This is the two-weeks-overdue edition of Hokie Tracks, which coincidentally is about the right amount of time for enough interesting football information to accumulate during the summer.
The ACC Network. David Teel wove a myriad of details regarding the ACC's new media agreement with ESPN throughout columns over the last four weeks. In the middle of May Teel wrote, "The ACC and ESPN eventually will team on a new, more lucrative model for presenting the conference's events." In a piece on Wednesday, Teel outlined the need and likelihood for the ACC to play nine conference games to help secure a new media deal.
Indeed, nine games are quite possible if, as expected, the ACC and ESPN agree by year's end to broaden the league's exposure through traditional (cable) and progressive (online streaming) means.
It seems inevitable the ACC and ESPN will strike a new media agreement. The ACC's grant of media rights through 2026-27, approved in 2013, essentially eliminated conference defectors. Meanwhile, a new deal with the Four-Letter should help keep the league on pace with its contemporaries in the Power Five. A cash influx would be beneficial to Virginia Tech, whose collective alumni are among the worst fundraisers in the ACC, and who has to compete regionally for talent with cash heavy powers from the SEC and Big Ten. Thirty-three percent of the Hokies' $80.3 million in revenue in 2014-15 came from the ACC ($26.7 million), and more than half of the top-line was TV money ($217.9mm of $403.1mm).
Regarding scheduling, the transition from an eight- to a potential nine-game ACC football schedule would certainly make Whit Babcock's job more difficult. Tech's scheduled a full slate of four non-conference opponents through 2025, with only a single open slot in 2022. The Hokies' savvy athletic director may be able to void game contracts with ease. However, in the seasons where Tech is doubled, or even tripled up with Power Five opponents on its non-conference slate, exactly which team to drop becomes a tough question to answer. Do Babcock, Justin Fuente, and other stakeholders favor a more winnable or marketable schedule.
In any event, unlike Florida State, Clemson, Louisville and Georgia Tech, the Hokies are fortunate not to play an SEC rival annually. Those arrangements are ones Babcock's counterparts will not be able to wiggle out of. Moreover, with nine ACC games a year Tech would play its rotating opponents in the Atlantic division once every three years. That would mean more frequent appearances by the 'Noles, Tigers and Cardinals on the Hokies' schedule.
If a nine-game ACC football schedule does come to fruition, a logical thing to do would be to use non-conference games to balance it out, e.g. schedule a marque Power Five non-conference opponent in Lane when Tech's fifth road game is at Wake Forest. (I understand the irony and it's delicious.)
Michael Vick documentary set to debut in July. I expect Bleacher Report to produce a polarizing chronicle on the rise, fall and (in progress) redemption of Vick. B/R's video work is among the best online.
Phenom. Star. Icon. Convict. Michael Vick.
"Vick", a B/R documentary, debuts in July.https://t.co/wMFOqpbZ4q
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 2, 2016
Virginia Tech made the cut in Tahj Capehart's top ten. Capehart is a 4-star wide receiver who hails from the 757. Zohn Burden and Holmon Wiggins are tasked to land him for the Hokies.
MY TOP pic.twitter.com/W5pS9nhZGU
— TCSZN (@Tahj__) June 12, 2016
Prior to dropping his top ten, Capehart provided an overview of the schools factoring prominently in his recruitment. He also divulged his plans to end his recruitment either before his upcoming senior season or midseason.
The Hokies have ground to make up in their pursuit of Jordan Williams. The four-star, 757 defensive end plans to commit in August, and he recently provided an in order list of his top-five: Clemson, Virginia, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, and Ohio State.
Kevin Jones resigned as assistant athletics director, special projects and design. Jones will pursue his MBA from Virginia Tech and continue grow his design firm.
"We appreciate the many contributions Kevin has made to Tech Athletics, especially his work in the past two years," Babcock said in a release. "Kevin will remain a great ambassador for the Hokies even though he will no longer be serving in an official capacity. His design concepts on Union Park at English Field, as well as his tireless efforts in transforming the look and feel of the Merryman Center will be lasting contributions to our department for many years to come."
Pursuing a graduate degree and building a business are admirable, and respectable endeavors. As far as Jones' tenure with Tech's administration, it's at best unclear if he was successful at developing relationships with, and ultimately extracting money from, Hokies in the pros — the responsibility of his former role which moved the needle.
Offensive excitement is tempered until a quarterback emerges. The Hokies boast NFL-caliber players at its skill positions. The offensive line the most talented it's been in quite a few years. Head coach Justin Fuente is an offensive guru. However, as David Hale notes, Jerod Evans is the wildcard.
New Hokies coach Justin Fuente played his cards close to his chest throughout spring practice, but it's clear the quarterback with the most upside for Virginia Tech at the moment is Evans, a juco transfer who split first-team reps throughout the spring. Fuente is a whiz with QBs, so there's optimism he can develop Evans quickly. More importantly, the Hokies have a wealth of offensive weapons. Now the question is whether Evans responds this offseason and seizes the starting job during fall camp. If Virginia Tech has its QB, Fuente's rebuilding job might go far more smoothly than many currently expect.
"Nickeil is the best two-way player in Canada," Shane James, the Co-Director of Under Armour Canada Elite, told SNY.tv, "With his 6-foot-6 frame he can defend multiple positions and play multiple positions offensively. His biggest strength is his ability to use and finish with both hands and his feel for the game. The kid's a talent. Reminds me of a young Paul George."
Nickeil Alexander-Walker has pro habits, he is a pro at all times. The kid is laser focused. Virginia Tech got a great one. #GameSpeaks
— Elias Sbiet (@Elias_NPH) June 5, 2016
#Hokies there are 82 days until football season. Redshirt freshman tight end Xavier Burke partook in his second Virginia Tech spring practice since enrolling mid-year in 2015. The former Semper Fidelis All-American was rated the No. 1 prep tight end by 247Sports. There is little established experience at TE on the depth chart after Bucky Hodges, and Burke can work himself into playing time this August for both the 2016 season and beyond. #virginiatech #hokienation