Virginia Tech's motivational tactics explained
Now that the Virginia Tech football team has completed the most drastic turnaround in college football history -- the ACC determined Saturday that no division I-A team has ever lost its first two games and then reeled off 11 consecutive wins -- it can be easy to forget just how difficult it must have been to stay motivated after that loss to James Madison.
Coach Frank Beamer used all sorts of ploys with this team, emphasizing throughout just how important it was for the Hokies to go undefeated in ACC play and get 12 wins so that these seniors would go down down as the winningest class in school history.
But on Monday during a sit-down with reporters to discuss the Orange Bowl, tight end Andre Smith revealed a specific saying that become vernacular heading into Saturday's 44-33 win over Florida State in the ACC championship game.
During the week leading into the game, Smith said an offensive linemen -- he couldn't remember who -- coined a term that was then written on the whiteboard in the dressing room come game day.
"Christmas in the crib" became a rallying cry because the team's seniors did not want to be relegated to the Chick-fil-A Bowl again. Because that game is on New Year's Eve, that would have meant the Hokies would have spent Christmas in an Atlanta hotel instead of with their families. Now, with a berth in the Orange Bowl secured, Virginia Tech gets Christmas off and doesn't have to report back to campus until Dec. 27. The Hokies leave for Miami the next day.
Smith called holidays in a hotel "an awful experience."
"That was pretty much the main motivation, to make sure we didn’t have Christmas in a hotel this year."
That, though, wasn't the only motivating tool. You may have noticed stickers that read '212" on the Hokies' helmets Saturday night. Smith explained Monday it came from a story team chaplain Johnny Shelton told during the season about water going from cold to boiling -- if you remember sixth-grade science class, water boils at 212 degrees. After the team's slow start, it became a slogan for the season and cornerback Rashad Carmichael was even wearing a "212" T-shirt Monday.
According to Smith, the Hokies began the year "moderately cold" but that by the ACC championship game, they were "boiling over" for a title. To be honest, it didn't make all that much sense to me, but it seemed to work. The score Saturday night wasn't indicative of just how dominant Virginia Tech was, especially early in the second half when its offense was on fire.
That isn't the only sticker Beamer has had equipment manager Lester Karlin put on Virginia Tech's game helmets this season, though. For the Hokies' win over
North Carolina Miami last month, the team had stickers with the number 9 on them to signify that the team had won nine games in a row.
The following week, for the
Miami Virginia victory, the team had a crown sticker on their helmets with the word "Coastal" written on them because the Hokies had clinched the ACC's Coastal Division.
Again, all of this seems a little hokey (no pun intended) at first, but considering Virginia Tech has the fourth-longest winning streak in the country right now -- only the three unbeatens, Auburn, Oregon and TCU have won more games in a row at this point -- it's hard to argue against all these ploys.
But maybe the biggest -- and most hilarious -- motivation for Saturday's victory was Coach Frank Beamer's promise to the team that he would dance if the Hokies won the ACC championship. Smith said the team requested a dance from the coach after the wins over both North Carolina and Miami, but that Beamer kept delaying it.
Well, Saturday in Charlotte, Beamer delivered on his promise, turning his "ACC Champions" hat sideways and doing what I guess you can only call his version of the Dougie. The video below is from cornerback Cris Hill's Twitter account and is a bit grainy, but it definitely gives you a sense of how ecstatic this group was to beat Florida State.
"I guess it’s just the Frank dance, whatever that may include and a lot of different moves and up to date moves we were trying to show him," Smith said Monday. "He’s a great coach and he’s close with us and that just goes to show you the personality and the type of person that he is. Definitely fit right in with us, especially in good times. For him to stand up in front of us like that -- it’s not the first time he’s done it -- but every time that goes on everybody’s having a great time and it’s just a good feeling.”
| December 7, 2010; 9:37 AM ET
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