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Jul
31

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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Jul
28

With Herbert Gone, Who Fills The Void At Running Back?

Watching Khalil Herbert regularly run roughshod over much of Virginia Tech’s competition last season was a lot of fun, as the Hokies hadn’t seen a runner like Herbert since David Wilson, which marked the end of a string of exceptional Hokie running backs.

But watching Herbert last season gave me a sad feeling in the pit of my stomach. For one, I was disappointed that neither Herbert nor the Virginia Tech fanbase ever got to connect with each other in person. Hokies will never be able to physically watch Herbert play football inside Lane Stadium, and that pains me.

Secondly, I knew that Herbert was headed to the pros after 2020. Everyone knew — graduate transfers usually don’t stick around.

Herbert’s departure leaves Virginia Tech with a large void at running back, a vacancy that has many options but none that stand out.

Conventional wisdom would suggest that fifth-year back Jalen Holston is the favorite to assume most of the carries. The former Wing-T fullback has played in a lot of games over his previous four seasons — 35 to be exact — but while showing flashes of brilliance, his production hasn't been consistent. Holston averaged 4.7 yards per carry last season, just above his career average of 4.1.

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Jul
27

Back In The Fall Of 2011, I Just Had A Feeling About These 2

We all, as sports fans, do it.

We watch our favorite high school and college teams and think to ourselves “that guy is going to play in the pros one day,” as if somewhere inside us is some hidden NFL GM gene that just hasn’t been given the chance to see the light of day.

Most of the time, to be honest, we’re wrong.

But I seem to recall one weekend in September of 2011, where, as my Dad would say, “even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every now and then.” 

It started on a warm Friday night here in Ashburn. The two local high school football powers – Stone Bridge and Broad Run – were finally playing each other for the first time. As I live one mile from Broad Run and a mile and a half from Stone Bridge, I can tell you it was an electric evening on September 23, 2011. The game was at Stone Bridge, and it’s the most packed that field has even been or ever will be.

Walls of people were on both sides of the field, people were ringed around the fence, and local media, former players, and just about anyone who was anyone in Ashburn were standing on the sidelines. So were a number of players from what was then called the Washington Redskins, including Santana Moss.

Despite the huge buildup for the game, it started off looking like a dud. Broad Run sprinted to a 24-0 lead at halftime, and it looked like the huge gathering was going to see a rout by the upstart Spartans when Broad Run took the second-half kickoff and drove down to the Stone Bridge 1, facing a third and goal.

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Jul
26

This Was Like Being Given A Mountain Of Hokie History

It is no secret that the internet can be one of the biggest, most toxic bastions of negativity, rudeness and know-it-all-ism mankind has ever created. Its lack of civility, kindness and grace has driven me to the point that I wonder every morning why I even bother logging in to social media.

But occasionally amidst this giant overgrown colossus of thorns, a rose emerges. Such was the case 12 years ago when a total stranger on Twitter mentioned her children’s enjoyment of bobbleheads. She was in my town and I had a few extra ones of the original Skreech, as well as some other Nationals gear.

We met up at a local coffee shop. I gave her the merchandise. She tweeted to all her friends I wasn’t a stalker (which we laugh about to this day). We’ve been great friends ever since.

Then in 2019, with everybody in this region trying to get tickets to the Nats’ first appearance in the World Series, she texted me she has two extra. My wife and I were there that night the World Series finally returned to DC, and I have a bunch of wonderful memories from that I’ll enjoy the rest of my days.

All because of that bloody thing called Twitter.

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Jul
26

Hokie Hopes In 2021 May Once Again Rest On QB Position

To be honest, I'm worried about Virginia Tech’s quarterback position heading into the 2021 season.

Justin Fuente, however, does not share the same concern.

“I feel better about us throwing the ball right now since I’ve been here,” Fuente said at ACC Kickoff last week. “That doesn’t mean we’re going to throw the ball 60 times a game. I feel better about it.”

It is important to note that Fuente excluded his 2016 team from that assessment. Still, while I appreciate Fuente’s confidence in Braxton Burmeister, I am curious as to where the confidence in the team’s starting quarterback comes from.

It could be from Burmeister’s end of the 2020 season, which was a marked improvement from his previous track record. In limited snaps, Burmeister completed 10-of-12 throws vs. Clemson for 127 yards, and the following week, Burmeister went 15-of-22 for 212 yards and a touchdown.

Or it could be from the cadre of weapons surrounding Burmeister in the passing game. While none of Virginia Tech’s pass catchers could be considered among the nation’s best, there are potent weapons in the war chest. Tre Turner returns as the No. 1 receiver alongside slot receiver Tayvion Robinson, while tight end James Mitchell represents Tech’s best chance at another high draft pick in next year’s NFL Draft.

Again, I appreciate the confidence, but it may not be all that justified. At least yet.

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Jul
24

Next Round Of Expansion Wars Could Be The End For NCAA

I have been reading quite a few posts and stories offering strong opinions on realignment in college football now that Texas and Oklahoma appear to be on their way to the Southeastern Conference. And most seem to have the same thing in common.

They’re totally missing the point.

This, I’d say to those scribes and posters, is not about football. This is about money. Power. Self-determination for a select group of schools to do what they want to do. It’s the beginning of the end for the NCAA with the football brand names breaking away into 4 super conferences so they can not only do what they want, they can keep ALL the television revenue.

It’s also about the long-term survival of ESPN.

I realize many will argue against this notion, saying it’s not fair, particularly to the smaller schools. But in the words of The Godfather, “This is nothing personal. It’s strictly business.” And in the world of business, the big guys call the shots, and that’s why they spend all their time endlessly trying to get bigger.

Let’s pretend you own a company called the SEC. You’re the top brand in the business. You have a sizable say in what goes on because of it. You now get to cripple a competing organization by taking their best two brands and are now even more powerful.

Why would you stop there at 16 teams?

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Jul
13

Future Looks Bright, But VT's 2020 Vision Is Fading...

It sure is a good thing that Virginia Tech’s Class of 2022 *seems* to be heading in the right direction.

Because the Class of 2020 continues to be doing the exact opposite.

Alec Bryant and Robert Wooten (right), the two highest-rated signees from the Hokies’ 2020 class, both announced their decisions to transfer from Virginia Tech on Monday. While neither Bryant nor Wooten were expected to see the field a lot this season, they had the potential to slot in the two-deep the following year and served as necessary depth for Tech in 2021.

Alas, that is no longer the case.

We knew after National Signing Day that Tech’s Class of 2020 didn’t have a lot of promise, but things have gotten significantly worse for that group of players.

Bryant, the class’ top-rated prospect, is now leaving the program. Wooten, No. 2 in the class, is in the same boat.

Tyree Saunders, an athletic receiver from Jacksonville, Fl. that many expected to fight for snaps immediately, is already enrolled at East Carolina. The class’ No. 4 prospect, Justin Beadles, is transferring to Houston.

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Jul
08

Hokies Reloading The Wagon On The Offensive Line

Virginia Tech added another commitment to their Class of 2022 on Monday, earning a pledge from South Carolina offensive lineman Xavier Chaplin.

Chaplin’s a big guy — the 370-pounder stands at 6-foot-6 and likely will need a year or two before he can seriously compete for a starting spot. But he does not lack the size necessary to play, that much is for certain.

Chaplin is now the fourth commitment along the offensive line for the Hokies, a sure sign that Vance Vice is trying to backfill some of his misses over the years. That number could go to five if Braelin Moore plays offensive line instead of defensive line.

There was a point in time where Tech looked locked and loaded on the offensive front for the foreseeable future. Tech added four offensive linemen in 2018 — Christian Darrisaw, Luke Tenuta, Walker Culver and John Harris — but only one remains in the program. Vice brought in four-stars Doug Nester and Bryan Hudson for the 2019 cycle, but both have since transferred.

William Pritchard, another offensive lineman from that class, medically retired from football last season. Only Jesse Hanson remains from the Class of 2019.

So to recap, Tech lost five offensive lineman over two seasons to medical retirements and transfers. That’s enough to decimate a program’s depth.

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Jul
02

One Of Roanoke's Most Colorful Characters Is Retiring

The University of North Florida has announced the retirement of Lee Moon, the athletic director at UNF since 2009, and one of the true characters to come out of the Roanoke Valley.

Moon played football at William Fleming High School in Roanoke before heading to VMI, where he was an offensive lineman between 1966-69.

Moon later served as a graduate assistant at Virginia from 1972-73 and as a full-time assistant to then-UVa coach Dick Bestwick.

Moon later had full-time coaching stints at Duke, UVa, Mississippi and Kansas State, where he was the interim head coach.

Moon later served as the interim athletic director at Kansas State and was the AD at Marshall and Wyoming.

Moon's decision to retire, announced earlier in the spring, became official this week

"For the past 12 years, Coach Lee Moon has served the university with great distinction, integrity and devotion to our student-athletes, coaches and athletic programming," UNF President David Szymanski said in a statement. "Under his leadership, UNF Athletics has fostered a strong culture of athletic excellence, high academic achievement and great respect that has directly contributed to the remarkable growth and success of UNF's sports programs. His legacy will leave a long-lasting impact on our Osprey community."

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Jul
01

Now That 24 Hours Have Passed, Picture Becomes Clearer

When it was announced yesterday that Virginia Tech’s Tyrece Radford had entered the transfer portal, my first thought was “this can’t be related to basketball.”

Coach Mike Young and Radford have great affection and respect for each other. Young refused to throw him under the bus when Radford had legal issues with DUI and gun charges and was suspended from the team, vocally going to bat for him. That the two would part company because Radford wanted to play somewhere else didn’t make any sense.

Since the announcement, however, a picture of why the Hokies’ second-leading scorer (12.2 points per game, 5.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists) would enter the transfer portal has emerged. Will Stewart of Techsideline.com tweeted a screenshot of two court dates Radford has in August, and both are hearings on the possible revocation of the probation he received on his DUI and gun charges earlier in the year. The agreement that resulted in the probation allowed Radford to return to the team after missing a number of games.

One date lists an August 9 hearing at 10 AM for “SC/IMPOSE SUSPENDED SENTENCE” and the other lists another 10 AM hearing for “SC/REVOKE VASAP.” I have since learned VASAP is a program that includes restricting your driver’s license after having an incident involving drinking and driving, and includes an ignition interlock system attached to your car. It monitors a person so if the device monitors a blood alcohol level above a certain limit, the car won’t start.

Obviously, words like “impose” and “revoke” strongly imply that on August 9, a possibility exists where everything rolls back to the original sentence, which includes jail time. Radford was found guilty on Feb. 3, reached a plea agreement, and was sentenced to a 60-day suspended jail sentence, $1,000 fine ($750 suspended) and 12 months of probation. He was suspended from the team on Jan. 25, missed four games, and was reinstated on Feb. 23.

Mark Berman in the Roanoke Times offered even more evidence of that in a story today, talking to Radford’s attorney, Jimmy Turk. The uber-defender of Hokie athletes over the years, Turk acknowledged there was a positive reading on the ignition interlock system. Radford wasn’t supposed to have any alcohol, Turk said, and the device said he did.

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Jun
24

To No One's Surprise, Keve Aluma Returns To Virginia Tech

Two days after Virginia Tech dropped a big hint that Keve Aluma would be returning by using his picture on a season ticket renewal graphic, Aluma himself made it official.

Today on Twitter, Virginia Tech’s leading scorer last season posted a picture of the back of his jersey along with the words “Round 2….Let’s run it back.”

Aluma had entered the NBA draft back in April, but did it in such a way where he preserved his eligibility at Virginia Tech so he could come back. It seemed apparent that Aluma wanted to see where he stood in regards to making it to the next level, and if he fell short, wanted to see the areas he needed to work on if he tried again next year.

That’s pretty much what happened, as he was one of 40 invited to the NBA G League Elite Camp, which was held last weekend in Chicago. While he did well enough to be invited to that event, he was not chosen to join the prospects who were invited to the NBA Draft Combine, which is where the elite prospects worked out for NBA scouts.

Seeing that, Aluma realized his chances of going undrafted were a distinct possibility, and also saw where he needed to improve his game.

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