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"Everybody Appreciated His Integrity & Honesty The Most"

Long before Florida State joined the ACC in 1990, then-Seminoles football coach Bobby Bowden had become aware of one of his future conference rivals.

Decades earlier, Bowden was the football coach at West Virginia when the Mountaineers played Virginia in 1972

Of those two, only UVa was an ACC member at the time. Bowden, who died earlier this week at 91, was the Seminoles' head coach from 1976-2009.

Surprisingly, he was named ACC coach of the year only twice despite such accomplishments as opening conference play with 29 straight wins, posting a record 173 conference victories, and winning or sharing nine ACC championships.

Four separate Virginia head coaches -- George Welsh, Al Groh, Mike London and Bronco Mendenhall -- have beaten Florida State once. Nobody from UVa has done it twice.

UVa's biggest win in the series was in 1995, when a Cavaliers team led by George Welsh upset then-No. 2 Florida State 33-28 in Charlottesville.

As a coach, Groh's only victory over FSU was in 2005 in Charlottesville.

"It was the same year that they had the anniversary of the '95 game," Groh said in a phone interview this week. "It was kind of ironic that both those wins in Charlottesville occurred with that same team in place, one time as participants and another time as honorees."

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College Notebook: Cavanaugh Remembers Bobby Bowden

In nearly 40 years as a college football coach, including stops at five different ACC programs, it's no wonder that Jim Cavanaugh had some thoughts on the passing of distinguished former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden.

"It's funny,"said Cavanaugh, who spent most of his career under Frank Beamer at Virginia Tech. "I coached against [Bowden] when he was at West Virginia and Florida State. He knew who I was but he knew me more as Chuck's friend."

When Cavanaugh was on the staff at N.C. State, one of his colleagues was Chuck Amato, twice the assistant head coach at Florida State sandwiched around his six-year tenure as the head coach at State.

"I coached against [Bowden] on both sides of the ball, on offense when I was at N.C. State and North Carolina, and then defense at Tech," Cavanaugh said.

'The ol' boy could recruit. He had good players, and I'll tell you this: they played hard. He also had a great staff, too, now. I think, sometimes, that gets lost in the shuffle with some of these big-time guys. They could coach 'em up, too, now."

Cavanaugh worked at so many places that it's hard to remember, but he does remember a stint at Maryland and going up against a Bowden-coached West Virginia team.

Bowden got to Florida State in 1976 and Maryland left the ACC in 2015.

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One Of Roanoke's Most Colorful Characters Is Retiring

The University of North Florida has announced the retirement of Lee Moon, the athletic director at UNF since 2009, and one of the true characters to come out of the Roanoke Valley.

Moon played football at William Fleming High School in Roanoke before heading to VMI, where he was an offensive lineman between 1966-69.

Moon later served as a graduate assistant at Virginia from 1972-73 and as a full-time assistant to then-UVa coach Dick Bestwick.

Moon later had full-time coaching stints at Duke, UVa, Mississippi and Kansas State, where he was the interim head coach.

Moon later served as the interim athletic director at Kansas State and was the AD at Marshall and Wyoming.

Moon's decision to retire, announced earlier in the spring, became official this week

"For the past 12 years, Coach Lee Moon has served the university with great distinction, integrity and devotion to our student-athletes, coaches and athletic programming," UNF President David Szymanski said in a statement. "Under his leadership, UNF Athletics has fostered a strong culture of athletic excellence, high academic achievement and great respect that has directly contributed to the remarkable growth and success of UNF's sports programs. His legacy will leave a long-lasting impact on our Osprey community."

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UVA Ace Abbott Has Had An Unusual Group Of Followers

Andrew Abbott has had an unusual group of followers as his Virginia baseball career comes to a close in the College World Series.

Abbott, a left-handed All-American pitcher who has been the ace of the Cavaliers' staff, is remembered by high-school rivals who competed against him in another setting.

"He swam at the South Boston YMCA and I know he swam all four years in high school," said Tyler Smith, a graduate of Patrick Henry High School in Roanoke.

"I did swimming and then cycling, and he did swimming and travel baseball. The best I knew him was when we were in middle schools."

Abbott's mother, Jeannette, coached the South Boston YMCA Sea Serpents. of which Andrew was a member.

Smith is a graduate of Virginia Tech who happened to stop by the Hokies' baseball game with visiting UVa earlier this spring.

"It was curiosity," Smith said. "I recognized him when I was on the mound. He did not know I was there. I wish I'd kept better touch with him but I didn't."

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Olympic Trials Further Evidence UVA Now A National Power

The swimming Olympic trials this week in Omaha, Nebraska were further evidence that Virginia has become a national power, particularly on the women's end.

Senior Paige Madden and sophomore Kate Douglass earned sports on the 2022 U.S. Olympics team, and freshman Alex Walsh could be added at a later time. Walsh trailed Douglass by .02 seconds in the 200 individual medley.

After winning the regular-season ACC women's swimming championship, Virginia also won the NCAA championship, the first of two for the Cavaliers, who later won the Division I men's lacrosse title.

Lord Botetourt High School graduate Olivia Bray is beginning to make her mark at Texas, earning an invitation to the Olympic trials, where she landed a spot in the final heat of the 100-meter butterfly. She finished seventh in the semifinals, touching the wall with a time of 58.36 seconds.

Making the final heat was an accomplishment by itself. She had been ranked no higher than 11th going into the competition.

"It was such a blast," Bray said this week. "It was very different from 2016."

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UVA-ODU: A Virtual Lesson In VA College Baseball History

The matchup between Virginia and Old Dominion in the baseball regional in Columbia, S.C., was a virtual lesson in college baseball history in Virginia.

Old Dominion's head coach, Chris Finwood, played at VMI from 1985-88 and was a career .300 hitter, posting a .399 average as a senior.

Finwood, later named to the VMI Sports Hall of Fame, also served as the Keydets' baseball coach from 1992-94. The Keydets won a school-record 21 games in 1993 after winning two games two games earlier.

After leaving VMI, Finwood's teams at Western Kentucky won 190 games in six years. Originally from  Hampton, he was hired by Old Dominion in athletic director Wood Selig in 2012.

Selig is a graduate of Washington and Lee who worked at Virginia and has a son in Virginia Tech's  Corps of Cadets.

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College Notebook: Bryant Pushes UVa In Men's Lacrosse

One of Virginia's toughest challenges in the NCAA men's lacrosse tournament came in a first-round match-up with Bryant, where the score was 10-10 as late as the fourth quarter before the Cavaliers prevailed 13-11.

UVa coach Lars Tiffany was quick to praise his Bryant counterpart Mike Pressler, a 1982 graduate of Washington and Lee, where he was a four-year starter in football and lacrosse

Pressler later was the head coach at Ohio Wesleyan for five seasons before serving for 16 seasons as the head coach at Duke, where he was 153-82 and led the Blue Devils to three ACC titles and 10 NCAA bids.

"The competition in Division I lacrosse when you get to the month of May is intense," Tiffany said. "Bryant’s effort today did not surprise me at all.

"Having coached against Mike Pressler and the Bulldogs during the years we had together, we fully knew what to expect and that is a tenacious team that was going to be all over the contested groundballs."

Clearly, Bryant had a chance.

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Gill Finding Success Coming Off The Bench For NBA Wizards

Anthony Gill, who transferred from South Carolina to Virginia before there was a transfer portal, scored in double figures twice in a three-game span for the Washington Wizards.

This has been the first NBA experience for Gill, who played for Khimki in the Russian-based VTB League before signing with the Wizards in November.

Much of Gill's playing time comes when he is on the floor with other reserves who have been dubbed the "Trenches."

A personal memory occurred in 2016, when Virginia and Clemson met for a rare off-campus game in Greenville, S.C., where the Cavaliers won 64-57. On the way out of the arena, I came across Gill and complimented him for his season-long successes in winning the opening tap.

As far as I know, nobody keeps records on game-opening tips or tip-offs.

"Thank you for noticing," responded an appreciative Gill, who couldn't have been any taller than his listed 6-8 and might have been a touch smaller.

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College Notebook: Remember Dave Leitao?

After earlier accepting a contract extension through the 2013-14 season, DePaul coach Dave Leitao faced an uncertain future Wednesday as he took the Blue Demons (4-13) into a Big East tournament meeting with Providence on Wednesday night in New York.

Remember Dave Leitao?.

Leitao was the head coach at Virginia for four seasons, 2005-2009, and compiled a 65-60 record. In his last season, Virginia lost 13 of its final 16 games.

In his last game, the Cavaliers were 76-63 losers to Boston College in the ACC Tournament. My abiding memory was of running into then-UVa  associate athletic director Jon Oliver.

The impression with which I was left by Oliver was that Leitao's chances of keeping the job would be dependent on his willingness to make changes to his coaching staff.

In his conversation with me, Oliver indicated that his preference would be for Leitao to make changes in the coaching staff, specifically bringing in an assistant who previously had been a head coach.

As it was, Leitao remained loyal to his coaching staff. which included Bill Courtney, Drew Diener and Steve Seymour. That didn't last much longer.

On hand the next year was new coach Tony Bennett and a staff of Ritchie McKay, Jason Williford and Ron Sanchez. McKay and Sanchez later took head-coaching positions at Liberty and Charlotte, respectively. McKay has taken the Flames to three consecutive Atlantic Sum championships.

IT WILL BE INTERESTING to see where VMI scoring leader Greg Parham winds up after he entering the NCAA Transfer Portal. Parham is making that move after averaging 18.4 points this season for the Keydets (13-12).

Parham, a 6-foot-4 guard from Monacan High School outside Richmond, was not rated among the top 21 prospects in Virginia by 247Sports in 2018, but he had better numbers after three years in college than almost any of the in-state players recruited ahead of him.

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College Notebook: Virginia Wasn't Alone In Its COVID Fears

Virginia wasn't alone in its fears upon learning of a positive COVID test coming out of  the UVa camp on the eve of the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

"It was a really tough couple of hours when I saw that Virginia tested positive and we played them less than 24 hours before that," said Syracuse senior Marek Dolezaj following a 72-69 last-second loss to UVa at the ACC Tournament in Greensboro, N.C.

"It was a really hard season and it can get to anyone -- Kansas, Duke, Virginia. There could be more teams. So, we're just happy that we were all negative and now we're trying to keep ourselves safe."

AS SPECULATED in last week's column, former Virginia men's basketball Dave Leitao did not survive a second tour as the head coach at DePaul.

Leitao was 63-60 in four seasons at UVa prior to his dismissal following a 10-18 season in 2008-2009.

As Virginia filled that vacancy with Tony Bennett, Leitao returned to DePaul, where a three-year 58-34 record between 2002-2005 had landed him the Virginia job.

In his return to DePaul, Leitao was 69-112 overall and 21-84 in Big East play and a four-year extension negotiated last spring couldn't help him. 

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Dave Fulton

Wertz

Didn't realize Trey Wertz was son of Langston Wertz. Langston does a terrific job covering high school athletics in the Charlotte ... Read More
Wednesday, 17 March 2021 17:47
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College Notebook: Recruiting, The Portal and More

You had to wonder why more ACC men's basketball programs didn't jump after Jay Heath before he signed with Boston College out of Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington, D.C.

There should be more action now with word that Heath has entered the transfer portal.

Heath, a 6-foot-3 sophomore, averaged a team-leading 14.5 points and had a team-high 42 made 3-pointers for the Eagles, who finished 4-16 and ended the season without six-year head coach Jim Christian.

The Eagles completed the season with Christian assistant Scott Spinelli at the helm and ultimately selected Earl Grant as their new head coach.

Grant, most recently the head coach at the College of Charleston, was an assistant at Winthrop and Wichita State . He has an ACC background after years as an assistant at Clemson.

One of his coaching mentors was Gregg Marshall, who resigned under pressure as Wichita State head coach prior to the 2020-21 season.

After eight straight seasons of 20 wins or more, Wichita State finished 16-6 under Isaac Brown, who was promoted to interim coach following Marshall's resignation and later elevated to head coach.

The Portal and More

Playing time wasn't an issue for Au'Diese Toney, the University of Pittsburgh junior who entered the NCAA Transfer portal earlier this week.

Toney, a 6-6 swingman out of Huntsville, Ala., averaged a team-high 34.9 minutes per game for the Panthers and led the team in scoring with 14.4 points per game.

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Dave Fulton

Education?

I don't suspect any of these various folks floating around the transfer portals have put much emphasis on getting an education.... Read More
Thursday, 25 March 2021 12:20
Dave Scarangella

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There are probably some just looking for more playing time and don't care as much about school. But I know the 6-9 young man from ... Read More
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