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Monday, November 27, 2000
It sounded like a jubilant bunch of Hokies holding forth at the Gobblertown Tavern for Monday night's Hokie Hotline, as all rejoiced in Frank Beamer's decision to carry on at Virginia Tech.
Monday's story was so big that it led one of the early editions of SportsCenter on ESPN, according to Bill Roth.
Coach Beamer did not make an appearance on the broadcast set. Instead he spent the evening in his office calling all of the recruits on VT's list to talk to them and their parents about the situation being resolved in Blacksburg. (It was mentioned by Roth, I believe, that the weekend's events had been used against VT in recruiting).
The coach took a 5-minute break from the recruiting calls to call in live to the show from his office. He expressed thanks for the support, said he feels good, feels his ultimate decision was the right thing, and said that Virginia Tech is a special place.
When asked how close he came to leaving, Beamer would say only that he had rather talk about what's good about Virginia Tech.
He said something about the importance of taking care of his assistant coaches and that one of them had another offer on Monday.
The reaction he is getting from recruits is good, and he thinks the situation helps him in making the statement that he's looked around, but "we have what we need at Virginia Tech."
The show opened with AD Jim Weaver on live for the first half hour or so. When Roth opened with a joke about how JW had made a lot of Tar Heels mad on Monday, he replied that he hopes to make them just as made in 2004 when VT plays them in football.
Weaver seemed to go out of his way in using the forum to talk about his role -- and indeed gave himself considerable credit for -- being the advocate for some of the pay and facilities matters that were at issue in recent days.
Weaver said he opened renegotiations regarding Beamer's contract four to six weeks ago, and that it actually began to some extent last spring.
Bill Roth asked why did it come down to today, to seemingly making the equivalent of a half-court bank shot to pull it out. Weaver's answer was something about his negotiating style and knowing when to enter in.
The AD talked about moving the total pay of the assistant coaches from a rank of 21st to 8th to 3rd in the negotiations. Plus four tiers of bowl bonus incentives can be earned by the assistants. A lower tier bowl appearance (Music City, insight.com, Aloha, etc.) earns them a $10,000 bonus plus $2500 if VT wins. A Gator Bowl berth would pay $15,000 plus $3750. A BCS at-large bid would pay $20,000 plus $5000. The national championship game would earn $25,000 and $10,000.
Apparent sticking points on facilities also were addressed: "I'm known as a facilities athletic director," Weaver said. He said that things have been moving on that front, such as early work on the football practice fields behind the coliseum. (Reading between the lines, the delay with the practice field that was supposed to be ready this fall appears to be a source of frustration with the football folks.) And he said he was an early advocate of moving the practice fields there, as well as taking a proposal to then-president Paul Torgersen two years ago to build a new fieldhouse for football.
Another point was about getting underway with the long awaited memorabilia room in the empty main hall of the Merryman center, another apparent source of frustration. I didn't fully understand Weaver's explanation, but I think he was saying that a main memorabilia area will be part of the west side stadium expansion, that the Merryman area will be just for football memorabilia, and that there have been some architectural holdups on the latter.
Weaver said he knew that everything needed to be done to keep Coach Beamer, that VT didn't want "to engage in an $82 million stadium expansion without Frank Beamer." He said UNC posed the greatest threat to date among schools that have courted Beamer.
He was asked about moving past any underlying issues, to which he said he isn't sure what rift there may be. "I have always gotten along with Frank Beamer. We haven't had any underlying issues." Were Weaver's dealings with Beamer cordial on Monday? "Always has been," he said.
Late in the show a caller labeled Weaver as the "root cause" of the Beamer impasse, and Coach Hite jumped to respond. "We don't need that," Hite said tersely. "Jim Weaver is on our side, believe me. We need to move forward."
The Hokies' best prospects for a BCS bowl bid probably lie in a Sugar Bowl selection, Weaver said. Any BCS bid is dependent on Oklahoma winning the Big 12 championship game this week vs. Kansas State.
He believes the Fiesta Bowl would have an interest in matching Miami and Notre Dame, with the Canes holding a shot at a split national championship vote. That selection could put Tech in position to play the SEC championship game winner (Florida or Auburn) in the Sugar Bowl.
However, Weaver said this was his pure speculation and that he had "no magical knowledge." He thinks VT has a "very good opportunity, but no guarantees" for a Sugar Bowl berth.
It was noted that Tech moved to number 5 in the BCS formula rankings Monday, ahead of Oregon State, although that has no bearing upon BCS selections beyond the championship game. Notre Dame is #11.
A caller asked about any future realignment of conferences with sub-BCS bowls. Weaver said the bowls are generally happy with present alignments.