Monday, August 16, 1999

Hey, What's Up With the Media?

Sunday night, at Virginia Tech's annual Outback Steakhouse "Welcome Back" Football Picnic, much of the buzz centered around the fact that the earth was suddenly spinning in reverse on its axis, and Charlottesville had frozen over.

In other words, the new AP Poll has the Hokies ranked #13, one slot ahead of the Coach's Poll, where the Hokies are #14.  This unexpected turn of events moved Coach Beamer to remark at the picnic, with a verbal scratch of his head, "I used to think that coaches were smarter than writers, but now, I don't know..."

The last time the AP writers voted Tech higher than the coaches did, Bob Dole was in diapers, and I'm talking Pampers, not Depends.  And the really freaky thing is, somebody voted us #1.  At #13, we've got to be one of the lowest ranked teams ever with a #1 vote, although stranger things have probably happened in preseason polls.  The top 5 teams in the poll - FSU, Tennessee, Penn State, Arizona, and Florida - all received at least one vote for number one, and then there's a long list of teams between #5 Florida and #13 Tech that didn't get any.

This isn't the only strange thing the "traditional media," as we webmasters like to call them, have done lately.  Take last Friday and Saturday.  On Friday, UVa had their football media day, and I grudgingly watched the TV news at 6:00 that night, expecting to be bombed with UVa propaganda.

Channel 7 and Channel 10 surprised me.  Channel 7 covered UVa's media day, sure, but they immediately followed the UVa story with a story detailing how Sports Illustrated ranked the Hokies #17, one slot behind #16 ... Alabama?  Um, okay.   But the point is, on UVa's media day, Channel 7 devoted a nice slice of time to Tech football.

Over on Channel 10, they led with a NASCAR story, then ... a Tech story?  Yep.  They did a piece on Tech safety Nick Sorensen and his travels all over the football field, from QB to safety to QB and back to safety.  Then they reported on UVa's media day.

Then came Saturday morning, and as usual, Baby HokieCentral woke us up bright and early at 7 a.m., so I shuffled out to the paper box to get my Roanoke Times.  I opened it up to the Sports section, and what to my wondering eyes did appear on the front page of the sports section, but a photo and article about Corey Moore.   Where was the UVa stuff?  Buried on the last page, as a "UVa Notes" article.  Granted it was a nice size article, but it wasn't the monster attention that the Hokies received after Tech's media day.

The Roanoke Times, after a sluggish start, has ramped up their preseason coverage of the Hokies significantly.  Prior to Tech's media day last week, there was nary a whisper, but since then, articles about the Hokies have appeared in every issue.  Last year, the RT took some well-deserved heat for basically ignoring the Hokies right up until the opening kickoff, and one RT staffer told me that it wouldn't happen again.  So far, so good, fellas.  Keep it up.


Anthony Nelson Goes Home

The number two story at the Outback Picnic, after the AP ranking, or perhaps the number one story, was the absence of mammoth freshman offensive lineman Anthony Nelson from Tennessee.  Nelson, you might recall, is a monster of a man (he can't just be a teenager) who signed with Tech in 1998 and then had to prep a year at Hargrave military academy.

When I attended a freshman practice early last week, Nelson was working on a stationary bike and was noticeably gimpy when walking.  Not wanting to start a riot amongst the Hokie faithful, who are expecting big things out of Nelson, I kept it to myself and figured that his status would eventually be made public.

On Sunday night at the picnic, Nelson was nowhere to be found.  He was not in attendance and was not included on the list of freshmen.   The freshmen were introduced in alphabetical order, right down to the walk-ons, and Nelson was not there.

Stories flew after the event, and in many ways they were contradictory, but they all agreed on one thing:  Nelson is injured and has returned home to Tennessee.  I'm not sure of the nature of the injury, and I'm also not sure when he will return.  One person told me that he will come back before the first game, and another said he would enroll in January, so there's not a clear answer to this one.

I'm sure the full story will be made known soon, because Nelson is a high-profile recruit, and questions will abound as to where he is.  This is an unfortunate turn of events, and I hope that Anthony makes it back soon, and makes it back healthy.


TV Game Times Firmed Up

ESPN/ESPN2 have finally released their 1999 college football broadcast schedule.  That link only teases us with the August and September schedule, but Jack Bogaczyk reported on Sunday that ESPN2 will broadcast the Tech-UVa game at 6:00 p.m. on October 2nd, and that ESPN will show Tech/Miami at 7:30 p.m. on November 13th.

Jack also says that CBS will show the WVU-Tech game at 3:30 on November 6th, yet more proof that Charlottesville did indeed freeze over recently.   Two CBS games in one year?  Pass the smelling salts.

Based on Jack's article, I have added the broadcast information to my home page and have removed the questions marks on the schedule for this information on my Football Page.


Tech Notes

  • A ticket office employee told me late last week that the Hokies have sold 23,500 season tickets so far.  That's a "wowee" number, but I have seen it written in the mainstream press since then that the Hokies have not yet reached 23,000.  So maybe the 23,500 number was in error, or was an estimate of what the employee thought total sales would eventually reach.  Whatever, it's way over the approximately 18,500 tickets sold last year, and after all these years, the Hokies are finally approaching WVU- and UVa-like numbers.  Those two schools have sold about 26,000-28,000 season tickets, and regularly do so.
  • Here's a farewell tip-of-the-HokieCentral-cap to former Tech football recruit Marlan Hicks.  Marlan, a defensive tackle, failed to qualify academically for the second year in a row, and it has been reported that he will attend Virginia State.  Although he struggled academically and ultimately didn't make it, Marlan never wavered in his commitment to attend Virginia Tech, and I respect him for that.  It's a shame that he didn't achieve his goal, for more reasons than one.   I have a sneaky suspicion that a couple of years from now, we'll be wishing that we had the big fella (6-3, 260 when he signed in 1998) on the team to shore up the defensive tackle position.  In any event, good luck to Marlan, who will be remembered as one that got away.


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