News With Commentary by TSL Staff

Thursday, July 17, 2003
by Will Stewart,

Tallying the Player Losses on the Football Team

Since the beginning of the 2002 season, by our count, eleven players have either left the Virginia Tech football team or have been dismissed. Here's a refresher of who's gone and why.

This is an update of a News and Notes report from April 1st, in which we talked about six players who had been lost since the start of the 2002 season. Since April 1st, at last five more are off the roster. We'll cover them first.

Here's a rundown of the players, including what class they would have been in for the 2003 season, had they stayed.

Recent Departures and Defections

DT Jimmy Williams (Sr.) - Suspended indefinitely for unspecified violation of team rules. Williams, a 2002 transfer from Pasadena (CA) City College, got off to a bad start in the fall when his Pasadena CC transcript took forever to get cleared by Tech, and he wasn't able to practice with the team in the preseason. He was then derailed by injuries, showed some promise in limited playing time, but was let go in the spring. Williams' suspension was indefinite, but he has not been invited back for the fall and will not return to the Hokie football team.

OL Chris Burnett (r-Fr.) - Left team. No reason was given, and it is unknown if Burnett was dismissed for violation of team rules, was an academic casualty, or left of his own volition.

DB D.J. Walton (r-So.) - Dismissed from the team because of two DUI arrests. Walton was sentenced to 90 days in jail, 85 days of which were suspended, following a second arrest March 28 for driving while intoxicated (source: Roanoke Times, 6/27/03).

DT Kevin Hilton (r-So.) - Told the VT staff in May he was leaving the team. A public reason was never given, but more than likely, Hilton had no prospects for playing time. Hilton suffered from foot and elbow injuries that hampered his progression in the strength and conditioning program, and prevented him from bulking up enough to be a factor in the defensive tackle rotation. Hilton got up to 270 pounds, but Virginia Tech has started to move away from the David Pugh model of defensive tackle (Pugh played at 271) and has started to stock the team with DT's more in the 300-pound range -- Jason Lallis, at 250 pounds, and Tim Sandidge, at 283, are the only defensive tackles on the Tech roster that weigh below 290 pounds. Hilton has left VT and is currently taking classes in the DC/MD area.

TB Antoine Rutherford (r-Fr.) - Dismissed from the team resulting from an arrest May 3rd for brandishing a firearm, and three counts of felonious assault. Rutherford faces a hearing July 31st in Montgomery County  (source: Roanoke Times, 6/27/03).

Previously Reported as Gone (with updates, if applicable)

QB Will Hunt (r-So.): Hunt quit the team in the spring because he had "lost his desire to play." Hunt was facing a third straight year of running the scout team, with the possibility of very little playing time behind Bryan Randall and Marcus Vick. Hunt, who has several close friends on the team, will return to Virginia Tech in the fall as a non-football-playing student, with no plans to transfer. This is good news, because he will not count against Tech's graduation rate statistic, if he is able to finish out his career as a student.

FB Josh Spence (r-Jr.): Spence quit playing football on the advice of doctors, due to problems with concussions. A strength and conditioning machine, Spence had remolded his tailback's body into a fullback's build, but his career was cut short.

OL Curtis Bradley (r-So.): Bradley suffered a frightening ailment in the summer of 2002 when he became ill and collapsed following a voluntary workout. Flu-like symptoms turned out to be a condition that causes deterioration of the body's muscle tissue. Bradley recovered but later quit the team.

OL Anthony Nelson (r-Sr.): Nelson, who was never able to crack the lineup for significant playing time, quit the team nine games into the 2002 season to spend time with his ailing father.

DT Mark Costen (r-Sr.): A former walk-on who resided at the top of the depth chart at defensive tackle in the spring of 2002, Costen was awarded a scholarship prior to the 2002 season. He fell down the depth chart last season and is no longer on the team. He was facing the prospect of very little playing time in 2003.

LB Chris Buie (r-Sr.): Buie, who was scheduled to graduate in May, informed the VT coaching staff in the spring that he had decided to transfer elsewhere in an attempt to get playing time in his last year of football. Buie later informed the VT coaches in May that he was transferring to Florida A&M, and he graduated from VT as scheduled.

ACC Asks NCAA to Lower 12-Team Requirement

As expected, the ACC has requested that the NCAA lower the number of teams required for a conference to hold a football championship game. The required number of teams is currently 12, and the ACC has asked that it be lowered to 10.

That proposal is one of dozens -- one media report says close to a hundred -- of other requests being presented to the NCAA on various rules and topics. The approval process takes close to a year, and here's how it works (as detailed by Matt Spiers of "hokiesports the newspaper" in their July 14, 2003 issue):

To get approved, a proposal would first go to the 49-member NCAA Division 1 Management Council, which consists of 24 D1-A representatives, 13 D1-AA reps, and 12 D1-AAA reps. The Division 1 Management Council's 24 D1-A members would vote on this legislation -- only the D1-A representatives on the Council get to vote on legislation affecting only D1-A football.

If 13 of the 24 voters approve it (a simple majority), then it enters a 90-day comment period, and at the end of that period, it is voted on again. If it passes, it goes to the 18-member NCAA Board of Directors. 11 of the board members are D1-A representatives, and they would do the voting, on April 29, 2004. If six of them vote yes, the proposed change passes, and conferences with ten members can hold a championship game.

Any changes would go into effect on August 1, 2004, enabling the ACC to hold a conference championship game in the 2004 season, the first season that VT and Miami will compete in the league.

If it's approved, what then? Under current rules, the ACC would have to split into divisions, according to NCAA bylaws, which state that a football championship game is "a conference championship game between division champions of a member conference of 12 or more institutions that is divided into two divisions (of six or more institutions each), each of which conducts round-robin, regular-season competition among the members of that division."

So, unless the divisional requirement is dropped -- and no news report has said that the divisional requirement might be changed, just the number of teams -- the ACC would be faced with an awkward divisional split with five teams in one division, and six in the other.

If the divisional requirement is dropped, the ACC (and the eleven-member Big Ten) could simply play in one 11-team division and then figure out how to name the two teams that would be selected to play in the conference championship game. The divisional requirement wouldn't be a problem for the PAC 10, which could split into two equal five-team divisions.


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