Tech Talk Live Notes: Babcock Talks Facilities, Fuente Updates Football

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Virginia Tech Head Coach Justin Fuente made his first appearance on Tech Talk Live on Monday night, spending the last 45 minutes of the show with Jon Laaser and Mike Burnop, talking about the Hokies and where the team stands with just under two weeks before the season opener.

Fuente was joined by Director of Athletics Whit Babcock, who led off the show. Here are some of the highlights from the show.

Whit Babcock

On the ACC Network

“It will mean a good bit. When the network launches, we really feel like that will separate us and the ACC, and put us there with the Big Ten and the SEC, the way they distribute and network content. The revenue, it will be a big deal for our budget. That will certainly be nice. From a recruiting standpoint, when you can tell a young person, no matter what sport they play at Virginia Tech, every game you play or every contest will either be on an ESPN platform, whether it be television, streamed through a computer or other things. The recruiting exposure and what it does for our Olympic sports is huge too.”

Developments, plans for the next two seasons for Virginia Tech athletics

“We feel like we’re in a good position where we can play offense now. I wanted to keep the best of Virginia Tech, keep that, but implement strategic change, and hopefully we’ve done that. I feel like we’ve gotten more right than wrong.

Later this year, our fans can look for ground breaking at English Field at Union Park, the baseball stadium. That will break ground. We’ll break ground later this year on renovating Rector Field House, built in 1971 for under $500,000. I would love to have that price tag, but we’ll renovate it. We have the ACC Champion and No. 9 track team, and we want to renovate that and add on for softball in the front, and have locker rooms on one side for lacrosse. I like projects that benefit all of our sports. We certainly know from a visibility standpoint, football and basketball have to be right, but with 22 sports, they’re all important. As long as we’re wearing that logo and competing, I want us to win, and how do you tell one sport that they aren’t as important as the others?

We look to renovate the Bowman Room, some new things for us nutrition-wise, we’re even looking at some things we can do to enhance Lane Stadium, so we always have a list. Cassell Coliseum, I could go on and on.”

Whit Babcock

Transition from Frank Beamer to Justin Fuente

“Coach Beamer has been tremendous the whole way, and again, last year, when he talked to me saying this was it, and he did it with a few weeks left in the season, which I liked because we could celebrate him and thank you to our fans for doing that. In that meeting, he also said, ‘Whit, I also know it will give you a little bit of a running start on what you need to do,’ and I can’t imagine that there are too many coaches in the country that would do that and give that consideration. Then, to hire somebody like Justin, and his family, and the way he’s come in he’s handled it perfectly. It’s almost too good to be true. Those guys, those transitions and the respect they have for each other certainly makes my job easier.”

Battle at Bristol thoughts

“When I first got hired and it was two, three years away, it didn’t seem real. It’s real now. Jim Weaver deserves a ton of credit and Coach Beamer, John Ballein and everybody that put that game together. We are the beneficiary. To put Hokie Nation on a national stage, we always want to do that and we’ll put our best part forward, but to be a part of this game in history, primetime, hopefully College GameDay will be there, I hope they will, there’s nothing better.”

Thoughts on gameday experience and plans for improvement

“We talk about a driveway to driveway experience. Wherever you’re coming from, when you get in the car to come to the game from your driveway, and you pick up (Jon Laaser and Mike Burnop) on the radio, we talk about what that’s like. Then we talk about the social media we’re doing, the traffic flow into the stadium and the parking lot, and we just follow it all the way through. Through the gate, restrooms, concessions and the game. We can’t control the game, that’s what Coach and his staff do, so we control the rest and the entertainment during the game, etc. Then, on the way home, all that. So we’re talking about customer service and how we approach it, we try to look at it from driveway to driveway. It seems to work okay. But we get plenty of feedback, and thank you for sharing that and we want to keep improving. We don’t take y’all for granted, that’s for sure.”

Justin Fuente

Whether or not Virignia Tech will consider playing two quarterbacks

“You do whatever is best for the team. If it means playing multiple guys, if it means shuffling them around, whatever it takes to get the job done is what we’re going to do, whatever we feel like give our team the best chance to be successful on Saturdays.

Way Brenden Motley, Jerod Evans reacted to Josh Jackson being included in quarterback competition

“I’d be curious to what they would say. I think they would say they’re surprised it took Coach that long to say it. They saw it, they see it. It’s a good group, it’s a healthy relationship amongst the three of them. Brad Cornelson has done a fantastic job handling those guys and bringing those guys along. They saw it, the other players see it. They all see those things, that guys have made improvements. Everybody wants what’s best for the team, which is a positive and a good thing. They’ve handled all those things pretty well.”

Thoughts on younger receivers

“We’ve made a big deal about trying to develop those younger kids. We had three true freshmen come to us at midterm, I’d say if was judging Divine Deablo probably made the biggest strides, maybe the most physically developed, maybe the most physically mature of those guys and is definitely going to help us this fall. We brought on Henri Murphy in the middle of the summertime, a speedster that is still making strides but I’m hopeful that as the year goes along he can continue to get in there and play a big role.

[Eric] Kumah is another freshman that came in during the midterm. We didn’t get to see much in the spring as he was a little banged up, but he has made big strides. Another bigger guy that’s physically developed that will have a chance to add some depth there and give us a bit of buoyancy there at receiver.”

Thoughts on DeShawn McClease

“McClease is not a big in stature guy, but is a much better runner inside than maybe I perceived him to be when we started out, probably just because of his stature, he’s not a very big guy. He is a tough, hard-nosed, inside runner who had a good fall camp.”

Marshawn Williams (42) is hoping to break into the rotation at running back after dealing with the knee injuries the last two seasons.

How Marshawn Williams and Shai McKenzie have performed this offseason

“I’ve seen Marshawn play, I saw him a couple of years ago on film in the Ohio State game, he’s definitely a guy that belonged on the field against a team of that caliber and he contributed mightily to that victory. There were some flashes of that in the fall, which excited me about him. Shai is still coming along and had a solid fall.”

Bucky Hodges’ versatility

“Bucky is a versatile guy. He meets in both rooms, he’s met in the wide receiver room, he’s met in the tight end room. Bucky knows that for him to add value to the team he can’t just be a big wide receiver, he’s got to be able to go in there and do some of the dirty work, otherwise he is just a wideout. He’s come in and embraced that part and he’s continuing to improve so that we can be multiple with him.”

Relationship between Augie Conte and Jonathan McLaughlin

They’re like two peas in a pod. They’re like blood brothers. They just get along so well and they know everything about each other and they do a fantastic job setting the tone for that room.”

Thoughts on redshirting offensive linemen

“When recruiting offensive linemen, you want to go put them in the weight room for two years, just feed them and have them lift and then break them out for everybody to see at 21 or 22 years old. Then everybody says ‘Man, those are some big monsters.’ So I’m hopeful and optimistic that we can continue that kind of lineage of growing those guys up playing them as they get a little bit older and mature.”

Relationship with Defensive Coordinator Bud Foster

“I find it humorous that people on the outside don’t understand how it could work. That’s what I get a lot outside the Hokie Nation. I think everybody at Virginia Tech understands Bud Foster and what he’s about, the type of person that he is, but people outside don’t know the quality of an individual that he is. They’re always amazed at how this possibly could work. The bottom line is, Coach Foster wants what’s best for Virginia Tech. He’s the most decorated defensive coordinator in all of America, he’s incredibly professional. It’s been seamless. He’s all in on what’s best and wants to win ball games. That’s what we we all want and as a head coach, and we’ve had this situation in different dynamics, the thing is as a staff, we have to set the precedent for the team. We have to be the best demonstration of what it is to be team, in front of the team. You can’t do that if you’re constantly managing egos or other agendas or all the other things that deteriorate corporations, football teams or private businesses. We have not spent one second in our time here dealing with those things. We have a group of incredibly professional men that want what’s best for Virginia Tech, to teach and mentor young men and ultimately find a way to win ball games.”

Depth at defensive back and linebacker

“Tavante Beckett is a guy that will have to play some at linebacker and on special teams. That’s going to take a little bit. We’ve got some really good players, I’m really excited about them, we’ve got to stack some on top of each other in some recruiting classes. I really like what we did to help ourselves in the secondary for the future, but they’re also right now trying to figure out where the library is and where their classes are.”

Depth at defensive end

“Trevon Hill has made good progress to be a third end, we need to develop a fourth end and in order for us to play at a level we want to play at, that’s going to have to happen. I’m optimistic that it will happen and that we’ll get it done, it’s just going to take a little work.”

How special teams have looked during offseason

“When you’re a little bit thin on defense, it can manifest itself on special teams because of your coverage guys. We’ve got some young guys that we’ve got to bring along rapidly in order for us to play better and perform better on special teams.”

Thoughts on Sam Rogers

“If you had a whole team of him, you’d never lose a game. He’s that kind of guy.”

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36 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Shouldn’t the Commonwealth Cup ticker be changed to reflect years and days. Once you get past 3650 days, should it just convert to something like 11 years and 270 days. It just seems like a more tangible statement.
    I realize that there are Leap Years in there but my point still remains.

  2. TTL in fall = football time. Can’t wait! Thanks for the write up RL, always a treat for those of us who can’t make it live.

    Let’s Go…Hokies!!!

  3. As for the Cassel, I would love to lower the floor and lower bowl seating about 10 feet, then put in two rows of seats and Club Suites under the “upper” deck. This could create about 2,500 additional seats. 12,000 seats would be a good fit for Virginia Tech since I doubt we will ever be able to seat 20,000 for home games.

    1. That may not be a bad idea. The existing bowl is obviously extremely steep, like an “upper deck” would normally be. Steep enough that I suspect a dropped floor would still allow visibility of the entire playing surface.

      I do think your math may be off for adding two rows, though. I think the perimeter of a basketball court is somewhere around 285 feet (92+50+92+50). If you estimate a seat every 24 inches (really probably every 18, but that would estimate for aisles, too), that would be about 140-145 people per row. Two rows would only be about 280-290 people. I would think it would not be worth doing unless there were maybe 12 rows “down there”, obviously flatter than the current bowl. That would add maybe 1600-1800 extra seats.

      The cost on that may well be insane, as you’d have to give a way for people to get down there.

      1. They can’t sell what they have. If anything I could see building a special seating area directly below the portals. Upgrade those seats to suite type pricing…..and from there down …..maybe 6-7 rows of student seating. I could see reducing capacity by 1-2000

  4. We need a better and new basketball arena, look at the other schools and even look at Roanoke College, our area was built in the 50’s and 60’s and it looks like it.

    1. I actually love Cassell, but know I am in the minority.
      I wish there was a way to upgrade the facility, while keeping the character & location.

      1. I have never been in Cassell so I don’t know the setup but I went to the VT/GT game here in Atlanta this past winter and they did a great job updating Alexander Memorial Coliseum. I am sure it could be done at VT if $$$$$ were available.

    2. We don’t fill Cassell – I go to watch the team, and the seats/views are good.
      I don’t go to eat the popcorn.

      Until we pack the place, we don’t need a new place – However, if you want to personally fund a new building – have at it. Otherwise, we can spend money on other things.

      Go Hokies!

    3. I also love Cassell. I live in Durham and have been to Cameron at Duke and it has nothing on Cassell.
      You wonder with the Dean Dome down the road why doesn’t Duke build something bigger and better than Cameron. I think because it is a special place to the Dukies. So we don’t need a Dean Dome in Blacksburg if you got a winning team and a special coach.

      1. Totally agree, especially once Buzz gets his players in place to make that gym electric. Upgrade the amenities & get the students closer to the floor.

        Let’s Go…Hokies!!!

      2. VT definitely doesn’t need a Dean Dome. However, the pitch of the steps going up to the nosebleed sections and even the seats up there don’t need to be that steep. The view of the floor is great up there, but sometimes you do feel like you are about to tumble down the rows directly in front of you.

      3. Duke’s true fan base doesn’t live near Durham. They don’t need a bigger building. T ch is in a he same boat. There isn’t a deep enough fan base to necessitate a bigger building.mimprove Cassell.

  5. A gameday experience comment for the Athletic Department’s consideration: Sure would be nice to place some large, modern flat-panel TV’s on the stadium concourses at the concession stands. For that matter, there should also be one in each rest room. The handful of old TV’s they have out on the concourse are relics and are totally inadequate.Concession lines are long and you can miss large chunks of the game going to get a coke, a hot dog, or to use the rest room. This would be a relatively easy thing to do, both from a technology and cost perspective. And the positive impact would be very high. Comments?

    1. I think this is a great idea. Been to UVA home games when VT not at home and they have well placed TVs. The new Athletic Dept has asked for ideas to improve the fan experience. IMO this is definitely a must.

  6. Disappointed that Seth Dooley hasn’t stepped up to grab the 3rd or 4th DE spot. Sounds like he may be passed by (if it hasn’t happened already). I hope he is healthy.

    1. Sure seems like Dooley is fighting for that 4th DE spot. Fuente has mentioned Trevon Hill on a couple of occasions of maybe being that 3rd guy. If that’s the case, Dooley and Gaines are likely fighting for playing time at this point.

      1. Gaines looked good in the spring game. Wonder if he is still working his way out of the dog house. Dooley has always looked the part, but I’ve never seen much from him from a playmaking perspective.

  7. Cant believe we still haven’t heard squat about Saturday’s scrimmage? There WAS a scrimmage, right? Did anybody catch a pass? Did anybody make a tackle? How did QBs do? Am I missing something? What happened?

    1. This is the new regime. Scrimmages happen, we know about them, but no stats are provided, no info is given.

      We’ll get to watch 40 minutes of practice tonight, as well as talk to Fuente afterwards. So hopefully we see something out of tonight.

      1. I love the secrecy. Sure, we all thirst for every detail of what’s happening, but so do our opponents. We used to have the best special teams on the planet, then held camps to explain just how we did it. Waaaa?
        It make us crazy being in the dark, but I’m more than happy to be surprised at the exact same moment as the Vols are.
        Go Hokies!

        1. Hmmm…make that “may” make us crazy. I’m going to be in trouble without an edit button.

  8. Journalism 101: who, what, when, WHERE, how.

    Where was TTL last night? And why was the first I heard of it this morning when I woke up–after it was over? I saw no advance notification. I don’t listen to it on radio, radio reception is poor here in Richmond (a gripe for another day), but I didn’t even know it was held last night without any largely visible notification.

    I’ll give credit for the quick reporting. Many times in previous years it seems like we were waiting throughout the day for the TTL report.

    I didn’t get a sense of audience participation from questioning, reactions, etc. While the info received from Whit and Fuente was good, it seemed cold . Maybe it’s just me reacting to a new regime. Love ya’ Ricky, hopefully my comments are taken as constructive criticism. I’ve been watching since you came aboard. You do good work and are a plus to TSL in my view. Thanks.

    1. Well the audience didn’t get to ask any questions. All of them were asked directly from Laaser and Burnop.

      TTL was at Frank’s Cinebowl on South Main St. here in Blacksburg.

      I apologize for it being different than maybe it has been in the past. This is my first time doing it, and I thought this would be the best way to go about it.

    2. Couple of things…

      #1: Over the past 5 years or so, I’ve always posted the TTL notes within 30 minutes of the show ended. Ricky took a little bit longer (1.5 hours after the show ended), but his notes were more detailed than mine.

      #2: Other than the slight difference noted in #1, we didn’t handle TTL any differently than we did in the past.

      1. The coverage is great.
        Would Tech allow you to link to a podcast? Does Tech put out a podcast of TTL? I know very few who can listen live, but would listen later.

  9. We clearly have to teach young Ricky LaBlue to embed the Commonwealth Cup count in each TTL recap!

    1. Lets just put a running clock, counting by the second, on the homepage. Nice and big. Kind of like the national debt only a Positive Thing, yet a number that’s getting to be almost as big.

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