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Dollars and Sense

Ah, another home game. Virginia Tech returns home to Lane Stadium to complete the hardscrabble portion of its schedule against the other team from that charming state to the west. This week’s visit by Marshall doesn’t seem to be carrying quite the Holy Crusades sort of emotion that accompanied the Tech team last week to Morgantown. What a difference a week and the distance between Morgantown and Huntington, both literally and figuratively, makes.

The lack of passion surrounding this game is likely a situation localized in Blacksburg. I doubt there are many in Huntington who care to hear that Tech considers this a minor game compared to the previous week’s. Being reminded that they are deemed the junior program in that state is no doubt irksome and is being used as a motivational tool by the Herd coach. It is certainly a big game to them.

The Herd, for its part, is coming to town without all of the fan weauxfing that was in such abundance back in 2002. Marshall is coming into Lane Stadium occupying a much lower position on the radar screen. The BCS and MNC dreams that were dancing in their heads are gone and have been since Tech pounded them into those trays underneath the field three years ago. Still, the Herd plays a lot of these types of games against higher-caliber opposition and usually gives a good account of themselves. A spread of 30+ points seems way too many.

There has been a bit of a vacuum around the Tech football complex this week without what was considered yet another Really Big Game to await. Nature and collegiate athletics abhors a vacuum. There have been a couple of mini-dramas that popped up to fill it.

At least a few Tech fans will no doubt be craning their necks to see if Frank Beamer is wearing a blue shirt as he runs from the tunnel onto the field. He won’t be. A planted message board rumor set portions of the Cult of Frank atwitter at the thought that he might be leaving, for Kentucky, of all places. Give Frank credit; he sure knows how to spice up a contract negotiation.

It is hard to believe that Frank Beamer would have the unmitigated gall to try and pull this again, if he did, especially at a time when Tech’s athletic resources are stretched very thin as the athletics administration attempts to provide for an across-the-board ACC program that can compete with most of the members who still have large financial advantages over the new kids. It is also hard to believe that yet another cash grab by Frank could be spun into somehow being about relative pocket change for the staff, yet it was. Among other things, Frank is a very skilled PR operative.

Much of the message board venom was directed at Tech’s Athletic Director. While he was a convenient target, it was the wrong one. As the 2000 near-fiasco taught us, any contract for Frank has to be approved by the university administration. After what has happened since the last time, including the 2003 collapse and numerous player arrests as well as the whole Marcus thing that was not exactly Tech’s finest moment, not to mention the conference expansion affair, the last thing Dr. Steger or the BoV wants to hear are threats from Frank. If they come they are likely to produce a response of “Have a mint julep, can you get us Derby tickets and enjoy spending your sixties trying to make something out of that dog of a program.” That Kentucky thoroughbred left the barn five years ago.

The Tech Athletic Director has had a little something else on his plate other than listening to Frank’s demands for more money and an easier OOC [Frank is getting both]. There is the little matter of behavior in the Commuter lot, on Gameday known as Public Parking.

Following the Georgia Tech game, Dr. Steger issued a mealy-mouthed e-mail to the student body that might or might not have had anything to do with the large number of e-mails he received concerning what happened in the public lot. Chuck then exercised the chain of command and threw the problem at jimmy. From there it landed on the desk of Tom Gabbard.

With little to do other than listen to Turner executives pontificate on the vagaries of Chinese steel distribution and inform him that Lane’s luxury suites will not be ready in time for basketball season as well as all activities pertaining to operations during Tech home football games, Gabbard certainly had the time. Adding a twenty-fifth hour to his days is no tougher than printing extra money in the Merryman basement to pay Frank.

Presumably, he has found the time to meet with Tech police and work out a security contingent a little larger than what was on hand for the GT game. Hopefully, a little more show of force in the lot frequented by the public as well as students will be all that is necessary to moderate the more disagreeable behavior.

There were a few students, however, who saw fit to protest by sending me e-mails bearing the message header of their favorite expletive followed by ‘You.’ They all carried addresses ending in ‘’ To them I would say:

You’re correct. You have the right to drink a load and then hurl f-bombs at anybody you damn well please. If everybody else can drink in the Hokie Club lots, then you can certainly get blubbering drunk and spew profanity at anybody that happens by in the public lot. As some of you so eloquently stated, nobody can tell you what to do. So I won’t.

I would suggest going ahead and getting falling-down drunk. Start drinking Friday afternoon and make it an all-nighter. Make sure you do not possess a sober molecule when you hit the parking lot, then drink some more. That is your right. Don’t take any guff off anybody. If any cops happen by, and they will, go right up to them and explain that drinking heavily and acting like a punk is your right. Speak up, because we all know that alcohol causes the voice to lower. Make sure they can hear you. Don’t be a low talker. Enunciate the f-bomb clearly. They will understand.

To those in possession of a modicum of common sense, this would be an opportune time to tone it down a bit. Tech will be watching. You can still have a good time. Treat everybody, opponents included, with respect. Make Virginia Tech a place where fans of the opposition can have a pleasant experience before their team gets beaten to a pulp. It won’t be so bad. Self-policing would certainly be preferable to the draconian measures that will assuredly follow if that lot isn’t cleaned up. Listen to the coach.

Around the ACC, while Tech has what entirely too many consider a breather, the real action is taking place elsewhere. These are not exactly salad days for a couple of league coaches. This is being written a few hours before a very important ACC game in Raleigh. It likely will have been played by the time many read it.

These are not the best of times for NC State coach Chuck Amato. A lot of money and talk have been expended, the first by State alumni and friends in large part because of the second by Chuckie. Things haven’t exactly worked out so far. 12 months between home conference wins is not what the Wolfbackers had in mind. State’s season and perhaps a lot more is riding on the game at Georgia Tech. It is one Amato really needs to win.

Up in Hooville, algroh has not had the best of weeks, either. Yep, it’s all the media’s fault, algroh. Doug Doughty did all of that bragging, made all of those promises, recruited much better than George then turned out exactly the same results, with the exception, of course, of George beating Maryland like a drum. Many are enjoying watching algroh’s innate weirdness seep out, but probably not a lot of those serving snails at their tailgates. The Hoos have yet another big game against a ranked team this weekend on Chestnut Hill. Their track record under algroh in such games has not been so hot so far.

No doubt Tom O’Brien has been enjoying the discomfiture experienced by the coach who replaced his old boss. Tom would also enjoy adding to the level of discomfort. This is a game algroh really needs to win every bit as much as Chuckie needs to knock off GT. If the Hoos lose, however, algroh’s post-game media meltdown should be fun. Keep it up, algroh, and they really will be out to get you.

In other games, Duke will prep for Midnight Madness by getting pounded in the Orange Bowl, Wake Forest will absorb their usual loss at Florida State, surprising Carolina has a toughie at Louisville while Maryland plays at Temple for some reason. Hopefully Tech will get far enough ahead to allow for extensive scoreboard watching.

Back at Tech, a lot of eyes will be on the public lot. One more time to those who park there: this would be a really good week to act like you have some sense.

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