Happy 4th of July

Happy Independence Day y'all! As tradition around here dictates, sack master Bruce Smith accompanies the flag. He's smiling at you, because he's going to eat you.

Imagine this guy in a hot dog eating contest?

Freedom isn't free, so the most appreciative thank you to all the women and men who serve(d) America.

Enjoy eating hot dogs, steaks, cheeseburgers, BBQ, bacon, chili, potato salad, macaroni salad, macaroni and cheese, and whatever else you and your's are preparing until your stomach explodes. Try not to lose any appendages while operating fireworks. Keep it safe on the roads too, don't drink and drive.

It's July, but Here Are a lot of Words About Pitt

This season Virginia Tech will resume playing former Big East foe Pittsburgh. Pitt will be a non-conference road game for Tech in 2012. Moving forward, it's unknown whether Pitt will fulfill the return trip of a home-and-home in 2013, or the Panthers will be ACC members leaving the Hokies likely to head back to Pennsylvania for the second year in a row. As a student I saw the Panthers "upset" the Hokies three straight seasons before Tech joined the ACC. I still can't get over Kevin Jones running wild in 2003 (241 yards, 4 TDs!) only to be bested by Rod Rutherford (and Larry Fitzgerald). I’m anxious for a chance at redemption.

Much like Tech, Pitt's traditionally been a run-first, defensive-minded team, because of which they've historically matched up well against the Hokies. Of the 11 games between the two, 4 have been decided by 7 points or less, and there have only been 3 games decided by 3 or more touchdowns.

The Playoff

The powers that be, conference commissioners and presidents, approved a playoff Tuesday. Finally. Hooray!

Here are my thoughts on the details that are known.

The semifinals will rotate among six bowls. Three games will be played on New Year's Eve, three on New Year's Day. The selection committee will pick all the teams for the six bowls, but because of the bowl tie-ins they will be obligated to take the champions from the SEC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC. The championship will be held the first Monday six or more days after the semis—"Championship Monday". Regarding New Year's Day Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas said, "We're gonna take it back for college football". They did, but they've also occupied New Year's Eve. Like many of you, I've juggled watching the Peach Bowl and celebrating the new year. It doesn't work well, especially when Tech loses. Come 2014, New Year's Eve and Day will be a two-day, all-day, football holiday. Step aside family and friends.

Dadi Nicolas Suspended Indefinitely

Andy Bitter reports Dadi Nicolas is, "suspended indefinitely following arrest last week," and, "will remain suspended until charges are dropped or resolved. AD Jim Weaver will make reinstatement decision."

According to the Montgomery County General District Court public records, Nicolas was charged with "PRINCIPLE 2ND DEGREE - GRND LARCENY: >=$200 NOT PERSN" under VA Code § 18.2-95.

§ 18.2-95. Grand larceny defined; how punished.

Any person who (i) commits larceny from the person of another of money or other thing of value of $5 or more, (ii) commits simple larceny not from the person of another of goods and chattels of the value of $200 or more, or (iii) commits simple larceny not from the person of another of any firearm, regardless of the firearm's value, shall be guilty of grand larceny, punishable by imprisonment in a state correctional facility for not less than one nor more than twenty years or, in the discretion of the jury or court trying the case without a jury, be confined in jail for a period not exceeding twelve months or fined not more than $2,500, either or both.

Nick Dew and Theron Norman No Longer on the Team

Andy Bitter confirms a bit of chatter that had been making its way around the Interwebs for a little while now.

Dew was a 4-star recruit from Virginia Beach that a lot of Hokies had high hopes for. He played 14 snaps at Whip when Tweedy went out with an ankle injury against Boston College. With both Tweedy and G-W out against Duke, UNC and UVa, Dew played just 15 out of 188 defensive snaps. The coaches opted for more Nickel looks / playing Kyle Fuller at Whip. The writing on the wall was when Dew was listed 4th on the spring depth chart at Whip, behind newcomer Ronny Vandyke. Not only does a player have to be athletic enough to cover the field and make tackle after tackle at Whip, but Bud Foster needs to trust him. It's a bit of thinking man's position, where decisions need to happen instantaneously. It's a hard position to recruit for, and play well.

Theron Norman played just 11 snaps in 2011, and finished buried on the spring depth chart behind Kyshoen Jarrett/Detrick Bonner and Boye Aromire.

A Look Back to the famed Hokie Wide Tackle Six Defense and How It Influenced The Current Hokie Scheme

As some of you may remember, Virginia Tech rose to prominence in the early 90's on the back of elite special teams, a grind-it-out conservative offense, a state of the art weight training program, and most significantly, on the back of a radical defensive approach that took recruits that nobody wanted and turned them loose like the dogs of war on opposing defenses.

Derrick Hopkins Playing Soccer Is Today's Best Picture

OH HAI!

/looks at picture
//SMILES SO HARD

It's mostly because of the look on Skip's face; kid in a candy shop. Also, I'm picturing the girl as Tajh Boyd. Skip haters-gonna-hate-strutting his way towards wrapping her up for a sack.

There's more to it though. Derrick is one of ten students who traveled to the Dominican Republic to study abroad and help lead a youth camp this summer. As best as I can tell after reading through the Ut Prosim: Self-Motivation and Leadership Discovery class blog, the camp hosts about 64 kids and the goal is to use sports as a means to teach health education.

BREAKING: 70 Days Until Kickoff

Tech plays two non-conference BCS opponents outside of Lane Stadium, and draws the two best teams from the Atlantic Division (or maybe the entire ACC). Other than a break at the end of October —which will be spent preparing for back-to-back Thursday night games— the team doesn't have many opportunities to step back for a breath of air. Duke? They always play the Hokies tough (or Tech doesn't take them seriously, either way it's close). Austin Peay? Beating any team on five days rest is a challenge. It's an unforgiving, but manageable schedule. As I look it over, I believe getting out of Death Valley with a "W" will be the toughest challenge. The Tigers are talented, have schemes on both sides of the ball that give Tech fits, and they hold a two-love mental advantage.

Seventy will forever be linked to Clemson. Remember the '12 Orange Bowl. I hate acknowledging West Virginia being successful (y'all know where the Black Diamond Trophy's at), but they showed the Tigers were anything unlike the world-beaters we made the out to be last year. Georgia Tech, NC State, and South Carolina all agree.

Danny Coale is an Animal Champion

This is a talk Danny Coale gave to a group of kids at the Homerun Club.

Watch this from beginning to end (first 8 minutes is Coale's speech, the rest is Q&A). He gives insight into 2010's 0-2 start and ACC Championship finish, the Frankinator, the "Catch", his path going through recruiting process and becoming a I-A football to NFL player, and more. It goes without saying: 1) this kid is a winner, and 2) the Hokies are really going to miss him on the field and in the locker room next year. Whenever his NFL career is over, I hope he finds his way back to Blacksburg as a coach.

Hokie Tracks Still Don't Have a Ring

Will someone please think of the "BC-Mess" headlines. The worst acronym is college sports is dead.

One source indicated that the old name couldn't be attached to a playoff that will "eventually" be bigger than the Final Four and second only to the Super Bowl in terms of this nation's sporting events. The term "BCS" simply had too much of a negative connotation. The commissioners couldn't afford for the controversies attached to the "Bowl Championship Series" to accompany major college football's first playoff.

Meanwhile, the upcoming playoff is getting more finalized by the day.

Following Wednesday's four-hour meeting in the Intercontinental Hotel, the BCS commissioners emerged together and announced -- in the "Camelot Room" of all places -- they had "developed a consensus behind a four-team seeded playoff."

That model, multiple sources told CBSSports.com, would be the "best four teams" chosen by a selection committee with the committee putting emphasis on conference champions.

Thoughts on Drew Harris Prepping at Fork Union

And now it's official.

Harris will attend Fork Union Military Academy for a year to improve his academics before attempting to enroll again in college, a long-rumored decision that was finalized in the last week.

"He's got a really good test score, but he didn't have a great semester in the classroom, so he came up a little short," said Hokies running backs coach Shane Beamer, who was Harris' primary recruiter.

Back in March I was giddy when 6-foot-1-inch Harris said he was "small" at 210 and wanted to play at 220. A big bodied back with a patient running style might be able to win the starting job in August. At the very least he'd push the competition. Of course that was assuming his knee is 100%, which by all accounts it is, but you never know.  Even though I mentally projected him as a key contributer this fall, I'm not freaking out that he won't be here.

My reasoning:

Three Red Shells

So there is a race in the ACC to see who can become the league's premier quarterback. Ten-and-a-half teams are returning their starter (pouring some out for Jacory, Jacory's interceptions, and Danny O'Brien), and are coming off seasons ranging from solid to career changing.

And so, I want to take a look at this race before Dinich writes a 12-part series of posts titled "A Countdown of ACC QB's". To appropriately analyze, I'm bringing together two parts of my life that I love: college football, and Mario Kart '64.

Oh yeah, that's right. Over the last 12 years, I think I've devoted more hours to these subjects, than my studies. Naturally, I’m comparing the two. Before you can watch the "race" for the ACC's top quarterback unfold, you need to know who the participants are.

As you (should) know, there are 8 characters in Kart, so naturally I had to leave four quarterbacks off the big board. Condolences to C.J. Brown, Chase Rettig, Bryn Renner and Tanner Price, each of you were close to making the cut but were beat out in the end.

So without further ado... start your engines (yep... I'm that lame).

Mario– Logan Thomas

Hokie Tracks are on the West Coast

Bruce Feldman profiled Logan Thomas. By now, most of you know Thomas' story: tight end to quick learning, sucessful quarterback. Even though the narrative remains unchanged, it's great to see LT3 get national attention.

Mike Barber wrote a nice Father's Day piece on Frank and Shane Beamer. Both Beamers seem to hint that the next coach is already on the current staff. That doesn't surprise me considering the Frankinator's loyalty to his staff and the family-like atmosphere of the program. When the time comes, I'm in favor of a national search. That effort may find Shane or Torrian, my one and two respectively from the current staff, as the best candidate. Keep in mind, this will probably be Jim Weaver's replacement's hire.

Linebacker Jamieon Moss Commits to Virginia Tech

Here's a bit of a surprise tonight. As first reported by HokieHaven.com, linebacker Jamieon Moss (Northeastern / Elizabeth City, NC), a former ECU commit, verbaled to the Hokies late Friday evening.

Moss making an open field tackle. Photo Credit: The Daily Advance

Sammy Batten of Bonesville.net posted an informative article about Moss.

Moss stands 6-foot-3, weighs about 217 pounds and has been timed at 4.61 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He used those skills to collect 107 tackles, eight tackles for loss and three sacks to earn All-Northeastern Coastal 2-A/3-A Conference honors last season.

The 2011 season was Moss' second as a varsity starter at Northeastern. He helped the 2010 squad reach the state 2-AA championship game as a sophomore.

This is Moss' high school coach Antonio Moore on his star.

Moss plays the "Stabber" position in Northeastern's 4-4 defensive alignment. "We put him on the outside and just let him make plays for us," Moore said.

IMPORTANT: 80 Days Until Kickoff

The sun kisses Lane goodnight.

Photo Credit: Max Esterhuizen

By uniform number, it's Demitri Knowles. Last season Knowles dressed for a couple of games because of injuries, but didn't play a snap his freshman year. However, there's an opportunity for playing time in 2012 at both kick returner and receiver. Finding a reliable 4th, OK and 5th and 6th, receiver in August will be a top priority. If you know one factoid about Knowles, likely it's that he's fast. He ran the fastest 40 in March, a 4.28. He was a raw talent out of high school, but is working on polishing his game. He's another diamond in the rough prospect that has the potential to thrive at Tech. If he can run solid routes, and read coverage better, he'll be counted on to stretch the field. If he takes another year develop, he'll likely have more of an impact shagging balls on special teams.

Hokie Tracks Played Super Smash Bros. Melee over their Summers

Mike Goforth updated BeamerBall.com on injuries. ACL Bros Michael Via, Tony Gregory and Antoine Hopkins are fully cleared for participation. That's fantastic news. D.J. Coles (PCL) is "coming along slowly", but he started jogging and Goforth said, "I have my fingers crossed that we can have him ready to go by the time camp opens." If Coles isn't ready by camp, then it's concerning. We're already extremely thin at receiver, and Coles may be the best we have. Tariq Edwards is jogging, and his rehab is on schedule to be ready by the start of the season. G-W is running and, "pretty much beating everybody at his position." Competition at Whip this summer is going to be the best it's been in three years. Bruce Taylor is rehabbing his right foot at home in Myrtle Beach. Goforth said, "I think Bruce is doing fine." And, "Something tells me that when it matters he'll be ready to go." Is that a vote of confidence?

Preseason practice starts August 7th in Blacksburg.

Oh Hello Again Sue Estroff

A little over a month ago an internal investigation revealed evidence of academic fraud (unauthorized grade changes, no-show professors, forged certification documents) in UNC's Department of African and Afro-American Studies. However, the findings of that report didn't suggest that only student athletes were the beneficiaries of the cheating.

The report, released Friday, evolved from the athletic and academic scandal that engulfed UNC's football team, but it said there is no evidence that student-athletes received more favorable treatment than students who were not athletes. It also said that no student received a grade without doing course work. The report has been shared with the NCAA, which could not be reached for immediate comment.

That may no longer be the case. The following was published by NewsObserver.com Friday.

A summer class at UNC-Chapel Hill that lacked any instruction was enrolled exclusively with football players – and it landed on the school calendar just days before the semester started, university records show.

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