AS PROMISED FRIDAY, we’ll get to some of the highlights of my conversation with author and publisher Chris Colston in a minute. First, though, if you haven’t seen the College Football Preview section, you can read the first part here and the second part here.
I’ve got two columns in there — one on how I propose we judge the Hokies’ progress this year and one on UVa cornerback Demetrious Nicholson, the leader of a young secondary and an impressive example of perseverance through childhood challenges that easily have derailed a less optimistic and hard-working young man.
I also had a column Sunday on backup Tech QB Mark Leal here.
I picked Georgia Tech to win the Coastal. That’s my O-line nerdom talking.
Now, onto Colston. I’m sure many of you are familiar with his work. He’s a 1976 Cave Spring grad and 1980 Tech grad who has written four books on the Hokies and is the former editor of the Hokie Huddler. He’s also the publisher of the tremendous Hokie Football Annual, which is an incredible resource/collectable for Tech fans. Hard copies are $9.99 and can be purchased at area Stop-In Stores, the Barnes & Noble at Tanglewood Mall and several other locations. You also can order one at Chris’ site, which also has a digital-only version available for $7.99. Trust me, it’s great.
Leaf through that publication and it becomes obvious: Colston has spent the past 12 months thinking about the Hokies, talking to the Hokies and analyzing the Hokies. So as we approach the season opener a week from today, let’s get a few thoughts from him on…well, the subject he knows best.
ON ANYTHING THAT STOOD OUT ABOUT FRANK BEAMER WHILE WRITING A LENGTHY STORY IN THE ANNUAL ON HIM:
“You’ve got to remember I worked with him on his autobiography in 2000. So we covered everything. That book was really the first time anybody had really asked him about his burns and all that. Now it’s common. That was the first time that he really discussed it. I was a little hesitant to ask him about that back in 2000, but he was very open about it.
“We had two long sessions again with this. The one thing that has really, really been hammered across to me is just his deep love he has for Cheryl, the relationship there. It’s really just kind of a sweet thing to see. Football coaches are not home a lot, and the fact that Shane is there with him and just the fact that he can be with his son on a regular basis and just the love that he has with his family.
“And it’s not an act; that’s the biggest thing. Everybody on his staff just adores him. They adore him…. You can’t fake that, especially for 25 years. It’s genuine. He’s just a genuine guy. I kind of feel he’s almost like an uncle to me; he’s always been really good to me all these years.”
ON THE SENSE HE GOT FROM THE COACHES ON WHAT KIND OF SEASON THIS WILL BE:
“Frank always feels like if he’s got a quarterback, he’s got a chance. Bud [Foster] and Charley [Wiles] feel very good about what they have up front. And I know Torrian [Gray] is very happy with the defensive secondary if they stay healthy… “When I was putting the book together in the spring, they’re just always the same. They kind of had the same even-keel sort of approach they had the previous two years I went down and compiled. You just really can’t tell the difference. And I guess they get that from Frank too. It’s just really even-keel, just another year, we’re going to go out there and do the best we can.
“Now, I personally, I don’t know if I picked it up from them or just on my own, but I feel very good about the team this year – better than the last two years – because they have the quarterback and they have the defense. That’s just the impression I got from talking to the players, the feedback that the coaches did give me, the fact that the offensive line is a little more solid and athletic, and the fact that they’re going to up-tempo the offensive attack I think is very encouraging.”
“I think the fact that Shane Beamer and Stiney go to Texas and pick the brains of those guys, that’s just good coaching. That’s a good, smart approach. Because everybody knows that the offense has been inconsistent in past years. It was very good last year. I don’t know how any Tech fan could really complain. Play-calling had always been an issue; play-calling was great.
“Just the fact that they’ve got all those defensive guys returning and the fact that you’ve got Logan Thomas at quarterback. I mean, that guy is rare. Tyrod was great, but Tech has had really good 6-foot quarterbacks before – Bryan Randall, Mark Leal’s pretty good. You don’t get these 6-6, 260-pounders very often. I think he alone gives everybody great optimism.”
ON HIM AND HIS TWO ROUND TABLE PANELISTS (DAVID TEEL AND JIMMY ROBERTSON) ALL PICKING TECH TO BEAT FLORIDA STATE: “Florida State for years was a team that Frank could not beat. But then he beat them at Lane Stadium that regular-season game, and then that ACC title game was one of the best games Virginia Tech has ever played, I thought, where they just put it all together. So now I think he feels pretty confident going against them. And I think playing in Lane Stadium, I feel pretty good about that. I think it’s going to be a very difficult game, but they’ll have a good shot if they’re healthy. That’s later in the year; they’ll probably have the running backs sorted out by then and the third and fourth wide receivers sorted out by then. The Clemson game is the one we all picked to lose, right?”
RIGHT, YOU GUYS DID (ALL THREE PICKED TECH TO GO 11-1 WITH CLEMSON THE LONE LOSS). WHY?
“Clemson just dominated both games last year on a neutral field and at Lane Stadium. You just would have to be an incredible optimist to think that Tech can go to Death Valley and win. And it’s just so hard to go undefeated. Tech can win it, but I don’t expect ‘em to.”
ON HIS BREAKOUT CANDIDATES:
“There’s a couple. This is no revelation, but Michael Holmes, the tailback, I think is going to be very, very solid. Marcus Davis at split end, he’s shown flashes, but he’s really, because of D.J. Coles’ injuries and ongoing problems, he can really step up. I’m hoping Vinston Painter really comes on. It’s hard to tell — unless Logan gets sacked or if there’s huge holes — what an offensive lineman is doing, but that’s a guy the reports have been that he’s finally reaching his massive potential.
“On defense, everybody’s talking about Luther Maddy, the defensive tackle. He’s poised for a terrific year. Jack Tyler is a guy that’s kind of been under the radar that could really shine. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him have 10 tackles against Georgia Tech. And Ronny Vandyke at the whip position has just looked tremendous. There might just be too many people ahead of him with Tweedy and Gouveia-Winslow, but he’s a guy for sure next year is going to be a force, no doubt about that.”
ON WHAT STANDS OUT ABOUT BROADCASTER BILL ROTH (FEATURED PROMINENTLY IN THE ANNUAL):
“I know Bill extremely well. He’s one of my best friends. In the annual, what I thought was really interesting was the kind of respect that Bill gets from types like [Mike] Tirico and [Sean] McDonough. These are national guys, and I used to talk to national media all the time when I was at USA Today, but now that I’m doing something very regional, it’s sometimes difficult to get those people to talk to an annual magazine like that. “Sean McDonough just talked my ear off for a half an hour about Bill. You can just tell the affection that he had for him and the respect for what he’s done down here.
“A guy like him, he could have gone on and taken a lot of other opportunities. We’re very lucky to have Bill. People don’t realize just how ingrained Virginia Tech is into his psyche. He’s a Syracuse grad who just absolutely bleeds orange and maroon. That’s not easy. I don’t know that I could go to Syracuse and do that, being a Virginia Tech graduate myself. “But here’s the other thing about him: He’s completely immersed and committed to this. He’s not the voice of the Hokies because it’s cool or it’s a good job or it pays well. The guy is just absolutely consumed with Virginia Tech and sports. That is his life.
“The other thing about him is he’s a super intelligent guy. He could have gone in and been successful in a lot of different jobs. I love arguing with him. He’ll take a stance and he’ll try to defend it to the bitter end, and he’ll have stats to back it up, but he takes a stand on it. He’s just a really fun guy to argue with over a beer. He’s just so well-versed about not just Tech but all of college football. I guess that’s what I should have said: He’s just totally immersed in what is going on in college sports. He knows everything.”
ON WHETHER HE’S CONCERNED AT ALL ABOUT THE OPENER: “Yes. I am always concerned when Virginia Tech plays Georgia Tech. Paul Johnson – that’s a very effective offense, but I guess the only knock is that when people have a lot of time to prepare for it they kind of figure it out. But they always play Virginia Tech tough. Even last year, that game, until the personal foul…until that play, that game was in serious jeopardy. Obviously we picked Virginia Tech to win, just playing at home, having time to prepare. You’ve really got to have good defensive ends and tackles, and that’s Tech’s strength. I would expect Virginia Tech to win that game…Let’s just hope there’s no lightning.”
AND FINALLY: DANNY COALE. CATCH OR NO CATCH? [Laughs]
“Of course it was a catch. What else am I gonna say?”
Thanks to Chris for his insights. More in the paper this week. Also, if you’re into fiction, check out his e-book, a novel available at amazon.com entitled “I Am the Wolf Man.”
MONDAY HEADLINES: Notre Dame suspends starting running back Cierre Wood for two games…Seahawks cut T.O….Nick Watney wins The Barclays…Ravens cut Pro Bowl kicker Cundiff…Lydia Ko, 15, becomes youngest winner on LPGA Tour…Japan beats Tennessee for Little League World Series title…Vin Scully will return next year for his 64th season as the voice of the Dodgers.
IDENTIFY THE MOVIE
“Go ahead, make your jokes, Mr. Jokey… Joke-maker. But let me hit you with some knowledge. Quit now. Save yourself the embarrassment of losing with these losers in Las Vegas, La Fleur.”
“Alliteration aside, I’ll take my chances in the tournament.”
“Yeah, you will take your chances.”
“I know. I just said that.”
“I know you just said that.”
“Okay, I’m not sure where you’re going with this.”
“Well, I’m not sure where *you’re* going with this.”
“That’s what I said.”
“That’s what I’m saying to *you*.”
NAME THAT TUNE
A man was bothering me today
And I wanted to tell him to go away
But I stood and listened to him anyway, okay
He said he didn’t want to shoot that man
And it was his thing and I wouldn’t understand
And he had done all that he can, okay…