Wednesday, December 17, 1997

More Tickets Than You Can Shake Your Gobbler At!

The ticket purchase plans are still going strong.  We have now filled up the Big Brothers/Big Sisters allotment of 60 tickets, as well as the Georgia Soldiers allotment of 40.  Nice going, HokieCentral faithful, and there's still more we can do...

We've got a third group we're now purchasing tickets for.  I received the following email yesterday from message board poster "vtfaninmiami":

"...I'm a Captain in the Army stationed in Miami. I am a member of United States Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM). The Headquarters recently (September 26) moved here from Panama and has not totally integrated itself into Miami's Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) opportunities. I would like to get in on my Savannah colleague's ticket bank for the US Armed Forces.

"The Headquarters consists of approximately 1000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and civilian personnel. I will check with our transportation officer to see if he can charter a bus for the trip. I plan to call the Mayport Naval Base to see of they can provide accommodations. If they can't, we will have to make it a long road trip. Its 340 miles from Miami to Jacksonville. I will take a straw poll tomorrow AM on our LAN to check the interest level. Off the top of my head, I think we may have 50 or so takers. We are somewhat different demographically than the unit in Savannah in that we have a lot of older and married soldiers. I'll also give the local Coast Guard MWR office a call and see if they want in as well."

vtfaninmiami got the word out at about 2:30 Tuesday afternoon, and in an hour and fifteen minutes, he already had 25 takers.  He reported:

"This should be enough to convince the transportation officer to lay on a bus. Once that word gets out more troops should sign up. I spoke to the Command Master Chief (the Senior enlisted sailor) at JAX's Mayport Naval Station. They are also interested in some tickets."

I called the Tech ticket office at 4:45 Tuesday afternoon, and as of that time, we had not only filled the allotment of 60 and 40 tickets for the BB/BS and GA Soldier groups, but we had ordered an additional 42 tickets, which are now alloted to a ticket office account for the armed forces in Miami (which we'll call the Miami Soldiers group from now on).

That's 142 tickets purchased so far, Hokie fans - nice job!  For those of you who have not bought tickets for this cause but would like to, see previous updates (further down the page) for instructions how.  Jim Roark is the guy you want to talk to in the Tech ticket office (1-800-VATECH4).  Rest assured, any tickets bought through this plan will be used in some fashion or another.

Our original "deadline" was 2:00 Tuesday, but the Tech ticket office is willing to take orders through the 29th of December and then FedEx the tickets to wherever they need to go.  So don't worry about time running out on us any time soon.

Our efforts have drawn the attention of the VT Athletic Department higher-ups, as you might imagine.  I received a phone call from Tim East, Assistant AD in charge of Marketing and Promotions.  Tim expressed his gratitude for what we are doing, and he later sent me the following email.  It was addressed to me, of course, but I really consider it to be addressed to all of us who have had a part in this.  Here's the email:

"Will - On behalf of the Virginia Tech athletics department I would like to thank you for your efforts in helping us to sell Gator Bowl tickets. Your willingness to help is greatly appreciated. We are also very much appreciative of those who visit your site and have decided to help not only Tech but those in need. Obviously, the real winners are the recipients of the tickets. The efforts of you and your generous web site visitors will help make New Year's Day special for many."

Tim East
Virginia Tech Athletics
Assistant Athletic Director,
Marketing & Promotions

It's been a lot of fun doing this folks, and I'll keep you updated on this as it unfolds further.

The Brawlin' Heels

Seven UNC football players were charged with assault Tuesday stemming from an incident that occurred on December 5th.  The whole scenario is eerily reminescent of Tech's own infamous "Brawl" outside of Squires last year.

For details, check out the ESPNet story on the brawl.  And for those of you who are wondering what kind of coverage this is going to receive from the media, ESPN ran the story 32 minutes into their hour-long 6:30 p.m. Sportscenter show on Tuesday night.  Not exactly "top of the news" stuff, but they didn't bury it, either.

I don't look for UNC coaches and administrators to "do" anything about this.   I'm betting that all players will play in the bowl game.

The distractions that the UNC football team is facing as they prepare for the Gator Bowl are enormous.  First, head coach Mack Brown departs for Texas and takes his offensive coordinator with him.  UNC gave the head coaching job to defensive coordinator Carl Torbush, but not before the job was turned down by Georgia's head(?) football coach, whose name escapes me at the moment.  UNC ticket sales for the bowl are currently hovering around the paltry figure of 1,000.  And now this.

The UNC team is also making the classic mistake of talking about and thinking about everything but their upcoming opponent.  They sound like the Hokies did the week before the Miami of Ohio game.  They're moaning about not making it into the Alliance Bowl, and they're not even acknowledging Virginia Tech as their upcoming opponent.

If this team (UNC) was ever not focused and ripe for an upset, this is it.  I hope the Hokies can take advantage of this great opportunity to play a distracted team that isn't preparing properly for them.

Hokie Hotline Notes - Monday, December 15th, 1997
by GalaxHokie

AD Jim Weaver was on during the first half hour. The show was courtside in Cassell Coliseum. The women's team could be heard practicing in the background. Coach Hussey was on during the final hour of the show.

Next week's show will be on Tuesday night due to the West Virginia basketball game on Monday night. In two weeks, on Dec. 29, the 90-minute Gator Bowl pregame Hotline on Monday night will originate from the Orange Park Kennel Club -- site of an enterta inment event for the team. Yes, the dog track. At which, Bill Roth said, Mike Burnop always bets on the rabbit!

Gator Bowl President John Harrison and Executive Director Rick Catlett were in town Monday for a media conference. Seventeen media outlets were represented.

Weaver repeated what he's been saying about the need for Hokie fans to follow the team to Jacksonville. With the Super Alliance coming next year (adding the Rose Bowl to the mix) and television contracts to be dominated by ABC, the bowls below the alli ance will become more worried about ticket sales, Weaver said.

If VT travels well this year it will establish itself among the elite traveling schools, he said. Bowl execs have the mindset that teams don't travel as well the year after the Alliance experience, so VT needs to show support this year, Weaver said. He reminded listeners of the importance of buying tickets thru VT so that they will count toward its total. Good seats will be available in upper and lower decks.

"We've got to position ourselves for the future," Weaver said. How you travel as a program will determine non-Alliance bowl participants in the future, he said. (At the same time, he said VT has gained a "great reputation for travel" in past seasons).

Roth and Weaver noted that bowl ticket sales are dragging at some schools. West Virginia has sold fewer than 2,000 tix to the Carquest; Syracuse fewer than 1,500 to the Fiesta; Pitt is giving away tickets to students (note from Will - I heard yesterday that Florida State has only sold 3000 tickets to the Sugar Bowl!  Incredible!). They agreed that Pitt is setting a dangerous precedent for itself, but also said Pitt is in a different situation, trying to establish its program. Tech's Gator ticket sales are in the 8,000 range.

They talked about the appeal of the Jaguars' new stadium in Jacksonville: all chairback seats, food COURTS rather than concession stands, last year's game temp in the 70s. And they talked up the New Year's Eve festivities: parade, New Orleans-style mas querade party downtown, four live stages, food, bands, fireworks on the river at midnight, etc.

Roth committed what he called a Freudian slip when he said "Coming up at 7:30, we'll be joined by Virginia Tech Athletic Director Dave Braine..." He was sitting with Weaver and meant to say "basketball coach Bobby Hussey," but somehow AD Braine came out. Somewhat later in the show, Weaver invoked Braine's name and praised his hiring of Hussey and Bonnie Henrickson as Tech's basketball coaches.

Several callers promoted the idea of buying and donating tickets. While there was no mention of Hokie Central's role in this, Roth/Weaver said you can call the ticket office and indicate that you want to buy and donate tickets to soldiers or youth in J ax.

Apparently Shawn Scales was a focus of Tech's promotional efforts at the bowl media event Monday. Weaver said he hadn't really seen Shawn play (because Weaver was busy shaking hands at his first game in which Shawn got hurt), but had just had the oppor tunity to view a highlight film of Scales' plays. It sounded like the film was for the media conference. Weaver also said he'd seen a statistical compilation of Scales' catches, TDs, kick returns, etc., which showed how important a role he plays with the team.

Neither Scales nor Al Clark will be able to practice when the team resumes work this Friday, but Roth said it is hoped they will be ready for the bowl game.

Are Tech fans spoiled about their situation and going to the Gator Bowl this year, Roth asked. Weaver circled around the question by saying he didn't have anything to compare it to, then reminded that it's the first time Tech and UNC have played in foo tball in 51 years. Roth said UNC is the highest ranked team Tech has played in a bowl.

Basketball season is already one-fourth over, Roth noted. Hussey said the team's strengths have been shooting defense (38% average by opponents; all seven opponents held to less than 50%) and rebounding.

Areas for improvement? Assists to turnovers ratio. Also, free throw shooting, which dropped in past 2 games from 74% to 65%.

The team has four players averaging in double figures, plus Grindstaff at 9.3 ppg. Hussey said Hokies will be tougher to defend this year than last, when opposing teams draped all over Ace Custis.

Roberts will continue to come off the bench. He prefers that to starting, Hussey said. Guillory was praised for his play at guard, good stats and a settling effect on the team.

The coach sees Temple now as perhaps the toughest A-10 team, altho GW and Xavier were also mentioned. Temple has changed its style and is pushing the ball down the floor.

Roth says the Hokies have probably their best inside game (in Roberts and Wheeler) in 10-15 years. Hussey said that will only get better next year with the addition of Denny Mims and redshirt big man Clinton McPherson. McPherson runs the floor better t han any of Tech's big men, the coach said, and is up to 230 pounds and getting stronger.

Caller asked why the West Virginia game falls at Christmas break when there are no students. But Hussey said that's the recent history of the series -- both teams have been playing on the other's floor during the holiday break. It works that way becaus e of other conference scheduling requirements. Hussey said the game originally was set for Sunday afternoon, but WVU asked that it be moved to Monday because the 'Eers are in a weekend tourney in Georgia and they had travel concerns.

Hussey said he feels attendance and student support will pick up. Students will like the style of this team's play, and can relate to VT's type of players.

This is exam week and Wednesday is a heavy exam day for the BB players. So Tuesday's practice has a pre-dawn start, 6:30 to 8 a.m., to give players the rest of the day to study.

Caller asked about David (?) Whaley, who becomes eligible at end of first semester. Hussey said Whaley's strength is as a long-range shooter and said he's another weapon to use against the many zone defenses expected in A-10 play. Whaley gives depth at the 3 spot where Andre Ray and Eddie Lucas have been playing, which means Lucas can play more at 2 guard, Hussey said.

Caller asked which other coaches Hussey talks with regularly as friends or about strategy and the like. Hussey mentioned Dave Odom of Wake Forest, Rick Majeris of Utah, the St. John's coach, Jerry Green at UT and Sonny Smith at VCU. He said Eddie Fogle r from South Carolina called a few days ago and was complimentary of the Tech team and also talked strategy.

As I was turning off the radio at sign-off it sounded like they said the Tech-WVU game next Monday night is on HTS cable at 7 p.m.?



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