First and foremost, I hope that you and your loved ones enjoyed your holiday season. Christmas and New Year’s are important holidays on the calendar for my family, and it almost always means a trip west to see Father LaBlue on his Tennessee farm.
After my return, I, like many of you, watched Virginia Tech get demolished on national television. And to make matters worse, the ACC Network replayed the Hokies’ abomination for the few freaks who get off on bad football.
But all that is in the past now. As the calendar turns, so does Brent Pry and Virginia Tech.
I imagine that nothing is going to be the same. Did Justin Fuente ever tweet out a rallying cry to the fanbase after an abysmal performance? Did the Hokies ever walk up to a premier Power 5 program and take one of their best coaching assistants?
I didn’t think so.
So with a new year and a new coaching staff comes new resolutions for the Virginia Tech football program. Here are my recommendations:
Resolution No. 1 — Embrace Social Media As A Tool, Not As A Liability
The old staff took an outdated approach to social media. Fuente, Brad Cornelsen, Vance Vice or James Shibest never really tried to use it properly. On occasion, the staff would tweet one or two things, but we all know how rare that was.
Insert Derek Jones, Virginia Tech’s new cornerbacks coach, who’s out here tweeting pictures of PK’s Bar and Grill wings and sharing words of wisdom for recruits to eat up. Even Pry got in on the action, sharing this graphic as an effort to get folks to forget about Maryland’s 52-10 drubbing of the Hokies inside Yankee Stadium.
Nobody is saying that Virginia Tech needs to run their social media presence like a Fortune 500 company, but they better start acknowledging its role in our world. When a large portion of your job centers on connecting with 15, 16 and 17-year-old kids, you better go where they are. And they aren’t on AIM.
Resolution No. 2 — Establish An Identity
I don’t expect Virginia Tech to be very good next season. Frankly, I’m not all that worried about the win-loss record in 2022. It’s not what matters.
What matters is that we learn what Virginia Tech is going to try to be and what the program stands for. Who are the Hokies going to be? What are they going to look like? How does the program plan on regaining the good ole days?
Hiring Joe Rudolph from Wisconsin sure makes it look like the Hokies are going to play similar football to what we saw in the early 2000’s — run the football, play physical and rely on your defense to win games.
That style will play in the Blacksburg culture. I’m certainly not complaining. But I want to see it on the field.
Resolution No. 3 — Get Aggressive On The Recruiting Trail
Two programs that have given Virginia Tech major problems on the Commonwealth recruiting trail are Penn State and North Carolina.
It’s time to take the fight to them.
Penn State is coming off consecutive subpar seasons, wrapping up 2021 with a 24-10 loss to Arkansas in the Outback Bowl. James Franklin just lost his most-tenured assistant (Pry) and has plenty to figure out inside his own program.
The Tar Heels are in worse shape. Mack Brown just finished one of the most underwhelming and disappointing seasons in recent memory, squandering a preseason top-10 ranking and finishing the season 6-7. For all of the hype, Brown’s Tar Heels are averaging seven wins a season.
Virginia Tech can compete with these programs. They aren’t invincible. Heck, the Hokies beat Carolina this season. Pry should be aggressive on the recruiting trail this offseason and start taking the fight directly to Franklin and Brown, as well as other schools. Optimism is high in Blacksburg, so get while the getting is good.