Wednesday, June 30, 1999

Wow, I'm never going away for the weekend again.  When I got back late Monday night, I was crushed with email, and it took me pretty much all day Tuesday to catch up.  Whew!  This update will be a little brief, for that reason.

More Thoughts on the Big East "Proposal"

One pitfall of doing what I do and having to go with a story the day after it breaks is that I have very little information to go on, and I have to draw some conclusions that are very often hastily drawn.

Last week's Big East proposal for Tech's membership was such a story.  I scrambled from channel to channel last Thursday night, trying to get a handle on what was going on.   My usual contacts weren't able to provide much detail, so I had to rely on the TV stations, and that's a bad situation to be in.  All TV can give you is little nuggets without much detail, and the thing is, this story needed detail to be properly digested.

Newspapers, on the other hand, can be a gold mine of information, particularly in the age of the Internet, where you're not confined to reading your local paper for just one angle on a story.  Different reporters get different quotes, and do a better or worse job of writing a story up than other reporters do.  The great thing about the Internet is that you can read literally 4-6 accounts on a story like this.

After getting a chance to read what the Roanoke Times, Bristol Herald-Courier, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, et al had to say about last Thursday's events, I have come to the conclusion that perhaps I imagined a little bit too much cloak and dagger to be present in the proceedings when I wrote my piece last Friday.

I give the "best article" award to Jeff White of the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Big East opens doors for Virginia Tech - RT-D, 6/25/99

Jeff did something that few other reporters did, at least not to the depth that Jeff did.  Namely, he interviewed Big East commissioner and favorite Hokie whipping boy, Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese.

Jeff interviewed Tranghese and Tech athletic director Jim Weaver separately.   Weaver, of course, was in Blacksburg, and Tranghese was in Providence, Rhode Island.  But the quotes Jeff got from the two men paint a picture of a Big East commissioner and a Virginia Tech athletic director whose thinking is in lock-step synchronization.

Weaver:  "It just doesn't happen overnight," he said. "There are too many variables and conditions that need to be worked out. It just doesn't fall into place the very first time."

Tranghese:  ""We're dealing with a lot of details . . . We don't need a gun put to our heads [to hurry the process]. We need to go about this in a methodical manner."

Weaver: "I'm very confident we'll end up with a positive outcome."

Tranghese:  "We've come an awful long way.  I can't see this not happening."

These are two men who both know what's going on and are thinking along the same lines, and I feel a lot better having read that.

One thing that was not clear Thursday night was that Tech actually received the proposal earlier in the week, and had taken time to work up a counter-proposal and send it back to the Big East office.  The newspapers reported this on Friday, and Tranghese said in White's article that the questions and issues Tech raised "were not unexpected."

In other words, things are going just as everyone expected.  A little slower than we Hokie fans would like, but according to plan, nonetheless.

Jeff White also did another thing that was extremely helpful - he laid out the next steps in the series of events that will close the deal:  the Big East AD's will address Tech's concerns at their next meeting in Newport, Rhode Island, on July 12 and 13.   Tranghese will then forward their recommendations to the school presidents, who will massage the deal a little further, and will present it to Tech again.

At that point, I'm guessing the Hokies will accept it, because we'll be into August by then, and both sides want to get things done by the time football season starts.

So I think there's very little going on there that is unexpected and should give rise to a lot of guessing on our parts.

There is, of course, the Miami factor, and the best article to appear on that subject can be found here:

Miami testing waters of ACC - Syracuse On-line, June 26th

Voice of the Hokies Bill Roth has an immense amount of respect for Syracuse AD Jake Crouthamel, and I've got to agree that in this whole Miami discussion, he is the only "insider" to offer up anything of any substance.  And the article itself, independent of the Crouthamel, also offers a lot of substance, drawing the conclusion that although the ACC is looking at expansion, it's not likely to happen this time around.

I bring that up because of that all-important date of July 17-18, which is when the ACC athletic directors will meet, and the question of Miami's possible membership in the league will be resolved, at least for this year.  It's convenient that by drawing the process of Virginia Tech's membership out, Tech and the Big East can let the Miami question settle itself.

If I was Jim Weaver or Paul Torgersen, one of my points of contention with the Big East proposal to Tech would be reduced exit fees if the Big East Conference starts to crumble around the Hokies.  Although admitting Tech is a move in the right direction for the Big East, there is a lot of work to be done before the conference is no longer viewed as a collection of teams that other conferences can pick and choose for their expansion whims.


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