The Hokie Hotline (football and basketball season)
When: every Monday from 7:00-8:30
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Tech Talk Tuesday (football season only)
August 12, 2002
As one of the most anticipated Hokie football seasons approaches, the first Hokie Hotline of the year was on the air this evening. Like the weather, the topics, and sometimes the callers, were hot. Tonightís guests were Athletic Director Jim Weaver and Hokiesí Head Football Coach Frank Beamer. Bill Roth took your questions and comments as the Advance Auto Parts Hokie Hotline got under way.
(An apology to the reader: Due to a glitch in the internet feed, the broadcast was not picked up until about 8 minutes into tonightís show.)
Virginia Tech Athletic Director Jim Weaver
As the Hotline kicked off this year, AD Jim Weaver was first up and the discussion centered on the expansion of Lane Stadium. The capacity will officially be listed at 65, 115. When plans were being considered for the new South end zone, several existing stadiums were considered including the Cleveland Browns Stadium, the Dawg Pound section in particular, and Heinz Stadium, where the Pittsburgh Panthers and the Pittsburgh Steelers call home.
Additional landscaping will be added to the South end zone, including a flag pole in honor of John Moody, a former Hokie football player and current fundraiser and benefactor of the football program.
Bill started to take questions from callers, and you would think that some of the topics were taken straight from TSL Message Boards.
Nick in Covington (Congratulations, Nick, on being the first caller of the year!!!) had a question if the end zones would be painted this season, which resulted in a good deal of laughter from the audience. Mr. Weaverís answer was that the end zones, in an attempt to allow the root system of the field to continue to mature, would not see paint this year.
Talk then turned to the South end zone and the number of seats remaining. Mr. Weaver did state that while the Touchdown Terrace is sold out, that as of this afternoon about 50 Zone Club level seats still remained. Since these are premium seats, they will not be sold at regular ticket prices, and if unsold, would not result in a sell out, and would break the current sellout record. If extra seats are needed, some of the handicap seats in the South end zone can be converted to bleacher seats if the seats are unused by those that need that access.
After a break, the talk turned to teams on the Hokiesí future schedules, such as Ohio University. AD Weaver commented that several factors are considered when adding teams to the out-of-conference slate, including which conference they play in and that conferenceís reputation, the proximity to Virginia Tech (so the schoolís fan base can travel to the game), and whether or not the university being considered had its own airport. Mr. Weaver felt traveling is hard enough on the team, and to add an hour or two bus ride from the airport to the stadium was not an attractive option.
Steve in Salem had a question concerning The Sporting News and its current listing of Lane Stadiumís capacity at 51,000. Mr. Weaver stated that our sports information people are aware of such inaccuracies and are making corrections. Steve then asked about the timetable for the West Side expansion. According to Mr. Weaver, a best case scenario would include the following factors:
1. A vote by the Board of Visitors after the Arkansas State game to approve a revised version of the expansion plan in which 18 rows would be added to the West Side, as well as the demolition and rebuilding of the press box;
2. A new fund raising drive which would collect $15 million dollars between now and the end of next season.
If the expansion is approved, the new plans would take 10 months to redesign, and construction would not begin until the 2004 season. Full completion would occur before the 2005 season and would bring the capacity of Lane Stadium to about 70,000.
Brian in Richmond called and really stirred the pot. He first questioned Mr. Weaverís comments that the teams from the MAC were quality teams, and doubted the respect these teams receive in the eyes of the BCS ratings systems. Mr. Weaver pointed to the success of the MAC teams in recent years including Marshall (19th AP, 21st Coaches), Toledo, Western Michigan, and Central Michigan as signs that the conference was on the rise. He also stated that Conference USA will only sign "1 and 1" contracts (one game played at home, one game played away) while the Hokies prefer to sign with schools that will come to Blacksburg twice. He also stated that teams in the MAC have a closer proximity to Blacksburg and that allows for better tickets sales to fan bases of visiting schools.
Brian, in an attempt to really get things going during the first Hotline of the year, voiced surprise that an agricultural university like Virginia Tech couldnít find a way to paint the grass in the end zones. Mr. Weaver stated he never said he couldnít find a way to paint the end zones; he stated the athletic department chose not to. He reiterated that it was his desire to allow the root system to mature. He also felt there was a safety issue involved since the only colored paint which the turf management department could use was a latex base and extremely slippery. He pointed to the grass conditions in the í99 Boston College game, during Techís run to a National Championship berth, and how concerned he was for the safety of the players.
After the break, Tom in Ohio, a former Hokie football player called in, and verified Mr. Weaverís statements concerning player safety and painted end zones. Tom recalled a game against South Carolina in 1968 and how slick the painted end zones were. He stated by and large, players do not like paint in the end zones. Bill Roth believed that with a former player giving his support to Mr. Weaverís position, that this issue was settled for now.
Drew called in with a question concerning Techís BCA game with East Carolina in 2004. Mr. Weaver stated that the Hokies have a petition to the NCAA concerning extra games for the 2002 and 2004 seasons. The appeals committee has approved the Hokies' request, and as of right now, both the Virginia Tech and East Carolina athletic offices have a letter of intent to play that game to kick off the 2004 season. It seems at this point this game, to be played in Blacksburg, is all but official. That would give the Hokies 7 home and 5 away games in 2004.
Virginia Tech Head Football Coach Frank Beamer
Frank Beamer joined the Hotline to the cheers of those in attendance at the Gobblertown Tavern and to those at home. Mr. Roth asked the Coach about Techís preseason rankings (16th in both the AP and Coachesí polls). Coach Beamer begrudgingly accepted the early rankings and felt the team was going to be a top 20 team by the time they played their first game.
When asked about whom has really stuck out in practices thus far, he pointed to several players including LB James Anderson, FB Doug Easlick, FB Cedric Humes, SE Ernest Wilford, DE Cols Colas and DE Nathaniel Adibi. His highest praise probably came when talking about DE Jim Davis. He stated that not only is he a hard worker but a real team player in participating in the teamís experiment on moving him to defensive tackle in some situations. Bill Roth and Coach Beamer both opined that his unselfish play is reminiscent of John Engelberger, which is high praise and a true compliment for any Hokie football player.
Bill Roth then asked Coach Beamer how great it was going to be to watch Lee Suggs take the field while 60,000 Hokie faithful cheered him back to Worsham Field. Coach stated it was great to have him back and that Lees looks quick and strong in practice.
Mr. Roth also looked into the QB situation, as I am sure Hokies everywhere are asking themselves the same question. Coach Beamer stated that although Grant Noel didnít practice this afternoon, his throws have been good and he looks comfortable on the run. He offered that Bryan Randall has a bruised arm but is performing well. He also observed that Marcus Vick is a talented guy who is having a lot of stuff thrown at him and that he is still looking for his comfort level, but is getting his fair share of reps under center.
David in Chesapeake asked Coach Beamer if a special ceremony will be held on September 12th before or during the Marshall game in commemorating those lost in the attacks of 9/11. Coach Beamer he felt that Virginia Tech would join the nation in remembrance and in honor of those lost all though AD Jim Weaver would plan any sort of memorial.
Scott in Christiansburg had a great question regarding a change in the field goal blocking unit in recent years. Coach Beamer stated that in the mid-90ís he had basketball players use their height and jumping ability to come over center to block a potential field goal. Now, Pride and Joy relies on the speed of players such as Eric Green coming off the corners to do this job. The strategy of teams in recent years is to move the tee back to allow more clearance room between the ball and would be blockers coming over center. This move, however, allows a better angle for blockers coming from the corners and has allowed the Hokiesí special teams to continue their sterling performance in this aspect of the game.
Steve in Vinton asked about the wide receiving corps. Coach Beamer said he felt the unit was coming along. He pointed to FL Richard Johnson, whose speed and good hands will also be used on kickoff returns. He stated that SE Terrell Parham is playing some of his best football ever. He also said he liked true freshman RB Mike Imoh and the versatility he brings to the backfield. Coach Beamer also stated how pleased he was with the 2002 recruiting class and that some players have turned out to be more talented than the staff thought when they initially recruited them.
Megan, a student at Tech, asked about Kevin Jonesí play on special teams. Coach Beamer explained the use of headhunters on punt and punt return units and stated that KJ would be used on both sides of that unit. The headhunter on the kicking team flies down the field to limit the upfield progress of the receiving team. The headhunter is also defended by a member on the kicking team to limit his effectiveness. KJ was put in these situations in his freshman season, but Coach Beamer believed it was a case of giving a young player too much, too soon. He believes that Jonesí size and speed will be a tremendous asset to this special teamís position this year.
Brian in Falls Church asked about the status of r-FR OL Curtis Bradley. (Bradley was hospitalized after a recent voluntary practice and suffered swelling in his extremities). Coach Beamer stated that he is home resting and that he will meet with Bradley and his parents in a few days to discuss the linemanís future.
Gary in Blacksburg also asked about the offensive line. Coach said that he was pleased with the line in general. He did offer that OG Luke Owens was hurt in practice today and they were waiting to determine his status. Coach did mention C Jake Grove, OG Will Montgomery, OT "Big" Jon Dunn, and true freshman OL Jimmy Martin are guys that are having good preseason camps.
Steve in Richmond asked about the possibility of seeing Suggs and Jones in the same backfield. Coach Beamer did say the idea is being looked at, but that the emergence of FB's Cedric Humes, Doug Easlick, and Josh Spence increase what can be done with the ball coming out of the backfield. Steve also asked about Coach Beamerís most satisfying win. He said there were many, but that the win over Miami in í95 after the team started 0-2 was at the top.
Finally, Bill from Bellevue, WA called in claiming a mutual friend. After telling Coach Beamer that he just presented Seattle Marinerís Manager Lou Pinella with a Beamer Bobblehead doll, he also passed along a thank you from Bill Furrer. Bill is former Hokie QB Will Furrerís father, and Coach Beamer recently treated Willís parents to a tour of the stadium and its upgraded facilities during a recent vacation.
Bill then proceeded to comment on a recent comment that called the Hokie fan base "The Spoiled Faithful" in its expectation of yearly National Championship berths. Coach Beamer offered that this program is a victim of its own success in some aspects. The Hokies had 8 players taken in the NFL draft this year and many of those players were starters on a defense that ranked #2 nationally. Coach Beamer believes that aspect, coupled with one of our toughest schedules ever, makes this season one the most challenging in recent memory.
News and Notes:
Joel Kelly (JKHokie)