The Fisher Law Firm Friday Q&A: When Could Penn State Play in Lane Stadium?

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Virginia Tech Fisher Law Firm Friday Q&A

1) How could we afford to have one of the highest paid staffs in 2000, but we can’t now? Did we just get passed by 30+ other schools during that time? Or did we shift the way we used resources? – hucareshokiesrul

Chris Coleman: Before the Hokies joined the ACC, not all sports at Virginia Tech were fully-funded, so that was part of it.  I don’t know which sports were fully-funded and which weren’t, but you can afford to put more money into your coaching staff if you aren’t providing full scholarship numbers for all of your Olympic Sports.

Of course, the other side of that argument is that by making Frank Beamer’s staff the third-highest paid staff in the country after the 2000 season, Jim Weaver prioritized football over the non-revenue sports.  Technically I suppose he could have taken that money, and instead of giving it to Whammy Ward, Billy Hite or Jim Cavanaugh, he could have funded a few more scholarships for the Olympic Sports.  But Weaver prioritized football.  However much his arm may have been twisted is up for debate, but for Weaver he was either going to throw that money into football or he wasn’t going to spend it at all.  So perhaps you can say our priorities have changed a bit through the years.

However, I think the main reason we’ve dropped off in staff salary is the fact that other programs finally got their act together.  Back after the 2000 season, the top three in assistant coach salaries were LSU, NC State and the Hokies.  There was no way Tech should have been able to afford a higher-paid staff than Georgia, Florida State, Alabama, Penn State, Ohio State, etc.  The fact that they were paying more than those schools shows that those other schools hadn’t quite woken up to the reality of what college football had become.

But once those schools woke up, it was going to be tougher for the Hokies to compete.  For example, it was only about five years later that Georgia upped their game and the Bulldogs were able to outbid Tech for wide receivers coach Tony Ball. 

NC State can say the same thing.  The Wolfpack were actually slightly ahead of the Hokies in staff salaries at the time.  As a VT fan, would you say that is because NC State has a big, dedicated fanbase with huge resources, or would you say it’s because the bigger schools just didn’t have it together?  Programs like VT and NC State can only control what they can control…they can’t help it if bigger programs finally get smart enough to bring all their resources to bear.

That said, Tech could do a little better than they are currently with better fundraising.  As has been discussed (probably too many times), the Hokie Club failed to transition properly to the modern age, and then the Bill Lansden hire was a bad one in hindsight.  From what I can tell and have heard, Tech is trending in the right direction in that area now…finally.  However, it will take awhile before that actually shows up in terms of real money, particularly in the middle of COVID-19.

Virginia Tech

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