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Thanks for joining us! We write about sports, food, life and anything else interesting here in Ashburn and Loudoun County, all while cramming as many features into the site as possible.

Our staff consists of one old man and a dog named Maggie The WonderBeagle. Want to know more? Click on the icon below:

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Biggest Issue With The Hokies Yesterday Wasn't On The Field

Lord knows, there were plenty of things in yesterday’s Virginia Tech-Pitt game to be unhappy with.

But for me, it wasn’t the predictable play calls, the missed tackles, the going for it on 4th and 4 and only getting 3, or losing by a wide margin to a team that had lost 4 of its last 5 and had 16 players out.

It was a single answer by Justin Fuente to a fair question by Richmond’s Mike Barber after the game.

The question involved the Hokie offense and the perception of a lack of imagination in play calling that has been voiced by many Hokie fans on social media. The team had gotten off to a great start offensively, averaging over 40 points a game and going 3-1 in their first four games.

But a wheel seemed to come off the high-scoring bus at Wake Forest, as Virginia Tech was held to only 16 points in a loss to the Deacons. The Hokies have now lost 4 of their last 5, and instead of averaging 40, they scored 16 against Wake, 24 against Miami and only 14 yesterday against Pitt.

During those games, there have been flashes of versatility and imagination that led to big plays. But when things got tight, the Hokies seemed to crawl back into their shell and run the same handful of plays they always run, specifically a quarterback keeper by Hendon Hooker.

Because of that, Barber asked the question many fans would like to know the answer to: With an open date coming up, which would allow for some changes to be made that would address some of the shortcomings shown during the current 3-game losing streak, would Fuente consider taking over play calling for the final two games of the regular season?

Fuente reacted with not only disgust, but almost contempt for Barber. “That’s the most ludicrous crap I’ve ever heard. Next question.”

I’ll take that as a no, coach.

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Even My Dog Knows Nothing Is Going To Change Right Now

As I do every Sunday morning, I got some hot coffee, then Maggie the WonderBeagle and I thrashed out the results of the previous day’s Virginia Tech football game. It was another loss, and I was trying to develop some level of outrage about how the state of the program has fallen so far since the glory days of the 90s and early 2000s.

I couldn’t.

It was at this point Maggie looked up from sniffing every leaf in the back yard and said “why would you? Do you really think anything’s going to change?”

Admittedly, the hound is right.

If you take yourself through what would happen if you made the change this morning, you see the foolishness of such a move. Unless you’ve got a name coach ready to come in tomorrow who can lead the program back to the 10-win seasons of yesterday, the first thing you’d have to do is name an interim coach for the rest of the season.

That alone says to fans we’re punting on the rest of the season, not to mention the question of which assistant would you elevate to the job temporarily. This isn’t your father’s program where if Frank Beamer left, Bud Foster could grab the helm and the program would keep on trucking. Indeed, one of the bigger issues on this team is the performance of some of the key assistants. You going to promote one of them?

Then there is the danger that the assistant does really well those last few games. With nothing to lose, many times the team plays better as they rally around their teammates. Then there’s pressure to let the interim stay as the head coach, the school does it for the sake of continuity, and you soon realize why that coach was an assistant and not a head whistle.

You certainly don’t save any money in that scenario, as you’re going to pay the head coach any way. If anything, it costs you more because you have to pay the assistant you promoted more. So you’ve spent money you don’t have just to make a change that doesn’t make the situation any better.

I’m not arguing you shouldn’t consider a change at the end of the season. But this is an unusual year where all players get a mulligan and can come back next year regardless of eligibility. And there is a possibility that head coach Justin Fuente might just “get it” before the end of the season. There were signs of that yesterday.

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Maybe The Problem Here Is A Matter Of Trust

It has taken me 8 games into the season to see it, but I think I now have a feeling why this program isn’t going anywhere.

It’s a decided lack of trust. Or for lack of a better word, fear.

Not just fear of dialing up a daring play when the game is on the line, although that certainly happened in the fourth quarter. The coaching staff actually put together an imaginative offensive game plan where early plays set up later plays and for three quarters, they ran it well. It wasn’t until the fourth period that they became like a turtle going back into its shell, afraid to do anything other than the basic core plays they run all the time.

But I’m talking about more than that.

One of the things you’ve probably noticed if you’ve been a long-time watcher of Virginia Tech football is that the most hated man in Blacksburg is always the offensive coordinator. Half of the profane words I have accumulated into my vocabulary were acquired sitting up high on the alumni side of Lane Stadium around the 20, listening to old-timers describe the job they thought Ricky Bustle was doing.

Fans weren’t much kinder to Gary Tranquil, Bryan Stinespring or Scot Loeffler, and under Justin Fuente, Brad Cornelsen is the man getting his time in the barrel.

Over the years, sometimes the brutal criticism has been warranted. Other times it has not.

But if you’ll look at the years when the Hokies’ performed well no matter who the OC was, I think there’s a trend that’s hard to ignore.

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Explain To Me Again Why You Don't Care About Saturday's Game?

After finishing what I believe was my 8,000th career pizza on a Friday night for dinner, was just noticing a few people on Twitter saying they really don’t care about the game tomorrow with Miami after last week’s disappointing loss to Liberty.

I get it, I really do. Actually heard an old friend say the same today.

But here’s five things I’d counter with:

  1. This isn’t some nameless team of people who come and go any given week wearing a jersey that says Virginia Tech on it. It’s Hendon Hooker and Quincy Patterson and Tre Turner and young men we’ve seen and gotten to know the last few years. I don’t care what jersey they’re wearing, they’ve become family. Family doesn’t give up on family when things get tough.
  2. It’s Miami. The U. The team that’s always back once they win more than one game in a row. Yeah, they’ve got some good players, but they've always got good players. They talk the talk yet rarely walk the walk. Many years ago, the Dallas Cowboys were perceived this way and one day after San Francisco was routing them at halftime, viewership actually went up in the second half despite the game having no suspense to it. People just wanted to tune in to see the Cowboys get their backsides kicked. Miami is like that too.
  3. If you play golf, you know you’re not going out on the links and shooting 70. You’re playing for moments, like that birdie on No. 5, or the 5-iron on the par-3 No. 12 that just missed being a hole in one. Then you drink a lot of beer and make it sound like it was much better than it was. Well, that’s also the way Virginia Tech football is going to be this year. Remember that win over N.C. State with half the team not playing? That was the birdie on No. 5. The loss to Liberty was the driver in the woods than turned into an 8. Tomorrow could be that 5-iron on the par-3, which is the beauty of this team. You know it has weapons, just like you have a bag of golf clubs. Question becomes if in either situation, the tools are used correctly.
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Recent comment in this post
Doug Johnson

Big Ten

You might want to reconsider the diss of Indiana and Rutgers.......
Sunday, 22 November 2020 15:37
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There Are Some Hokie Memories That Just Last Forever

I have to admit, I’m getting tired of all the negative Virginia Tech stories. I understand they need to be written, and I’ve written several myself. But it’s a rainy Wednesday that’s probably going to turn into a rainy Thursday, so I’m ready to read something positive.

As noted in a previous post, I was digging through the basement for some old newspaper clips involving Wichita State Coach Gregg Marshall last night. Having found what I was looking for, I returned to the basement this morning to put them away. In the box I was returning these artifacts to was the program you see to the right.

Which sparked one of the greatest Hokie memories I’ll ever have.

That game back in 1995 wasn’t one filled with joy and anticipation. My wife and I had sat out in the rain the previous week against Cincinnati, a miserable contest where Virginia Tech didn’t even score. They were 0-2 after losing to Boston College in the opener, and there were even grumbles in the car driving to Lane Stadium that we may have wasted a bunch of money for these season tickets if they were going to continue playing like this.

As history will note, the Hokies bounced back in this game, beat Miami, and would not lose the rest of the season, winning 10 straight and culminating in a program-defining win over Texas in the Sugar Bowl.

But that’s not what made the day special.

As I noted in a different story the other day, the world was not only given the likes of Chase Elliot in 1995, but also received a beautiful baby girl born to a single mother in Eastern North Carolina. She would later become our daughter, but it was not without some legal issues that made for more than a few sleepless nights for my wife and I. We had hired a lawyer to help us get through all these issues, and as we were driving from High Point, NC to Blacksburg, my Leroy Jethro Gibbs-style Motorola Startac flip phone rang.

We were on I-77 closing in on the North Carolina/Virginia line, and it was the attorney. She had good news, explaining that the last of the paperwork had been completed Friday, and everything was in order so that Monday morning, we could go get our new daughter and bring her home with us.

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Podcast: Give Me Liberty, Or Give Me Another Football Coach

We’ve now recorded and published our second podcast, this one being entitled “Give Me Liberty, Or Give Me Another Football Coach.”

After we did the first one last week, I wondered to myself where we’d get the material to talk about anything for at least 30 minutes. After Virginia Tech lost to Liberty Saturday, that no longer became an issue. I think you could talk for days about all the issues that people are complaining about after that loss. I don't know if this episode will end up being as entertaining to you as it was to me, but it was like 35 minutes of therapy.

I now feel much better :)

As I also mentioned last week, we sort of rushed the first one out so we could make sure we knew what we were doing in terms of publishing a podcast. We got some of it right, but had a technical issue or two and even embedded a commercial…but didn’t hit the right button to get it to play.

That’s all fixed now. The other reason we rushed just to get anything up was the company that hosts our podcasts – Anchor.fm – distributes the podcasts to a variety of places to make it easier to subscribe. That takes a couple of days, so for this edition, you should be able to search “The Old Man And The DD” on just about any podcast app and find us, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts in addition to several more. And of course Anchor has it’s own app to listen on. Just subscribe to our podcast and you're automatically notified of new episodes.

If you’re not all that familiar with podcasts, you can click here and it will take you to the Anchor website where you can listen.

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There Is ONE Good Thing About All The Unrest In VT Athletics

While things are not a lot of fun these days in Blacksburg, there is one good thing about all the unrest around Virginia Tech athletics: You get to hear from all your old Hokie friends.

They all want to know the same thing. What the heck is going on?

Then there are the two friends I’ve known since my freshman year: Bob and Doug. The three of us have seen every twist and turn there has been involving Virginia Tech. Bob and I drove 12 hours to New Orleans to see Michael Vick and the Hokies in the national championship game. Doug and I flew to Chicago, rented a car and drove to South Bend to see Virginia Tech play Notre Dame for the very first time.

We’ve followed the Hokies for so long, we’ve gone from being able to fit in those narrow seats in Cassell Coliseum (it was actually just the Virginia Tech Coliseum for a couple of years before being renamed for Stuart Cassell) to growing to the point of being uncomfortable in those seats, to now seeing Hokie leadership show some compassion and just make the seats bigger.

We’ve seen coaches fired, coaches hired, buildings built, crushing defeats, and wins that made us disturb the neighbors with our celebrations. We’ve followed the Hokies through divorces, deaths of friends and family, and a variety of moves by the three of us to different parts of the country.

Together, we’ve seen fire and rain.

So it was no surprise I heard from Bob yesterday. It was his question I found unusual.

“Just wanted to check in on you and make sure you’re OK,” Bob said.

Why would you be concerned about that? I replied.

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I Don't Think We Should Be Considering Amputation. Yet.

It’s highly unusual I write on any subject for three days in a row. But I keep seeing this sentiment of “Fire Fuente” on social media, and I just have to address it in more than a couple hundred characters.

First, I understand the emotion to get on the phones and ask fans for millions of dollars to make a change.

Second, it’s a really bad idea.

I will acknowledge that Saturday’s game moved me from the “Fuente can be a good long-term coach for Virginia Tech” to “He’s never going to be more than a C-minus kind of guy in Blacksburg." But we’re like a patient who has finally realized their knee has been torn up so bad over the years, something needs to be done to possibly return it to the form of younger years.

The first step is not to amputate it.

You’re also calling for people to give money in the middle of a pandemic where discretionary funds are historically at their lowest in most households. It’s also 6 weeks before Christmas. You're going to ask people to skip out on buying a few extra presents for family so they can throw a few C-notes into a fund to hire someone you don’t even know who it is?

That’s the problem with these kinds of things. When the phone rang back in the early 2000s asking for some money to make sure we had a pot of gold to keep Frank Beamer from going to Alabama, my answer was an immediate yes. I knew what I was getting for my money: An established coach who loved Virginia Tech, had recruiting connections in every high school in the state and had just played for a national championship in the last few years.

I mean, who wouldn’t say yes to that?

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Recent Comments
Steven Wade

Patience

It’s all we have!
Monday, 09 November 2020 16:28
Dave Scarangella

It's not a strength, however o...

Particularly my Hokies
Monday, 09 November 2020 17:25
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For Virginia Tech, It May Be A Case Of Kill...Or Be Killed

Last night, I posted something about the state of the Virginia Tech athletics program after yet another depressing loss by the football team, and in doing so, committed a sin I have often scolded others for doing.

I identified a problem, but I didn’t offer any solutions. And as even Maggie The WonderBeagle knows, anyone can complain. But it’s all just mindless noise if you don’t talk about how you’re going to fix it.

I’ve never been an athletic director, but I’ve been a businessman for many decades and the challenges the Hokies are facing right now aren’t that different. You have a product that was once thought of to be in high demand and of great value, but now the product is faltering. The lack of enthusiasm and the eroding perceived value of ticket price to experience are serious trends that can throw many a company up on the rocks.

Which is why you always have a Plan B. It happens eventually to everyone.

So what would I do if I were AD? I can tell you one thing you should not do: Change coaches. That’s admitting defeat as well as signaling to everyone that rebuilding is coming and people need to be patient. People are tired of being shut in their houses during this pandemic, they’re cynical and they are in no mood for a “be patient and one day all will be well” speech.

I mean, look at the Washington whatever they’re called in the NFL. They’re on year 37 of their rebuilding. Big chunks of their fans are no longer being patient. They’re also no longer being fans of the team.

What you should do, however, is recognize there is a problem and come up with short-term moves to try to shore up confidence the athletic department at least knows what it’s doing. They cannot afford to be as tone deaf as they were yesterday, as after the crushing defeat, season ticket holders and Hokie Club members got a renewal email asking that fans pay up for 2021 season tickets BEFORE CHRISTMAS.

That’s rubbing salt in the wound, as well as making people think “do these people even have a clue?”

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With The Way Things Are Going, Do The Hokies Have A Plan B?

Back in 2018, you could see the beginnings of a worst-case nightmare emerging for Virginia Tech athletics.

Whit Babcock had been hailed as some sort of wunderkind athletic director, based mainly on two hires: basketball coach Buzz Williams, and a year later, football coach Justin Fuente. Buzz quickly got to work, winning 20 games in his second season, and Fuente got off to a similar fast start, coaching mostly Frank Beamer’s recruits to a 10-4 record, a division title, and a narrow loss to Clemson in the ACC Championship game.

The future looked bright, and Babcock got a disproportionate share of the credit. “In Whit We Trust” people were saying, and it was because their superstar AD had righted the ship and was going to lead the Hokie athletic program to heights never before seen.

Whit was personable, good behind a mic, and clearly loved the spotlight. He was a spender and a big-picture guy who much preferred talking about building new facilities and hiring new coaches. Rolling up his sleeves and figuring out a way to fix the Hokie Club website to make it more user friendly for people wanting to give money, or increase the strength of the WiFi at Lane Stadium to attract younger fans, were not as interesting to him.

Of course, he didn’t have to do it himself. He just had to make it a priority and assign it to someone else and hold them accountable. And as long as the two pillar sports of fundraising – football and basketball – kept winning, it didn’t matter. Whit hired them and if needed, he’d hire more good coaches. If something went wrong, by God, Whit would figure it out.

In Whit We Trust, after all.

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My Advice To The Hokies Would Be "Just Win, Baby"

When it was scheduled, I’m sure Saturday’s Liberty-Virginia Tech game was expected to be a cupcake. An easy W. A breather on the schedule.

Now – although I expect Virginia Tech to win – it could be a turning point in the program.

I mean, think of it. Imagine if somehow Justin Fuente lost to Old Dominion in 2018. Then lost to UVA in 2019 and ended a 15-game winning streak against their state rivals while being the first time Virginia Tech had ever lost to UVA as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Now imagine completing the hat trick – and losing to Liberty in 2020.

That would be tough for even the most positive of Hokie supporters to swallow.

I don’t expect it to happen. But one of the two teams is ranked in the top 25 and it’s not the boys from Blacksburg. Virginia Tech has better athletes and a high-powered offense. But it also has a defense that makes mistakes and misses assignments, like when they did so with 8 seconds left in the first half against Louisville and Javion Hawkins went 90 yards for a touchdown.

Liberty, conversely, has an offense that is averaging 38 points a game. In it’s last 3 games, it has scored 40, 38 and 56. Against fellow ACC member Syracuse, Liberty handed off to Shedro Louis on one play and he hit the hole quickly, continuing straight up the middle of the field for a 75-yard touchdown. Content to show it was not a fluke, Louis would later do the same thing on a 52-yard touchdown run against the Orange.

I’m not saying he’ll do that against the Hokies. But if there’s confusion by linebackers or in the secondary, Liberty has the weapons to go where you’re not and turn a routine run into a long scoring play. Doesn’t matter if all the teams you beat have only 4 total wins, or how many 4 star athletes you have.

Make a mistake and speed kills. Liberty has it.

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