There was nothing confrontational about the first ACC Football media day for first-year head coaches Brent Pry of Virginia Tech and Tony Elliott of Virginia, not that they aren’t certain to have a rivalry.
Transcripts of their time with the ACC media were available Thursday, with Pry offering what seemed to be the most telling quote.
“It’s the flagship school in the state of Virginia,” he said of the Hokies.
Moments earlier, a Tech follower in the back of the room had blurted out that the Hokies had taken a commitment from a 2023 prospect.
“We just got better,” Pry, most recently a Penn State assistant, told the moderator. “You get what you emphasize. We’re going to recruit the heck out of the state of Virginia. That’s very important to me. I saw what it did for Coach [Frank] Beamer and his staff and his program.
“There is nobody else that should know more about kids in this state than Virginia Tech. No other program. Not North Carolina, not Penn State. Not South Carolina?”
Was that a dig at UVa?
To his credit, Pry came to Tech with a state of Virginia background, including stints at VMI and Tech, where he was a graduate assistant under Beamer from 1995-97.
His first Tech recruiting class was ranked 41st in the country despite a late start owing to his Nov. 30 hiring by the Hokies. Elliott had a UVa class that was ranked 63rd.`
Elliott’s boss at Clemson, head coach Dabo Swinney, was rated the No. 5 recruiter among college coaches by Bleacher Report. Virginia has to hope that some of Swinney’s recruiting prowess has rubbed off.
While Elliott lacks the in-state background that Pry brings to the job, Elliott inherited Marques Hagans from the staff of departed UVa head coach Bronco Mendenhall and was able to hire 1990s UVa standout Chris Slade, who was coaching high school ball in Atlanta.
Elliott said this week in Charlotte that he regretted not latching onto offensive linemen in light of the departure of the five offensive lineman who were listed as probable starters for the final 2021 game, which was scheduled to be the Fenway Bowl until COVID intervened.
So, it turned out that a 29-24 home loss to Virginia Tech was the season finale.
“I’ve been fortunate to be part of a similar rivalry with Clemson and South Carolina,” Elliott said. “It’s 365 days. There’ s dividing lines, even in the household.
“It was refreshing to see because I think that every champion — and we’re talking long term that that’s what we desire to be — needs a very worthy rival.”
As an assistant at Clemson, Elliott was on the winning side in the Tigers’ last six games with the Hokies. That’s nothing compared to Clemson’s record against UVa, which is 40-81. The Cavaliers lost their first 29 games in the series before beating Clemson 20-7 in Charlottesville in 1990.
Elliott, remarkably, was one of Clemson’s co-captains in 2003 when the Tigers defeated visiting UVa 30-27 in the only overtime game in the 49-game span of the Clemson UVa series.
With any luck, he might be able to make some history for the Cavaliers’ program, as the Hokies would for their program.