The Hokie Hotline (football and basketball season)
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Tech Talk Tuesday (football season only)
October 22, 2001
The primary topics of discussion Monday night were the just-released BCS rankings and how Syracuse (6-2) is shaping up as VTís best opponent to date.
The BCS rankings had VT fifth, Miami fourth, UCLA third, Nebraska second and Oklahoma first. Jim Weaver said that generally is indicative of where the rankings ought to be.
Bill Roth contended that VTís strength of schedule at this point makes no difference in the Hokiesí standing, although that could change in the long run. The present BCS reflects that unless VT were ranked first or second in the polls, its present SOS wouldnít matter (or at least thatís how I understood the comments).
Weaver said that Penn State and Troy State are dragging down Miamiís schedule strength. But the Canesí status can change after future games with Washington and Virginia Tech. For what itís worth, VTís schedule presently ranks 47th, Miamiís is 92nd, UCLAís is 31st, Washingtonís is 45th.
Could two Big East teams make it to BCS games this season, Weaver was asked. "I believe they can. Last year we were snakebitten by the aura of Notre Dame" taken as an at large selection, and the Fiesta Bowl chose a West Coast team in Oregon. If Miami and Tech are 10-0 going into the Dec. 1 game, there is an opportunity for one to play in Pasadena and the other in the Orange or Sugar bowls, he said.
Weaver said the BCS formula has been tweaked to where itís even fairer than in the past. He went on to endorse a playoff system for college football, for two reasons. First, he wants the champion to be determined on the field. Second, "a lot of money is being left on the table," that programs can use to pay bills. Weaver contended that most of the bowls could remain and the NCAA could still have an 18-team playoff. He claimed that the playoff vs. BCS system is one of his few areas of disagreement with Coach Beamer.
Bill Roth countered that he personally prefers the bowl system, thinks bowl attendance would suffer if a playoff system were in place, and that there would be more pressure on coachesí jobs with a playoff. A caller pointed out that he hears very little clamor from players or coaches for a playoff.
Kenneth Massey, a Tech graduate student whose rankings are one component of the BCS numbers, was in the audience for the Hokie Hotline show. His rating has VT 17th and Miami 11th this week. But based on the formula that was in place last year, Massey would have had Tech ranked second. Massey predicted that if Florida State and Washington play well the rest of the way (thereby benefiting Miamiís schedule strength), the winner of VT-Miami will get a good boost in the final BCS ranking.
When Roth first asked Massey where Tech stood in his ranking this week, Beamer joked that "Maybe we need to buy this boy a steak and then ask him!" Later, Beamer said that the BCS formula has been developed to where itís about as good as anyone can get it. He also said the BCS makes for good conversation, but thereís still so much football left to be played. "My thoughts are, letís get ready for Syracuse."
Speaking of which, Beamer said he reminded the team about what transpired last weekend: Oregon and Fresno State, each a solid favorite, playing with a long winning streak at home, and both lost in upsets.
Syracuse, at 5-2 and with a win over an Auburn team that went on to beat then-number one Florida, should be nationally ranked, Beamer said. "No question."
He said the SU offense has since come along and he credited R.J. Anderson, who has won out at quarterback over Troy Nunes, with adding an element to the offense. Jackson at wide receiver ran by the Tech defense a couple of times in last yearís game. The offensive line is all back from last year. "They will be the best special teams team we play," Beamer said, because they put their best players on special teams, they are athletic, and they pressure opponents in their kicking games. Their punter/kickoffs man, Mike Shafer, who screwed up two kicks in Blacksburg in 1999, was named Big East special teams player of the week on Monday.
Offensively, SU uses multiple formations, shifts and lots of motion, forcing the defense to be alert or risk getting into undermanned situations. After reviewing film of Syracuse, Beamer said, the Orange without question are the best team Tech has faced this year.
Syracuse played good enough defense to beat Georgia Tech and Tennessee (their only two losses), Beamer said. The D is led by defensive end Dwight Freeney. "Heís a Corey Moore how he comes off the corner." The coach called him a relentless pass rusher who will get to your QB if you single block him. He said the Hokies will have to help out in blocking him, such as by using the tight end or a back to chip him.
Beamer said that Jake Houseright practiced some Monday and they think he can play Saturday. Larry Austin, who also had knee surgery two weeks ago, is not as far along and is questionable for SU. Billy Hardee got some work at rover Monday and hopefully can play. Richard Johnson played last week in the JV game and looked good in practice Monday. Beamer called him a guy who can make a difference on offense.
There are plans for the players to do The Walk again in pre-game Saturday. The players will get off buses at 10 a.m. at the lower end of the stadium and walk through the crowd along the street up the Merryman Center to dress. Players were impressed with the fans at the first "walk" prior to the BC game, and Coach Beamer said he hopes it will become an every-week thing, "But youíve got to be there two hours ahead of time." He said he heard the Georgia coach quoted as saying he was disappointed in a similar walk before a recent game, and so he urged the VT fans to turn out in force and not let the new "tradition" dwindle. A contest to name the walk will wrap up soon on Beamerball.com.
Coach Beamer also wondered aloud if Tech fans could somehow recreate the usual raucous night atmosphere for a noon game. The fans were really ready for the BC game, Beamer said, "as loud as Iíve ever heard it," and a repeat is needed for the Syracuse game. A caller reminded how loud and difficult the Cuse fans make things on every down in the Carrier Dome, and that VT needs to make the most of its home field advantage. "We need that place to be RADICAL on every down," the caller said.
By the way, it was reported that SU coach Paul Pasqualoni, when asked about the crowd in Lane Stadium, said "itís like one of those big stadiums that you go to that are loud." Like? He also tried to say in a news conference that he didnít remember when the 62-0 game in Blacksburg was. (Right.)
Jim Weaver said he was disappointed that the Syracuse game isnít on ESPN or ESPN2. They passed on it because it was their only chance to show Notre Dame, which plays at BC. Techís noon game gets ESPN regional coverage, which brings in $25,000 in TV revenue as opposed to $200,000 for a regular ESPN or ESPN2 telecast.
As late as last week, Tech officials were very optimistic about the Pitt game getting an ESPN2 slot at noon on Nov. 3, Weaver said. But there was no word either way by close of business Monday. Weaver said he would be disappointed if itís not a primary telecast, but knows it may not work out because Pitt has not been playing well. He said heís continued pushing for the game on grounds that VT is ranked #4 and IS playing well.
A fan asked about opening the Merryman Center for fans to see the Legends area on game day. Weaver said the facility is used for hosting recruits on game day and that it must remain closed those days to avoid any problems with NCAA regulations against interaction with fans. Weaver noted that the Legends area will eventually be opened in the West stands stadium expansion project.
Also, the turf roots of the new stadium surface will not be treated with warm air this fall because the heating/blower equipment wonít be bought until next year, Weaver said. He said the field has held up beyond expectations so far.