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Colleges Need To Pay Attention Or Risk Having A Kodak Moment

This morning, I was working on the details of a focus group I will be involved in later today, where I will work with an organization to help determine what their brand really is, what they believe differentiates themselves in the market, and what they think people really value them for.

As is usually the case, I jotted down a few stories to illustrate what we will try to accomplish, and for most marketing people, the story of Kodak usually makes an appearance. That iconic company was known by everyone because of their success in the area of film and cameras, and they actually invented the first digital camera in 1975. Thanks to that invention, we now carry and capture all of our favorite memories on something as small as our phones.

But Kodak eventually went bankrupt in 2012. They thought their unique ability in the marketplace was making film and cameras instead of capturing all those memories. Others (like people who build phones) did see that, and developed products that made most of what Kodak was selling obsolete.

The story immediately reminded me of what’s going on in sports these days. Turn on a television and you will see more and more fans dressed up as empty seats. Whether it’s college football, pro football, auto racing, etc., Athletic Directors and Team owners – to use a bad pun – are not getting the picture.

Just one month ago, I returned to my alma mater at Virginia Tech to see a football game between the Hokies and Notre Dame, the first time I've done that in three years. Even though the Hokies lost, it was a fantastic time. It was a chance to see dozens of old friends, experience the electricity of "Enter Sandman" as the team made its way into the stadium, tailgate with some great people, etc. The experience - and the related memories - were what made it great.

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It's Time To Admit To Myself Something About Virginia Tech Football

It’s the day after another bad Virginia Tech loss. You’d think by now, I’d be getting really good at handling this sort of situation.

But yesterday’s loss really bothers me. This one showed me something I guess I’ve sort of known in the back of my mind, but the maroon and orange parts of my brain kept keeping it from rising to the surface.

I can’t ignore it any more.

It all centers around the state of the team in the third quarter of yesterday's game for the Hokies against Boston College. Virginia Tech played the first half with emotion, aggressiveness and momentum, and each good play seemed to feed that and create another good play. The team was confident, and they seemed to be having fun.

From the time they left the locker room at halftime, however, all of those elements were gone, specifically on offense. That's when the game for all intents and purposes was lost.

I'm not a guy who calls for people to be fired, as I don't know what was really called, what an athlete didn't execute, or what a quarterback did or didn't see when a play didn't work. I tend to judge those kinds of conversations as none of my business.

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Recent Comments
Guest — Wade Johnson

Not ready to make that concess...

Nobody is more disappointed than I am, just ask my wife, but I have been to the games and what I see on offense and defense is dif... Read More
Monday, 05 November 2018 08:49
Dave Scarangella

Totally agree with that last s...

Not going to a third-rate bowl game because you barely got to 6 wins isn't going to be that big a letdown. But as far as recruitin... Read More
Monday, 05 November 2018 08:57

Hokie Fans The Morning After Ga. Tech Debacle: Dazed & Confused

It’s the morning after Georgia Tech’s romp through Blacksburg, and it seems like most Hokie fans are feeling like the Virginia Tech defensive line played last night.

Dazed and confused.

That Georgia Tech would win the game was not a huge surprise to those who have followed Virginia Tech for any length of time. That they would treat the Hokie defense the same way Alabama did back in 1973 when the Crimson Tide won 77-6 WAS a big shock.

This was like watching a high school game where one team was clearly superior to the other. One team just lined up and ran the same 5 or 6 plays over and over again, as if to tell their opponent “here it is, try to stop it.” Virginia Tech couldn’t. It was so dominating, Georgia Tech didn’t complete a single pass and still put up 49 points. They only attempted one pass, as their running game was so dominant, they didn’t need to throw it.

It’s not like they didn’t know what was coming, either. Georgia Tech’s old-school triple option offense has bedeviled the Hokies for years. Over the last four years, the Yellow Jackets have lost 23 games, so there are teams out there who have figured out how to deal with it. But to Virginia Tech, it has been kryptonite.

Last night may have been the worst of the performances.

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No, Brits, This Is Not What Americans Typically Eat At Football Games

I normally stay out of the whole "fake news" debate. If a story doesn't seem all that accurate, I just leave it alone and let others offer a counter opinion.

But I had to draw a line on this one. As you can see, Darren Rovell is reporting from London, where the NFL was playing its annual game this morning. He says the the above picture is what the British are being told is authentic football fare: A two-foot long Mac & Cheese dog at Wembley Stadium today.

This, of course, is patently untrue. I don't know ANYONE who would put ketchup on macaroni & cheese ????

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It May Be Dallas Week, But Rivalry Rode Off Into The Sunset Long Ago

Today the Washington Redskins play the Dallas Cowboys. Commercials are hyping the game as if it's a really big deal.

CBS has moved the game to the 4:25 window so most of the nation can see it. I’ve heard Dan Snyder is manipulating the ticket availability so he can squeeze one more drop of blood from every stone called a “Washington Redskins Fan.” TV and radio are playing clips from years past to remind everyone how intense the rivalry has been, and how important the game should be.

Only problem is, it’s not.

I mean, it certainly was at one time. George Allen hated the Cowboys and circled the dates of the games on the calendar every season. Year after year, all of us got tired of just missing the playoffs because the Redskins couldn’t figure out how to get around those guys with the Big Blue Star. Joe Gibbs planned for months in the offseason how to beat "America's Team."

But that was a long, long time ago.

The clip that plays the most when the wizards of television take us back in time on these nostalgic journeys is the one involving the fans at RFK, bouncing up and down, going crazy, and chanting “We Want Dallas.” That was in 1982.

36 years ago.

The days of Roger Staubach breaking our hearts, Clint Longley ruining our Thanksgiving dinner,  Daryl Grant creating what felt like an earthquake at RFK when the crowd exploded as he intercepted a tipped pass by Gary Hogeboom and returned it for a touchdown…those all happened in the same time frame or earlier.

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After Today's UVA Win Over Duke, The Rivalry May Finally Be Back

I have been warning my Virginia Tech friends that they need to watch out for Virginia, because this year they have a good quarterback in Bryce Perkins, a fast receiver in Olamide Zaccheaus and a couple of good defensive backs in Juan Thornhill and Joey Blount.

But secondary to that is what I’m seeing every week. The team in Charlottesville is buying into what Coach Bronco Mendenhall is selling, and with each win, their confidence is growing.

Last week it was No. 16 Miami. Today it was Duke in Durham.

I’m not sure how much credit to give for the win because the Blue Devils could arguably be the worst 5-1 team to walk this earth. Pro scouts seem to like quarterback Daniel Jones, but all he showed today is that he has a strong arm that allows him to throw interceptions into double coverage much farther down the field.

Duke’s offensive line didn’t help him any either, as they protected their quarterback the way I exercise: Not very well and not very often.

But it was a win. The Cavaliers are 5-2, they play their next three games at home, and will probably be even more confident by the time they come to Blacksburg at the end of the season. For 14 years, the Wahoos have had a tendency to get late into games with Virginia Tech and start thinking “how are we going to lose THIS year.”

That’s not going to happen this year. They have some balance. They believe. And no matter what the most hard-core of Hokies wants to believe, they have a good football team.

They do have weaknesses. The biggest has been in the kicking game, but they seem to have found one in Brian Delaney. He was their kickoff man until last week, when they used him as the placekicker against Miami. He responded with three field goals, including a 46-yarder, and the Chantilly kicker was the toast of the media circuit this week because of it.

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I Guess I've Put Off Writing This Story Long Enough...

Well, it’s been about 10 days, and I guess I’ve put off writing this long enough. It’s a tough story to write, but if you’re a dog person, you’ll understand.

My wife and I have always been dog people. We both had dogs growing up, and shortly after we got married in the early 80s, I struck up a conversation with the neighbor’s golden-german shepherd mix. We had a deal. When I got out of my car (where we lived you parked on the street) “Happy” would let out an adorable half-growl, half-bark, and I in return would come to the fence and hug her head.

Over the next few months, snacks and conversation got mixed into the deal, and her owner seemed to notice. One day there was a knock on my door and the owner asked a favor. She was moving, she explained, and could not take the dog with her. Would I like to be Happy’s new Dad?

For the next six years, Happy was our dog. Her passing was one of the sadder days in our lives, but a month later, we got a call from a friend who had a fraternity brother who had just graduated college. He had a 1-year-old black lab, and he too was moving to a place that wouldn’t allow dogs. So “Butch” came to our home and quickly healed a few broken hearts.

Butch came to us well-trained. Tell him to stay, he’d not move for hours. He had been raised in a fraternity of guys, so he immediately reacted to my male voice. You could walk with him without a leash because he was so obedient, as a simple expression got him to do what you needed him to do.

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Recent comment in this post
Guest — Marta Palos

Beautiful story

Dave, my condolences to you and your family. You're correct, as a dog person, I totally get it. My little guy is turning 16, and ... Read More
Wednesday, 17 October 2018 00:39

Five Things I Learned Watching Virginia Tech Rally To Beat UNC

Virginia Tech’s comeback win over North Carolina last night was one of those games where Hokie fans should be glad the standings have only columns for wins and losses, and not areas where a game can be judged as “pretty”, “ugly” or “lucky.”

As a result, the Coastal Standings of the Atlantic Coast Conference only show that Virginia Tech is 3-0 in league games, in first place, and has a one-game lead over Miami and Virginia. But last night’s game showed more than that; here are five things I learned in watching them last night:

1. This team has heart. Yeah, I know everybody says that about their team. But last night they found themselves in a situation where only two miracles would prevent them from losing the game. They were late in the 4th quarter. A North Carolina touchdown – given the way Virginia Tech’s defense had played all evening – was a virtual certainty. That TD would have given UNC a two-score lead, and there wasn’t enough time for the Hokies to counter. The only thing that would grasp defeat from the jaws of victory for the Tar Heels would be either an interception – and there was no way UNC was going to throw the ball so close to the goal line – or a Virginia Tech defensive player came up with a hard hit or a strip of the ball that resulted in a fumble. Realistically speaking, the odds of that happening were right up there with a super model giving me a call during a timeout and asking what I’m doing after the game.

But it happened (no, not the thing with the super model). Safety Tyree Rodgers put his helmet into the midsection of UNC running back Michael Carter – who had run through the Virginia Tech defense all night with the same ease most of us would walk through a shopping mall – and the ball popped up in the air. Cornerback Jovonn Quillen grabbed it, dropped it, grabbed it again, then fell down on the two yard line. Half the miracle was done, but now the other half – having this offense go 98 yards – had to happen.

Coaches tell you in practice all the time that you can do things like this, but they rarely happen. The Hokies DID drive the length of the field, they DID score the winning touchdown, and they DID add a two-pointer to make sure a field goal didn’t beat them in the final minute. Such is the stuff legends are made of, and is also the stuff confidence, belief and heart are made of. There were probably players on the field who hoped they could do something like this, but didn’t really know if they could.

Now they know. Which could be a huge asset down the road this season.

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Remember WAGE? Well, The Station It Became Has Just Been Sold...

If you’ve been around Loudoun County for any length of time and followed local radio, you may find this a bit interesting.

It comes from website www.dcrtv.com, and notes that “Herndon-based Potomac Radio Group is buying WCRW, 1190, in Leesburg and WUST, 1120, Washington, from Falls Church-based Potomac Radio.” Selling price for each was $750,000.

If you ever followed the escapades of Leesburg’s WAGE, that station eventually became WCRW. Potomac Radio purchased WAGE, promising to keep it local, but ended up combining it with another station they owned so they could up the power and create a 50,000-watt powerhouse AM signal. The company had owned the 1190 frequency, and WAGE was on 1200, so one of them had to go. They were combined into the 1190 frequency.

To get the tower approval to up the power to 50,000 watts, these owners again had to persuade the community they would continue with local programming, which they did. But shortly after they got the approval they had long wanted, they abandoned those notions and became a brokered station for China Radio International. Such brokered programming is exactly what their other station – WUST 1120 – did. It was if that had been their plan from the very beginning.

The reason for the sale now is obvious. The owner of the company died in June of 2015, and the contract with China Radio International, according to DCRTV, is due to expire at the end of the year. The station would almost have to start over from scratch in terms of format and revenue stream, which usually makes the conditions right to sell to somebody else and let them come up with a new plan.  

It brings to a close a long and interesting chapter in local radio that I had a front row seat for, having been WAGE’s General Manager for about a year and a half before all this happened. Not familiar with WAGE? Well, here is something I wrote about them on their 50th anniversary back in 2008:

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They Finally Did It...

They Did It

After a long and bumpy road, The Washington Nationals finally won the World Series. And made an old man in Ashburn cry...

Never Grow Old...

Never Grow Old

A trip to Spring Training reminded me we're all still kids at heart, and no matter how old, you keep playing until they get you out.

Gone But Never Forgotten...

Doodle

My faithful dogs probably rode shotgun on hundreds of stories I've written since 2003. This one is for you, Doodle & Schnoodle.

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