Go Tech Go, Part 39: The Legend of Bill Brill

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Bill Brill
Bill Brill

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In the history of Hokie Nation, no journalist ever inspired more ill will than Roanoke Times & World-News columnist Bill Brill.

“Brill is like water dripping on a stone,” former Hokie coach Bill Dooley once said. “Constantly eating away at you—drip, drip, drip.”

Today, Virginia Tech fans can get their Hokie information fix from a variety of sources that all do fantastic work with words and videos. Social media has allowed fans to communicate with each other and share news. In addition to local television stations, ESPN regularly provides updates, and the internet makes a variety of podcasts available. It’s almost impossible to read, hear, or watch it all.

But during much of Brill’s run, it wasn’t that way. Internet and cable TV were nothing more than science fiction ideas, and newspapers carried far more clout than they do in today’s cluttered market. As Roanoke’s executive sports editor and lead sports columnist, Brill was one of just a handful of people commenting regularly about Virginia Tech, and fans hungrily gobbled up anything he had to say.

To what degree one may debate, but there is no question Brill’s words influenced public opinion—at least regionally. He was smart and well-connected, particularly throughout the ACC. In 1980-81, he served as president of the United States Basketball Writers Association; in 1991, he was named the Virginia Sportswriter of the Year; in 1993 he won the Marvin “Skeeter” Francis Award for special contributions to the ACC; and from 1993 to 1995, he was President