The Hokie Hotline (football and basketball season)
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Tech Talk Tuesday (football season only)
November 26, 2001
Virginia Tech officially accepted a Toyota Gator Bowl bid during the 7:30 p.m. segment of the Hokie Hotline on Monday, after it was extended live on-air by phone by Jim McCollum, chairman of the Gator Bowl Selection Committee.
McCollum, Jim Weaver and Frank Beamer all gushed repeatedly about the influence that Virginia Tech’s great fan base had in making the case to the Gator Bowl.
"There’s nothing better than to accept this among our great fans," Beamer said from amid the audience at Gobblertown Tavern, where the show originated.
The committee made its final decision on Monday. McCollum said the committee liked VT’s 8-2 record, "which is exceptional." But they clearly also like Hokie fans, whom he said are known for traveling to Jacksonville not only in numbers to have a good time, but are "very professional and respectful of each other. People in North Florida love to have Virginia Tech down here." McCollum said he doesn’t foresee a VT loss to Miami on Saturday, but either way, "would like to see you [in Jax] anyway."
Coach Beamer responded that "We happily accept your bid. For us to go to a New Year’s Day [type] bowl game in seven out of eight years, where we’re treated so great [by the Gator Bowl], we’re very pleased. We’ve got a good football team, but we owe this to our fans. We’ll bring a good crowd." Later, Beamer challenged Tech fans to top last year’s ticket sales to the Gator.
The circumstances of the Gator bid, said Beamer, "says something to our recruits -- if we are bowl eligible, we’re going to a bowl.
"We need to show the bowl people that we’re the same Virginia Tech [that has built a traveling reputation], that we’ll turn out. I’m proud of this football team. We’ve stumbled twice, but it’s a good group that has played hard and played well for the most part."
Added Jim Weaver: "This is a tribute to our great fans who have helped put this program in the upper echelon of college football."
Weaver said he was sure that Syracuse is "very disappointed," but that the system "doesn’t always go by who beats whom. A bowl picks who best fits their needs." Weaver and Beamer both said they were disappointed at similar circumstances last year that cost the Hokies a Fiesta Bowl bid.
There were indications last week that VT was likely headed for the Gator Bowl, Weaver said, and the "events of the weekend" solidified it.
McCollum heads an 11-member selection committee that includes a representative from NBC and another from Toyota. The rest of the members have business and tourism development interests in the Jacksonville area. McCollum is a vice president for Bell South.
Bill Roth noted that the live bowl invitation on radio was a first for the Tech program. Usually the invite comes in a locker room or press conference setting.
NBC will televise the Gator Bowl at 12:30 p.m. on Jan. 1, when Tech meets Florida State.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, it’s Miami game week, and Frank Beamer pronounced the 2001 Miami Hurricanes the best team that Virginia Tech has EVER faced. The Canes are the fourth number one-ranked team to play VT during the Beamer era (1991: FSU 33, VT 20; 1992: Miami 43, VT 23; 1999: FSU 46, VT 29).
Beamer said Miami is good at every position, playing at a high level, and owns the best collegiate offensive line he has ever seen. One of the Tech assistants quipped to him that Miami has the best offensive line in Florida… including the Dolphins, Buccaneers and Jaguars.
Someone asked what Boston College did to stay with Miami until the end. The Canes had four interceptions that day but have played exceptionally well ever since the BC game, Beamer said. He views the BC game as Miami’s wakeup call.
Is the pressure on Miami and QB Ken Dorsey in view of all the other upsets of the past week? "Yes, but there’s a lot on us, too. We want to make the Gator Bowl decision look like a great decision," Beamer said.
Is watching film of Miami like watching a horror flick, Roth asked defensive coordinator Bud Foster. "Sort of. They are a very talented football team."
Why have the Canes’ recent wins been so lopsided? Foster: Miami is on a roll, scoring on both sides of the ball, doing it as a complete football team. UM has 10 non-offensive touchdowns this year.
When Foster was asked about preparing for Dorsey, he said the key to stopping Miami is stopping the run. The Canes lead the Big East in rushing and Portis is averaging more than 100 yards a game. A key will be putting pressure on Dorsey, but Foster said he is protected by the best offensive line he has seen in Division IA, along with the country’s best tight end in Shockey. He expects the Hokies to take some chances with bringing pressure as in the Virginia game. He acknowledged Tech has blitzed more in the past two weeks, but prior to that the opponents were maximum protecting more. VT’s scheme depends partly on what the opponent does. "We’re going to pin our ears back and be as aggressive as we can, play a hundred miles an hour. The kids are ready to do that." And, "There’s an excitement to this opportunity we have."
Foster said he doesn’t necessarily think it will take a Herculean performance by VT to beat UM, "because we have a good football team." The only bad game for the defense this season was Pitt. Last year, Foster said, Tech’s defense didn’t play with enough passion after seemingly being affected by some things in the game that it couldn’t control.
When VT has beaten Miami in recent years, it was when the Hokies forced turnovers, Roth said. Foster said the UM backs have fumbled some this season, but the ball has bounced right for them.
He said the off week provided an opportunity to study UM’s tendencies and anticipate what they will do out of certain formations, and yet, Miami "is not real complicated. They out-talent you."
Foster agreed it will be tough to see the seniors play their last home game. He credited many in this group for their role in earlier years in pushing guys like Corey Moore and John Engelberger in their development.
Bill Roth pointed out that Ben Taylor was just named a Sporting News All-American, meaning that VT has produced an AA on defense in every year that Foster has been coordinator.
The segment with Foster ended with a caller from Avon Park, Fla. When Foster heard that, he said, "Dad?" And sure enough, his father was the caller. Mr. Foster Sr. said lots of FSU and Florida fans are pulling for VT this week. He also said in response to questions from Roth that Bud always wanted to be a coach, and that he, the father, coached Bud in his younger years. "He's a favorite son of Blacksburg" now, Roth told Mr. Foster. And as the surprise caller was hanging up, there came a nice touch from Bud: "I love you, Dad."
THE WALK RETURNS
Coach Beamer emphasized several times the importance of fans being involved in "The Walk" prior to Saturday’s game, around 11 a.m. He wasn’t just playing along here – he REALLY asked for a big sendoff for the team.
He said a great group of recruits are taking official visits during Miami weekend, plus some who are visiting unofficially. It seemed implied that The Walk may be built into the impression they are trying to arrange for recruits to see about the game day atmosphere in Blacksburg. "We want it to be as big and good as it can be," Beamer said of The Walk.