Sunday, December 28, 2008
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Sports columnist Aaron McFarling: They said what?

So what happened this year? Anybody remember? We keep hearing the Hokies say they dealt with a lot of adversity en route to the ACC title, but did they really? And is it really that easy to be declared certifiably insane?

The athletes and coaches said it best. Let's take a look back at some of those memorable quotes of 2008:

January

  • "They were playing around in the water and Vince went to take a step and banged it a little bit." -- Virginia Tech trainer Mike Goforth, on Vince Hall's knee injury at the team beach outing in Miami prior to the Orange Bowl.
  • "I mean, you can't stay out on that field forever. I'd stay out there for a couple more hours if I could, but I've got to get on the bus. That's the way life is. You've got to move on." -- Virginia All-American defensive end Chris Long, after his final college game, a 31-28 Gator Bowl loss to Texas Tech.
  • "I felt like I was Deion Sanders!" -- Kansas defensive back Aqib Talib, on high-stepping into the end zone during a 24-21 victory over Tech in the Orange Bowl.
  • "I wish I had the answer. I don't know if it's the layoff or the grind during the season, but we haven't been able to pick it up. I'm sorry we couldn't show the young guys how to finish the season. I hope they pick up on it themselves. We'll be stuck with this feeling for a while." -- Tech defensive end Chris Ellis, on three bowl losses in four years.
  • "I hate to leave something unfinished. I made an original commitment of five years. I felt bad about that." Joe Gibbs, after stepping down as Redskins coach.
  • "I had a feeling one was going to have to fall. I still wanted to take the last shot." -- Tech forward Deron Washington, after a buzzer-beating layup that toppled UVa 70-69.
  • "I plan on helping Virginia Tech to another successful season." -- Tech tailback Branden Ore, via prepared statement, on his decision not to declare for the NFL draft.


February

  • "We want to see what's out there. I want to stay here, but it's been frustrating." -- former Cave Spring star J.J. Redick, on exploring trades options from the Orlando Magic.
  • "It's the greatest feeling in professional sports." -- New York Giants receiver Plaxico Burress, after scoring the winning TD in a 17-14 Super Bowl victory over the Patriots.
  • "Jim Zorn will be a terrific head coach." -- Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, after hiring Zorn.
  • "It's hard to believe you, sir. I hate to say that. You're one of my heroes. But it's hard to believe." -- Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., addressing Roger Clemens' denials of steroid use.
  • "It's probably one of the most disappointing moments in my racing career." -- Tony Stewart, on losing the Daytona 500 lead to Ryan Newman on the final lap.
  • "If you're coaching, it requires so much enthusiasm and passion for what you're doing. If you're the least bit considering that you ought not be doing it, maybe by definition you should not be doing it." -- Steve Ragsdale, upon resigning quietly after 30 years as Giles football coach.


March

  • "It's been a great career for me, and it's over. As hard as that is for me to say, it's over." -- Green Bay QB Brett Favre, upon retiring.
  • "It's hard to come up with more words and more superlatives, but he saved his best for last." -- UVa basketball coach Dave Leitao, on Sean Singletary's 27-point outing in his final college game.
  • "I told them in the locker room to slow it down as much as they can, because this will last a lifetime, this feeling that they have. They'll get chills on the back of their neck for the rest of their life." -- Floyd County girls basketball coach Alan Cantrell, after his team won the VHSL Group A Division 2 championship.
  • "Anyone who watched that game that knows anything about basketball, if you don't think this team is one of the top 65 teams in the country, you're certifiably insane." -- Tech coach Seth Greenberg, after a 68-66 loss to North Carolina in the ACC Tournament semis.
  • "It means the world to me that they took the time out of their busy days to come to Tech. I love the Yankees, but if I could trade the Yankees' not coming for Mike, obviously I would do that. So it's a bittersweet day. But it's a good day. The Yankees are here." -- Tech student Marcy Crevonis, who lost her fiancee, Mike Pohle, in the campus shootings. She attended the exhibition between the Yankees and the Hokies at English Field.
  • "During recent meetings with Branden Ore, we have decided that it would be best for Branden to pursue other opportunities." Tech coach Frank Beamer, via prepared statement.
  • "My plan wasn't to lose tonight. This will stick with me for a while." -- Greenberg, after a home loss to Ole Miss in the NIT quarters, one game short of a trip to New York.
  • "Getting to play them, getting to be on ESPN, all of that was a great experience. And then to actually win? Ridiculous." Tech softball star Angela Tincher, after throwing a no-hitter against the U.S. Olympic team.
  • "You've got to thank all those fans for sticking it out. That was unbelievable. I could see what was happening on my windshield; it looked like it was snowing out there." -- Jeff Gordon after racing in near-freezing conditions at the Cool Orange 500 at Martinsville Speedway.


April

  • "Leave the man alone. He's here to see his kid. Just leave him alone." -- Roanoke baseball fan Mike Dilling, on Roger Clemens' attendance at Salem Avalanche games to watch son Koby.


May

  • "I'm really excited and kind of in shock. ... From the personal stuff to the team stuff, it's just been a great way to have a senior year. I don't think I would have ever thought that this was going to happen." -- Tincher, upon being named USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year after leading the Hokies to the Women's College World Series.


June

  • "All that hard work really paid off. Everybody dreams of playing professional baseball, and now I guess I've got that chance." -- Hidden Valley ace pitcher Mikey O'Brien, after being drafted in the ninth round by the Yankees.
  • "I had my dream in mind, and everything I've been wanting to accomplish since I first set foot on the track. That's what was at the finish line. I knew Beijing was at the finish line, and I had to go ahead and capture it." -- Tech runner Queen Harrison, after a second-place finish in the 400-meter hurdles final at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials, punching her ticket to the Beijing Games.


August

  • "It was really short and sweet. He said, 'We're going to redshirt Tyrod. You're the guy. Go do it.'" -- Tech quarterback Sean Glennon, on a meeting with QB coach Mike O'Cain in which he was named the starter.


September

  • "I think we need another playmaker in our backfield. I think this football team needs Tyrod Taylor." -- Beamer, after peeling off the redshirt.
  • "Now, I don't care where we rank statistically. I think part of being good coaches is look at what you've got and, 'OK, what's the best way for our offense to help our defense win?' Sometimes it's to be conservative, take care of the ball, punt it, play good defense, get field position, score. And then I look at it, and it's us and Southern Cal are the only two teams that's won 10 or more games in the regular season the last four years. So I'm kind of missing it somewhere. I've got good coaches. We look at what we've got and we try to win football games. Now, if something's wrong with that, then I'm not sure where people are coming from." -- Beamer, prompted by a caller on his radio show who was critical of the offense.
  • "Every team [and] every person in life faces adversity. The first way you overcome that is with positive energy. This bus is going in a forward direction, and we're going to have those guys on the bus who are of that mentality." -- UVa football coach Al Groh, after a 31-3 loss to Duke.


October

  • "Obviously, daddy had a great run. They really only dominated the sport in '87, maybe a little bit in '86. Jimmie and those guys are slick and fast every week and they win races by being the best car. I look at the history of the sport, and I think about Richard Petty and David Pearson and the Wood Brothers, Cale Yarborough and Junior Johnson and later on Darrell [Waltrip] and Junior, and I put them right up with those teams there.'' -- Dale Earnhardt Jr., after Jimmie Johnson's fourth victory in the past five Martinsville Speedway races.


November

  • "We've been on the other end of that type of deal before. It's heartbreaking to our team. There are real raw emotions in the locker room. They are in a real emotional state right now." -- Groh, after Miami rallied to win at Scott Stadium and snap the Wahoos' four-game winning streak.
  • "Pretty much every team we face this year knows what we're going to do. I have a couple friends at Carolina, a couple friends at N.C. State, things like that, they're pretty much just calling out the plays that we're going to run on offense. Our offense is pretty much predictable. You know what you're going to see each and every week." -- Tech linebacker Purnell Sturdivant, days after a loss to Miami in which the Hokies were held to 250 yards.
  • "He's only the second person ever to get to that point. That's like being the second guy on the moon. It may not be the biggest thing, but by God, you're still standing on the moon.'' -- Kyle Petty, on Jimmie Johnson's third straight Cup championship.
  • "I'm not saying last year we didn't earn it. We definitely did earn it. But this year, we earned every inch. Every inch on that field, we earned." -- Tech cornerback Macho Harris, after the Hokies clinched the Coastal Division with a win over UVa.
  • "That's not the way I live." -- Groh, on whether he had second thoughts about not playing Vic Hall at quarterback sooner.
  • "It was definitely something rare in my career to get that loud of a cheer. It's better late than never." -- Glennon, on the Senior Day reaction from the stands.


December

  • "People have the wrong impression. They really do. It's unfair to him. It isn't right. We lost 13 seniors to the NFL last year, and then we lose Kenny Lewis, we get rid of an all-ACC running back, we have our best wide receiver who tears his Achilles tendon, we have another wide receiver that had played that we suspended ... You think about all that and see what we've done." -- Tech running backs coach Billy Hite, on criticism of Hokies' offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring.
  • "There are no scapegoats here. The head coach is responsible for the team." -- Groh, via prepared statement, after the departure of three of his assistants, including son Mike.
  • "I feel like the worst coach in America," Zorn, after a loss to Cincinnati.
  • "We're not going to be there to get drunk and party. We're going to win the Orange Bowl." -- Tech defensive end Orion Martin.

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