Last year, Virginia Tech’s big upheaval in its assistant football coaching staff created much of the offseason buzz surrounding the athletic program.
Now, Tech’s men’s basketball team is enduring a wholesale coaching staff change. While the football staff adjustments have at least kept the program playing at a 10-plus win clip, it remains to be seen how the move to the James Johnson era will affect the basketball program.
Johnson’s hiring and the firing of Seth Greenberg were the biggest moments in Tech athletics for this academic year. Here’s a look at a few others:
1. GREENBERG ERA ENDS
Coach Seth Greenberg’s nine-season run as Tech’s men’s basketball coach came to a conclusion six weeks after the Hokies finished 16-17 and missed out on the postseason. He compiled a 170-123 record at Tech, which went to one NCAA tournament, five National Invitational Tournaments and had two losing seasons under Greenberg.
2. TECH STAYS IN-HOUSE
Despite having no head coaching experience, James Johnson was named Greenberg’s successor. Johnson was Greenberg’s top assistant coach, but Johnson left Blacksburg in April to become an assistant coach at Clemson. He was brought back to Tech just a week after Greenberg was fired.
3. A TRIP TO THE BIG EASY
Though it lost to Clemson in the ACC championship game, Tech still finished its football season in the Sugar Bowl, becoming the first ACC program to earn an at-large Bowl Championship Series bid. Tech lost 23-20 in overtime against Michigan, but with an 11-3 record, the Hokies lead the nation with eight consecutive 10-plus win seasons.
4. HOKIE HAMMER TIME
For the second straight year, Alexander Ziegler won the hammer throw event at the NCAA outdoor track & field championships. His personal-best toss of 248 feet, seven inches at this year’s championships won the championship. He’s the 11th man in NCAA history to win back-to-back hammer throw titles. Tech athletes have won three of the last four hammer throw titles.
5. WILSON FINISHES FREAKISH COLLEGE CAREER
As if winning the triple jump in 2011 at the Penn Relays wasn’t cool enough, David Wilson wasn’t too bad on the football field, either. He was selected in April by the New York Giants with the last pick of the first round in the National Football League draft, just a little over three months after he capped a junior season at Tech that saw him run for a school single-season record 1,709 yards and earn ACC player of the year and Associated Press second team All-American honors.
6. SOFTBALL MAKES IT BACK TO NCAAS
Tech’s softball team, which finished 42-21, made it to the NCAA tournament for the fifth time in the program’s history. Its season ended one victory shy of advancing to a Super Regional (lost at Tennessee). Tech established school single-season records in home runs (46), hit by pitches (47), sacrifice flies (19), assists (629), fielding percentage (.975) and double plays turned (31).
7. TWO GRAPPLING ALL-AMERICANS
Devin Carter and Pete Yates both picked up All-American honors in wrestling – Carter at 133 pounds, and Yates at 165 pounds. It marked just the third time in the program’s history more than one Tech wrestler earned All-American distinction (two in 2000, two in ’06). Yates was also named the most outstanding wrestler at the ACC championships.
8. BAY RIVERS DISTRICT PRODUCT GAINS ELITE STATUS
Tabb High graduate Will Mulherin capped his junior season on Tech’s cross country team by finishing 30th in Terre Haute, Ind. at the NCAA championship meet – good enough for All-American status. He posted a personal-record time of 29 minutes, 58.1 seconds in the 10k event. It was his second All-America honor, including one he earned in 2010 in the outdoor 5,000-meter run.
9. DIVERS MAKE WAVES
Logan Shinholser became the first Tech diver to earn All-American distinction in three diving heights – 1-meter, 3-meter and platform. He and Kaylea Arnett were named the men’s and women’s Most Valuable Divers, respectively, at the ACC championship meet. In addition, Tech diving coach Ned Skinner was chosen ACC coach of the year.
10. INDOOR FACILITY CONSTRUCTION HITS SNAG
While Tech’s athletic department has plans to build a $20 million indoor practice facility, it’s still not clear exactly where on-campus the facility will be erected. The original plan was to plow down woods behind Tech’s football practice fields, but that idea met opposition when a panel revealed the proposed site is an old-growth forest which is home to several white oaks that are 300-plus years old. Now, three alternative on-campus sites are being considered, and the construction bill may increase.
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