Monday, December 20, 1999
by Will Stewart
Talking the Talk
The Hokies held their pre-Sugar Bowl media day last Friday, and the resulting nationwide flood of ink was the result of over a hundred media members who were in attendance.
Yes, this is the big-time, but Corey Moore, for one, is not acting any differently. Tech’s outspoken defensive end, who backs up his talk, once again gave the media a piece of his mind.
The Florida media members in attendance couldn’t wait to rush home and bring his quotes to print, of course. Interested in what Corey said? Then check out this article in Jacksonville’s Florida Times-Union:
He’s one Hyper Hokie – Florida Times Union, 12/19/99.
Or this one from the Tallahassee Democrat:
Hokies Sound Off on Noles – Tallahassee Democrat, 12/19/99
There’s more, but if I tried to chase down every Corey Moore quote that saw print, I’d be up all day and all night for a week.
Corey’s candor, and that of Ike Charlton, who pitched in a little too, is certainly, uh, refreshing. The lead-in to Tech’s last two major bowls, the 1995 Sugar and 1996 Orange, was a boring love-fest about how great Texas and Nebraska were, respectively (right in one case, wrong in the other – you figure it out).
I’ve complained publicly many times about Coach Beamer’s constant fawning over Nebraska before the 1996 Orange Bowl. I thought it got to the point where Coach Beamer was unintentionally sending a message to his team that they didn’t belong on the field with the Huskers. I thought that the 1995 and 1996 Hokies could play with just about anybody, so it annoyed me.
But this time around, at least in the early going, the quotes coming out of the Hokie camp are of a different tone. The Hokies believe they’re right where they belong, in the national championship game, and that they can go toe-to-toe with the Seminoles and not just hold their own, but win.
I say, fine. I don’t believe that you should disrespect an opponent, but I also don’t believe that you should put them up on a pedestal. Corey’s comments do neither, but they do send a message: if you think the Hokies are backing down, from the pre-game talk all the way to the actual game, you’re wrong. The Hokies aren’t 11-0 because they’re lucky. They’re 11-0 because they’re good, and they think they can beat anybody.
Perhaps, as a Hokie fan, you think Corey should keep his mouth shut. Maybe you’re afraid he’ll anger the sleeping giant. Perhaps, if Corey shuts up, and everybody sucks up to the Seminoles, Tech can sneak up on Florida State and win that national championship.
No deal. The Hokies are going through the front door, not sneaking in the back door. At this level, football is a contest of power and wills, not a game won by those who slink up in the night and surprise other teams.
I would be more concerned if Corey did nothing but praise the Seminoles and grovel at their feet, because he hasn’t done that with any other team all season, and all season, he has been one of the most dominant players in college football, and all season, the Hokies have done nothing but win.
What you’ve got here is senior leadership. The best player on the team is standing tall and drawing the attention like a lightning rod, because he’s the leader, and that’s what leaders do. Come game night, while Corey is drawing the attention of any Seminoles who want to double-team him or take shots at him for his cheeky pre-game comments, other Hokie stalwarts like John Engelberger, Jamel Smith, Michael Hawkes, and any other defender you can name are going to be showing the Noles – and the country – that the Hokies aren’t a one-man team.
Meanwhile, I can tell I’m going to have to patrol the message board pretty closely. It appears that the Seminole fans, who have been absolute angels thus far, are a little stunned that Corey isn’t lying down for them.
Roanoke Times Coverage – My, How Things Have Changed
For years, I griped about the Roanoke Times coverage of Virginia Tech football. I thought it was pretty decent, but what irked me was that the Times gave equal or better coverage to UVa, a school that is two hours away.
I felt, rightly so, that the Hokies should be the "home team" for the Roanoke Times, and that they should receive more ink than the Cavaliers. Sure, the Times should cover UVa, and should dedicate a beat writer to them, but Hokie coverage should be predominant.
Certainly, no one can argue that the Times’s coverage of Tech this year is phenomenal – more on that later. But when I complained a few years back, I wasn’t imagining things.
Recently, I went through a stack of newspapers that I had saved from the 1997 season, and what I saw supported the old gripe that I and many other Hokie fans had. During that season, the Hokies and Hoos both had a game on the same day seven times (not counting the Tech/UVa game), and in the Roanoke Times Sports section following those days, the Hoos received equal or more prominent coverage four times.
Three times, the Hokies received more prominent coverage, two times they received equal coverage, and two times, the Hoos received more prominent coverage.
Those days are long gone. In fact, they disappeared last year. During the 1998 season, there was only one weekend where UVa coverage was more prominent, the day that Tech played UAB and UVa played N.C. State. Other than that, Tech coverage dominated, though sometimes by a small margin.
This year? Well, forget it. UVa got off to a somewhat slow start, and once the Hokies pasted them 31-7, the Roanoke Times definitely took a Tech slant from that point on.
And lately, the Hoos have nearly disappeared from the Roanoke Times sports section. You would never know that they’re playing in a bowl game (they are playing in a bowl game, right?). Not only is the Times sicking Randy King, Jack Bogaczyk, and Mark Berman on the Hokies, but in a strange turn of events, even UVa beat writer Doug Doughty has penciled a few Tech articles lately!
None of this should come as a surprise, of course – a run at the national championship dwarfs a MicronPC Bowl bid, and the coverage should, too. But in the long term, I think the Roanoke Times has seen the light, and for the foreseeable future, Hokie football coverage will outshine UVa football coverage.
For the Roanoke Times’s own view on the subject, see the following link from Sunday’s paper:
Our Virginia Tech coverage earns cheers and jeers – Roanoke Times, 12/19/99
Schedule Updates, and an Impressive Side Note
In case you missed them, two articles have appeared on-line recently that detail Tech’s efforts to improve its football schedule:
Vick, Brees might meet in classic – Roanoke Times, 12/17/99. This article summarizes Tech’s attempts to add a 12th-game "preseason classic" to next year’s schedule. It includes a brief paragraph that talks about Michigan "balking" at playing the Hokies in a preseason game.
Tech Notebook – Washington Post, 12/18/99. This article mentions that the Hokies have signed a home-and-home series with UNC for 2004 and 2007, a fact not previously released.
HokieCentral will update its future football schedules page, linked on the Football Page, soon with the new information.
Also worth noting in the Washington Post article are the notes about the graduations of some Tech players. The article states that among others, Ike Charlton, Anthony Midget, and Dave Meyer are graduating.
Why do I mention those three players? Simple – all three players entered Tech in the fall of 1996, which means that they all graduated in three and a half years. That’s impressive, even when you consider that many players these days stay at the campus year-round and attend summer school classes.
Tech Bytes – Basketball and PTY2
Project: Thank You – Nova Hokie 95 has posted the table of fans and players for Project Thank You. If you’re participating, please head over there immediately, and get to work writing your letters!
Hoops Back in Action – both the women’s and men’s basketball teams return to action today. The man are playing Illinois State in San Juan at 2 o’clock eastern time (here’s a Broadcast.com link if you want to listen at work, heh-heh), and the women play at UVa tonight at 7:30. The Cavaliers have certainly slipped a bit from their Final Four days – they’re currently 4-4.