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If you like this cover, Dave Smith. If you don't like it, Dave Smith.
Saturday, July 27, 2013
Time to re-evaluate one of my long-held assumptions, and it's a biggie. It's the one about the covers of college football media guides.
You see, I've always believed that the cover of a football media guide is a window to that program's soul. If you see an unrecognizable face, they probably got a new coach. If you see some phrase such as "BACK TO BASICS" screaming across the top, they probably had a bad season last year.
Sometimes you see both of those things. That means they're going to be awful.
I believe so strongly about the importance of media guide covers that I've written two entire columns breaking them down. Embedded in my assumption is the belief that the cover is a huge decision every summer for these programs, one involving collaboration from photographers, sports information directors, and, most of all, the head coach. They all have to work together, the assumption goes, to send the perfect message.
"I've got nothing to do with it," said Frank Beamer, whose stern-looking countenance dominates the front of the 2013 Virginia Tech cover.
Wait ... Nothing?
"If you like it, Dave Smith," Beamer said. "If you don't like it, Dave Smith."
Dave Smith is Tech's head SID. He's a great guy and very good at what he does. I love Dave Smith. But with apologies to Dave Smith, nobody wants Dave Smith being the sole provider of the window to the program's soul. (Turns out he's not. Smith says the entire staff collaborated to come up with the cover design, then ran it by associate athletics director John Ballein for final approval.)
"It looks like a long day at the office," Beamer said, scanning the cover photo. "My hair's all messed up."
Yes, yes. But does he like it? Doesn't that determined expression say it all? Doesn't it say something like "You can take that 7-6 record from last year and shove it"?
"I haven't thought of it, to be honest with you," Beamer said. "Do I like it? Uhhhhh..."
Well then. So much for windows, souls and media guide covers. This year, let's actually crack the book open and pull out a few highlights:
Pages 6-7: Only two players on the roster - junior offensive lineman Laurence Gibson and sophomore defensive end Justin Taylor - attended Hargrave Military Academy. So the prep school's April announcement that it is discontinuing its postgraduate football program might not harm the Hokies as much as it might appear.
Page 9: Sophomore receiver Demitri Knowles is described as "as fast as you can get." I'm convinced Beamer at least had a hand in that assessment.
Page 11: The first note on defensive end James Gayle is that he's "highly motivated and has high goals and expectations for himself." You might say that. After getting left off the preseason All-ACC team last week, Gayle tweeted: "Underestimate me this year if you want to and I'm going to wake you up."
Page 13: Freshman Brandon Facyson, who enrolled in January, is listed as the player to watch in the defensive secondary after cracking the two-deep at corner in the spring.
Page 15: The depth chart. Always look for the word "or" to see where the action is. Five offensive positions have co-No. 1s heading into the preseason: split end (D.J. Coles and Joshua Stanford), left tackle (Jonathan McLaughlin and Mark Shuman), left guard (Brent Benedict and Caleb Farris), center (Farris and David Wang) and tailback (J.C. Coleman and Trey Edmunds).
Page 19: In April 2004, Beamer was presented with a Humanitarian Award by the National Conference for Community and Justice for his contributions to fostering justice, equity and community in the Roanoke Valley. No mention of Beamer winning the Montgomery Burns Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence.
Page 22: New offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler says he wants "a mindset of toughness across the board."
Page 24: Sounds like I need to get crackin'. At age 36, Shane Beamer already has coached in nine bowl games. He's two months younger than I am.
Page 26: New offensive line coach Jeff Grimes has four children: Bailey, Garrison, Greydon and Jada. Scouts say he and his wife, Sheri, are still looking to add a right tackle (just kidding).
Page 27: Not including his year as a grad assistant, new receivers coach Aaron Moorehead has three seasons of coaching experience - and has been to three BCS bowls.
Page 34: Lester Carlin is in his 35th year as the Hokies' equipment manager. You probably knew that. But did you know that he's also a member of the Blacksburg Volunteer Fire Department? Says so right here.
Pages 38-80: Player bios. Fourteen Hokies are majoring in apparel, housing and resource management. Now, before you say that's Tech's version of underwater basket weaving, be careful.
Linebacker Jack Tyler is one of the 14 players. He's enrolled in that major for a good reason: Both his parents have enjoyed highly successful careers in real estate. He can also beat all of us up.
Several veteran, key players already have earned degrees, including QB Logan Thomas (human development), CB Antone Exum (finance), LB Tariq Edwards (psychology), OL Andrew Miller (agribusiness), DE J.R. Collins (human development) and OL David Wang (management).
Facyson aspires to be a heart surgeon. Tyrel Wilson's enrolled in chemistry. Marcus Mapp and Greg Gadell are somehow juggling football with engineering.
Pages 81-184: ??? That's probably enough for today. Just remember, if you liked this column, Dave Smith.
If you didn't? Dave Smith.
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