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After The Fall

There is good news and bad news. The good news is that the tumultuous Marcus Vick Era at Virginia Tech is over. The bad news is that the tumultuous Marcus Vick Era at Virginia Tech is over. The bad news will no longer overshadow the good.

There were no winners in the dismissal of Marcus from the Tech football program. Certainly not Virginia Tech, which had seen its good name dragged through the mud repeatedly by the antics of the younger Vick. Certainly not a football team that contains far more young men in possession of solid character than it does those of questionable ones, but had seen the entire program decried as a team of thugs by media know-nothings. Most certainly, Marcus was not a winner. His refusal or inability to comport himself in a manner necessary for someone to not only play football at Virginia Tech but also carry a famous last name. His actions left Tech with no choice.

It was painful watching last Saturday’s press conference. A distraught Frank Beamer struggled for words to describe the situation and his relationship with the Vick family. Frank claimed that the public perception of Marcus Vick was very different than the young man he knew. Kevin Rogers has often described Marcus as a pleasant and very coachable player. Marcus was popular among his teammates. It is unfortunate that we rarely saw what those closest to him did. It is equally unfortunate that Marcus did not allow us to, instead showing us a persona altogether different.

The other two administers from Tech were not exactly wearing happy faces Saturday morning, either. Athletic Director jimmy was invited for some reason. About all he contributed to the proceedings were the comments, “Nobody ever tells me anything,” last heard during the expansion wars, and “Frank only tells me what he thinks I need to know.” That the football coach keeps the Athletic Director on a need-to-know basis perhaps played a role in the necessity of Saturday’s event.

It was a somber Dr. Steger that spoke of the cumulative effects of the various transgressions committed by Marcus that led to this moment. I suspect that the decision to rid the Tech program of the younger Vick was a command decision made by Dr. Steger. He spoke of ‘conversations’ concerning Marcus held between himself, Frank and jimmy, but the feeling is that just as the decision to suspend Marcus for the 2004 season, this came down from Burruss. Dr. Steger was the one dealing with very angry alumni, some of them influential, a governor-elect who cleared his throat in Richmond with a rather loud ‘Ahem’ and his peers in the rest of the ACC wondering when and if the conference’s new guy was going to finally do something about its problem quarterback. The Tech president prefers to let his subordinates do their jobs with a minimum of interference from above. Marcus finally forced his hand.

Marcus Vick is the reason Marcus Vick is no longer a member of the Tech football team. Few players north of Tallahassee have been given the chances Marcus was to change his behavior. He did not. It is hard to fathom that somebody given the dire warnings that Marcus had received would be speeding through Hampton at three in the morning, this after not bothering to turn in paperwork that would have re-instated his driver’s license. ‘What was he thinking about?’ has been spoken by many in relation to Marcus’ continued problems. It will no longer be uttered about him as a Tech player.

Marcus Vick had been a lightning rod for negative publicity almost since arriving at Tech. He was suspended for his very first game in 2003. His multiple arrests in 2004 created a firestorm of news headlines and often contentious discussions between Tech alumni and fans. The same happened early in 2006, although the numbers of those defending Marcus was a lot smaller. The common denominator was always Marcus Vick. He created every bit of the controversy and kept doing so until removing him from the team became the only option.

I was most definitely not one of those who felt Marcus was railroaded, that he should have received another half-dozen or so last chances, or as many as it took until his eligibility had been exhausted. Nor do I line up with those who have reacted to the misfortunes of a twenty-one year-old kid with swaggering glee. To be sure, Marcus brought all of his troubles on himself, but his removal from the team does not elicit warm and fuzzy feelings, at least from me. It is hoped that he can straighten himself out and enjoy a productive future. By necessity, however, that future could no longer include Virginia Tech, and will not.

Marcus Vick is gone. The Virginia Tech football team will move on. The Hokies will field a team in 2006, likely a pretty good one. It will be a young team, now a lot younger without an experienced senior quarterback leading them. It possibly won’t be as dominant as might reasonably have been expected, but it probably will not free-fall down the Coastal Division standings. Even if next year’s team loses some games it might have won had MVToo been around, and it probably will, so be it. There were some things bigger than next year’s football record. Tech will not be projected as highly next year without Marcus as they would have with him, but who knows- they weren’t in 2004, either. Frank Beamer and his staff have been known to turn in some of their best coaching jobs under such circumstances.

There will be no shortage of talent on the 2006 Tech football roster, including at quarterback. At present there are four candidates, all of them highly-recruited. Certainly Chuck Amato, Ralph Friedgen and algroh think highly of the players who will be competing in the Spring for the starting job. The competition between rising sophomores Sean Glennon and Cory Holt and red-shirt freshmen to be Ike Whitaker and Greg Boone will at least make for an interesting Spring Practice. At this stage of the game I like Ike, a guy Kevin Rogers has been gushing over since his first practice. But we shall see.

What Tech fans will not have to endure next season is the constant media pointing at and referencing the ‘troubled’ Marcus Vick. They also will not have to hold their collective breath wondering what Marcus would do next, because with MVToo there always seemed to be a next, right to the very end. Certainly there will be more recalcitrant behavior by some other Tech player that results in arrest, as happens at most places. At least the next guy won’t cause the huge publicity as did the name ‘Vick.’ The next guy will be likely be placed on a much shorter leash, too.

During August of 2002 I was ambling around the soon-to-be opened SEZ. A Tech assistant coach came by. We spent some time discussing the football program, including the highly-rated recruiting catch carrying a magical name that would be enrolling at Tech that fall. The assistant opined that things would be different with this Vick. They certainly were, although not quite in the ways that were discussed back in 02. It is unfortunate and sad that Marcus Vick will not spend his senior year quarterbacking the Tech team, as had been speculated that day. That he will not is because actions by Marcus Vick did not allow it. Goodbye, Marcus, and good luck.

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