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Tech Sports Tonight (football season only)
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When: every Tuesday from 7:00-9:00
Station:  WXGI AM 950 in Richmond
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Monday, December 23, 2002
by Will Stewart,

Tonight's Hokie Hotline featured Tech Athletic Director Jim Weaver with some interesting financial figures for the Diamond Walnut Bowl, as well as Tech Head Coach Frank Beamer, Quarterbacks Coach Kevin Rogers, and Recruiting Coordinator Jim Cavanaugh.

Jim Weaver's Segment

Ticket sales for the Diamond Walnut San Francisco Bowl are in the neighborhood 5,000 tickets sold, which Weaver feels is a good total, because of the distance involved and the shortness of the lead time from the bowl invitation to the game date.

Roth remarked that this season is reminiscent of the 1998 team, which suffered some close, painful losses but won their bowl game and used it as a springboard to a great 1999 season.

Roth brought up Notre Dame and their bowl agreement with the Big East, which allows Notre Dame to be invited to Big East bowls in years where they don't make a BCS bowl. "Notre Dame was needed when we [the Big East] negotiated four years ago," Weaver noted, "when we had had a less than successful bowl season. Some bowls said they wouldn't sign with the Big East unless Notre Dame was in the mix."

Roth and Weaver agreed that now that "the Gator has Notre Dame" (twice in the last four years), they "won't give them up." Weaver sounded hopeful that the Big East can renegotiate their bowl contracts with the other bowls without involving Notre Dame tie-ins.

The Hokies end up making more money from the Big East bowl revenue sharing agreement, because Notre Dame is in the Gator instead of the BCS. If ND had been in the BCS, they would have received $14.6 million. Instead, that bowl game goes to a BCS conference, which will only get about $4.5 million (BCS conferences get $14.6 million for their first BCS bowl participant, but additional participants from the same conference result in just an additional $4.5 million being paid into the conference. For example, the Big Ten will get $14.6 million for Ohio State being in the Fiesta, but only another $4.5 million for Iowa being in the Orange Bowl).

That results in an extra $10.1 million being given to the BCS conferences instead of Notre Dame. The Big East splits its share evenly, resulting in every Big East team getting $300k more because ND is not in a BCS bowl.

Weaver said that Tech's traveling budget is about $1.5 million, and with the $1.225 million Tech gets from the Big East bowl revenue sharing, plus the $300,000 extra from Notre Dame not making the BCS, that Tech is able to cover their travel expenses "pretty much right on the mark."

However, the Hokies will have to eat about 7,500 unsold tickets, at about $50 a pop, because Tech agreed to a 12,500-ticket minimum but will only sell about 5,000 tickets. That equates to about a $375,000 loss. Weaver said that VT will technically lose money on the bowl, but because of record TV revenues of $1.925 million (versus a previous record of just $1.4 million in 2000), they can cover the cost of unsold tickets that Tech is obliged to purchase.

A charter flight for the team is $240,000, and second charter (for support staff, etc.) is $134,000. Weaver said that Tech never gave a second thought to going all-out in making the trip. Tech will take all 110 players on the roster, including redshirts and walk-ons and the like. "We're investing in the most revenue-producing segment of our athletic department," he noted.

Charles from Roanoke called and asked about men's basketball season tickets sold. Weaver said the number of season tickets sold is close to what Tech had budgeted. Charles asked what Weaver thought about the longterm prospects of the men's basketball team. Weaver declined to discuss the basketball team on a bowl preview show, saying that he would be on many times during basketball season, and it would be more appropriate then.

Mike from Roanoke called in and asked about the rumor that VT is trying to schedule a Falcon's preseason game next summer in Blacksburg. Weaver said "We've had some contact" with Vick's agent group, and that they have "had dialog" on that possibility (There has been speculation for a long time that a Falcon's preseason game in Blacksburg was part of Vick's contract with Atlanta, but Roth and Weaver did not address that directly.)

Weaver said that it's early in the process, but that Tech is doing everything they can to make it happen. "It's got to be a good business deal for Virginia Tech and the Falcons." Weaver said he did not think that VT would be able to package a Falcons preseason game as part of Tech's season ticket package, but that they would review NCAA rules and see.

Roth asked about college preseason games. Weaver said there are BCA games in 2003 and 2004, and that's it for preseason NCAA games. In response to Roth's question about whether or not Tech is still scheduled to play in that 2004 BCA game, Weaver said that Tech is supposed to be a host institution in 2004. "We've got a signed piece of paper that says we're supposed to play in that game."

Bobby in Prince George County asked if the fact that the band (Marching Virginians) is only taking about half their membership to the bowl game this year sets a precedent for future bowl games. Weaver said no, and the only reason VT was taking a reduced band was financial considerations. He noted that Nebraska is only taking a 51-person pep band to their Independence Bowl game in Shreveport.

Coach Beamer's Segment

Roth asked Coach Beamer how Marcus Vick looked running Air Force's triple option as scout team quarterback. Beamer chuckled, "He looks pretty good." He then added, "He's hard to catch."

In the past, Air Force has won bowl games over Ohio State, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and VT. Beamer remarked that when you look at them on film, they look small and a little slow, but they play very, very hard and are well-coached, and you have to be ready to play when you play them.

Air Force led the nation in third-down conversions, at just under fifty percent. They smacked around BYU 52-9, and because or their ground-oriented attack, Air Force has a big advantage in time of possession this year. They are not, however, a good come-from-behind team.

Beamer said the key to stopping Air Force is to be disciplined and take care of your responsibilities on defense. He also said that a big concern is Air Force running the option pass after a bunch of option runs, and being caught by surprise and giving up a deep pass. He also said that Air Force chop blocks a lot, and that the Tech defenders have to concentrate on avoiding the chop blocks while trying to make a play.

Defensively, Air Force runs a 3-3-5 defense similar to what WVU runs, but they blitz more than WVU. They also do some different things in kicking formations, having punted from five different formations throughout the year, making it difficult to prepare for.

Injury report: Defensive tackle Jason Lallis, who was VT's leading tackler among defensive linemen before injuring his shoulder, is going "to be close." Beamer and trainer Mike Goforth aren't sure if he'll be ready to play, and they think they'll know after they get a look at him in Friday's practice. Richard Johnson has turned his ankle, and the Hokies think he's going to be able to play, but they're not sure. Other than that, a few players are "banged up," but nothing serious.

Before signing off, Beamer said that Miami will "definitely" win the national championship game. He talked about how important winning the Diamond Walnut Bowl game is to VT, from the standpoint of sending the seniors out as winners, winning ten games, and keeping Tech's streak of consecutive weeks ranked going (VT is second only to Michigan in terms of number of consecutive weeks ranked in the AP Poll. The Hokies have been ranked for 69 straight weeks, Michigan 79. Miami is third at 54).

Quarterbacks Coach Kevin Rogers

QB Coach Kevin Rogers answered a few questions next. He said that when he first arrived at VT that Bryan Randall didn't really look like a guy who could play quarterback, but that he has come along nicely. He figured Randall would challenge Grant Noel for the starting job, and they were planning on getting Randall some playing time in the early games. As it turned out, they needed him more than that.

Rogers said that Randall had had a good year, with 2500 yards of total offense, but that he needs to be "the proprietor of the football," and he turned it over too much late in the season.

On the topic of Marcus Vick, Rogers said, "Obviously I'm very excited about him. I was excited about him when I was at Notre Dame, and I went down and saw (Warwick High School) Coach Tommy Reamon and had a chance to look at Marcus on the film. I saw a lot of the same things that I saw with Michael when I was recruiting Michael for Syracuse. I no sooner got to Tech a year ago, than I was heavily involved in recruiting Marcus.

"I haven't been disappointed in anything I've seen. The guy has gained 20 pounds since he got here. I think eventually Marcus will be one of the fastest guys on our football team. His arm has gotten progressively stronger and stronger. He's got that same quick release [as Michael]. The intangible aspects of the game are hard to measure right now, and until he plays in a game, it's hard to say how good he can be. I certainly think that he's got a chance to be one of those guys that is worth the price of admission."

On the spring QB battle, Rogers said, "Bryan's the kind of guy that is not going to give it up. He's the incumbent, and Marcus has to beat him out."

Roth noted that Marcus arrived in August without, for example, the arm strength of Michael, but that he has progressed quite a bit since then. Rogers agreed, saying, "I've seen him throw the ball 70 yards in the air. He's going to have more than enough arm. There are some technical things I'd like to see him get squared away. I'd like to see him release the ball a little higher, I'd like to see him free up his left [non-throwing] arm. These are things that we can get done. I like who he is. He's a smart guy, he can pick up concepts, and he hangs on every word."

Mike in Roanoke called in and said, "Let's say Marcus is as good as Michael. What position on defense is Bryan Randall moving to?" Rogers, of course, would not address the question and said that it is Marcus' job to beat Bryan out.

Coach Cavanaugh's Segment

Linebackers Coach and Recruiting Coordinator Jim Cavanaugh was up next with some recruiting nuggets (as much as he can give without being able to name recruits).

Cavanaugh thinks that VT has done a good job recruiting so far. Because of the situation with the DC sniper, some high school playoff games got kicked back a week, and some kids couldn't visit VT last week and will have to come up in January, instead.

Cav said that the Tidewater area is so strong in player quality because of population density and quality of coaching.

Roth asked him to rate this year's players in the state of Virginia. Cav said there's a lot of good football players, and he said that the top of the list are "very good players. They're all kids with good size and good speed." He says the state is having another good year, that the top kids are as good as ever. He's not sure how the 25-40th ranked kids will shake out.

Roth said that the top five or six in state are usually can't-miss prospects, and Cavanaugh said he would go beyond that, that it's the top ten. The toughest hit-or-miss position to evaluate is the quarterback position.

When asked who VT's toughest recruiting rival in-state is, Cavanaugh laughed and answered, "The schools I run into are Virginia, Tennessee, NC State, and Maryland. Occasionally, Notre Dame will come in there, but those are the schools I compete against year-in, year-out."

Roth noted that Cavanaugh has coached in 11 bowl games in a row -- four at UNC and seven at Tech. Cavanaugh has played against or coached against Virginia 32 times in his life.

Cavanaugh closed by saying that he "works for a good guy. I've had a chance to move from staff to staff, and I've been told to move from staff to staff, and I've got a great guy to work for in Coach Beamer."

Monday was Day 1,176 of Tech's continuous possession of the Commonwealth Cup.

- Will


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