Inside TSL: Letters to the Editor
by Will Stewart,
TSL Extra, Issue #22

He Puts the "Plus" in ESPN+


I worked the ASU-VT game as the play-by-play announcer this weekend with Jim Donnan for ESPN+ and I'm tentatively set to work the Hokies TV game at WMU. I got the call to work Sunday's game just a couple of weeks ago after Dave Sims was unable to do it, so I started a bit of a crash course on VT that included religiously checking your site for the articles at the VT Hokie News page and reading your message boards. I got to comp me a free password the week of the ASU-VT game and I drove around listening to cassettes of the Hokie Hotline that I recorded off the archives available at VT's official site

I've always had a special feeling for the Hokies, because the father of one of my best friends in junior high school helped set up the original VT radio network (Tom Gannoway, Sr.). In fact, I was happy to have Bill Roth drop in for a short visit on my radio show in Charleston last night.

Dave Weekley
Charleston, WV

Hokie fans, think of that the next time you're watching a game on TV and feel like saying, "These announcers suck!" Dave Weekley, at least, does his homework and takes his job very seriously.

A Deactivated Poster Vents His Rage


You are a complete idiot.

You deactivate my account because why?

My user name was orangeking. Was there swearing, was there anything offensive? NO. Yet, because a fan from an opposing team comes on your board to talk a little smack, you deactivate them. Your a joke.

The Hokies suck and so does your pathetic excuse for a website.

Here: check this out: the true definition of a HOKIE:

And that, my friends, is mild compared to some of the emails I receive. I used to respond to them with a canned response that went something like, "Dear (to whom it may concern): Thank you for your feedback on the web site. We are constantly looking for ways to improve our web site, and your input is very valuable. We appreciate you taking the time to share your opinion with us. Thank you for visiting, and please come again."

I once sent that email to a deactivated poster, and he responded to it with an even more irate and abusive email. So I sent my email again. And he responded again. So I sent my email again. He eventually quit, probably because his computer blew up.

By the way, it always cracks me up when rival fans tell me that "sucks," or is "a pathetic excuse for a website." Uh, yeah. Let's just say that I'm not insecure enough about TSL to believe that for a second.

Comments on the TSL Recruit Ranking System


You made a perfectly understandable, but contradictory claim regarding your points system. You count being drafted by the NFL in the point system, but you discount a players' accomplishments in the NFL. Your claim for the latter is:

>3.) Accomplishments after leaving school were not factored into our
>ratings. Bruce Smith, for example, is an outstanding professional player,
>but that shouldn't factor into whether or not he was a good recruit for
>Virginia Tech. All Bruce's pro career does is reflect nicely in some small
>way on Virginia Tech; it is of no direct value to VT, in terms of wins,
>losses, or statistics, during the time he was actually at Tech.

As you might have guessed by now, I think you have other reasons for valuing a draft pick over an NFL career. Frankly, all a draft pick does "is reflect nicely in some small way on Virginia Tech." In fact, draft picks happen after the college football season, so it is also after that student's football career at VT which is equivalent to after they left school for this analysis.

I do NOT want you to get into some kind of deep quagmire about NFL stats, but I think a high draft pick is only an indication of potential success, much like recruiting rank. Being a starter on an NFL team (which should be easily verifiable) is the equivalent of college career honors and does have a positive impact on the school's recruiting and visibility. Say what you will, but people remember that Don Strock, Bruce Smith and Antonio Freeman went to VT and played well in the NFL. Any VT alum being a starter even for one game does SO MUCH MORE than some other player who was drafted but never started in the NFL.

It's your ranking system, but I suggest you consider dropping the draft status OR adding something reflecting an NFL career (perhaps 5 or 10 points for being an NFL starter and 5 or 10 points as at least a two-time pro-bowler --in order to have some easy measure of quality and longevity to their career). Both of these do "help" Tech and both are easy to identify and objective measures worth considering.

Dave Bott

Dave: Hmmm, I can already tell that I'm going to have trouble expressing exactly why I donít think NFL accomplishments should be part of TSL's recruiting ranking system. I have a feeling that after the following ramblings, you probably won't be any more convinced, but I'll give it a shot, anyway.

I tried to award points for a player's accomplishments that either were of direct value on the field or were of indirect value for bringing recognition to Virginia Tech as a quality football program. Examples of accomplishments that are of direct value on the field are letters earned, seasons started, and VT and Big East records held. Those are all direct measurements that a player contributed something on the field.

Then there are the accomplishments that bring recognition to the player and/or the program but don't add any value whatsoever on the field. Antonio Freeman, for example, was second-team All-Big East three times, and that brings good recognition to VT, but it didn't help VT directly win any ballgames. The fact that he led the league in punt returns in 1994 did directly contribute to winning games, because it equated to field position and even a TD or two.

I realize this sounds as if it contradicts what I said in the Bruce Smith material that you quoted. I made a statement about how Bruce Smith's NFL career wasn't of any "direct value to VT, in terms of wins, losses, or statistics, during the time he was actually at Tech." Well, if you want to get nit-picky, neither was Jim Pyne's retired jersey, but I gave him 25 points for that, didn't I?

And here's the point where I start getting wrapped around the axle, so let me explain why I think, for example, that being drafted #1 by the NFL is worth some points, but being an All-Pro in the NFL isn't.

When you're drafted, or you're named an All-American, or you win the Nagurski Trophy, that is based on your college accomplishments or is a good, direct reflection on your college career, your school, or both.

But Bruce Smith being named an NFL All-Pro in, say, his fourth year in the NFL doesn't really have much to do at all with Virginia Tech. By that time, his career is about what he has done in the NFL, and how he has prepared himself in the NFL, not anything he did at Tech. And when they announce the teams, he is listed as Bruce Smith of the Buffalo Bills (or Washington Redskins, now), not Bruce Smith of Virginia Tech. So the link between Bruce being an All-Pro (or, in your other example, a starter for x years) and the fact that he went to Virginia Tech is very tenuous.

Well, then why give points for being an NFL draft choice? Bruce was picked #1 because he worked out for the Bills, they watched his film, and they thought he could be a great NFL player (they were smart cookies, but that's another story). Sure, he got their attention with his college exploits, but what really sold them on him was other factors, not the fact that he racked up 46 career sacks at VT, the large majority against the likes of Richmond, William and Mary, and Appalachian State.

Yes, your draft position is largely based on NFL workouts and evaluations, not your college career per se, but when NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle (he was still the commish in 1985, right?) announced that Bruce was the #1 pick, he leaned over and said clearly into the microphone, "Bruce Smith of Virginia Tech." And the college and pro football fans watching took note, and VT had their moment in the sun. Bruce Smith's draft selection very much reflected well on Virginia Tech.

And I don't know about you, but every year, I go over the NFL draft day results to see what teams drafted whom from what colleges. To some of us, guys like me, the NFL draft is closely tied to the college game, but I don't follow the NFL much at all, so once the players get beyond the draft, I couldn't care less.

So I maintain that being an NFL draft choice, while it might seem like a thin connection to awarding "recruiting" points to a player, is certainly more closely tied to a player's college career than his accomplishments after he has made the NFL, when his NFL training and experience take over.

In addition, I'll tell you one of the main reasons I discounted NFL accomplishments in the TSL ranking system: too much data, and too hard to research. In the TSL system, recruits are awarded points in a whopping 22 categories, and if I started adding NFL accomplishments to the list Ö well, it would quickly get more unwieldy than it already is.

You suggest NFL seasons started and All-Pro status as good grounds on which to award points to a player. Why stop there? What about NFL records held, being named the NFL offensive or defensive player of the year, NFL season stats leaders, years played, etc., etc., etc.? Where should it stop?

Also, I can research what I need to know for the current ranking using my VT media guides, my Hokie Huddlers, and my Big East media guide, all within easy reach. If we start adding NFL accomplishments, then the data gets very hard for me to find. I have no clue, for example, if Ken Brown or Dave Kadela ever started in the NFL, and I wouldn't know where to look.

So even if you could convince me to add some NFL accomplishments to the ranking system, I donít think I could handle the work load. In addition to the arguments of logic presented above, which you may or may not find convincing, the difficulty of researching the NFL data makes it impractical to make it part of the system.

See you next month, folks!



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