Monday, April 30, 2012

Hokies Hire Former Assistant James Johnson as Head Basketball Coach

What a strange two weeks it's been.

James Johnson was just beginning his new job as an assistant coach at Clemson when Seth Greenberg was unceremoniously fired in a move that baffled the entire college basketball world.

Now, after being spurned by a number of potential suitors with "bigger" names, Tech athletic director Jim Weaver wiped the egg from his face just long enough to find Johnson's phone number and get him to come back to Blacksburg.

Let it be clear, I think Johnson will be a good choice. He was Tech's top recruiter during his five seasons under Greenberg. He was the lead recruiter on Robert Brown, C.J. Barksdale, Cadarian Raines and Erick Green. The team, not surprisingly is very excited with the choice.

 Erick Green tweeted, Yessss I’ll be back next year  and Cadarian Raines added via the often non-sensical social platform, I'm happy as hell right now!! #Hokies.

Much of the rest of the team expressed similar sentiments, so it would appear the bulk of the current players will remain at Tech which was becoming a serious question mark the longer the search for a head coach continued.


Johnson is a Virginia native and played his college ball about an hour away from Blacksburg at Ferrum College.

He knows the area well having been an assistant at Ferrum, Longwood, Hargrave Military Academy, Old Dominion and George Mason just in the Commonwealth alone. There were also stops at College of Charleston, Penn State and Elon.

He has loads of experience as an assistant at schools of various sizes and locations and his local knowledge and connections in the mid-atlantic should help Tech keep recruiting on roughly the same level as under Greenberg.

Speaking of Seth, he had this to say regarding Johnson in last year's basketball media guide:

“JJ is the elder statesman of our staff and is tremendously invested in Virginia Tech basketball. He is one of the elite recruiters in all of college basketball and a terrific on-floor coach. His genuine concern for our student athletes and their development both on and off the court is well documented. He is a head coach waiting to happen.” — Seth Greenberg

Time will tell how things work out for JJ, but given the horrible position the program was put in by the athletic department's timing, this is probably a best case scenario.

Tech simply wasn't going to attract a big name, certainly not the people rumored to be involved. The job is hard to begin with and Jim Weaver just proved what kind of support at a successful hoops coach can expect at Virginia Tech if things turn slightly sour.

To those concerned that Johnson wasn't Tech's top choice, fear not. Seth Greenberg was at least Weaver's fifth choice during the last coaching search (names like Lon Kruger and Jim Baron come to mind). He lucked into something with Seth, and may just do it again.

No thanks to timing.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Seth Greenberg Fired In Awkward Press Conference

Seth Greenberg was fired Monday during a bizarre press conference that was scheduled before the coach was even notified that his “contract had been terminated”.

The second-winningest men’s basketball coach in Virginia Tech history was let go after a nine-season run in Blacksburg and a 170-123 overall record.

Greenberg’s most impressive feats were his 61-67 mark in ACC play and three victories over the No. 1 ranked team in the country (Duke, UNC, Wake Forest).

He lifted Tech a notch or two as he stewarded Tech’s transition into the ACC, but things had stalled a bit and Greenberg was not without his faults as a coach.

That said, the callousness with which this firing materialized is surprising.

Greenberg deserved to know last week when athletic director Jim Weaver was suddenly overcome by an epiphany that Seth isn’t on the same page with him and the Tech athletic department family.

You can’t praise Tech’s family atmosphere in one breath and then cut ties with a coach who was doing his job, hosting a recruit the day you fired him.

If nothing else, it makes the athletic department look like a bunch of bumbling fools trying to jack up the website hits by teasing the presser for a fired coach.

Jim Weaver may not have thought this out

At best it’s inconsiderate and unfair, at worst it’s a calculated, cold-blooded move.

It’s hard to say any of this is calculated though. Many surmised that Weaver must have had someone ready to take the job already by making this move a month after most coaching moves occurred.

That doesn’t appear to be the case so far and that’s no surprise.

Some 40 schools have hired a new coach already this offseason. As Ken Pomeroy tweeted yesterday, “If you're firing your coach on April 23, that coach better have done some Brad Greenberg-type stuff. Otherwise, awful move.”

That is of course a reference to Seth’s brother Brad who got in some trouble during his brief stint as the head coach just down the road at Radford.

There’s never been anything to indicate Seth cut corners. He was aggressive in recruiting and had to work harder than a lot of coaches to overcome the various obstacles Tech faces in an area dominated by ACC flagship schools like Duke and North Carolina.

Seth Greenberg was exactly what Tech needed for a time, a firey, brash personality who wasn’t afraid to stick his nose in the face of Coach K and to challenge the ACC elite.

The players bought in and realized Virginia Tech wasn’t just a bottom of the league program as many had predicted, but a team capable of finishing in the top third.

It’s no surprise that over time Seth’s personality wore thin with people. Blacksburg isn’t used to big personalities. We’re used to ‘aw shucks’ Frank Beamer and the rock and stability of the football program.

Seth Greenberg is one of the most demonstrative and entertaining coaches to watch.

Still, I will remember Seth for the excitement and energy that he infused in a dormant program.

I loved his sometimes brutally honest media relations and can’t wait to see him on ESPN. He will instantly be their best analyst when they or some other network hires him.

He has two ACC Coach of the Year awards, one NCAA Tournament appearance and a plethora of NIT bids to show for his time storming up and down the sideline in Cassell Coliseum.

Many of the most exciting athletes in Hokie hoops history have come through during Seth’s time, and he leaves having helped build a beautiful multi-million dollar basketball practice facility that has helped make Tech’s facilities relevant.

Say what you will about Greenberg, love him or hate him, he gave Virginia Tech everything he could and did a great deal to advance the program.

If you can’t see that, you’re certifiably insane.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Hokies Have A Big Day Despite Weather

Virginia Tech's annual Maroon-White spring football game was cancelled Saturday due to lightning in the Blacksburg area.

It was still a big day for the football program despite the weather. The game was to be televised by ESPN3, a program first, and featured approximately 75 high school prospects in attendance.

Though there was ultimately no game, recruits got an idea what Blacksburg is like on a game day as the atmosphere was essentially the same.

Several recruits chose Saturday as the chance to make their verbal commitments to coach Frank Beamer and staff, with 6 players committing to the Hokies.

Perhaps the most important was 6-6 junior quarterback Bucky Hodges from Virginia Beach.

Bucky Hodges is one of 9 players committed for the 2013 recruiting class.

Hodges was Tech's top QB target and looks the part of a Hokie quarterback during the second-half of the Beamer era; he's mobile.

He chose the Hokies over scholarship offers from Ohio State, Vanderbilt, Virginia and West Virginia among others.

During his sophomore campaign, Hodges completed 119 of 199 passes for 1,602 yards with 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He also added 438 yards and 8 scores on the ground.

His 40-time is somewhere around 4.6 depending on which online resource you consult. Regardless, on film he looks more agile than current Tech starter Logan Thomas who is a sneaky-fast bruiser.

The Hokies also picked up a commitment from Hodges' Salem High School teammate, linebacker Andrew Motu'apuaka.

Motu'apuaka has expressed interest in pursuing a mechanical engineering degree.

Standing 6-0, 210-pounds Motu'apuaka projects as a whip linebacker at Tech. During his junior season, Motu'apuaka tallied 97 tackles and three interceptions.

He also had an offer from Stanford.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Jack White Set To Release Blunderbuss

Jack White is a strange man, but you can't deny he's also an awesome man.

White is best know for his work in the White Sripes, a generally excellent and undeniably successful group.

White's efforts with The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather have been well-received, but I think fans were looking forward to a true solo effort at some point.

The time has come and it couldn't have come sooner.

"I've put off making records under my own name for a long time but these songs feel like they could only be presented under my name," White has said of the album.

"These songs were written from scratch, had nothing to do with anyone or anything else but my own expression, my own colors on my own canvas."

The project started years ago when RZA of Wu-Tang Clan failed to show up to a recording session with White. Since he was already there, Jack recorded a few tracks with the band and that developed into Blunderbuss, out for release April 24.

Blunderbuss is out April 24 via White's Third Man Records in association with XL Recordings and Columbia Records

The seemingly inevitable Internet leak has already happened so you can currently stream the entire album for free on iTunes.

After listening to songs like "Sixteen Saltines" and "Love Explosion" a few times when they were released and giving the rest a once over, it's safe to say Jack White the solo artist is a familiar animal.

The songs are cool and a little weird, kind of like the music video below. It's strange fare, but we've come to expect the a-typical from White.

Whether it's releasing elaborate boutique vinyl on his own record label or only appearing in the "Sixteen Saltines" video for about 30 seconds, White keeps us guessing.

As an added bonus Jack keeps making good music and taking on cool projects like Blunderbuss.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Bubba Watson Now Owns An Enormous Green Jacket

Bubba Watson visibly battled nerves, the course, and a man known to many as "Shrek" Sunday afternoon to win the 76th Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Course.

You all watched so I won't recap the entire thing, but dang! It makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside to see a guy struggling to keep the ball in the fairway still somehow come away with the victory.

It also helps when it's one of the largest, funniest, most powerful hitters on tour doing it.

Major credit to Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen who played absolutely brilliant Sunday. His nerves popped up as well at the wrong time, but his round was fantastic and he seems like another great guy who enjoys himself out there (most of the time).

You have to love the outburst of emotions at the end for Mr. Watson too. I know the roller coaster I was on for the last hour. It makes you wonder how these guys don't just bottle up and explode at the most crucial moment.

Now, I'm probably just turning into a cranky old man, but Jim Nantz has worn thin on me. All his broadcasts amount to him pontificating about moments that haven't even happened yet. He theorizes and attempts to qualify everything in hushed tones as a grand historical contest.

"Hello friends, and what would this mean for the young man from Georgia? Could he be the next Jimmy Demaret? Let's go out to Verne Lundquist who's napping on the 16th hole..."

And then Jim makes Bubba cry again in Butler Cabin.

"I bet you really miss your brand new kid and super tall wife. What's it like being separated from them during your most important professional accomplishment?" Cue the waterworks.

I was instantly reminded of Jerry Macguire and the ongoing joke that ESPN's Roy Firestone made everyone on his show cry. Lay off our Bubba Nantz!

A few more props are due for the rest of the Golf Boys, the PGA's exclusive boy band.

For those who somehow don't know, the group features Bubba Watson, Ben Crane, Rickie Fowler and Hunter Mahan.

All of them finished tied for 27th or better and including Bubba's $1.4 million paycheck, the group made a touch under $1.8 million for the week. That's okay.

Now you must view or re-view the official music video for their song "Oh, Oh, Oh" and watch the behind the scenes stuff. Almost as good as the actual video. Hilarious, plus it all helps charity.

Also, remember these tips the next time you're at a wedding reception or just dancing in the street: "steeeck, steeeck, bounce, bounce" and "HALLLOo0o0o!!!? ESCUSE ME!? .... we are closed for business!"

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Hush Y'all, Tiger Woods Is Back

Tiger Woods is back, kind of.

I consider this Tiger 3.0, the latest reboot in a career filled with changes.

First, there was the original Tiger. That was the brash kid doing impossible things with a flash and swagger not seen since the days of Arnold Palmer. Hello world.

Then Tiger became the youngest player to win The Masters and, naturally, decided to completely rebuild his swing to improve his distance control, consistency and kinesiology.

Who does that?

No one before him analyzed things like the human kinetics of the golf swing. Golfers didn’t work out like maniacs or sign enormous endorsement deals. Tiger changed everything and made the tour the lucrative endeavor it is today.

As he grew older, his body began to strain from the unheard of forces his powerful cuts produced. Kinesiology can only do so much, eh?

His left knee is mush, having caved under the pressures of his 130-MPH swings circa 2000.

He’s tweaked, pulled or torn almost all the tendons and ligaments he has, and oddly enough it may have benefited him.

Tiger has had to change the way he plays. He can no longer rely on his power “reserves” to reach back and launch one. He’s slowly realizing, he doesn’t need to do that.

The more manageable swings still produce lengthy drives, but lo, his accuracy has improved!

It’s a small sample size, but Tiger is currently 18th in driving distance and accuracy, and rated No. 1 in total driving on the PGA Tour.

Not surprisingly, that’s translated to Woods hitting 71.9% of greens in regulation and posting the lowest scoring average on tour.

Hit the ball in the fairway more, get more birdies, win more tournaments. See? Golf is easy!

As it should be for someone like Tiger.

Lots has changed for Mr. Woods. He’s no longer ranked No. 1 in the world, he’s single, on his third caddy and swing coach respectively and slowly rebuilding his portfolio of glossy endorsements.

That being said, he’s still Tiger Woods. There is still something magic in seeing those fist pumps and flashes of red Nike shirts come Sunday. He’s always a threat, even on a tour filled with twenty-something’s who grew up emulating him.

Yes, things are back to the way they used to be. I’d put my money on the fact that Tiger will once again be in the hunt and on the prowl come the back nine at Augusta Sunday.

Look out world.


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