While this week has presented a good opportunity for Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer and Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin to get acquainted, it's a meeting that was delayed more than nine months.
In March, Beamer participated in a celebrity pro-am racing event at Bristol Motor Speedway. Kiffin was also supposed to take part in the race, but he said he had to back out when his wife, Layla, discovered there weren't any life-insurance or bodily-harm provisions included in the race.
It seems Beamer's wife, Cheryl, wasn't nearly as concerned.
"They said Lane was coming, but when I got there, Lane wasn't there," Beamer said. "I think his wife read the contract and there weren't any guarantees if anything happened, and my wife was encouraging me to go. She wasn't even worried about it."
Both coaches added they'd be interested if there was ever an opportunity to play a Tech-Tennessee football game at the speedway, as was proposed four years ago by Bruton Smith, the chairman of Speedway Motorsports Inc.
At the time, Smith said he was prepared to offer $20 million to both schools to participate in the game. Kiffin joked Wednesday if a Tech-Tennessee game ever took place at the racetrack, he and Beamer could race cars as a side attraction.
"We could be the halftime entertainment," Kiffin said.
Preparing for dual threat
Tennessee saw perhaps the nation's top dual-threat quarterback this season Sept. 19 when it lost 23-13 to Florida and Tim Tebow, who had 115 yards passing and 76 rushing yards.
Despite that experience, Kiffin said it hasn't been easy getting ready to face Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who has 2,102 yards passing and 344 yards rushing this season. That's 394 fewer yards rushing than what Taylor had last season, but it's not necessarily his running ability that has Kiffin a little nervous.
"He's very difficult to prepare for," Kiffin said. "A lot of times, you have a running quarterback that doesn't throw very well. Unfortunately for us, he throws the ball extremely well."
Kiffin made the obvious comparison of Taylor to former Hokie Michael Vick. Kiffin mentioned how his father, Monte, who is Tennessee's defensive coordinator, had to prepare for Vick twice a season for a few years when Monte was the defensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Vick was the starting quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons.
In nine games against the Vick-led Falcons, Monte's Tampa Bay defenses did a nice job against Vick's passing, but surrendered quite a few rushing yards.
Vick completed 106 of 197 passes for 1,257 yards, seven touchdowns and six interceptions in those games, and ran 71 times for 418 yards (5.9 yards per carry) and a touchdown. He also lost four fumbles.
Still no decision
Beamer said Wednesday that freshman Jayron Hosley and sophomore Cris Hill will both play cornerback in tonight's Chick-fil-A Bowl game, but a starter may be a game-time decision.
Both players are vying to replace starting senior Stephan Virgil, who was suspended due to academic shortcomings. Rashad Carmichael, who leads Tech with five interceptions, will start at Tech's other cornerback spot.
One of the many perks of making a trip to a bowl game for players is the flood of gifts supplied by the bowl sponsors.
This year, each of Virginia Tech's players received a $250 Best Buy gift card, a hat, a football bag and a watch from the Chick-fil-A Bowl, according to John Ballein, Tech's associate athletic director for football operations.
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