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This, That and the Other

During my early-morning jaunts around the Internet taking full advantage of the possibilities offered by the Information Age, there are numbers of things that catch my eye. These are some of those things.

As of this writing, there are two Virginia Tech football teams with games remaining. One of them actually has a chance to win a national championship. That would be Tech’s soccer team. While most Tech fans and those of all other schools seem to have a difficult time warming up to a sport where a score of 2-1 is a wild offensive shoot-out and 3-0 constitutes RUTS, ‘futbol’ does seem to have a fairly large following in most of the rest of the world. Well, as the NFL just got through demonstrating in Europe, our brand of the game doesn’t seem to be of high export quality, either.

The success achieved by Oliver Weiss at Tech has been remarkable. A bunch of money was poured into the Tech soccer program, including an excellent field, called ‘pitch’ in soccer vernacular and a vastly-increased budget. The payoff can certainly be seen on the pitch if not jimmy’s bottom line.

There have been some eyebrows raised at the rather creative methods used by Weiss to build his programs. One does get the impression that not everybody around is bringing in a bunch of ringers to flesh out the roster, guys who will hang around for one semester before heading back to the Fatherland and the European pro leagues. No doubt Mac has set up a 900 number to spread the news, with the proceeds to be used to purchase those thousands of unsold Gator Bowl tickets Hoo AD Craig ‘Well, Tubby, I guess we don’t travel’ Littlepage is hawking.

Weiss is quick to point out that what he has done violates no NCAA rules and it doesn’t. The guys involved do appear to be legitimate students at Tech, if only because they did enroll in a semester’s worth of classes. One does get the impression those Residential Property Management classes are getting a bit crowded.

There is a method to what both jimmy with the increased soccer expenditures and Weiss with his raising of Tech’s percentage of foreign students are up to. Virginia Tech lies in fairly close proximity to what is considered the Florida of high school soccer recruiting. That would be NOVA. Weiss is doing a very good job of raising the profile of Tech soccer, raising it to a level sure to be noticed by those NOVA blue-chip recruits. It can be expected that not too far down the road those trans-Atlantic recruiting flights by Weiss will be replaced by commuter jaunts.

As for the charge that many of Tech’s soccer players might not be ‘real’ students, exactly how is that any different from what routinely goes on at Ohio State, USC, wherever Bog Huggins happens to be coaching or most any SEC school? I really doubt Greg Oden spent a great amount of time in serious academic pursuit while enrolled in Ohio State’s accelerated ‘One Year and Out’ program of study. For all of the crocodile tears shed by the NCAA over academics and those foolish ‘Sports is just a hobby while I prep for medical school’ commercials run during contests played between ‘student-athletes,’ large numbers of whom spend much more time checking their draft status than they do their course syllabus, the academic ship sailed long ago.

Speaking of unsold football tickets, news has come from the ACC that the ACC football championship game will be leaving Jacksonville. This surprises no one. Tampa will be given a shot for the next couple of years, then Charlotte the two after that. This would seem to increase the likelihood that either the Hoos or Heels will be playing Fredo for the ACC title in 08 and 09, while Florida State and Miami will be tangling in 2010 and 11. Who knows, by 2012 the crowds may have dropped off to the point that bids will be solicited from Winston-Salem and 31k-seat Groves Stadium.

Notable for its absence from any of the stories about the game’s upcoming change of venue [s] was how much Tampa and Charlotte will be paying for the right to showcase thousands of empty seats. It can be assumed that the amount [s] will be much less than the $6 extra-large Jacksonville was paying. It certainly did not take long for Little Johnny Swofford’s rosy pre-expansion claims of unlimited football riches to start falling apart. Considering the lousy ratings ACC football continues to mostly deliver, the future of that hefty Disney contract doesn’t seem too bright, either.

As noticeable as was the lack of solid dollar signs attached to the ACC’s move was that every single newspaper story about the move noted that a major reason given for the championship game attendance problems was that Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and Fredo had been playing in it. Throw in the ACC’s other two lightly-supported private schools and places like Hooville and the People’s Republic of Chapel Hill and you have the problem in a nutshell. There simply aren’t enough ACC schools where football is THAT important to make hosting the ACCCG a surefire money-maker for any city.

When eleven ACC schools and the conference headquarters have a vested economic interest in getting Jim Grobe away from Wake Forest, you have a problem that most definitely was not solved by bringing in the Canes and Fredo. There are reasons why the SEC, despite its seeming aversion to members from big media markets, runs a football cash cow that includes a jam-packed Georgia Dome for its championship game. They are the same reasons you don’t see any SEC team packing survival gear for the Truckstop Bowl in Boise.

Speaking of getting Jim Grobe out of Winston, I’m guessing there will be a few ACC football coaches casting ACC Man of the Year votes for Arkansas AD Jeff Long. I doubt, though, that he will be getting many from those ACC AD’s faced with sudden increases in their football budgets.

How did that ‘I’ll hire an ACC coach’ ploy work out, Jeff? As Terry Don Phillips calculates how much higher the funeral expenses will be when the Tommy Bowden Death Watch finally expires, Butch savors his reward for coaching the World’s Best 4-8 Team and Ron Wellman heads back to the BB&T tower to beg for even more money, we again note the hilarity that surrounds the annual Coaching Carousel. The next time Diogenes sets out on a quest his Mapquest directions won’t include Fayetteville, Arkansas.

It might have taken Long a while, but several raises and much lying later, he actually has a coach. That is not yet the case at Duke, where AD ‘Lackey’ Joe Alleva is certainly living up to the title. Lackey Joe went hard after Paul Johnson. That Johnson was recently introduced as the new guy in charge of losing to the Dawgs tells you how that worked out. Lackey Joe had gone to Annapolis to attempt to convince Johnson to take the Duke job. Johnson’s announcement that had he not taken the GT job he would have remained at Navy offers solid evidence of the effectiveness of Lackey Joe’s salesmanship, not to mention the attractiveness of the Duke job.

Lackey Joe seemed to have been determined to hire a coach named Johnson, next going after the one at Vanderbilt, Bobby. That Duke would consider a coach with a career record of 20-50 a step up tells you how bad things have gotten around Methodist Flats. Lackey Joe now seems to be focusing on coaches fired from their jobs in recent years, such as David Cutcliffe and Karl Dorrell. Well, what will happen to them at Duke in about four years won’t be a new experience.

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