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2006
4
Jan

One Stomp Over The Line

You know, that was actually a pretty good Gator Bowl. Well, at least the Second Half. That was the thirty-minute segment where Tech dominated Louisville . The Hokies physically overpowered the Cards, controlling both lines of scrimmage. Card QB Kevin Cantwell had spent much of the Gator run-up in Weauxf Mode, running his mouth about how well his offense would play. The Tech defense laid a fearsome pounding on the Cards’ weauxf-on QB, breaking his nose along the way and causing the Louisville training staff to obtain solid hands-on experience as boxing cut men. It was a half in which Tech showed just how dominating a bunch this 2005 Tech team could be. Following expansion, Mikey claimed that Louisville would be the Li’l E’s ‘next Virginia Tech.’ During Monday’s final half, the Cards and Mikey got treated to the genuine article. Unfortunately, as is the case in most games, the Second Half followed the first.

The first was the half in which Tech showed everything that went wrong at the end of the 05 season. That was the thirty-minute segment where Tech put forth a repeat of what had happened a month before on the same Alltel field, where championship aspirations got away in another woeful First Half. Tech came out of the Gator gate looking every bit like the undisciplined and unfocused rabble that kicked off the ACC Championship game. The Cards were handed two early touchdowns, one stemming from what seems to have become Tech’s obligatory not-so-special-anymore teams breakdown, the other when UL’s chief offensive weapon was the Tech personal foul. The main difference between the Gator and the ACC Championship games was that for all of their acclaim as the future of the Li’l E [WVU certainly had something to say about that later Monday], Louisville was not nearly as good as Florida State and unlike the Noles could not build an insurmountable lead that would hold once Tech got its head into the game.

It is tempting to say that all’s well that ends well. Tech notched an eleven-point win, copping their third eleven-win season and the seventh double-digit victory one under Frank Beamer. Things went awry during Tech’s first Jax trip, but it was a solid season nonetheless, one that was the envy of most everybody else in the ACC. It is tempting, but not quite the case. It would discount The Stomp.

Yep, there was The Stomp. The game and its happy outcome have been rendered secondary by MVToo’s demonstration of his continued lack of class and maturity, one that was captured by NBC cameras for posterity. Here we go again.

Once more, the antics of MVToo are the main topic of conversation. Once again, the Hokie Nation finds itself divided from the cries of ‘So What?” and “Crucify Him” to various points of view in between. Here we go again.

This is the second time this year that Marcus has drawn attention to something other than his play. Since being let back on the team by Dr. Steger following his 2004 suspension, allegedly placed on Double Secret Probation with the stern warning, “Just one more time, Marcus, and you are outta here” it is twice now that the younger of the Vick boys has crossed the sportsmanship line. He seems to have a great deal of difficulty locating it.

The incident at WVU was one thing. Considering the dealings I have had with the dim-witted knuckle-dragging faction of the Cousins’ fan base, both in person and on the Internet, Marcus was certainly gesturing for this Hokie when he bid the Tech-WVU series a not-so-fond adieu. That was most certainly not a hanging offense.

Stomping on the calf of Elvis Dumervil is a little more of an eyebrow-raiser. It was not ‘just football,’ as MVToo tried to claim afterwards. Neither was the apparent lie told by MVToo afterwards when Frank had sent him to the Cards’ locker room to apologize. There seems to be a rather large gulf between the versions offered by Marcus and Louisville as to whether MVToo met with Dumervil and all was peachy keen. Given the history of MVToo, it is very hard to believe his story. That’s what a repeated pattern of questionable behavior will do for you.

Actually, this was not the first time Marcus had used a leg for something other than eluding defenders. An A-Line reader displayed the same eagle eyes as he did when piloting fighter jets, pointing out that MVToo had attempted to pull the same stunt in the Carolina game, but missed. It would seem the practices leading up to the Gator were used by MVToo in sharpening his technique.

It never seems to end with Marcus Vick. After each incident, a seemingly-contrite MVToo vows that he has learned his lesson and vows that whatever transgression has landed him in hot water will be the last. There are always more.

Recently Marcus announced that he would be returning to Tech for his senior year. Tech fans embarrassed by his latest shenanigan can look forward to more news stories, discussions and the altogether bad publicity this Vick is bringing to the University. Although we can be sure that once again Marcus will claim that this time was the last, history, the only reliable guide, teaches us that it will not. For whatever reason, Marcus Vick seems congenitally unable to not draw negative attention himself, the Vick family and Virginia Tech.

Among the seniors who played their last game for Tech in the Gator Bowl, two, Darryl Tapp and Cedric Humes, stand out for their exceptional character as well as their terrific play. Both are outstanding young men that this alumnus is proud to call fellow alums. You don’t see, read or hear much about their outstanding character, though. We are hearing plenty about The Stomp.

The last two years Tech fans have seen some extremes in quarterback play. Bryan Randall was certainly not the most talented person ever to quarterback the Hokies. I am hard put to come up with one in possession of a finer character, however. Bryan was a solid person both on and off the field. Bryan was never popular among certain segments of the Tech fan base, at least until he won the conference championship that same element considers a birthright.

Randall never complained about anything, including being benched in favor of MVToo in a big win over Miami back in 2003. For those with short memories, Bryan Randall was the one leading the cheers from the bench as his replacement Vick led Tech to the win. Bryan was rewarded last year as ACC Player of the Year, leading Tech to the conference championship that eluded this year’s team. Whether he makes it in the NFL or not, Bryan Randall will be a success in life because he is a winner, both on and off the field.

We have managed to go from a benched Bryan Randall cheering from the sidelines to a starting Marcus Vick stomping on opposing players. That is quite a jump. Instead of taking pride at a quarterback leading Tech to a championship, Tech fans cringe every time a news story appears containing the name ‘Vick.’ This alumnus has grown very weary of it. An eleven-win season should be a source of pride, not one spoiled in part by more immaturity displayed by the quarterback.

The question arises of what to with and about MVToo. While Kevin Rogers was quite vocal in his opinion of The Stomp, precious little has been heard from the big guy. Frank Beamer’s history when it comes to player misbehavior, especially his stars, has been one of remarkable tolerance. He prefers to adopt a bunker mentality and wait for everything to blow over. That has become increasingly harder to do when it comes to Marcus.

Frank wants his best players on the field, certainly understandable. One doesn’t rack up all of those Coach of the Year awards or huge raises when the top players are suspended. Frank is looking at an ACC Coastal Division that will contain next year a Miami program that looks to be in disarray as Larry Coker reacted to discovering he is working at a place where conference championships are considered a given and not winning national ones is regarded as a firing offense with what looks a lot like a panic move. They rarely work. Over in Hooville, algroh turned his back for a minute and half his staff took advantage of the opportunity and ran away. The Coastal is very ripe for the plucking again, but probably not with an inexperienced Ike Whitaker at QB. Frank is going to be very reluctant to take much of any action against Marcus, including a one or two game suspension, unless it is dictated by higher authority.

Since Virginia Tech is a school where the Athletic Director essentially works for the football coach when it comes to that program, not much can be expected from jimmy other than the official expression of disapproval already heard. That sends things back to Dr. Steger, who has bound to have grown very weary of dealing with Frank Beamer’s problem players in general and Marcus Vick in particular. I imagine Dr. Steger has better things to do than constantly deal with MVToo offenses.

A one or two-game suspension is what is most widely forecast as punishment for Marcus. This means, of course, that there will be ten other games in which Tech fans will have to deal with the disdain for MVToo other fans are not shy in expressing, contempt that is increasingly being directed at the entire program as being one that is beginning to look a lot like one that values winning over all else, including class and sportsmanship. Hokies everywhere will be holding their breath to see what MVToo does next, because, as history teaches us, there is always a next. Is another year of this really necessary? Is the University’s good name really worth a few more football wins? More importantly, can a program last that is built upon the behavior exhibited by players like Marcus Vick?

Marcus Vick himself could save Virginia Tech, its fans, administration and even Frank Beamer a lot of aggravation. It had been widely assumed that when MVToo was allowed back on the team this year, it would be one and out to the NFL. That didn’t work out so hot. Marcus recently announced he would be back next year, having discovered that NFL demand for 5’ 10” pocket passes with demonstrated maturity problems is not high. Maybe for the good of everyone involved, Marcus Vick should reconsider.

There is a I-AA school close to the home of Marcus. It is Hampton University . Its coach, Joe Taylor, is a fine man. He has shown an ability to deal with kids with problems, ranging from academic ones to the type displayed by MVToo. He is also a very good coach that can mold often unwanted kids for one reason or another into winning teams and good citizens. He was willing to welcome Marcus with open arms two years ago and chances are will now. Considering how good was Hampton this year, it is not beyond the realm of possibility to suggest that a I-AA national championship would be possible next year for a Vick-led Pirates team. A season out of the limelight and pressures inherent with today’s Virginia Tech football program might do wonders for Marcus Vick, too.

Marcus Vick could save himself and Virginia Tech a great amount of grief if he were to voluntarily leave. Let’s all accept that the Second Coming hasn’t worked out. Lightning did not strike twice. It seems to be time to put a closure to the whole thing and let all parties go their own way. Spare the Virginia Tech administration of having to deal with yet another Vick-related disciplinary matter. The program will survive. To leave would require Marcus to show a bit more maturity than he did in the First Half at the Gator Bowl. But, it might be the only way he would grow up. Just leave, Marcus.

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