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The Bill For ACC Actions Taken In 2016 Has Now Come Due In 2023

You might be surprised to learn that I have in fact been wrong before. It tends to happen a lot, unfortunately.

But after seeing Brett McMurphy and Ross Dellenger’s reporting on dissension within the ACC’s member schools, I think I nailed this one squarely on the head — the ACC is sinking into the oceanic abyss of college athletics.

Dellenger, one of the most clued-in reporters in all of sports media, informed all of us on Monday that seven ACC schools — revealed by McMurphy to be Clemson, Florida State, Miami, North Carolina, NC State, Virginia and Virginia Tech — have met with teams of lawyers multiple times in recent months, examining the ACC’s Grant of Rights deal, which extends through 2036.

I’m not the only one to have seen this iceberg coming from a mile away. Anyone paying attention sees what lay ahead— the ACC is falling further and further behind their conference colleagues and the Grant of Rights severely impacts the schools’ abilities to keep pace with their competitive counterparts.

Unsurprisingly, a four-hour meeting Monday between ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips and ACC athletic directors ended in radio silence.

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It's Unusual, But James Johnson Hire For Football Could Work...

Facing an issue with the light switches in your house, you’re probably not going to call the poolboy.

In this world of specialization, each of us have different skill sets that we can offer others. I’m not going to walk into Tesla and tell Elon Musk how to make his cars more affordable, just like I wouldn’t expect Mr. Musk to tell me how to write a game recap on an 11 p.m. deadline.

But that doesn’t mean Mr. Musk couldn’t teach me a thing or three when it comes to time management, task organization and more. He’s a pretty smart guy, regardless of how you view him.

That’s the closest analogy I can think of when considering Virginia Tech’s hiring of James Johnson.

Mind you, this is 2023, not 2012. Almost 10 years ago, Whit Babcock and Virginia Tech dismissed Johnson as head basketball coach after an abysmal 22-41 record over two seasons. Johnson bounced back at Miami as the director of basketball operations and eventually as an assistant coach for NC State.

Johnson reportedly stepped down from his post in May 2022. Since then, it’s unclear what Johnson’s been doing in the professional world. One thing is for certain — I never expected him to return to Blacksburg.

Brent Pry’s decision to hire Johnson as the second Director of High School Relations turned more heads than a hire for such a position should. But Johnson, a basketball lifer, is now worried about a completely different sport. He’s a fish out of water.

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Spring Game Offense May Have Been Simple, But It Was Effective

After watching Grant Wells put together an impressive performance in Virginia Tech’s Spring Game, the obvious question was, “How did Grant do that?”

It’s a valid question, considering Wells’ lackluster 2022 campaign. But a quick look at the first drive shows that Wells’ improved look was in large part due to simplified throws to the perimeter.

Tyler Bowen’s Spring Game script started with two quick throws for Wells, the first of which was a pass to transfer running back Bhayshul Tuten.

Wells takes the snap and immediately throws to Tuten in the flat. Walk-on receiver Ayden Burkey successfully blocks Keonta Jenkins, leaving Tuten in a one-on-one matchup with Jaylen Jones. Tuten then shakes the former receiver for a solid gain.

On the very next play, Wells keeps the ball on a run-pass-option and throws to Burkey in the flat. This time, Tucker Holloway clears out Jenkins and Jones is forced to come from the safety spot to make the tackle.

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To Get A Great Answer, You May Have To Ask A Risky Question

There was a time in my life when sportswriting was my job, and I viewed it as a craft I had to work at every day. The media gets a lot of well-deserved negative comments these days, but there is a video going viral right now involving Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was asked after losing a playoff series-deciding game “do you view this season as a failure?”

Giannis’ answer was a perfect blend of emotion and perspective, saying “there’s no failure in sports. There’s good days, bad days, some days you are able to be successful, some days you are not, some days it is your turn, some days it’s not. That’s what sports is about. You don’t always win.”

He’s absolutely right. Even the greatest basketball player I ever saw – Michael Jordan – did not win all the time. Giannis even used that as an example, saying “Michael Jordan played 15 years, won 6 championships. The other 9 years were a failure?"

The question was asked by Eric Nehm, who is the Milwaukee Bucks beat reporter for The Athletic. Giannis was a bit miffed at the question, rubbing his face with his hands in disgust before pointing out Nehm asked that same question last year. As you would expect, the barons of social media have ridiculed him, saying what a terrible question that was and how he should have never attempted to ask such a thing.

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With The Addition Of Beran, A Plan May Be Coming Together...

Yesterday Virginia Tech basketball picked up a commitment via the transfer portal from Robbie Beran, a 6-9 forward-center from Northwestern, and I’ve got to say, I’m probably more impressed than most are about this.

The Hokies definitely got some good players out of the transfer portal in 6-7 ODU transfer Mekhi Long, 6-7 UNC transfer Ty Nickel (who the Hokies really wanted last year) and Beran. But it is the roster strategy that Coach Mike Young is employing that makes this latest commitment pretty special.

If you were at a bar doing a sports trivia contest, I’m willing to bet one question that would stump most would be “when was the last time Virginia Tech had a really good big man?” It would be an equally tough question for a lot of other programs too because to have a good big man, you have to be patient.

Rare are the big men who come out of high school ready to play, and they almost exclusively go to the blue chip programs, stay for a cup of coffee, then go on to the pros. You can find big people to recruit, but then you have to build them into the player you want them to be, which usually takes 2 or 3 years.

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Grant Wells Looks Sharp In Virginia Tech's Spring Game

Hokie fans don’t expect much from their quarterbacks in Spring Games as it’s pretty rare we see one quarterback or another look sharp enough to confirm that he’s the leader in the clubhouse as QB1.

Grant Wells did just that Saturday, cementing himself as the favorite to start for Virginia Tech Week 1 against Old Dominion.

Behind solid protection up front, Wells displayed knowledge of the offense and poise that his closest competitor, Kyron Drones, did not. The returning starter from last year finished the day 12-for-18 for 148 passing yards and two touchdowns, one of which came through the air.

Wells did a little bit of everything. He moved his feet when needed, got the ball out quickly and spread it to the perimeter. Wells completed passes to seven different players, many of which went to running backs Chance Black and Bryce Duke.

He was “sacked” twice, albeit thanks to the quick whistle of Brent Pry. But all things considered, Wells seemed in command of the offense.

The same cannot be said for Drones, who was tagged for two interceptions. Neither fell entirely on his shoulders — his first came on a dropped pass to Ali Jennings that was thrown too late, and his second on a contested pass by Jalen Stroman.

Drones had some positive plays, particularly using the run-pass-option (RPO). He nailed two slants to Norfolk State transfer Da’Quan Felton, both of which went for sizable gains. But those were really the only highlights.

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Forgive Me Wendy, For I Know EXACTLY What I'm Doing :)

It’s now been one full year since we lost Wendy Rieger.

To most, she was this charming, funny lady who anchored Channel 4 news at various times with a sharp mind and a bold laugh. But for me, she was Wendy from the neighborhood, as we grew up within a few blocks of each other in Norfolk. Luckily for me, from the sixth grade on, we stayed in touch.

I could tell you a dozen stories about her in her extreme youth, but the one I’m thinking about this morning involves a picture taken in the mid to late 1960s.

We were both attending Little Creek Elementary in Norfolk, and as was the tradition back then, they took a class picture every year. Kids of limited height got to sit in chairs in the front, the more moderately tall students stood in the middle, and those of us who were given the gift of height were on the back row. I’m 6-4, and while Wendy never grew THAT much, she was as tall or taller than me in the sixth grade. So in class pictures, we always seemed to end up standing next to each other.

There wasn’t anything particularly special about the picture. It just got thrown in a drawer with everything else from “the old days” when I left home after college, and somehow kept getting packed before each move to the next town, house, or new address on my life’s journey.

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Go Live Your Life To The Fullest While Young And Healthy, Grant...

It’s not often I’m not disappointed when I see a good player leave Virginia Tech when he still has eligibility left.

But this morning’s news that Grant Basile is leaving the Hokies to go play pro basketball in Northern Italy made me smile.

Basile is Italian, so much so he has obtained dual citizenship both here and in Italy. If you've noticed the dozens of letters in my last name, I too am Italian, as my grandfather came to America right before 1920.

Unlike Grant, who obviously has been over there quite a bit, I didn’t make it over to the land of my forefathers until I was 40, spending three weeks traveling through Tuscany, Milan, Lake Como, Vicenza, Venice and many small towns in between.

You see, when you grow up here and have an Italian name, you are Italian to everybody else. But it’s not until you go over and spend a lot of time there that you become Italian. I grew up speaking very little Italian because it was drilled into my Dad to not speak Italian outside the house. He was 18 when World War II started, and if you had a couple of vowels in your name, you were very careful not to speak Italian less someone think you were a Mussolini sympathizer. I think that’s why most Italians volunteered to fight in the war, just to prove they weren’t.

So around our house, Italian phrases were uttered involving food (time to mangia!) and insults (I was 13 before realizing my middle name was not “chadrool” which means “a fool”) and obscenities when one accidentally hit his knuckles with a wrench. But any conversational Italian never happened.

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Hit The Road, Dan, And Don't You Come Back No More, No More...

Around this time each spring, I used to spend an unhealthy amount of time exploring the upcoming crop of college football players headed to the NFL. I didn’t attack this task with the same rigor and detail as my friend and colleague Stephen Newman, but I loved forming my own opinions about who my beloved Washington Redskins should take in the NFL Draft.

Over the last decade, that energy diminished significantly, and the man responsible for ruining that enthusiasm and passion - owner Dan Snyder - has now also walked away from the Washington football franchise, albeit under different circumstances.

Snyder is leaving with billions of dollars, as an agreement in principle to sell the team carries a $6 billion price tag for the new ownership group, led by Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils owner Josh Harris. It’s unsurprisingly the most expensive NFL franchise sale in league history, and closes the book on a 23-year tenure noted as much for controversy than wins and loses.

But while Snyder’s reign over the Washington football fanbase is now over, the damage is done. And in some ways, the damage is permanent.

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Our Long National Nightmare As Fans Has Finally Come To An End...

It’s finally over.

With the news that Dan Snyder has reached an agreement to sell the artist previously known as the beloved Washington Redskins for $6 billion, the inconceivable nightmare decades ago that could force so many of us to no longer like the team has ended. On paper, I suppose you could say Snyder won the financial game, buying the team for $800 million and selling it for $6 billion.

But in real life he went from a respected and liked local businessman, someone we all thought was “one of us” as a huge fan, and descended into the depths of infamy. Worse yet, he took many of us with him to the point we now viewed the organization as an excommunicated family member, someone we once loved long ago, but now struggled to be in the same room with.

Yeah, it’s just a sports team playing a kids’ game, but that so understates the situation. In my case, the Washington Redskins and Sonny Jurgensen were warm memories of my youth. The sound of Sonny, Sam Huff and Frank Herzog was so comforting during the Super Bowl years I’d drive two hours to my inlaws house to hear them on radio while watching the game when local outlets in North Carolina did not carry the contest on radio.

In late 1999, offered a job with the choice of either living in Los Angeles or living in Northern Virginia and gaining a boatload of frequent flier miles flying back and forth from Dulles to LAX, I decided “I’m moving to Ashburn” because that’s where the team was located, and I’ve lived here the last 23 years.

Then Snyder bought the team.

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Are The Washington Nationals Who We Thought They Were?

After dropping five or their first six games, the Nationals found their groove at Coors Field against the Colorado Rockies.

In what was a relatively winnable series out west, the Nationals looked much more competent than they did against the Braves and Rays to start the season. 

Washington lost the series opener 1-0, but bounced back to win two of the next three games and improve their record to 3-7.

They took an awfully strange route to get where they did. The Nationals got a one-run, home run-free outing from Josiah Gray, but lost. They won a game with MacKenzie Gore (who had struggled previously in Colorado) on the mound, in which the bats erupted for 10 runs on 19 hits. They capitalized on a four-hit, 5 RBI performance from career minor leaguer Stone Garrett in game three. Then with a chance at a series win, they blew a three-run lead in the finale.

Aside from wins and losses, there were some significant takeaways from this series, considering the success from unexpected sources and a growing sample size of results.

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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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