Sunday, August 05, 2007

Landon goes to Europe

Maryland small forward Landon Milbourne, a probable starter at the position this fall, will tour Europe with a traveling team called the East Coast All Stars this month. The team will play games in Holland and Belgium including a contest against the Dutch national team. Other team members include players from Rutgers, Texas A&M, Kentucky and Georgia Tech. Here is a little morsel to get you excited about Landon.

Around the ACC

Butch Davis is doing his best to bring a little south Florida flavor to Chapel Hill. Two of Carolina's 17th ranked recruiting class have failed to qualify, one of them was 5-star receiver Dwight Jones.

Standout linebacker and short yardage back Brian Toal will likely miss all of the 2007 season for Boston College. Toal injured his shoulder during the 2006 season and missed the spring game after having surgery. New head coach Jeff Jagodzinski indicated Toal will probably use his red shirt this season and come back in 2008.

The Eagles will miss Toal, who was a playmaker, but have two seniors in Jolonn Dunbar and Tyronne Pruitt at linebacker along with the promising sophomore Mark Herzlich. Junior Robert Francois filled in for Toal last season and did a adequate job.

New Miami coach Randy Shannon doesn't know who will be his starting quarterback this fall. He calls Kirby Freeman and Kyle Wright "1A and 1B" quarterbacks. I felt the same way when I awarded Gigli and Battlefield Earth as the 1A and 1B worst movies of all time. Personally I'm cheering for Kirby if only because his name sounds like he should be doing vaudeville in the Catskills.

Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel wonders if Virginia Tech has an image problem with the recent problems of thug life evangelist Michael Vick. Apparently Mandel has forgotten the recent, and not so recent, scandals that Frank Beamer's program has gotten embroiled in. There were the incidents with his younger brother Marcus and two other players that involved allegations of sex with minors. Oh, and he also stomped on another players leg on a national broadcast of the Gator Bowl. Just last year at least two other players were kicked off the team for running afoul of the law including one after he was arrested and charged with armed robbery and drug possession. That is in addition to three other players arrested during the season for various offenses (Chris Ellis, Josh Morgan, Josh Hyman). Who could forget the halcyon days of Hokie thuggery in the mid to late 1990's when over 20 players were arrested in just over a year. Former VT corner Jimmy Williams, who dropped out of the first round in the 2006 NFL draft over concerns that he had "character issues", was arrested on drug charges earlier this year. Safety Aaron Rouse was such a dirty player that I'm thinking of naming a yearly award for on the field goonishness after him. Next Stewart might tell us that there is a new device called the iPod that will sweep across the nation or that invading Iraq might cause some problems. Wake up, my friend. Vick, as despicable and loathsome as he is, is merely a symptom not the disease.

I'm already sick of the sentimentality that surrounds sports these days and I'm sure we'll be bombarded with stories about the Hokie football team being "America's team" and that everyone will be cheering for them. Please, spare me. What does the tragic murder of all those poor college students have to do with a football team? Nothing. Does the Virginia Tech cross country team have any claim on being "America's harriers" or does the swim team have some claim to a maudlin title of their own for that matter? The success of Frank Beamer's football team doesn't change anything about what happened on that terrible day in April. The victims will never grow older while their families continue to grieve, and to imply that the outcome of football games has some meaning in the face of such tragedy is obscene. Find some other way to pay homage to the victims and their families or just pay your respects and move on. Instead there will special patches on uniforms and somber sideline reporters telling stories about how the massacre affected the football players. All of it just another example of how our culture handles the profound events of our time: with empty gestures, phony solidarity and meaningless symbols.


Rich Tandler said...

I'm a Hokie supporter and I half agree with you. The idea that the success or failure of the Tech football team will have any bearing on how the university recovers from 4/16/06 is rather dumb. It will be a media deal and the players will say the right things, but basically they will be out trying to win for themselves.

But your first point, that Tech football is some sort of outlaw program, is way off the mark. Mi. Vick was perfectly clean while he was there. Ma. Vick did get a few chances but they did kick him off the team with a year of eligibility left after he was coming off an all-ACC performance at QB. Yes, some players have gotten into trouble with the law, but that's not a situation unique to Blacksburg. Here are the ESPN NCAA football top stories as of Sunday night:
--Texas players charged with DWI to miss 3 games
--Colorado suspends three players for alleged fight
--Trojans easily open as top team in coaches' poll
--Suspended Gator gets probation in gun incident
--Duke linebacker suspended indefinitely

Five stories, four about players behaving badly, none of them Hokies.

It's not a Tech problem, it's an NCAA problem

Anonymous said...

A bit angry tonight? I like it. I think we have a lot to look forward to with our basketball team, with Gist, Milbourne, and Burney (maybe?) down low, and Hayes and Vazquez in the backcourt. It will be a pretty physical and smart bunch (wow, smarts on a UMD basketball team?). The only question mark will be the bench, as it will be pretty young, but we'll see who can step up.

The football team I think is more of a wild card. The D should be strong as in years past (ex-last year), but once again it will fall on the QB. I think that Portis will win out, but at least no matter what, we'll have some mobility back, and the option will be brought back to the Friedgen offense.

Esquire said...

I appreciate the comments Rich. I stand by my characterization of Frank Beamer's football program. There may be other programs that are as bad or maybe even worse than Virginia Tech but that doesn't change the fact that they have earned a reputation as a football factory where winning is all that matters. Not much has changed at Virginia Tech since they were a symbol of a sports program run amok in the 1990's and I know local law enforcement in southwest Virginia that claim there are active gang members from the Tidewater region on the football team.

Until Frank Beamer is gone I doubt any of this will change.