Inside TSL 2: Short Takes
by Will Stewart, TechSideline.com
TSL Extra, Issue #10

Letter to the Editor

Will,

You asked for comments on TSLX, so here goes:

I've been reading your site since fall of 1997, and I still value it as my prime source of VT sports info. I say that because HC.com quickly surpassed Hokie Huddler back in '97, but I still get the newspaper, and I'm going to make some comparisons to that info source.

You mentioned in TSLX #9 about TSL access to VT personnel. I don't see your lack of access as a detriment when I decide to buy TSLX or view your site. I value the "outsider" point of view and relatively unmuzzled voice. I say relatively only because you are a conservative person and you are playing your official position / interaction with VT very carefully so as to not damage future relations. There has been a mellowing of your comments about official VTAA - at least what comes out in articles now versus, say 2-3 years ago. Anyway, I have hokiesports.com the newspaper (what a stupid name) to give me the "official" position and TSL to give me the real story.

Regardless of what some say, length does matter. TSLX is a monthly product, and should be meaty by nature. It is not to be read through in a quick sitting. I expect thoughtful reasoning and analysis, which TSLX has shown. 10+ page articles are not undesirable. Being monthly you have time for retrospection and deeper analysis of events. Keep that up - do NOT trend toward USAToday blurbs.

Length also contributes to my perceived value of TSLX. The 12-16 page Huddler (10-14 pages text, say 12 average) gives me 33 issues or ~400 pages for $38. TSLX @ 12 issues x 40 pages is 480 pages for $25 - no question it is a great value. And on TSL web site you cover the quick turnaround info - game review, etc.

I have absolutely no problem with the use of lots of numbers in the articles. Of course the P.E. after my name on work-related correspondence condemns me as a card-carrying nerd. Your audience includes many graduates of a fine technical institute - don't dumb down the analysis or shallow-up the explanation on our part. As in school, please show all work for partial credit.

A suggestion for the number blitz is the expanded use of graphics / charts instead of text tables of numbers. The smoothed curve of bball attendance (#8, pg 32) was outstanding.

Specific comments on issues:

TSLX#1 - thank you for dropping the broken story format. Continuous stories are SO much better.

#7 - Bowl attendance: shocking to me that only 15 out 70 CFA bowls in last 3 years sold all their tickets. So we can expect only 5 of 26 to sell-out this year. Tells me there are 5 - 10 too many bowls out there. Also shocks me that WVU has become a poor travelling fan. Maybe a few years of no bowling as Rodriguez gets his troops assembled will re-wet their appetite. And not selling out the last Sugar Bowl (Miami vs. Florida) - any fan (even a fair weather Hurricane) should go to the ultimate bowl destination - Big Easy! I will have a core body temperature of 55 degrees F before I miss a Sugar Bowl with VT playing.

#9 - Much better look to .pdf version I printed. Definitely more professional.

Sorry for the long note as your busy season starts up. Thanks again for improving the quality of my (VT) life!,

Arthur (Coach) Dailey

BSCE '81

Hunt: Shuffled Down the Depth Chart

As a journalist, I'm not supposed to "root" for any given player over another, but I've got to admit that I'm pretty disappointed that Will Hunt didn't throw well in early practices and is headed for a redshirt year.

I interviewed Hunt way back in issue #3 of the TSL Extra, and he is a great kid and a great interview, so I want to see him do well at Virginia Tech. Like many people, I root for the underdog, and in the three-horse freshman QB race, Hunt was certainly the underdog. Bryan Randall is a highly-rated recruit from in-state, so he received a lot of publicity, and Chris Clifton, another in-state product, generated quite a bit of buzz among the Hokie faithful as a dark horse QB prospect.

Hunt, on the other hand, was an early commitment from Springdale High School in Springdale Arkansas, far out of state, so he didn't get as much recognition from Hokie fans or the Virginia press.

I have seen loads of highlight film on Will Hunt, and it is a pleasure to watch. I viewed Hunt's fifteen-minute highlight tape from his junior year, and it was play after play after play of Hunt scrambling to avoid the rush (Springdale's offensive line was not very good Hunt's junior year) and then peeling off a long broken-field run or nailing a pass on the run. He is a born playmaker with amazing pocket presence, sensing the rush and avoiding it without really seeing it, and he is a shifty, elusive runner in the open field.

I also viewed an hour-long tape commemorating Springdale's 2000 season, Hunt's senior year. Hunt's older brother is a film major at the University of Arkansas, which is just minutes from Springdale, and he was allowed to travel with the Springdale team and film their season. He produced the one-hour tape from hours and hours of highlight film, and it tracked Springdale's undefeated regular season and their journey deep into the state playoffs, where they eventually lost.

The tape was very entertaining, and it included more classic Hunt highlights -- scrambling, throwing, and generally making plays. One unusual play that stood out was a long run by Hunt down the sideline where he was cut off by a defensive back who had the angle on him. Instead of running out of bounds, Hunt lowered his shoulder and laid the defender out on the field with a vicious hit. On the tape, the fans can be heard oohing and aahing after Hunt knocks the DB onto his butt.

But the one thing that really cast Hunt in the underdog role among the three freshman QB's was the fact that he came from a running offense at Springdale High. Former Springdale Coach Jarrell Williams, a 36-year veteran who retired after coaching Hunt's senior season last fall, relied on the run, and according to sources close to Hunt, "never" worked with Hunt on his passing.

Hunt is a self-taught passer, and despite playing in a running offense that featured two great tailbacks and a great running fullback, he threw for over 2400 yards in his last two seasons at Springdale (147-339, 43.3%, 2,430 yards, 20 TD's, and 12 INT's).

But his lack of experience in a passing offense finally caught up with him. When the three true freshman QB's arrived for second summer session, Hunt excelled in the "paper" portion of their training, acing written tests on blocking schemes and reading defenses. But when it came time to participate in passing drills, read the defensive alignment, and make the throws, Hunt was unable to make the transition from executing on paper to executing live. He's a smart player, so it will come with time, but it takes experience, and more importantly, the Hokie coaches have to have the time to teach him -- and in fall practice, that time does not exist. Spring is the time for teaching, and fall is the time for preparing for games.

So Hunt has fallen down the QB depth chart and is destined for a redshirt year. As I write this on August 16th, Grant Noel has solidified his hold on the starting job, and behind him, Clifton and Randall are battling it out for the #2 spot. Jason Davis and Hunt are listed as tied behind them, which means that Davis will barely see the field, and Hunt will redshirt. The loser of the Clifton/Randall battle will probably redshirt, too.

For Hunt, the future is uncertain. As a speedy, heady player, he is a candidate to be moved to another position, but the same can also be said of Randall and Clifton. So only time will tell. Perhaps Hunt's performance in the classroom portion of his early development will convince the coaches to work with him on his passing in the spring.

It's no doubt disappointing for Hunt, who has been working very hard since Michael Vick announced he was leaving Virginia Tech back in January. From January to his arrival on campus in July, Hunt has been studying the Virginia Tech playbook, following workouts provided by strength and conditioning coach Mike Gentry, and gearing himself up to battle for the QB job. For seven long months he worked out alone at home, but in barely one week of live practice, he has been pushed down the depth chart, while his fellow freshmen remain in the limelight.

From here on out, we will see what Will Hunt is made of. Once a Big Man on Campus in Springdale, Arkansas, he will now have to toil in obscurity as a redshirt, working, watching, and waiting for his next chance. Some players never make the adjustment and either fall behind or quit the team. Others work hard, bide their time, and become future stars.

Which will it be for Will Hunt? No one knows, but as I noted, I'll be rooting for him.

"Pops" -- Exit, Stage Left

After 27 years with the Roanoke Times, columnist Jack Bogaczyk departed the paper in early August. I contacted Jack and requested an interview for the TSL Extra -- my, would that have been interesting -- and Jack agreed to it. But mere days before the interview, he had to cancel it.

His new job is PR Director for the Roanoke franchise of the National Basketball Developmental League (NBDL), a team that goes by the incredibly silly name of the Roanoke Dazzle. (I'm trying to picture a 6-10, 250 pound center saying, "I'm a Dazzler.")

Jack couldn't do the interview with me because his new employers told him, in Jack's words, "not to do anything that will mention (or perhaps enrage) the newspaper, potential NBDL fans, etc." So an interview with the TSL Extra, in which I would have asked Jack some interesting questions, was ruled out.

Jack was perhaps mischaracterized as Act 2 of the much-maligned Bill Brill, whom he replaced about ten years ago. Brill has a deserved reputation as an ACC homer whose first inclination when discussing Tech sports was to criticize. Many fans viewed Bogaczyk in the same light as Brill, because Jack occasionally wrote columns critical of Tech sports or Tech sports administrators.

I personally didn't care much for Jack's opinion columns. His columns were often chock-full of cute phraseology that required you to peruse the same paragraph two or three times before you could figure out what he was trying to say, and that was annoying. But he was an outstanding journalist. When he set out to write a factual article that required research and quotes, he produced top-notch work -- clear, concise, correct, and packed with useful information.

But the only reason I bring all this up is because Jack, despite being blasted frequently by the TSL message board posters, was always very good to me personally. He was very cordial and very helpful on many occasions.

No big deal, you say? Well, I thought it was, because I definitely got off on the wrong foot with Jack, but he moved beyond it and treated me with respect and often wished me well.

In April of 1999, Bogaczyk was being discussed on the (then) HokieCentral message board, and some posters started to make fun of his name. They were trying to figure out what it rhymed with.

I've got a friend here in Radford who calls Bogaczyk "Bo-Zack," and not in a malicious way -- my friend just can't figure out how to pronounce his name. While reading the message board thread, I thought of my friend and "Bo-Zack," and for some reason that is still a mystery to me, I chimed into the thread and said something like, "I think it (his name) rhymes with Prozac."

Silly, stupid, and unprofessional. I committed the egregious sin of making light of a man's name, which is one of the things that a person holds most dear. I once read a quote by a famous poet, I donít remember who, who said, "When talking to someone, call them by name. The sweetest sound to a person is the sound of their own name." People are proud of their names, and you don't mess with them.

I got my first-ever email from Jack within ten minutes. He called me out on the carpet for what I had done. He told me that he didnít expect much from the HokieCentral masses, but he certainly expected me, the webmaster of the site, to conduct myself in a more professional fashion and to not stoop to something so low and insulting as making fun of a man's name.

He was right, and I apologized, feeling sheepish. We traded a few more cordial emails, and that was that.

Over the next two years, Jack and I emailed each other and even talked on the phone from time to time, and he surprised me by always being very nice and wishing me well, despite my idiotic faux pas in April of '99, and despite the criticism he often took on the HC/TSL message boards. Like most mainstream journalists (this will surprise you), Jack doesnít like the fact that TechSideline.com doesn't have media access. Journalists take the access issue very seriously, and I have yet to encounter a print writer who doesn't think I should be allowed to interview players and coaches and attend practices.

Point being, Jack's not a bad guy. As I said, his writing style as a columnist never appealed to me. But he always tried to be honest, and he was always nice to me, despite me not giving him any reason to be.

See you next month.

 

TSLX Home

Copyright © 2001 Maroon Pride, LLC