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VT-FSU: Rumors of playbook leak lead to major locker room distractions
An independent student-run newspaper serving the Virginia Tech community since 1903
December 6th, 2005
by Adam Abramson, Sports Editor
In the days leading up to Tech's Atlantic Coast Conference championship game against Florida State, rumors of mutiny spread like wildfire and created a giant distraction for the Hokies.
Virginia Tech was looking for every advantage it could get going into last Saturday’s Atlantic Coast Conference championship game, but instead was faced with a setback.
The Hokie locker room was engulfed by controversy in the days leading up to the game after rumors spread that freshman punter Brent Bowden allegedly leaked information about Virginia Tech’s special teams plans to his brother Chris Hall — Florida State’s senior punter.
According to players on the team who requested anonymity, Bowden himself addressed the team after word spread, apparently trying to put the issue to rest before the team left for Jacksonville to face the Seminoles. Bowden told his teammates he would never help out another team Tech was facing.
Before the meeting, rumors surfaced about the alleged exchange between Bowden and his brother, creating unwanted tension in the locker room.
Some of the players approached Bowden — no relation to anyone on Florida State’s coaching staff — in the locker room about the issue. The scene was defused before it got out of hand and Bowden, who could not be reached by telephone by press time, apologized about the controversy, players said.
The Hokies struggled to keep pace with their opponent in special teams during the 27-22 Saturday night loss. Florida State’s Willie Reid returned a punt 83 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter, and the Seminoles found themselves extremely close to blocking Tech punts three separate times. However, it is not wholly clear whether Florida State’s special teams gameplan was tailored to information privy to the Seminoles in the week leading up to the game.
The biggest setback from the chain of events last week was the damper it put on the Hokies’ focus on the Seminoles during their key preparation period.
According to several sources, coach Frank Beamer was livid at Bowden after a practice last week when the rumors surfaced. Bowden was reportedly told by the staff he would be dismissed if it was apparent the Seminoles were aware of Tech’s special teams plan and countered it with an unorthodox look.
After the game, Florida State safety Pat Watkins, who downed a punt inside the one-yard line, said he was not fully aware of the specifics, but felt fewer than half of Florida State’s team knew about the incident in Blacksburg.
One Virginia Tech player said after the game that the issue was controlled well by the team and the situation was minimized as much as possible. Another player said relations between Bowden and the rest of the team are again positive after he denied telling his brother any of the Hokies’ plans.
The team did not make a statement about last week’s events.
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