Missed Again
by Jim Alderson, 5/1/01

One of the problems I encounter when a column is received as well as my previous one alerting readers to the dangers of the epidemic of Mad Hoo Disease sweeping Hooville is what to write next. Chances are, it will seem below par in comparison.

Coming up with a topic for this column has been murder. I contemplated an article addressing the fears of those concerned that the performance of Grant Noel in the Spring Game was only slightly better than those turned in by his celebrated predecessor, but a column containing only ‘Grant and the team will be fine’ would have been a short one, and Will does occasionally complain that my communications are not lengthy enough for his liking.

So much for that, and besides, while the quarterback position may still be a bit unsettled, my personal Spring Game goals were accomplished as I managed to get fed by Atlee and his lovely bride and spend time sipping adult beverages and engaging in pleasant and informative conversation with Doc Russian (BTW, Ivan, I am still working my way through all of that beer you stuffed into my cooler). It was a pleasant outing, marred only later that evening by sitting through a display of the abomination known as arena football by the Roanoke Steam, a corruption of the beautiful game of football that will be ended by decree at the very instant I am placed in charge.

I spent a week pondering what to next write about and was still giving it thought last Sunday morning as I retrieved the rag that passes for a daily paper in Danville. I was quite surprised to see a front page dominated by a photograph of Frank Beamer. Naturally, this aroused my curiosity. I read the accompanying story and discovered that Frank had been in town to deliver the commencement speech at Averett College. I would imagine that Coach Beamer was the first football coach to deliver Averett’s commencement address, and it was also probably the college’s first graduation ever to be covered by a sportswriter (Lipper).

I had not attended Averett’s commencement (keeping intact my streak of never having attended any of Averett’s, or my own) and, due to the fact that I generally pay little attention to what goes on at Averett (about this time last year I did spend time with Averett’s Athletic Director; we were in a bar and after several shots of iced vodka he exhorted me to display a little civic pride and begin attending and writing about Cougar football, a suggestion that caused me to laugh so hard portions of my martini shot out of my nose. I have no civic pride whatsoever and only slightly more interest in Division III football. I regretfully informed him that I had no plans to give up my Lane Stadium seats to observe as Averett’s football team demonstrated it could match the basketball Cougars loss for loss) and Frank’s annoying habit of not running his itinerary by me, had been unaware that he was scheduled to speak. I again missed an opportunity to get that prized exclusive TSL interview with the Coach.

Who knows when he will be back, as the very day that he was advising Averett’s graduates to surround themselves with quality assistants the mail brought me news that the local Orange and Maroon Tour would feature Charley Wiles. Eighteen bucks for rubber chicken and the defensive line coach, and to be told yet again by certain local Hokies that TSL is a detriment to Tech’s athletic program, jimmy is a great guy and we should ‘get over it’? I don’t think so. Obviously Frank’s bride and Averett alumnus Cheryl has considerably more clout with the Coach than the local Hokie Club.

After reading about how Frank encouraged Averett’s seniors to establish good relations with Tidewater high school football coaches, I mulled over how interesting it must have been for at least one person at the big table, Averett’s Chairman of the Board of Trustees, eminent local psychiatrist, Hoo alum and major athletic supporter ‘Shrinking’ Bob Ashby. I have no doubt Shrinking Bob sat with gritted teeth as Frank related to Averett’s graduates that if you dominated state recruiting you could send the coach of your in-state rival into retirement, to be replaced by a blabbermouth who has managed to spend an entire coaching career never once gaining meaningful experience in running a winning Division I-A program. I am sure Shrinking Bob would have preferred that algroh send the departing class on their way, but quite frankly, Frank’s advice to concentrate one’s recruiting on speed and quickness was much sager than graduating seniors being told to receive their degrees and immediately stick their faces into the nearest fan.

After Frank concluded his remarks by advising his audience to emphasize the ground game and sat down with Averett’s AD to do shots of Finlandia and finalize adding Averett to Tech’s OOC, Shrinking Bob no doubt strolled the few blocks from the Averett campus to his tastefully-appointed residence dominated by that huge Hoo flag (Where is the City Beautiful Committee when you need it?). I have often thought about stealing that flag to replace the one, courtesy of my Hoo lawyer buddy and notorious practical joker, that I discovered upon returning from a Tech game years ago attached to the front of my house, and which ended up in a less than desirable section of town adorning a former residence so ramshackle that the local government had deemed it unfit for human habitation, where I thought it was an apt symbol of Hoo football until neighborhood kids finally took the hint provided by the owner (a Randolph-Macon alumnus who regards all collegiate rivalries as trivial when compared to the one fought out between his Yellow Jackets and the Hampden-Sydney Tigers), who decided the cost of renovating the structure to a position where he could again charge rent was too prohibitive and began leaving on the front porch gasoline, oily rags and matches, eventually causing my prized Hoo flag to go up in flames along with the dwelling. Shrinking Bob no doubt determined that this was the last time an Averett graduating class would be advised to focus on special teams (he has by now, I am sure, also determined that if he ever marries again my name will no longer be included on the invitation list).

And so, Frank made one of his infrequent visits to town and I again missed an opportunity to obtain an exclusive TSL interview. Sorry about that. I will continue my efforts, but, at the moment, have to go back to coming up with a new topic.

Jim Alderson, who first made his mark with 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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