In less than 24 months, Virginia Tech head coach James Johnson has gone from a player’s coach and celebrated hire, to a man on the verge of leading a program into a state of forlornness witnessed only once before.
The Hokies are currently 8-10 in Johnson’s second season as head coach. They have lost five straight games and seven of their last eight. There are 12 regular season games remaining and it is quite possible, likely even, that they could lose every single one.
Here is the remaining schedule:
@ boston college
vs. n.c. state
@ georgia tech
Sure, anything can happen on any given day, and the Hokies have certainly pulled some big upsets in recent years. But they had better players then. Based on what we’ve seen from Virginia Tech this season, it’s hard to see any sure-bet wins on that schedule.
As Niemo pointed out, the Hokies hit rock bottom when they lost at home to wake forest, the worst road team in the ACC. That was as sure a win as the Hokies had left on their schedule.
It’s safe to say that Tech will likely lose both games to virginia. Go ahead and pencil in L’s to No. 18 duke and north carolina. That’s four losses. Having already lost to boston college (the second-worst team in the ACC) at home doesn’t say much for a road game against the eagles in Chestnut Hill, where the Hokies haven’t won since 2006. Five.
The canes have to be scratching their heads and wondering how they lost to the Hokies earlier this season. Don’t expect miami to get swept. Six. The 20th-ranked pitt panthers and florida state seminoles are far superior teams. Eight. That leaves four games; home and away against maryland, at home to the wolfpack, and on the road against georgia tech. Maybe the Hokies eek out a win or two, but unless this team comes together and starts to play at a level we’ve not seen, it’s conceivable that Tech could finish the season on a 17-game losing streak and DFL in the ACC.
If that happens, which I don’t think it will because I have to believe the Hokies can steal a couple of wins in those 12 games, but if it does happen and the Hokies don’t win another game, they’ll finish with an 8-22 record. That level of futility would equal the program’s all-time record for fewest wins in a season.
Only once in the history of Virginia Tech basketball have the Hokies failed to reach double digit victories in a season. The year: 2000-2001. That’s right, ricky “program bomb” stokes. The team went 8-19 that year, which also set a record for most losses in a single season. That season also marks the only time in the 50+ years of Cassell Coliseum that Tech had a losing home record, which this year’s team will equal if it doesn’t win at least two of its five remaining home games, which seems like a stretch given the losses to bc and wake.
Should the Hokies lose out, or even go 2-10, they’ll set a new record for losses in a season. The current record, 19, was set in 2000-2001 and matched last year.
ricky “program bomb” stokes is not a name you want to be associated with if you’re coaching basketball at Virginia Tech.
However, a dismal record alone isn’t enough to get you fired at Virginia Tech. stokes, after all, went on to coach two more seasons after that historically bad year.
And there’s Johnson’s contract to consider. He’s in the second year of a five-year deal that pays him a base salary of $245,000, but with incentives and other deals, his annual salary is about $680,000 per season.
With a new athletics director coming in, will that person want to keep Johnson, who seems to have alienated his players with vague doghouse guidelines? Will the new AD (and donors) be willing to buy out the final three years? Is basketball a priority or an afterthought at Virginia Tech?
With most new coaches you can make the argument that they need a couple of seasons to bring in their recruits, but that argument is invalid with Johnson seeing as how he had a hand in recruiting just about every player on this team. Maybe year three is the year? Who knows. Can the program survive another season like it’s having this year?
Something has to be done. Attendance is way down. Ticket sales are anemic and the team is losing support with each and every game. Say what you will about fair-weather fans, but it is what it is. Play exciting basketball and beat some big boys from time to time and the people will come. Go scoreless for 10 minutes every game, fail to run the offense you promised, and bench your senior (and best) big man for no apparent reason, and you’ll be able to count the fans that show up on fingers and toes.
Seth Greenberg, for all his flaws, put a competitive team on the floor and consequently, butts in the seats and dollar-dollar-bills in the concession stand cash registers. Even in Tech’s 4-12 ACC season two years ago they were competitive in almost every game, including an overtime loss at duke.
Can JJ return the Hokies to respectability if given another season? If I knew that, I’d be the next AD. My gut says “no.” I don’t think JJ is the right coach for this program. And if I were the AD, I think I’d go in a new direction.