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2006
16
Oct

The Week That Was

It was déjà vu all over again. Tech fans had seen it before. On the field, the Tech team trash-talked and personal-fouled its way through another high-profile loss. On the sideline, Frank Beamer alternated between the bewildered look usually seen when Bobby Bowden is on the other bench and arguing with the officials. It was a scene right out of the 03 WVU game or last year’s ACC Championship one.

The loss to BC was not wholly unexpected. The very instant Tech had ceased playing very bad teams they got hammered and it happened a second time. There are simply too many personnel problems that have all come together at one time. They range from the woeful offensive line, missing two well-thought of recruits who never panned out, to the injuries that have decimated the running back and tight end positions, the overall youth and inexperience of this year’s team, to an exasperated Dr. Steger finally putting his foot down last January. Playing time will correct them.

What do not seem so easily corrected are the behavioral problems that seem to have become as regular a part of Tech’s media week as the Tuesday press conference. There are problems with the character of the Tech program that never seem to get fixed.

Watching the Tech-BC game, it was not hard to figure out which team was coached by the no-nonsense Navy man who deals quickly and sternly with the problems every single program experiences. It was just as easy to determine which team was coached by the guy whose notoriously-lax disciplinary policies have become at least an implicit part of the recruiting pitch.

As always, the Cult of Frank loudly proclaims there is nothing wrong. However, there are at least a few Hokies, some with offices in Burruss, who note the frequent cash grabs made by Frank Beamer and ponder just how much he would demand to be paid to not lose control of cancerous elements of his football team. The million-plus he is paid each year does not seem to be enough.

Frank Beamer will be 60 in a few days. It might be logical to wonder whether he still has the drive and determination to change a culture within Tech football that has again become the public perception. If he does, just a thought: perhaps it is time to quit avidly recruiting every Tidewater problem child Frank thinks might help him win an MNC. This program needs more Bryan Randalls and fewer Chris Ellisses. The good name of Virginia Tech is more important than whether Frank gets his statue erected in front of Beamer-Lane Stadium.

As bad as things were in Boston Thursday night, they were worse Saturday in the Orange Bowl. The public persona of the bad old Canes certainly seems to be popping up quite a bit lately, from last year’s LSU brawl to the Louisville game to the on-field riot Saturday night. Like at Tech, Miami ’s situation begins at the top. Larry Coker continues to claim that just because he has lost control of his program, that does not mean he has lost control of his program. As huge chunks of the ACC seem hell-bent on proving this year, sometimes there are reasons career assistants are career assistants.

Among those chunks of the ACC, the John Bunting Death Watch has hit full stride. If Leo Durocher were still among the quick, he would amend his famous comment to “Nice guys finish last unless they are in the same division with Duke.” Big John is widely lauded as a great guy. He is also looking more and more like one hopelessly in over his head as coach of a DI- A football program. It is looking more and more like the major question at Carolina is whether the President and AD can survive the broom that is about to be wielded.

The weekend’s games were not without their bright spots. That was quite the collapse pulled by the Hoos at the Smithsonian. Fresh off of algroh’s ‘Don’t Call Me Shirley’ rant directed at his fans, the Hoos played their best ball of the season in bolting to a 20-0 halftime lead over Maryland . Ralph Friedgen responded with halftime oratory reminding his guys that is wasn’t over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor . It wasn’t, either, as the Hoos charged back onto the field determined to grasp defeat from the jaws of victory. They did.

The Great NFL Legend continued polishing his stand-up routine as he began his post-game set by saying “I’m not here to point fingers” before pointing them everywhere except the nearest mirror. He also abruptly changed his tune regarding that terrific Hoo fan support [algroh has certainly figured out how to keep them there past the Third Quarter], by praising the Smithsonian throng, although he probably wasn’t talking about those that hung the ‘Fire algroh’ banner from the Alderman Road apartments.

The laughs continued during the post-game call-in show on the Hoo Sports and Comedy Network. Mac McDonald cut off the very first called with a “I won’t put up with bashing” zinger. That naturally kept calls to a minimum [Mac obviously draws a salary rather than an hourly wage] before a caller praised the coaching staff and claimed that while things might not seem so great, the Hoo coaching staff was actually the greatest football assemblage ever. I’m sure boygroh got a hefty increase in his allowance this week.

When Little Johnny Swofford was on television during that welcoming ceremony for Tech and Miami , I do wonder if he foresaw a week in which the football national rankings would find Virginia Tech, Miami and even Florida State absent, but little Wake Forest in them? That is what has happened. The plucky Deacons shook off the Clemson melt-down and won at State for the first time in 20 years. It is probably safe to say that Frank’s stranglehold on the ACC Coach of the Year trophy will be broken this year by the ACC’s best coach, Jim Grobe.

Grobe continues to take second-tier talent and turn them into a good team; much like Frank did many years and millions of dollars in salary ago. Those who blame various football situations on their ADs might want to ask why DickieB or Craig ‘Can Tubby Coach Football?’ Littlepage ended up with duds like Big John and algroh when Grobe was around for the taking. Grobe is even a Hoo alum, for crying out loud. Ron Wellman looks a lot like the ACC’s best Athletic Director. As Little Craig wanders around the Smithsonian holding a tin cup and singing ‘Brother, Can You Spare A Million’ for the JPJ, it might cross his mind that boy, did he ever hire the wrong alumnus.

The week of ACC football will kick off with a bang Thursday night with what is sure to become an instant classic, Carolina at the Hoos. The boys in Bristol are sure getting their money’s worth. Maybe the Cards and Mets can drag out the NLCS that long, or Emeril will be cooking something good.

We will also head into a weekend where Frank Beamer will again try to reverse his less-than-exemplary track record of turning around these player problems before they wreck a season. Just maybe it is time for action a little stronger than one-game suspensions, docking meal money or early-morning jogs with Mike Gentry. We shall see.

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