Jim Weaver and Bill Roth thought their radio exchange immaterial. Alas, in the Twitter age, there’s nothing that can’t be distorted beyond recognition in less than 10 minutes.
This is especially true when the subject is conference realignment. Few, if any, topics generate as much opinion and uninformed speculation.
For more than two years, a segment of Virginia Tech fans has pined for the Hokies to leave the ACC for the Southeastern Conference. While well-intended, their notion is misguided.
Tech joined the ACC in 2004 and subsequently reaped competitive and financial windfalls unimaginable during its Big East days. So at every stage of the recent realignment craze, the school, from President Charles Steger’s office to athletic director Weaver, has dismissed any chatter of the Hokies joining the conference that has produced the last six football national champions.
That hasn’t changed, even with ACC charter member Maryland’s move Monday to the Big Ten. The only way Tech leaves the league is if mass defections occur.
So back to Weaver and Roth, the voice of the Hokies for 25 years. On Tuesday’s “Tech Talk Live” show, Roth asked Weaver about the possibility of the SEC copying the Big Ten and starting its own cable network.
Roth: “(Commissioner) Mike Slive and the SEC say they want to start their own network. If they follow the Big Ten model, if they follow the Big Ten model and want to get East Coast schools, do you anticipate Virginia Tech being contacted for that league?”
Weaver: “Wow, that’s a hard one. I really haven’t thought about it because the discussion has just come about obviously in the last two or three days (since Maryland’s announcement). I’m going to have to defer my answer on that if I can because I really haven’t given it any thought. I think there could potentially be some interest, but I don’t know how much, if any.”
Now it seems clear that Weaver was referring to possible SEC interest in the Hokies, not the school's in the SEC. That’s certainly how Roth heard it.
Weaver’s comment is hardly breaking news. Were the SEC to consider further expansion — Missouri and Texas A&M joined this year — Tech, its loyal fans and Virginia’s TV markets would be among several attractive candidates.
But folks on Twitter heard otherwise. Tech-to-the-SEC advocates flooded my timeline with references to Weaver expressing “potential” interest in the SEC.
I wasn’t listening live to the show, but when the fallout hit, I texted Weaver, who called immediately.
“I just can’t believe people are misinterpreting what I said,” he told me.
“We’re not in discussions with anyone,” Weaver continued. “We’ve always wanted to be in the Atlantic Coast Conference. We’re there, and we’re pleased to be there. …
“There’s nothing happening in regard to Virginia Tech going anywhere. I don’t know how to say it any clearer than that.”
Cynics will say Weaver is covering his backside, but I take him at his word for two reasons.
First, if Tech officials were plotting a move to the SEC, do you really think Weaver would discuss it on radio? Please.
Second, in 15 years I’ve never known him to lie to me. Not once. Not on personnel matters, not on conference membership.
Indeed, when Weaver arrived at Tech in 1997 he granted colleague Dave Fairbank and me an interview that extended well beyond an hour.
``If we can go to the ACC with Syracuse and Boston College,” Weaver said then, “we've got to go in a New York second. But I think that's beyond comprehension right now.”
Funny how things work out.
Could the Hokies eventually land in the SEC? Yes. Were the ACC to collapse, which I don't believe it will, anything is possible.
But of this I am certain: Absent said realignment crisis, Virginia Tech is not leaving the ACC under its current leadership of Steger, Weaver and football coach Frank Beamer.
Not going to happen.
And Maryland bolting for the Big Ten hardly is reason for panic. Presuming the ACC replaces the Terps with a top-flight athletics program — think Louisville — they hardly will be missed.
“I’m ready to get all this expansion done and behind us,” Weaver said as our conversation concluded.
On that I think we all can agree.
I can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at email@example.com. Follow me at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDP
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