe I’ve ever seen someone as talented with a knife and fork as you.”

I think that was a compliment.

But when it comes to the lowly popcorn kernel, I have to say I have not been a fan. Unless it’s drowning in butter or coated with some other flavor, the popcorn itself does little to nothing for me. It’s not as worthless as, say, a rice cake, but it’s in the same neighborhood.

My opinions are now changing thanks to Virginia Tech basketball coach Mike Young.

Young has made popcorn regal. Brain food. The poor man’s caviar of the New River Valley. The key ingredient that has allowed Young to be such a successful coach with the Hokies. Heck, as you can see from the picture above, he’s even got Doug Doughty eating it.

I’ve always been a peanut man, myself. Salted, in a shell, accompanied by a cold beverage and maybe a baseball game in front of me, on a warm night, and I’m good. Popcorn, I’ve always believed, breaks teeth. Peanuts build character.

But Young is causing me to change. I’ve written that I’d run through a brick wall for him because I’m so impressed with the job he’s done for the Hokies, so I guess I’m going to have to eat a bag of popcorn every time the team plays too.

At least there is variety I can consider. Plain old popcorn is the brussel sprouts of the snack world, and I don’t see that ever changing for me. But I did look up some other varieties, and some are appealing. Kettle Corn will do, with its sweet and salty flavor. Caramel Corn is another. There is a cheese popcorn, but I’m not sure about that. It looks like they took one of those dried packets of powder you see in the mac and cheese boxes at the grocery store they sell 3 for a dollar and just dusted it over regular popcorn.

Anything that sells 3 for a dollar in the grocery store can’t be but so good.

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Recent Comments
Dave Fulton

Popcorn Beverage?

Wonder what beverage Popcorn Sutton chases his exploded kernels with?🙄
Saturday, 20 February 2021 10:19
Jeremy Seltzer

Popcorn Flavors

Best storebought popcorn is Cretors Cheddar and Caramel Mix (we call it Chicago mix because that’s what it is ) can get a giant b... Read More
Saturday, 06 March 2021 09:54
Dave Scarangella

Learned two things from this, ...

1. Costco has Chicago Mix? I'll be making a trip there Monday to find some of this. 2. I've had an air fryer for a year and found... Read More
Saturday, 06 March 2021 10:16
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Florida State Game Postponed, Hokies Still Waiting To Play

Earlier this week, I wrote a story about all the cancellations in the Virginia Tech basketball program, saying the Hokies would go 10 days between games. I did, however, add this disclaimer: “There is no guarantee 10 days will be all the delay there is, as the next opponent is North Carolina, which has had issues of its own. Then the next game is against Florida State, which started the string of postponements."

You may now call me Nostradamus.

Sure enough, the North Carolina game was postponed, and now today, the ACC has announced the postponement of Saturday’s game with Florida State. Since the team hasn’t played since Feb. 6, this means there will be at least a 17-day break, as the next scheduled game is a home game with Georgia Tech on Feb. 23.

Saturday’s Clemson-Pittsburgh game has also been postponed, so instead of these two games, Florida State will now play at Pitt at 4 PM Saturday. Additionally, the North Carolina at Boston College game for next Tuesday has also been postponed.

The ACC said in a statement on its website that “The postponements follow positive tests, subsequent quarantining, and contact tracing within the Virginia Tech, Clemson and Boston College men’s basketball programs. The teams are adhering to the outlined protocols within the ACC Medical Advisory Group report.”

So once again it’s hurry up and wait for the Hokies. I doubt any of these postponed games will be played, meaning Virginia Tech won’t face Florida State at all this season unless it’s in the ACC Tournament.

 

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I Like The Hiring Of Jon Tenuta. I Like It A Lot.

I like the hire today of Jon Tenuta as Virginia Tech’s senior defensive analyst.

In fact, the more I think about it, the more I really like it.

It fills a need Justin Fuente has had on the defensive side of the ball, and Tenuta has all the skills and experience necessary. Fuente has hired quite a few young, up and coming former players to defensive coaching positions, but they were missing that old soul, Charley Wiles-type of coach who had been doing it for a long time and always had a hidden trick up his sleeve.

Tenuta is that and more. He’s 63, been coaching for over 40 years, and has held positions at enough schools you could put them all together and have a super conference. He played at Virginia, but he’s held every defensive coaching position there is, been at places like Ohio State, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Notre Dame, and was even the interim head coach at Georgia Tech.

He’s been there and done that.

He looks like he has the potential to add the same sort of flavor to the mix that Jerry Kill did during his time as a consultant to the Hokies. He also has a special factor going for him that really makes me bullish on this hire, and has nothing to do with his experience.

It's that he already knows this team, as his son, Luke, is a rising redshirt junior who has started the last two years at right tackle for the Hokies.

Coaching a team or managing an organization where you child is involved, I’ve found, tends to add an interesting wrinkle to the job. You don’t want father managing son, because that’s a no-win situation where favoritism is suspected even when you tell the son “good morning.”

But in an arms-length situation like this, it’s a bonus. Tenuta has probably already watched every Virginia Tech game of the last two years because of Luke. Probably more than once, in fact, because that’s what Dads do. He is coming into this situation from Cincinnati probably already knowing as much about how the Hokies play as he did with the Bearcats.

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Another Basketball Game Postponed For Virginia Tech

Well, that didn’t take long.

This morning, in talking about the 10-day break between Virginia Tech’s last basketball game and when the next one was scheduled due to COVID issues, I mentioned there was no guarantee that the delay would only be 10 days, as other COVID issues could arise.

Turns out they did, as The Atlantic Coast Conference announced today that the Virginia Tech at North Carolina men's basketball game scheduled for Tuesday, February 16 has been postponed. 
 
According to a two-paragraph statement on the league’s website, the postponement follows a positive test, subsequent quarantining, and contact tracing within the Virginia Tech men's basketball program. The team is adhering to the outlined protocols within the ACC Medical Advisory Group report, the statement said.

So now, the earliest the team could player would be a Feb. 20 game at Florida State, two full weeks after the last time the Hokies played, a Feb. 6 overtime win over Miami.

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With Hokie Basketball, The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

I’m  beginning to think that the Virginia Tech basketball team is really an NHL hockey team, and we’ve just gotten to the point of the season where they take a month off to go participate in the Olympics.

Today will be the second straight postponement for the Hokies, as opponents have had issues with COVID, setting up a minimum of 10 days before the last game and the next scheduled one. There is no guarantee 10 days will be all the delay there is, as the next opponent is North Carolina, which has had issues of its own. Then the next game is against Florida State, which started the string of postponements.

It’s as if the Hokies need to go out and buy a truckload of Snickers, since it would appear they’re not going anywhere for a while.

There is one school of thought that believes this could be a good thing. It can be like a bye week (or two) in football, where players can use the extra time to get healthy. Cordell Pemsl had not been available with back issues, Jalen Cone was in a walking boot after the last game against Miami, and John Okiako – who has bulked up significantly since last year, and in a good way – has been slowed by a knee injury. All those can improve with rest, something you can’t do in a season where you’re playing every 3 or 4 days.

Then there is the case of Tyrece Radford, who has been serving an indefinite suspension for DUI and a gun charge. The word around Blacksburg is that the matter is going to be settled sooner than later now that there was a plea agreement on the DUI charge (he was found guilty), and the judge placed the gun charge in advisement for a year. He could dismiss that charge at the end of that period if Radford shows good behavior.

The rest is now up to Virginia Tech, meaning it’s possible he will either never play another game in Blacksburg, or could be back in the lineup the next time the Hokies play.

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Three Years To Develop A QB May Not Be Realistic

I am not like those that rage at Virginia Tech offensive coordinator Brad Cornelsen and dream of his reassignment to store clerk at a local Blacksburg convenience store, although I will confess he has on occasion caused me to invoke the name of the Almighty when outside of a church setting.

Despite this, I did find a couple of things he said yesterday in a press conference a bit puzzling. The one comment that seems to have caused the most controversy didn’t really bother me much, because everyone who has followed the team last year probably has had a touch of that sentiment as well.

“Going into the season, knowing we had three capable guys, probably what would happen is we would retain one and then two guys would go somewhere else,” Cornelsen said. “So that was definitely not a surprise.”

You knew the first night of the season it was going to happen, and the guy to leave was going to be Quincy Patterson. He rarely saw playing time, but when he did, he made big plays. The game against North Carolina will always be a classic, as he made big runs and completed a pressure 4th down throw, plays that if he doesn’t succeed at, the Hokies lose. But once others healed from injuries, Quincy became the forgotten man.

If I’m annoyed by the statement, it would because he so openly admitted this thought while apparently doing nothing about it. Handling people is an art, not a science, and once you realize you don’t have three footballs for all 3 QBs to throw in a game at the same time, you make it a focus to keep all 3 feeling involved. If you do, you might keep all 3. Worst case, you only lose one.

The Hokies apparently handled it like a bad third baseman booting a line drive, losing Patterson AND Hendon Hooker.

That, however, is the past, and you can’t do anything about that. It was his comment about his beliefs that a quarterback needs to commit to a school for at least 3 years to be able to develop in his system. “Most of those guys (who left) did that and you saw both of those guys continue to take those steps as third- and fourth-year guys in the same system,” he said. “And that’s what it takes.”

I’m not sure I’d be all that excited about hearing that if I’m a top-flight quarterback out on the recruiting trail. With the transfer portal changing the college game, that sounds a lot like dial-up modem thinking in a high-speed internet age. There is no substitute for live snaps in a live game for the development of a quarterback, and hearing “three years to develop” just doesn’t seem like a realistic goal these days.

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"You'll Start All 11 Games Unless You Break A Leg"

Bruce Arians had a place in Virginia Tech football history even before he coached the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl victory over Kansas City this past weekend.

From 1983-88, Arians, a former Tech quarterback, was the head coach at Temple, where his 1986 team finished 6-5.

That included a 29-13 victory over the Hokies in the Oyster Bowl in Norfolk.

At the same time, Tech was looking for a successor to head football coach Bill Dooley, who also had served as Tech's athletic director. Reports of possible recruiting violations had led Tech president William Lavery to replace Dooley.

Dooley was succeeded as AD by Dutch Baughman, whose first choice to succeed Dooley as coach was Bobby Ross, who had resigned as head coach at Maryland.  

Frank Beamer and Ross were the two finalists. Arians had interviewed Dec. 18 and removed his name from consideration three days later.

He had a 21-39 record in six seasons at Temple and later served as the offensive coordinator at Alabama and Mississippi State. He was an assistant for six different NFL teams, including Kansas City, the team his Tampa Bay squad team defeated Sunday in the Super Bowl.

Arians had a checkered career as a Virginia Tech player, where he passed for a total of 1,270 yards and six touchdowns from 1972-74 and only led the Hokies in passing once, when he passed for 952 yards and three touchdowns in 1974.

That was the Hokies' first season under head coach Jimmy Sharpe, a protégé of legendary Alabama coach Bear Bryant.

After losing their first four games, the Hokies travelled to South Carolina, where they won 31-17. The next week, they headed to Virginia.

Arians, who was in his fifth year at Tech, had never played in a Tech-UVa game until Sharpe took over as coach.

Arians referred to it as "the biggest game of my life."

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World Now Finding Out What Hokies Have Known For Years

The first real newspaper I worked for was a twice-a-week newspaper called the Blacksburg Sun. Being the low man on the totem pole back in 1976, I got the assignments nobody wanted, so my first story was about a high school football game between Christiansburg and Floyd.

The game was at Floyd, in fog and rain. If you’ve never driven uber-curvy Route 8 in those kinds of conditions at night in Southwest Virginia, you just don’t appreciate what gripping the steering wheel tight really means. Plus if on the way back home you misread the signs and ended up on 221 instead of 8, you got the bonus experience of driving some of the most deserted backwoods stretches of pavement in the region before arriving at Bent Mountain and eventually Roanoke an hour later.

If you were a 20-year-old kid like me, this meant instead of getting home at 10 to write that story, you instead arrived home at 1 AM. The story got finished at 3 AM. Then you had to get up at 7 to turn the story in and get ready to cover your first Virginia Tech game.

Access was different back then for media, as if you wanted to write a story on someone, you made a phone call and were usually told “when can you be here?” An interview was set up by the paper for me to sit in the coach’s box instead of the press box, and I was to watch a graduate assistant handle his duties from there. Then I’d write a story about it.

The GA was friendly and helpful. He pointed out things that were being done and explained them fully. He also pointed out things I should avoid, as they were taking black and white polaroids of formations of both teams, marking them, and sending them down to the field in an envelope attached to a string that ran down to the bench. Some, he said, were OK. Some, he admitted, were not.

The game ended and I wrote a very forgettable story. I was new to all this, so I just regurgitated every quote I had written down, then forgot about it all. I had survived the weekend, filed my story, and was well on my way to earning the $1.90 an hour I was being paid that would come to me in a check that Friday.

I never thought much about that story until coming across it in an old box of worn, yellowed newsprint from 40 years ago. I read the story, thought it sucked even worse than when I wrote it, but saw the name of the GA.

His name was Bruce Arians.

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