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The GAME and the Coaches

Well, that was fun. On a gorgeous late-November afternoon in Lane Stadium, one of those days that goes far towards convincing one that the deity did indeed have Virginia Tech in mind when He came up with the whole creation idea, the Hokies, as is their habit these days and years, throttled the Hoos. It was the high point of a weekend that now has a quarter of the ACC’s football coaches, at least at the start of the season, receiving severance packages.

One upon a time, the Tech-Hoo football rivalry was actually that. From the time the series picked back up in 1970 following strong encouragement from the General Assembly until George was sent off in his sailboat into the Chesapeake Bay following the 2000 season, much like a Viking funeral, Tech held a 16-14 advantage. Until Vick Classic arrived on the scene in 1999, it had stood exactly even at 14 wins apiece.

The games were usually hard-fought, close affairs, often not decided until the final play. It was the very definition of a rivalry. Then the Hoos hired algroh.

Since that fateful appointment, one that will serve as a beacon in the annals of state football history, Frank Beamer has seized control of the game like hasn’t happened in the Tech-Hoo history since the last time, when Frank Moseley did it in the Fifties.

Frank’s ledger against algroh now stands at 5-1, 7 of the last 8 over the Hoos counting George’s last two years. Adding insult to the self-imposed Hoo injury of being forced to compete with algroh at their helm, the games are no longer close.

This 17-0 final was a bit closer than last year’s 52-14 blowout. That had much to do with the decision by algroh to concentrate on keeping the clock running at most all costs. It worked like a charm, too, as enough time was expended during all of those three-and-outs to hold Tech to 17. These days, that constitutes a close game between the two.

Of course, algroh game-planning to hold the score down was perhaps not what the Hoos had in mind when they handed out the big bucks on a long-term basis to the Great NFL Legend. As he observed what has happened to the ACC’s other long-time assistants who proved to be in over their heads as head coaches, algroh can be thankful for long-term contracts and heavy debt on the basketball arena. No doubt George, still sailing around the Bay, basked in the Sunday sun, took a sip of his adult beverage and exclaimed, “No, Carl, don’t write the check. This is what they wanted.”

While this turn of events might not have been what the Hoos wanted, what they got was algroh sitting at the interview table in the SEZ with Offensive Coordinator boygroh on his lap while he explained away yet another loss to Frank Beamer.

There was the usual glee to be gleaned from algroh’s explanations, especially the comment of, “That one turnover was too much damage, but other than that … it was a non-damage game. Be still, boygroh.” This seemed akin to a Titanic survivor saying, “Other than the iceberg, it was a non-damage cruise.”

Then there was the marvelously-succinct, “We need to score more points than we scored today. boygroh, will you quit squirming. Somebody needs a nap.” Any at all would be a step in the right direction, algroh.

Indeed, the day belonged to Bud Foster’s magnificent defense. When the other guy runs exactly one play from your side of mid-field, that being a punt, the odds are fairly good that you will win. Tech did. All necessary points were scored near the end of the First Half when Hoo QB Jameel Sewell discovered that one way to keep from expending all of that energy running from Tech’s defense like a gazelle from a lion was to simply fumble the ball away. It worked quite well for both Sewell and Tech, which quickly scored the deciding points.

When Tech’s first possession of the Second Half chewed up 5+ minutes of clock and produced an insurmountable 10-0 lead, for all practical purposes the RUTS was on. It was provided by Tech’s obligatory big play as the Hoo secondary got to gaze at the backside of Eddie Royal, at least for the few nanoseconds it took Eddie to hit the end zone at warp speed.

The day ended with Tech fans snapping up Atlanta hotel rooms and algroh offering up one more excuse before putting his season and boygroh to bed. The Great NFL Legend pointed out, again, that his team was very young. And indeed they were every bit as young as the Tech team from which Frank and his staff coaxed yet another ten win season. The term ‘rebuilding’ seems to mean very different things in Blacksburg than it does in Hooville.

While Frank deals with inexperience by heading to another bowl game, algroh is now in the sixth season of his Hooville rebuilding effort. Through a lot of hard work and dedication, he has managed to improve George’s final 6-6 record to 5-7. As algroh heads out to recruit another stellar class for Hargrave, he can bask in the accolades of a job well done. All Hoos can take comfort from the knowledge that Frank did not start winning big until his seventh season. Of course, that was chiefly because the Hoos did not hire algroh until his fifteenth.

While algroh was explaining away another loss and preparing boygroh’s bottle, there was quite a run on pink note paper around the ACC. By the time Thanksgiving weekend had ended, Larry Coker and Chuckie had joined John Bunting in acquiring the designation of ‘ex-coach.’

For his part, Big John ended his Carolina career with a very short post-game press conference that consisted mainly of “Adios, I’m out of here.” The only way it could have been a better exit was if Big John had Vicked DickieB, the Rams Club and the light blue message board loons. As he was SUVed back to the obscurity of an NFL staff from which he sprang, Big John’s chief regret was likely that State and Duke did not show up on his schedules nearly enough.

A day before Big John’s finale, Miami AD Paul Dee had announced at a press conference that Uncle Fester was history before asking the media if any of them had brought any doughnuts, since if Miami’s Athletic budget couldn’t afford to keep grass on the practice field, they sure couldn’t provide any.

Phat Paul then explained, before pouncing on some cheese paper he spied in the back of the room, that he didn’t much care if Miami had the worst facilities in the ACC or that more people attended the press conference announcing Coker’s firing than were in the stands at the Orange Bowl the night before to watch him win. This was a great job and the new coach would be expected to win immediately, every single game every single year, convince fans and recruits to brave the gunfire and attend and play in the dilapidated Orange Bowl, make generous contributions to GLAD and take Dee out to eat several times a day. Enjoy, Greg.

Then there was Chuckie. The only question surrounding Chuckie’s firing was why it took State AD Lee Fowler almost twenty-four hours following that disgraceful performance against ECU to pull the trigger. Marye Anne acted much faster when she goldsmithed Mike O’Cain. Chuckie’s contribution to his alma mater NC State will long be noticed in the magnificence that is Carter-Finley and the Murphy Center . It will almost, but not quite, obscure the fact that Chuckie was a lousy head coach. As was [and is] the case with Chuckie, Big John, Uncle Fester and algroh, there are sometimes very good reasons why career assistants are career assistants. Those reasons have much to do with why Frank Beamer keeps winning games and going to bowls.

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