Closed scrimmages and the Ohio State dynamic

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For the first time in years, Virginia Tech football won’t have any open scrimmages this fall. That’s an interesting wrinkle for a program that has probably been too open recently.

To bring you up to speed: the Hokies have closed their football practices for many years. Back in 1999, when TSL went from a hobby site to a full-time venture (we were called back then), I showed up at the first practice that fall.

Practices were quickly closed to the public.

I’m not arrogant enough to think that my mere presence led to the closing of practices. Up to that point, practices were completely open; anyone could walk through the gate and watch. With the success of the 1998 Hokies and the preseason hype around the 1999 team and new quarterback Michael Vick, a lot of people got the idea to go check out a practice.

Having fans roam the sidelines during practice created safety concerns, and it also inhibited the coaches from conducting business as usual, because fans started reporting things on our message boards like, say, Jim Cavanaugh cussing up a blue streak as he chewed out a new whip linebacker. It was an easy, sensible decision to close practices to the public.

But media were still allowed in. And for over a half-decade, that was the status quo: no fans, but media welcome.

Then Kyle Tucker took over for Randy King on the VT beat for The Roanoke Times (via the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot), and Kyle changed the way Virginia Tech football was covered, with detailed practice observations and