Miami and Virginia Tech - After the Departure

2004 marked the first changes in the Big East Football conference since it's inception. The departures of Miami and Virginia Tech for the greener pastures of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) resulted in a big scramble among all the conferences as teams shifted from one to another.

The departures of these two schools from the Big East resulted in mixed opinions among remaining Big East fans. Miami has received plenty of criticism for alleged underhanded tactics in their dealings with the Big East prior to the 2003 announcement. By way of contrast, however, Virginia Tech received less criticism even though they had been initially spurned by the ACC. Many people credit the Governor of Virginia for facilitating the move. For many fans, the height of animosity is reserved for Boston College who broke promises made to the rest of the Big East in accepting a later offer from the ACC. Boston College joins the ACC this year.

How have Miami and Virginia Tech fared so far?

The News

Both teams had a fairly tumultuous off-season filled with reports of scandal. Miami followed up their defeat of Florida State in the BCS FedEx Orange bowl with revelations that top defensive recruit Willie Williams of Miami Carol City High School was on probation and faced felony charges for acts of vandalism and hugging a woman without consent while he was on his official visit to Florida State. Williams pled no contest and received probation. Miami admitted him anyway. In the aftermath, the NCAA placed major new restrictions on official visits aimed at treating the prospects more like "average students" and less like "visiting dignitaries." Call it "The Willie Williams Rule".

Virginia Tech had it's own problems when 20 year old Quarterback Marcus Vick, younger brother of the Atlanta Falcon's Michael Vick was suspended along with other teammates for drinking alcohol with 14 and 15 year old girls. He also received probation and was suspended from the team for a year pending completion of a drug counseling program. During the summer he pled guilty to separate charges of reckless driving and possession of marijuana. Coach Frank Beamer has threatened to kick him out of school if he breaks any more rules.

Football

Miami's 2003 record in the Big East was 11-2. The Hurricane season started on an uncertain note as their first game against ACC foe Florida State was postponed due to a hurricane. but Miami managed to eke out a 16-10 overtime win in the rescheduled game the following week. This started a six game winning streak highlighted by a last-minute touchdown to defeat future Big East member Louisville 41-38 despite allowing Louisville to gain over 500 yards and having to come back from trailing 31-14. In Miami's defeat of Georgia Tech, QB Brock Berlin was pulled in favor of freshman Kyle Wright after Berlin's poor performance in the first 3 games of the season, but Berlin soon came back and led Miami to a 27-3 win. In the second half of their season, however, Miami suffered back-to-back losses to ACC foes North Carolina and and OT loss to Clemson, both of whom finished the season with 6-5 records. 11th Ranked Miami capped the season by defeating #25 Florida in the Peach Bowl 27-10. The Peach Bowl featured a storied Florida rivalry that had last seen Miami win their fifth straight in the series in a 2003 comeback 38-33. The game also featured Miami quarterback Brock Berlin who transferred from Florida after the 2002 season due to lack of playing time.

Virginia Tech's year didn't start off as well, but ended on a high note. After ending 2003 8-5 in the Big East, a preseason poll picked the Hokies to finish in sixth place in the ACC. This was not surprising since Virginia Tech had only 10 returning starters, fewest in the ACC. They started the season by losing two of the first four games against USC and NC State, leaving many doubting that they could even achieve bowl-eligibility. VT then proceeded to win their last eight games including a 19-13 win over West Virginia, a come-from-behind victory over Georgia Tech that included three touchdowns in the last five minutes and a resounding 24-10 defeat of in-state rival Virginia. The Virginia victory was marred by a post-game incident where an "ACC Champions" banner was prematurely waved on the VT sidelines. The Virginia Tech defense led the ACC in points allowed and the Hokies finished with a 9-2 (7-1) regular season record and the top spot in the ACC. They followed up the season by losing to #2 Auburn in the BCS Sugar Bowl.

It is probably fitting that the final game of the regular season matched both former Big East teams for the conference title on December 4th. There was some bad blood after Virginia Tech's 31-7 defeat of Miami in 2003. The Virginia Tech defense was the star in holding Miami's Brock Berlin to 139 yards passing and Frank Gore to 46 yards rushing. In all, Miami was held to only 7 first downs in the defensive struggle. The final score was 16-10 giving Virginia Tech their second straight victory over Miami in their annual match up.

The Aftermath

After the regular football season, Miami had a further disappointment when leading rusher Frank Gore (4.8 y/c) and leading receiver Roscoe Parrish (43 recp for 693 yards, 2 punt return TDs) announced that they would be leaving the team for the NFL draft. With the graduation of QB Brock Berlin Tight End Kevin Everett and Guard Chris Myers, Miami will need to significantly retool their offense in the off season.

After Virginia Tech's season concluded, coach Frank Beamer announced that Marcus Vick had rejoined the team. Vick is expected to compete for the starting job in the spring. Virginia Tech will be largely intact next year with only a handful of key players graduating.

New Jersey Recruiting

On December 14th, Voorhees RB Jahre Cheeseman committed to Virginia Tech. Dakota Walker was also considering Virginia Tech.

In January The Hun School's DT Lugman Abdullah committed to Miami. Brian Cushing and Jerome Hayes both consideried Miami before heading elsewhere.

Analysis

In the end, it was injuries that decided the season. Virginia Tech suffered few critical injuries while Miami had to tend with quite a few.

On defense, Miami played without LB Rocky McIntosh, Willie Williams and DB Rashaun Jones at times. On offense, they lost OL Eric Winston and their top two tight ends Kevin Everett and Greg Olsen (Wayne, NJ). RB Tyrone Moss and Andrew Johnson lost time as well.

Other Sports

In Men's Basketball, neither team has been a powerhouse in recent years. In their last seasons in the Big East, the Hokies had a 15-14 (7-9) record while the Hurricanes went 14-16 (4-12), finishing just one spot over last place in the conference. They have left the rarified air of the Big East Basketball Conference for the lesser domains of the ACC, yet neither team is burning up the courts this season.

Miami has rebounded with an 14-7 (5-5) record to-date. They have defeated ranked Florida (#18), NC State (#24) and most recently Maryland, yet they lost earlier this week to Virginia Tech 73-63. Better ranked teams such as #4 Duke, #6 North Carolina and Wake Forest have walked all over Miami.

Virginia Tech struggled at the start of the season, ending 2004 with a 6-5 (0-1) record. A disappointing loss to former Big East foe St. Johns was embarrassing, but an 85-51 loss to the ACC's North Carolina made it look like the Hokies were destined to be an ACC bottom-dweller. Since New Years day, however, Virginia Tech has begun to show signs of life, going 5-2 in January including a close call 70-69 over #15 Georgia Tech. On January 30th, they fell apart, losing 100-65 against #2 Duke. The record now stands at 12-8 (5-4).

In Woman's Basketball, Miami has posted an 9-11 (2-5) record including a surprising 62-57 win over #18 Florida State last month, but they are near the bottom of the conference. Earlier, the Florida State Women had taken down Virginia Tech 81-78. Their current record stands at 14-6 (3-3). Virginia Tech has done well this season, but has struggled against their new ACC opponents.

Quotable Quotes

"I know in the past I have made some mistakes, but I have learned from these mistakes."

-- Willie Williams, Miami LB who has an arrest record dating to 1999 for theft, burglary and more.

-- ESPN.COM, 7-27-2004, http://sports.espn.go.com/

"The fact of the matter is there is no return to the 'days of misunderstandings,' as I prefer to call it."

-- Miami Athletic Director Paul Dee, referring to the Williams episode in light of Miami's "previous" reputation for recruiting "criminals"

-- ESPN.COM, 7-27-2004, http://sports.espn.go.com/

"It was an interesting and sometimes difficult process. Once we landed, I think we're just blessed that it happened the way that it did and the mix we ended up with."

-- ACC commissioner John Swofford on Virginia Tech & Miami

-- San Francisco Chronicle, Jan 3, 2005 (AP), http://sfgate.com/

"There's no question in my mind -- or was there ever a question in my mind -- that we belonged in the ACC."

-- Virginia Tech athletic director Jim Weaver

-- San Francisco Chronicle, Jan 3, 2005 (AP), http://sfgate.com/

"We're used to being in this position."

-- Virginia Tech defensive end Darryl Tapp on low expectations for the team

-- Bristol Herald Courier, Dec 29, 2004, http://www.bristolnews.com

"We're not going into the bowl game that we exactly wanted to go into."

-- Miami Linebacker Thomas Carroll (2001 Lakewood graduate)

-- Asbury Park Press, Dec 31,2004, http://www.app.com/

 

Mike and the Big Dog LLC

Scarlet Report Top Stories