Blaudschun Holds Court
by Crimson Hokie, 8/25/00

A few nights ago, I had the opportunity to attend a college football preview dinner sponsored by the Southern School Alliance, featuring Mark Blaudschun. For those of you who donít know him, Mark writes a weekly column on college football. Mark is from Miami and is used to more of a, shall we say, "southern passion" for college football and made the comment that when he started writing about college football he was told he was crazy, because "New Englanders donít care about it. Itís all Red Sox and Patriots. You might as well be writing in a vacuum." I figured you big-market conference expansion people (Doc Ryan? Are you out there?) would like that.

Mark started off the evening by welcoming everyone and made the comment that there were people from Miami, Alabama, Florida State, Florida, and Virginia Tech and that that "was a pretty damn good top 5."

The opening comments were pretty bland and mainly focused on Florida State and Bobby Bowden (it was organized by the Florida State alumni club), so Iíll skip over them.

The first questions were from a Miami fan wondering how long Butch Davis was going to be in Miami and if Dan Morgan was an Outland candidate. Mark said he was a little surprised that Butch wasnít offered the Patriots job and that he would be surprised to see Butch take another college job but wouldnít be surprised to see him take a pro job in the near future. Also, Morgan is a legitimate Outland candidate because he has the name recognition and enough TV games to make an impression. On a side, he said that UM and Florida are scheduled to resume playing in 2002.

A wahoo asked if Tom OíBrien was a possible successor to George Welsh. The answer was an emphatic no. There are possibilities of him going to UNC or ND if either of those two coaches donít improve, but that UVA wasnít an option. He also said that TOB was looking to add FSU to the schedule and to look for a series starting in the next 5 years.

Mark was asked to name his top 10 and he kind of skirted the question by saying that his top 25 was due out in Fridayís column, but mentioned that Alabama, Nebraska, Michigan, and Florida State were in his top 5. He would not, however, give his number 1. At least not yet. He said that he has the Hokies at number 12 or 13, but that a number of people (probably including him) were underestimating us. He said that Vick would win the Heisman and told of talking about him in the press box at the Sugar Bowl and after one if Vickís runs asking "Howíd he do that? Thatís physically impossible!"

In response to a question about Lou Holtz, he said that he felt Lou made a mistake going to USC and would not be able to turn that program around, with the best he could hope to do was 4th in his division.

A Gator fan asked about possible recruiting violations at Alabama. Apparently Spurrier sent a letter about some things and there were rumors that Alexander was given gifts during his recruitment. Mark didnít really answer the question, but hinted that there might be something there.

When asked about Purdue, he said that they wouldnít contend for a BCS bowl, but could definitely play the part of spoiler. He said that the big problem was that if defenses could stop Brees, Purdue was done. He also mentioned Illinois as a team that could make some noise in the Big 10. Outside the Big 10, he feels that TCU has an excellent chance of going undefeated and that Toledo could make a run at Penn State in week 2.

When asked about how much he thought SOS should play in the BCS and how much it affects voters he said "a good deal." He mentioned how Mike Tranghese told VT to upgrade the schedule because, at the time, 11-0 in the Big East didnít mean as much as 10-1 in the SEC or Big XII. Teams from those conferences can afford to play 3 directionals and a tech. I didnít get a chance to ask him how to go about scheduling those teams when they consistently duck you. Fortunately, the vast majority of his weak scheduling comments were directed at KSU. He then said that by 2006 there would be a playoff. 2006 because it would give 1 more complete circuit of the 4 major BCS bowls. He believes it would be a two-tier playoff involving 16 teams with any others going to an "NIT" type of thing with the lesser bowls. He envisions the first round being played on campus, with the rounds of 8, 4, and the championship game using the major bowls.

In response to a question about paying players, he said he didnít think it was reasonable because there was no good way to police it, but that he felt that some of the stricter rules should be relaxed. One comment was that if a coach was driving to practice and saw a kid walking in the rain (it was pouring outside at the time) he couldnít give him a ride because it would be considered "extra benefits." He believes that football should either be exempt from or somehow weighted differently for Title IX requirements. He also thinks a return to having athletic dorms would solve a lot of the off the field problems, specifically problems with agents. He also mentioned that he is completely against players coming out early and feels that at the least players shouldnít be able to go to the NFL until at least 3 years of playing. He just doesnít think that the kids bodies are developed enough to take the punishment of the NFL.

When asked what we could expect in Fridayís column, he said there would be a story about the Sugar Bowl, his top 25, and a feature on Texas, which he said answered the earlier question about who his number 1 would be. He said that everyone he talked to says that Simms is the man and that Applewhite would be backing him up.

When asked to rank the conferences, he put the SEC and Big XII as coleaders, followed by the Big 10, Big East, and ACC. When someone mentioned the PAC 10, he said "they play pretty boy football and donít really count."

After spending a few minuets on various coaches, he was asked about the job Frank Beamer is doing. Said he is doing a great job and itís incredible the difference in less than 10 years. That he started the turnaround by scheduling soft and that it was time to upgrade the schedule. Said Virginia Tech has a chance to put together 10-15 straight top 10 years and to be "the next FSU."

He thinks that this is Nehlenís last year at WVU and that it would be another long year in Morgantown. Sorry, Bruno.

A Cane asked about Vick going pro and he answered that if he wins the Heisman heís gone. They only way he would stay is if he has a terrible year and/or is injured. Said Vick has the chance to completely redefine NFL thinking towards quarterbacks and that at this point is more advanced than Michael Bishop. Bishop would make amazing play but then do something stupid on the next play but that Vick was incredibly consistent and had a great understanding of the game.

When asked about expansion, specifically the ACC, he said that he doesnít see it happening. He can understand why the ACC would want to, but said that it would be foolish for Miami to go to the ACC. Also said that he thinks rumors of the Big Eastís demise are greatly exaggerated. He said the conference is very strong, with Miami and VT at the top, Syracuse being typical schizophrenic Syracuse, and BC and Pitt coming on strong. He did mention that the Big East missed a major opportunity to get PSU when it was first formed and that there was a good chance Notre Dame would join for football in the next 5 years.

Speaking of the domers, he thinks Notre Dame will be better than people think and wouldnít be surprised to see them open at 5-1 with the loss coming to Nebraska. However, he doesnít think they will return to the glory days because "the mystique is gone" and they are having a hard time recruiting because kids want to go to a place where they can win and go to bowl games.

Finally, in this weekends games, he said that BYU has a good shot at upsetting FSU and at the very least it will be very close. VT is better than people are giving them credit for and between that, having the game at home, and wanting to prove that last year was a fluke the "Hokies have a chance to beat up on them pretty good." He picked USC over PSU, but said that the "PAC 10 factor" could come in to play, in addition to the fact that he doesnít think Hackett is a very good coach. The words "bad coach" were used.

Thatís it. Thanks for reading. Hope some of it was interesting.

See you all in Section 3! Go HOKIES!!


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