Hendon Hooker, now with Tennessee. Courtesy of UTSports.com.

In some respects, Virginia Tech football fans had to be shaking their heads in the wake of Tennessee’s 52-49 upset of No. 3-ranked Alabama this past weekend.

The Volunteers were led by quarterback Hendon Hooker, a Greensboro, N.C., product who had begun his college career as a Hokie.

At Tech, Hooker passed for 1,555 yards in 2019 and 1,339 yards in 2020, starting 15 of 25 games and throwing 22 touchdown passes over two seasons.

However, by the end of the 2020 season, Hooker had given way to Braxton Burmeister, whose time as the Hokies’ No. 1 quarterback included two victories over Virginia.

Hooker, now being touted as a serious Heisman Trophy candidate, announced he was transferring to Tennessee on Jan. 7, 2021. 

Burmeister later transferred to San Diego State, where he has split time this season.

Originally from La Jolla, Calif., Burmeister has played for three FBS programs, having started his college career at Oregon in 2017. The latest word is that he has returned from concussion protocol and may move to wide receiver.

Ironically, the last time that Virginia defeated Virginia Tech was in 2019, when Hooker was the Hokies’ quarterback and Bryce Perkins was the UVa quarterback. Perkins had begun his career at Arizona State.

The Cavaliers’ current quarterback, Brennan Armstrong, is in his fifth year at UVa during a time when the Hokies’ collection of quarterbacks has included Ryan Willis, Josh Jackson and Quincy Patterson.

Willis had come to Tech from Kansas, Jackson went on to transfer from Tech to Maryland and Patterson went from to Tech to North Dakota State before arriving at Temple this season.

Temple’s current quarterback, Kade Warner, is the son of former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner.

Will Mendenhall return to coaching?

Former UVa coach Bronco Mendenhall has been the subject of speculation concerning a possible return to the college coaching ranks, with Arizona State, Nebraska and Colorado mentioned as schools with possible openings.

“BYU was struggling when I inherited that program and we won for a long time,” said Mendenhall, who recently was on a College Game Day podcast with Pete Thamel and Rece Davis.

 “UVa, that was a struggling program when we started and then had five bowl-eligible seasons in six years. Hadn’t been done in, like, 22 years.”

“That’s going to happen again wherever I get to coach and it will happen for a long time. I’m young, crap I’m only 56. That’s kind of just getting warmed up. I think it’s past halftime … but I left both programs with improved programs and success.” 

Next generation

Former Virginia star and ex-New York Giants running back Tiki Barber from Roanoke was in attendance at Princeton University this past weekend for a game involving his sons, A.J., who ran for a touchdown for the Tigers, and younger son, Chason, a freshman at Brown who had torn his ACL one week earlier.

Wes Durham. Courtesy of ESPN Images.

Sports club

The Roanoke Valley Sports Club was treated to a guest appearance Monday night from Wes Durham, who explained the change in his Packer and Durham Show that has ex-colleague Mark Packer working in the afternoon on the ACC Network. 

They had more than 1,000 morning shows during a period when Durham also was calling games for the Atlanta Falcons.  Earlier in his career, Durham was a radio host for Georgia Tech basketball and will continue to call games for ESPN football and basketball games.

He has southwestern Virginia ties as a former Radford University broadcaster and received much appreciation Monday for his explanation of changes in college athletics.


Peyton Manning on College Game Day in reference to Minnesota:

“If you lose to Illinois, your head coach could be fired.”

Virginia lost at Illinois 24-3, but other Illini (6-1) victims have included Big 10 rivals Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota. The Fighting Illini are currently 6-1.

Doug Doughty has been writing for more than 50 years starting as a high school student in Washington,...