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Monday, November 23, 1998


Considering all the potential for news -- with the pending bowl selection, UVa game and the outside interest in hiring Coach Beamer -- there wasn't a lot of hard news to report. Bill Roth said the bowl situation is "up in the air" and waiting to be played out after the conference champ and Notre Dame's status are known on Saturday. He said he could forsee various scenarious that could take VT to the Gator, Music City,, Aloha or MicronPC bowls.

"We're not keeping anything from you," Roth said. Beamer suggested that there's talking going on behind the scenes, of course. He said VT is in "great shape" and that "things are in the works." He said "I really like the possibilities."

Roth said there are rumblings that Kentucky will be the SEC opponent for Virginia in the Peach Bowl, and that Alabama could be the SEC team in the Nashville bowl where VT is a possible opponent. He said there's the potential for some interesting intersectional matchups involving the Hokies.

Beamer spoke at the outset about the interest from Clemson -- and now, according to Roth, South Carolina as well -- in the outside coaching search. "I have no desire to leave," Beamer said. "I'm proud of what we've built... The best days for Virginia Tech are ahead of us."

He said to be approached by the other schools is "flattering" and that it signals that he has good coaches and players at VT.

Roth asked if he expects the contacts to be resolved by mid to late next week. Beamer said "I'm not sure what I'll do next week." He did not elaborate. All he wants to think about, he said, is the UVa game this week. Roth said earlier in the show that he did not expect the situation to drag on.

One caller told Beamer that the coach has the best job in the world. "I like it, too," Beamer said. Later, Roth got a good one in when he told Beamer: "This is a much better show than Tiger Talk!" A caller asked Bud Foster if the talk about a coaching change could have a negative impact on recruiting. Foster said that could very much be turned into a positive by telling a recruit how exciting it is to come and play at a place with the "hottest ticket in the country" for a head coach and a dynamic staff and program.

Coaches Beamer and Foster talked about their pride in the team's character and the way it came back and played against Rutgers after the tough Syracuse loss. Jamel Smith was named the Big East's defensive player of the week. Foster said that honor for the Rutgers game comes a week after Jamel played perhaps his best career game at Syracuse. He said Smith is one of the best tackling linebackers he's had at VT.

There was a brief mention of Virginia's 500+ yards against the Hokies last season. To which Foster said, "we're a different football team than the one that played in November last year."

The VT defense has 22 interceptions in 10 games, and reportedly leads the nation in that category. Last year the defense had 10 interceptions in 12 games. The VT linebackers have more interceptions than ever before, and Foster credited the defensive line for helping make that happen.

It was noted that 13 of the top 14 players on the two-deep roster at DL and LB will return next season! (Plus Jake Housewright!) The only senior among them is Ryan Smith, whom Beamer singled out for playing "more and better" than anyone expected this year. He also mentioned Loren Johnson's senior season of consistency at DB.

The coaches were very complimentary of the UVa team, particularly Thomas Jones and Aaron Brooks. There was no bulletin board material from them.

(Of course there was the 11-year-old who called in with a UVa joke, and another caller who said of UVa: "when they take their 50 to 60 fans with them to the Peach Bowl.")

Foster said VT will mix up coverages against Virginia's good tight end receivers. He said Jones compares with Zereoue, Cloud and James at RB and said he's most like Edgerrin James. In other comparisons he was asked to make, Foster said Jones is better than Tiki Barber, and faster (tho not necessarily better than) Terry Kirby.

Foster was asked about his aspirations. He said his goal is to become a head coach, but that for now he wouldn't want to give up the job of coordinator. Said he enjoys the relationship with the players.

And get Foster's assessment of redshirt quarterback Michael Vick: "I don't know if Will Furrer or Druckenmiller can throw with the same velocity" that Vick does. Not only does he have a quick release and velocity, he also has 4.45 speed that will stretch defenses because of his running ability. Whew!

A caller asked about some players from far Southwest Virginia, and the coach mentioned Houseright, TE Browning Wynn, Travis Turner ("He's been lighting up some people" in practice") and OL Luke Owens ("Watch out for him next year.")

ESPN with have its top team of announcers at the game Saturday -- Ron Franklin and Mike Gottfried. A reminder that kickoff is at NOON.

Bill Roth marveled at a very unusual statistic researched by VT Sports Information Director Dave Smith: In the past seven quarters, VT has scored points in 10 different ways. Everything from a fumble return, to a two-point conversion interception return, to a safety, to a two-point conversion by rushing.

A caller asked about the two delay of game penalties in the Rutgers game. The head official worked a fast tempo, Beamer said, which he said is a factor when you try to change plays at the line. On one penalty they got the play in late. He noted that VT gets very few delay flags.

There was some discussion about Monday's Roanoke Times story reporting that the UVa game may be moved to earlier in the season next year, and also possibly in seasons when it is played at Charlottesville. Beamer said he prefers the game to be last. So do/did Jim Weaver and Dave Braine. Beamer said he prefers to get the conference games out of the way and then to play this rivalry. It's also something to look forward to at the end for a team that's not having a great season, he said.

At the end of a discussion that I didn't hear entirely, Beamer said "We're gonna have the largest stadium in the state of Virginia."

Beamer said keys to the UVa game will be to contain Jones and Brooks, and then it comes back to VT's offensive production.

OL Dwight Vick is the only real injury concern. He has a badly bruised lower leg that had progressed some by Monday. "Hopefully, he can play," Beamer said. Students are on break this week but the coaches have kept practices at their usual times for continuity. The team will practice early Thursday and then have a big Thanksgiving meal.

The seniors will vote on which uniforms to wear on Saturday, the coach said. It won't be all orange, as in 1994, he said. "Never again."

Broadcasts: Nov. 30 is last regular Hokie Hotline football show of the year (snif), but a football show will return around bowl time; the Dec. 7 and 14 Hotline shows will feature basketball. Tech men's basketball game at Liberty will be broadcast Tuesday nite.

VT has won 3 of past 5 against Virginia and 8 of 13 against ranked teams. The Hokies' 5-2 record assures them of a share of second place. VT has finished first or second in the conference in each of the past 5 years.

It is the fourth year in a row that VT has finished higher than it was picked in the preseason. (Bill Roth laughed about how he reviewed his preseason Sports Illustrated, which picked Wake Forest ahead of VT!)

Bill Roth also produced this tidbit about this senior class: it has never lost a game in Blacksburg to UVa, Miami, Syracuse or West Virginia. The class is 11-4 against those foes overall, and 7-0 in Lane Stadium.



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