Play a Real Spring Game
By Jim Alderson, 4/18/00

It is Spring, and that means a young man's fancy (as well as mine and Atlee's and a few thousand other Hokies no longer of a tender age) turns to, among other things, Tech football. We pore over the traditional media, mostly in vain, for some news concerning how quickly all of those new defensive ends and wide receivers are grasping the system. There is little news coming out of practice, due in part to Frank becoming understandably irked as apparently zealous fans were racing onto the field in an attempt to shout words of encouragement to Michael Vick and perhaps ask for an autograph, often as the team was reaching the line of scrimmage. So much for watching practice. We will just have to wait for the Spring Game.

Ah yes, the Spring Game. The truth be known, there is very little to be gleaned from watching the team play itself in a very controlled atmosphere. How many of you really came away from last year's "game" armed with the knowledge that MV was going to be that good that soon? I sure didn't. The most interesting aspects for me were the HokieCentral Tailgate (we sure rounded into mid-season form in a hurry) and trying to ascertain the identity of Frank's haberdasher as he stood under a goal post (have they been replaced yet?) observing the action.

Coaches really don't like Spring Games. Ol' George up in Hooville actually did away with his for a few years. They love the practice, but regard the actual games as a necessary evil, with the ‘necessary' placating the thousands of us so starved for a glimpse of our heroes that we will show up for what amounts to another practice (although for me, once again the high point will be the HC tailgate). I have an idea to liven up this rite of Spring.

Why not actually play a game against another team? And not just any other team, how about another clash with the Hoos? While I feel that Frank would prefer to go up against Arkansas State or JMU while George would want to move the game to February, I say don't screw around. Let's add an April Virginia Tech- Virginia game. It would be huge, and stimulate serious media interest, giving Randy King something useful to do rather than lazing April away.

The first objection that pops to mind is the little fact that it would require NCAA approval. Well, if there is one thing the lords of college football understand, it's cold hard cash, and Spring contests between traditional rivals would generate tons of it, because I'm advocating that all schools play a real Spring Game.

I imagine this is an idea that would quickly grab the attention of the boys at Disney. Instead of enduring the NBA, NHL or watching fly balls land on Eutaw Street, our sports attention would be where it belongs, on college football. Imagine April weekends spent watching not only Tech-UVA, but also Florida-Florida $tate, Alabama-Auburn, etc. Practices could be staggered so that the first games kick off the weekend after the Final Four (watching the Masters has the same effect on me as a handful of Seconol) and played throughout April. The month would quickly become one of the biggest in sports.

I am sure during the next several days I will read a number of reasons why an actual Spring Game could or should not be played. I will leave it to other people to sweat the details. I say play. Hokies and Hoos in April; let's get it on.

I found it interesting to read some of the discussion concerning my previous column on basketball recruiting, particularly the words "impact recruits". To me, an impact recruit is Joseph Forte of North Carolina or the Duke trio of Williams, Boozer and Dunleavy. I have seen Gaithers and Dixon in person, and like many of you saw Chris Exilus recently on ESPN. I do not believe we have any recruits of that caliber (if any of our recruits are reading this: by all means, guys, feel free to prove me wrong).

I certainly do not feel, however, that we have a bad recruiting class. I am reminded of Bill Foster's first recruiting class in 1993, which also lacked blue chip "name" recruits. As freshmen, those guys lost like Paulus at Stalingrad. They continued to develop and improve, and by the time they were juniors and seniors we had some pretty good teams. Hopefully we will see the same from Stokes' first class.

Jim Alderson, best known for his biting political commentary on the A-Line email newsletter, also brings a unique, sarcastic, and well-informed perspective on college sports, particularly (1) Virginia Tech sports and (2) ACC sports.  While Hokie fans currently have very little use for subject number 2, Alderson is an entertaining and informative columnist on subject number 1.  For even more fun, visit Jim's A-Line home page.


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