Virginia drummed up plenty of pub during spring football practice. Road shows in Fairfax, Newport News and Richmond. Weekly media gabfests with coach Mike London and a marquee recruiting get the day of a spring game that showcased quarterback Michael Rocco’s potential improvement.
Not about to concede the season to the Cavaliers, Virginia Tech countered with a verbal jab that channeled Steve Spurrier and a half-dozen commitments the day its spring game was canceled due to weather.
All of which is welcome news for the commonwealth’s scribes. While fans of the respective programs accuse us of favoring the Hokies or Cavs, the truth is, we’re better off when the state rivalry is most contentious and competitive.
- Spring game rained out, but Virginia Tech picks up key commitments
- Teel Time: Once his receivers are healthy, Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas will be fine
- Teel Time: Khalek Shepherd, Greyson Lambert produce highlights of Virginia's spring practice at CNU
- Virginia Cavaliers
- Virginia Tech Hokies
See more topics »
More tension creates more interest, clicks and readers. Such intensity prompts more angry feedback (“You’re too stupid to live.”) but as long as the dialogue doesn’t get too nasty – don’t insult my momma – the best audience is the most captive audience.
The Tech-Virginia rivalry has waned recently, simply because the Cavaliers weren’t very good. The Hokies have won the series’ last eight meetings, and even with Virginia markedly better in 2011, Tech rolled, 38-0, in Charlottesville no less.
But there’s no denying Virginia is recruiting better under London, and recruiting is the primary motivation behind the team’s spring road trips. Those appearances, such as last month’s at Christopher Newport University, also spark additional media coverage. Moreover, London makes himself available to virtually any microphone, camera or notebook.
The Cavaliers concluded spring drills with an intrasquad game that drew an estimated crowd of 8,000 to Scott Stadium. Rocco, the incumbent starter, threw for 194 yards without an interception in the scrimmage, which featured 60 passes.
Don’t expect offensive coordinator Bill Lazor to turn Virginia into Texas Tech East, but if Rocco and young, fleet receivers such as Darius Jennings and Dominique Terrell emerge, the Cavaliers’ offense could be more entertaining than a Kardashian marriage.
Perhaps most important, Virginia landed a pledge that day from cornerback Tim Harris of Varina High near Richmond. Tech, Ohio State, Michigan and Tennessee were among other programs to offer Harris, according to Rivals.com
Comparably quiet during much of the spring, Virginia Tech closed strong last week. First came assistant coach Shane Beamer’s Thursday shot.
“I saw where our rival school had 8,000 or something at their spring game, which is a nice little crowd,” Beamer said to reporters after practice, setting off a Twitter back-and-forth among Hokies and Cavaliers faithful.
Beamer didn’t learn to launch such grenades from Frank Beamer, his father and Tech’s normally reticent head coach. But Shane did spend four seasons at South Carolina under Spurrier, the undisputed heavyweight champion of getting under an opponent’s skin.
The Hokies have drawn upward of 40,000 for their spring game, and officials were hoping for even more Saturday before the severe weather. Commitments from five 2013 prospects and one 2014 eased/erased any disappointment over the canceled scrimmage.
Four of the pledges came from Hampton Roads, a region London has mined for 19 signees the past two years. They included Warhill High offensive tackle Parker Osterloh and Salem quarterback Bucky Hodges, the latter a national-caliber prospect who drew offers from Virginia, Ohio State, West Virginia and Illinois.
Cavaliers partisans countered that unlike the Hokies, they didn’t need Hodges. This because they already have an heir apparent quarterback: true freshman Greyson Lambert.
Tech-Virginia doesn’t approach, thank goodness, Auburn-Alabama for vitriol and obsession. But an April dose of football frenzy never hurt anyone.
I can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at email@example.com. Follow me at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDP
Here’s a link to my Daily Press print columns.