Virginia Tech athletic director Jim Weaver addressed several issues during our interview Tuesday, the most topical of which – Sugar Bowl ticket sales and this season’s non-conference football schedule -- are detailed in Wednesday’s print column.
Here are his views on other subjects we discussed over the course of 30-plus minutes:
* Weaver didn’t believe the Hokies had any chance of a BCS at-large bid to the Sugar Bowl after their 38-10 loss to Clemson in the ACC championship game Saturday before last. Like everyone else, he figured Tech was headed to the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta.
But come Sunday morning, Weaver, coach Frank Beamer, ACC commissioner John Swofford and Sugar Bowl head honcho Paul Hoolahan began talking.
“When I left the stadium, I thought we were going to Atlanta,” Weaver said. “Sunday is the time you do all your calls. The commissioner and I talked, and I talked to Paul Hoolahan, and I talked to Frank, and Frank talked to Paul Hoolahan.
“We just gave it our best shot, and lo and behold, it happened. You state your case.”
* Weaver detailed how Syracuse dropped games against Tech in 2010 and ’11.
Upon hiring coach Doug Marone in late 2008 to rebuild a declining program, the Orange asked out of its contract with the Hokies. Around the same time, ESPN proposed to Tech a made-for-TV game against Boise State in 2010 at the Washington Redskins’ stadium.
“It’s hard to get any games, let alone quality games, when you’re so late,” Weaver said. “I told (ESPN), ‘I’m not signing the contract to play Boise until I can get a replacement (for Syracuse in 2011).’ … Arkansas State was the only I-A team we could get. It just so happens they win their league (the Sun Belt) and they go to a bowl game.”
Weaver noted the irony of ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit bashing Tech’s non-conference schedule this season.
“What happens is, ESPN wants you to play these made-for-television games,” he said, “and then you get screwed up in your scheduling and then they criticize you on TV.”
Weaver joked that the hassles could prompt him to cede scheduling responsibilities to Tech’s associate AD for football, John Ballein.
“I’m going to get out of the scheduling business and give it all to Ballein,” he said.
Weaver and Sandusky, Weaver younger by a year, were football teammates at Penn State during the 1960s. They traveled with other football players during a summer barnstorming basketball tour of Pennsylvania and later joined Joe Paterno’s coaching staff within six months of one another.
“I haven’t talked to anybody up there,” Weaver said. “My heart is broken, though. My heart aches for Joe. … I don’t know all the facts or anything.
“I never knew anything like that about (Sandusky). … Totally caught by surprise. I read bits and pieces. Supposedly there’s a kid in a basement bedroom and the kid is yelling for help and Jerry’s wife doesn’t respond. I mean, it makes me want to be sick.”
* Weaver said his wife, Traci, picked him up outside his office for an appointment Thursday about a half-hour before and 200 yards away from where a Radford student gunned down Virginia Tech police officer Deriek Crouse.
“I’ve always believed that you never get dealt a hand of cards that you’re not strong enough to play,” Weaver said, “but I think we’re getting worn out on tragedies.”
As of Tuesday evening, Tech had raised more than $95,000 for the slain officer's family.
* Diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2004, Weaver underwent his fourth back surgery Oct. 25 at U.Va.
“I’m hanging in there pretty good,” he said. “Take 3-4 days of week physical therapy. Work a lot from home. I have two big rods and 22 screws in my spine. …
“Over time I got a curvature of the spine. In July 2010, the curvature was only 10 degrees. This past August, when the doctor took the X-ray again, it was 28 degrees. You could just see where the nerves were impinged and there were just problems. This wasn’t rocket science. …
“For some reason, people with Parkinson’s tend to get curvature of the spine. I didn’t know that until we got into this deal. I really feel like I’m coming along well. I’m off the walker, I’m off the cane. … I’m just taking it slow. Most of the rehab is walking.”
Weaver attended Tech’s home football finale against North Carolina, skipped the game at Virginia and traveled to Charlotte for the ACC title contest. He plans on flying with the team Dec. 28 to New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl.
The Hokies’ athletic director since 1997, Weaver has overseen remarkable upgrades in Tech’s programs and facilities, and the school’s transition from the Big East to the ACC. He has said that he hopes to work until Dec. 31, 2015, at which time he would be 70.
Is that still the plan?
“If my back’s OK,” Weaver said. “When we get to the end of the line of the 4-6 month (recovery) period, if everything’s good, I have no reason not to. If it’s not, I’m going to have to rethink things.”
* Weaver extolled Tech’s football program, which since 1995 has won 168 games. Thanks to Florida’s down year (the Gators are at 166) and Ohio State vacating 12 victories (the Buckeyes are at 163), the Hokies are the Bowl Subdivision’s national leaders in wins over the last 17 seasons.
“Because Ohio State and Florida had .500 years, Virginia Tech is the winningest program in these United States since 1995,” Weaver said. “That’s pretty good stuff. We’re not all bad.”
I can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDPCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun