Monday, March 29, 1999

Hussey / Stokes Fallout:   Two Different Viewpoints

The media certainly seems to be intrigued by the fireworks that went down in Blacksburg last week, and the articles have been flowing fast and furious, in particular from The Roanoke Times, which seems to be mostly furious.

In addition to simply reporting on the facts of the story, both The Roanoke Times and The Richmond Times-Dispatch have run opinion pieces (by Jack Bogaczyk and Bob Lipper, respectively), and on Thursday, next to a story about Ricky Stokes's hiring, The Roanoke Times ran an article about Bobby Hussey, including some very critical comments from Hussey about how the dismissal was handled (I'm not sure if the RT-D ran the same story).

Here's a run-down of the non-news articles that ran in the Roanoke and Richmond papers, meaning that these articles are more commentary, analysis and opinion than just straight news:

The Roanoke Times:
Few Thrills, No Success Don't Mix - Randy King, Wednesday, March 24th
Ousted Coach Feels "Totally Blindsided" - Jack Bogaczyk, Thursday, March 25th
Weaver Leaves Himself Open to Criticism - Jack Bogaczyk, Friday, March 26th
Holland, Odom Kept out of Hiring Process - Doug Doughty, Saturday, March 27th

The Richmond Times-Dispatch:
Firing Was Disposal of a Hand-Me Down - Bob Lipper, Tuesday, March 23rd
Weaver Offers Masterpiece in Art of Hiring - Bob Lipper, Thursday, March 25th
Stokes Should Carry Tech Back to Old Virginia - Jeff White, Saturday, March 27th

Don't have time to read all those articles?  Let me boil it down for you:  on the subject of Hussey's firing and Stokes's hiring, The Richmond Times-Dispatch seems to like the move, and The Roanoke Times doesn't.

Bob Lipper of the RT-D stops just short of standing on his chair and shouting, "BRAVO!" whereas Jack Bogaczyk of the RT stops just short of standing on his chair and throwing rocks at Jim Weaver.  But then again, Jack Bogaczyk has taken a poison pen to Jim Weaver ever since Weaver got rightfully disgusted with the Roanoke Coliseum's performance during the 1998 Tech/UVa basketball game and threatened to move the game out of Roanoke.

Saturday's two stories by Doug Doughty and Jeff White, linked above, shed some interesting illumination on the outlooks of the two papers.   On the same day that the RT-D ran Jeff White's article talking about how Ricky Stokes has the capability to resurrect Tech's recruiting and to perhaps revive the program, The Roanoke Times ran an article written by UVa beat writer Doug Doughty that seemed to me like an attempt to find some more people (Holland and Odom) who are riled up about the whole thing.

To their credit, Holland and Odom for the most part stayed diplomatically clear of the fray.  It's one of the few times I've read a Terry "Weasel" Holland quote that I haven't wanted to tack it to the wall and throw darts at it, pretending it was really him.  Although he did call Virginia "the big gorilla" in the state, which makes me want to slap him (not that he's wrong, mind you, when it comes to state college hoops - and I'd like to slap him, anyway, and would do so without much provocation, given the chance).

In short, on the same day that the Richmond paper ran an optimistic, forward-looking article, the Roanoke paper attempted to keep stirring the pot about Hussey's firing by utilizing the connections of their UVa beat writer. It's interesting to me that Terry Holland's "see-no-evil" response to the video of the UVa player attacking the Georgia Tech last fall fan drew no comment from The Roanoke Times, but Jim Weaver's firing of an underperforming coach is good for a week's worth of articles.

As a side bar, Randy King's got to be hating this.   He's The Roanoke Times's Tech beat writer, and his paper almost seems to be on a witch hunt, unable to let it go, building ill will among Tech fans who don't want to see their school's name dragged through the muck.  Have fun dealing with that as you try to interview folks in the Jamerson Center, Randy.

Furthermore, Sunday's print edition of The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported in their "Final Four Notes" section (I couldn't find it on-line) that the Big East conference proposal to include Virginia Tech for all sports will be discussed and decided on in the next month.   When Big East commish Mike Tranghese was questioned if there was "any chance Tech will get full Big East membership any time soon?" He responded, "We have a lot of things to talk about. That's one of them."

This is the first time I have seen it reported by a media source that it is a fact that Tech's inclusion in the Big East will be discussed soon, and it's the first time I have seen Mike Tranghese say that it's going to be discussed soon.  And to be blunt, I think it makes The Roanoke Times look bad that they're continuing to pummel the Hussey story while the Richmond paper is beating them to the punch on Big East expansion.

Having said all that, I want to reiterate that I think the amount of coverage The Roanoke Times has been giving the Hokies in the last few months is fantastic.  I wish the current coverage of the Hokies didn't have such a negative slant to it, but that's probably a call that's been made by Jack Bogaczyk and Bill Bern.

The fact is, Hokie coverage by The Roanoke Times has utterly buried UVa coverage in recent months, particularly during the basketball season, when the RT often had two writers (Mark Berman and Randy King) covering the Hokies (men and women), and they even went so far as to have Doug Doughty write two Tech articles recently.

And Jack Bogaczyk is somewhat balanced, not always slamming the Hokies.  He seems to dislike Weaver's way of doing business, but in a recent column titled Likable team puts program in spotlight, Jack was quite complimentary of the women's team, even though many of you have perceived him as taking subtle shots at the women's team lately in other articles.

Perhaps this is what it means to get in-depth coverage from a local newspaper.  You'll have a lot to read, but you may not like all of it.

Over in the Members Only section, I have written a HokieCentral Column that gives you my take on the whole Hussey/Weaver situation.  I promise this is the last I'll have to say on the matter, so I'll quit beating this dead horse now.


Tech Notes
  • Speaking of the women's basketball team, several of you emailed me the other day and asked what happened to my Sweet-16 T-shirt order form that was posted on the Hokie Stuff page.  I had to take it down temporarily, because the design is not licensed yet, and the NCAA got quite upset when they saw that an unlicensed design was posted, and I was taking orders.  They leaned on Tech, and Tech leaned on me, so I took the order form down.

    When the design is approved and licensed, I will repost the order form, and will give you several days to order a shirt before I place my order with my vendor.  Sorry for the delay, and my vendor is working on it as fast as he can go
  • I also received several emails regarding my criticism of the late setup of the Tech pep band and cheerleaders at the East Regional in Greensboro (the criticism was part of my Tennessee game report).   I was told that part of the reason the band was late is that they tried to come out of the same tunnel as the Tennessee band, and they were turned away and told to take a separate route to the floor.

    Meanwhile, the Tech cheerleaders, unlike the UT cheerleaders, did not take the floor until the game started.  Why?  Well, the Tech cheerleaders, unlike the UT cheerleaders, aren't rude.  The UT cheerleaders had no qualms about cheering on the end of the floor that the Hokie women's team was attempting to warm up on, but the Tech cheerleaders stayed off the floor to warm up and stay out of UT's way.  Maybe our cheerleaders could have taken up position on the baseline or something, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt on this one.
  • HokieCentral correspondent N2VTFTBL has made a couple of spring football practices, and last Wednesday had a super-enthusiastic report from a practice he witnessed.
  • Speaking of Spring football, let me remind you that HokieCentral will, as always, be having an informal, bring-your-own Spring Football Game tailgate the day of the Spring Game, Saturday, April 17th.  The game is at 2:00, and the tailgate will run from 11:00 to the start of the game in Lot 5 on Chicken Hill.   I'll post a map as the day of the game approaches.


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