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Here's To Fresh Starts As We All Get Ready For 2022...

December has arrived, which means the year that was 2021 is coming to a close.

But before it does, two new eras are beginning.

First and foremost, I have mostly completed the process of moving into a new apartment. Getting ready for and actually moving my belongings into my new place has taken up most of my free time over the last week-plus, which has led to my hiatus from Thankfully, Emperor Scarangella has held down the fort quite nicely with some engaging content.

(Photo Courtesy Of Virginia Tech)

And of little concern to anyone reading this, Virginia Tech settled on their next head coach — former Penn State defensive coordinator Brent Pry.

Pry has spent the last week doing many things, perhaps being even more busy than I have been. He’s attended two Virginia Tech basketball games, met with most of the Virginia Tech athletic department, held a press conference, taken at least one trip back to State College, Pa. and started recruiting players to his new home.

Along with my busy schedule, I also wanted to take a couple of days before I gave my initial reaction to Pry’s hire. I was a bit confused at first — one of Whit Babcock’s biggest criteria for Justin Fuente’s replacement was that the candidate had to have head coaching experience. Pry has none, though his resume is certainly worthy of the job.

As I listened to Pry’s press conference and the other public appearances he’s made, I became convinced that Babcock couldn’t have found a better fit for the position.

It helps that Pry’s background helped to groom him for this moment. Pry worked as a graduate assistant with Frank Beamer, Bud Foster and Co. back in 1995, which just so happened to be the year JC Price and the Hokies earned a landmark Sugar Bowl win. Pry gritted his teeth for the next decade-plus before landing at Penn State with his old boss James Franklin.

In Happy Valley, Pry’s defenses were outstanding. He recruited and developed players, a critical combo when it comes to college football.

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Paging Brent Pry....Pick Up The Phone And Give Joe A Call...

While we’re all wondering who the next Virginia Tech offensive coordinator will be, allow me to draw your attention to that train wreck of a pro football team in Charlotte, NC known as the Carolina Panthers.

Today they announced they were parting ways with their offensive coordinator, Joe Brady. Why you would change OCs with only a little more than a month left in the season is beyond me, but they did. And as Brady looks for a place to land, further allow me to point out his background.

Brady is only 32 and has been considered one of the hot young offensive coaches in football land. Before taking the job with the Panthers, he was the passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach of the very wide-open and high-scoring 2019 LSU Tigers, the same LSU Tigers who went 15-0 and won the national championship. He was recognized as the top assistant coach during the 2019 college football season, and was the winner of the 24th annual Broyles Award.

Before that, he was an offensive assistant under head coach Sean Payton with the New Orleans Saints from 2017-2018.

He grew up in South Florida and was a 4-year letterman as a wide receiver at Everglades High School in Miramar, FL, about 22 miles north of Miami. He played collegiately at William and Mary from 2009 to 2012, and then stayed there for another two years, coaching the team’s linebackers.

Where was he between his stint at William and Mary and his time with the New Orleans Saints?

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Pry Seems To Clearly Have A Plan With New Defensive Hires

As it relates to defense, new Hokie Coach Brent Pry is not wasting any time.

On the day he was named head coach, Pry also announced the JC Price would be staying on to coach the defensive line. Today, two more additions to the staff were announced: Derek Jones, who most recently served as associate head coach and co-defensive coordinator at Texas Tech, and Shawn Quinn, who most recently was the head coach at Savannah State.

(Photo Courtesy Of Virginia Tech)

There’s a definite pattern to the hires. In Jones, Pry is hiring a 23-year coaching veteran who has focused on the secondary and defensive backs in his coaching stops at Duke, Memphis, Tulsa, Middle Tennessee State, Murray State and Ole Miss. Pry's association with Jones dates back to the 2007 season at Memphis when Jones coached the secondary and Tech's current head coach worked with the Tigers' defensive line.

In Quinn, a quick look at his background shows his title was usually defensive coordinator/linebackers at stops that include Savannah State, The Citadel, Tennessee Tech, Western Carolina, Charleston Southern, Northwestern State, LSU, Louisiana-Lafayette and Tennessee. Pry and Quinn previously collaborated at Georgia Southern in 2010 when Pry served as defensive coordinator and Quinn worked as the linebackers coach. The duo also worked together at Louisiana-Lafayette from 2002-06 in the same roles.

So Pry has now hired three assistant coaches – Price, Jones and Quinn – that all have experience running the show as either a defensive coordinator/associate head coach or a head coach, yet each specializes in one of the three components of any successful defense: defensive line (Price), linebackers (Quinn) and secondary (Jones).

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This Has Certainly Been A Week I Didn't See Coming...

As it relates to college football in the Commonwealth, I find myself sitting here on a peaceful Saturday morning thinking “I sure didn’t see this week coming.”

It was 5 weeks ago today on a similarly peaceful morning that I was sitting outside on the patio, watching my dog run around like a fool in the backyard and sipping on a hot cup of coffee (me, not the dog) wondering about how the balance of power in the state was shifting toward the University of Virginia. That morning, UVA was preparing to play BYU that night, they were 6-2, they had a fun offense to watch, a very good quarterback in Brennan Armstrong, and momentum was on the Wahoos’ side.

Virginia Tech, conversely, was preparing to play Georgia Tech and had lost 4 of its last 5 games. It was apparent to me at that point the Hokies were going to finally make a change at head coach, as a lifeless loss to Pitt, followed by a last-minute loss to a Syracuse team that was winless in the ACC at the time (they only won 2 all season) seemed to seal Justin Fuente’s fate.

Great, I thought. Virginia Tech is now the unstable team recruits are going to think twice about because not only are the Hokies losing, but no one knows who will be coaching the team in 2022. Virginia was the brighter option in comparison, with a stable coach, a high-powered offense and a nationally ranked quarterback, so if you were a top-flight offensive player in the state, where would YOU go? That kind of momentum swing in a state can take years to recover from.

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As Initial Press Conferences Go, Pry Crushed It Today...

Crushing an opening press conference to announce your hire doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to win a lot of football games in the near future. But Brent Pry put on a performance this morning that certainly won a lot of people over.

He was smooth, even – dare I say – debonair. I’ve never read so many comments on social media about a coach’s “great hair.” He came across as sincere, likeable, approachable…and very much wanting to be in Blacksburg.

(Photo Courtesy Of Virginia Tech)

He invoked the great names of Hokie football past, from Frank Beamer to Bud Foster, and hit all the right notes, at times even being emotional and showing a vulnerable side. I’ve often said when you look at the great coaches, the one common trait they have is they care. It’s not something you can fake either, as either you do or you don’t.

Brent Pry convinced a lot of people he cares.

I’m a former sales guy who has been involved in a turnaround situation before, so I was looking for two traits: One was that recruiting, which is very much like sales, isn’t as much a matter of personality, but moreso a case of working your backside off. It’s not just the person you’re selling, it’s knowing about their friends, their family, the important dates in their lives, their favorite sports teams, etc, because that knowledge builds familiarity and leads to a strong relationship.

So when Pry said of recruiting that it’s details, details, details…even to the point of not only knowing a prospects coach and friends, but even knowing the guy in the barbershop who cuts his hair, I found myself thinking “he gets it.”

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Pry Becomes Virginia Tech's Newest Head Football Coach

Yesterday morning, an old friend texted me and asks “what do you know about Brent Pry?”

Nothing, I said. Should I?

Well, you may want to check him out, was his response. So I did, and the more I learned about the man who is now Virginia Tech’s new head football coach, the more I liked him.

As I’m sure Whit Babcock had his check list of things he wanted in a head coach, I had my own. And it amazed me the deeper I dug, the more things Pry checked off the list. Sure, he wasn’t this shiny bauble who was the media darling of College Football. But everything else about him was outstanding.

Whit, old boy, I thought. You’ve done your homework. This could be good.

At the top of anyone’s list would be technical proficiency on at least one side of the ball, and Pry definitely has it on the defensive side. He’s spent the last 26 years as a college coach on the defensive side, with the last 10 as an Associate Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator at Penn State.

I’ve found the best defensive coaches are also the ones who really understand offense first, and Pry checks that box too. His Dad was an offensive coordinator at East Stroudsburg, part of a 40-year coaching career where he coached with his son and future Penn State coach James Franklin, who was a QB. Having your Dad being your coach has its pluses and minuses, but one plus is the daily interaction over meals.

In my house growing up, my Dad and I over the dinner table may have talked about who won the game. When your Dad is a coach, you talk about not only who won, but why. What worked and what didn’t. Things to look out for next time. Many of the better coaches in high school, college and the NFL came about their analytical skills because they grew up with a coach in the house.

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This Was A Moment Hokie Fans Needed....

Believe it or not, there was a time long ago when fans did not judge Virginia Tech football by the length of its bowl streak, the odds of it winning a championship, or where it was ranked in the top 25.

These were the days before cell phones, the internet…heck, even before disco and Star Wars movies. They were the golden days of the 70s, where you judged a season not on the entire year, but on certain special moments. Ones where you walked back to the dorm or your car and thought “that was nice.” Ones that were feel-good moments, even proud-to-be-a-Hokie moments. They made you feel positive about the program, and were the reasons you came back the next week to watch the team play again.

Saturday’s win over Virginia was such a badly needed moment. The team technically qualifies for a bowl, but it’s not anything that leads to anything else. It’s just one more opportunity to see a group of young men who have been through fire and rain this season, starting with a win over a supposedly top 10 team in North Carolina, then nose diving into the cruel reality of a season that was so bad, they couldn’t even wait until the end of the 12-game schedule to fire the head coach.

The experience has not only been tough for the players, but there are a lot of people I know who have gone from being fanatical about the program for decades to morphing into a certain “I’m not sure I really care” attitude. They’ve been spoiled by not only the winning, the bowls and the top 25 rankings of the past, they’ve particularly become accustomed to seeing Virginia Tech teams that no matter who the opponent was, were competitive enough to always have a chance.

That hasn’t been the case the last couple of years in certain games, and for the first time in a while, I think many of us were somewhat realistic to the distinct possibility the Hokies were going to get hammered in Charlottesville Saturday. The Cavaliers had a high-powered offense, the Hokie defense struggled against Miami, and at times the play calling has looked more like the Virginia Tech of 1921 instead of 2021, exhibiting tendencies more in tune with the single wing.

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Who Should the New Leader in Blacksburg Be?

Charles Huff

The Hokies clawed their way to six wins by beating their in-state rival Saturday, so now that the regular season has come to an end, Whit Babcock’s top agenda item is clear: find the next head coach of the Virginia Tech football program – with no disrespect whatsoever to J.C. Price.

Over the past couple weeks, many preferred candidates have received extensions – including our pal Ricky LaBlue’s top option, Dave Clawson from Wake Forest. That may take away some excitement about who the next guy will be, but it certainly doesn’t negate the importance of the hire.

Much like I did last season, I have written what I believe is a comprehensive list of coaches that the Hokies might consider – a discussion about 35 potential candidates, including an in-depth profile for 23 of them.

Now that I’ve talked myself into a lengthy list of coaches, here’s who I believe are the top candidates given specific criteria.

Best Veteran Head Coach: Dan Mullen

I don’t know how Babcock will feel about him – or how Mullen will feel about the program – but I believe at face value, they’re each the best that the other can do. Mullen is one of the better offensive coaches in college football, and Virginia Tech is probably the best program beneath Florida’s tier (where Mullen was recently fired from).

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Hokies Showed Heart, But Miami Showed Superior Talent...

Virginia Tech’s 38-26 loss to Miami was disappointing in many ways, as it would have been nice for interim head coach JC Price to earn a win in his debut.

But it wasn’t in the cards.

The Hokies were outmatched on the field Saturday night, and Tech’s loss confirmed what many already suspected — that there is a talent gap between Virginia Tech and some of the better teams in the ACC.

As a disclaimer, I am fully aware the ‘Canes are now 6-5 and have already lost three games to ACC opponents this season. But if you watched Saturday night, you saw the kind of talent Miami still has on the roster.

You saw what sets them apart.

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JC Price Has Waited His Entire Life For These Next 2 Weeks

Momma always said there would be days like these.

As it turns out, so did the owner of this site. Dave insightfully touched on Virginia Tech’s divorce with Justin Fuente on Tuesday, reminding everyone that if you thought the last few months were weird, you’ve seen nothing yet.

As the whirlwinds gain strength and throw the Hokie fanbase into confusion and uncertainty, I’ll be doing my best to appreciate how amazing the next two weeks will be for a special Hokie.

JC Price’s career at Virginia Tech coincided with the program’s ascendance to the pinnacle of college football. Every Hokie fan knows the importance of the 1995 team and how that season catapulted Virginia Tech into the Michael Vick era. JC Price wasn’t just a captain on that 1995 team, but also a third-team All-American.

If anyone understands where Virginia Tech should be as a football program, it’s Price. If anyone understands what it’s going to take to return to that level, it is also Price.

Price now has the opportunity of a lifetime — coach the football team he used to play for at the university he graduated from.

Price is a Hokie to his core. He was made for this moment.

All the legwork he put in to get here has paid off. All those years Price spent at Marshall, gritting his teeth as a Division I assistant coach are coming to fruition. It’s not like Price’s defensive units were struggling there either — Marshall led the nation in scoring defense in 2020 and the Thundering Herd won a Conference USA title in 2014. Price’ defensive front played a crucial part in those accomplishments.

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We Now Move On To The Weird Part Of Our Programming....

Well, we’re now officially in the “weird” part of the ongoing saga of the Virginia Tech football program.

I wrote this story a week ago, saying it was over between Virginia Tech and head coach Justin Fuente, and how we were just waiting and watching the final episodes of the soap opera. It turned out to be true, but I never thought the series’ finale would be at 7:45 AM on a Tuesday morning.

I mean, who does that? Monday 10 AM pressers are just too traditional? Did someone have to wait until their sports coat came back from the dry cleaners?

Social media is, of course, on fire this morning as some tastelessly dance on Fuente’s grave, and some are already making their predictions on who the new coach will be. This is where the weird part comes in, because I can pretty much guarantee you that every single one of those predictions are purely grounded in something they pulled out of their backside.

No one knows, although you would have to hope pulling the trigger on such a significant change 10 minutes before the second cup of coffee on a Tuesday would suggest there have been some backchannel conversations between athletic director Whit Babcock and a potential new coach.

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Ricky LaBlue

Ricky LaBlue

A longtime sports fanatic, Ricky is now channeling that passion into the world of sports media. Meet Ricky LaBlue.

Stephen Newman

Stephen Newman

The only things he loves more than following Virginia Tech and Washington sports teams are dogs. Meet Stephen Newman.

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