As you might have heard, veteran beat writer Kyle Tucker is moving on after seven years of covering Virginia Tech football for the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot. Instead of spending his Saturdays in Blacksburg and the ACC this fall, he'll be covering Kentucky Wildcats football and basketball (OK, mainly basketball) and the SEC for the Louisville Courier-Journal.
Tucker was one of the first Tech writers to embrace the 24-hour, 365-day news cycle when it came to covering the Hokies and it benefited the fans as most of the other beat writers followed suit. I remember when he started writing his blog covering the Hokies that it seemed like a revelation. Most of Tech's beat writers back then went into hibernation during the summer months, which made the wait for football season that much worse.
Tucker blogged and blogged and blogged, eventually moved to Blacksburg and helped turn the Virginia Tech beat into one important enough that the V-P is looking for a beat writer who is going to come up with a "Virginia Tech 365" plan for year-round coverage. Not bad for a program that's never won a national title.
In addition to coverage from the V-P, the Richmond Times-Dispatch's coverage has improved dramatically with Darryl Slater's blog and year-round coverage. Two other beat writers, Norm Wood and Nathan "Tommie Frazier" Warters, do an excellent job but are also spread thin covering other beats in addition to the Hokies.
What also endeared Tucker to Hokie fans was his willingness to communicate them. He spent time on message boards and finally embraced Twitter and took the time to answer questions from even the most deranged of Hokie fans. Now that seems like it'd be a given that those covering the team would do this out of necessity, but three years ago this was incredibly rare.
Tucker was also willing to talk shop with another deranged, psychotic Hokie fan: Myself. Just a few months into this blog's life, he agreed to do a quick Q&A to preview the 2008 season, which turned out to be a really long Q&A. We kept in touch and even though we never did grab the beer we always talked about during my many trips to the 'Burg, he still took time to answer every profanity-laced email I fired off after something horrible happened to the team.
My favorite Kyle Tucker story is also my only Kyle Tucker story. I went to Nebraska for the 2008 game in Lincoln and was talking back and forth with him when I found out we were staying in the same damn hotel. Did we grab a drink the night before the game? No. Did we grab lunch the next day? No. After the game? No chance. It wasn't until this April that I found out why. Amazingly it wasn't because he thought I was some fanatical fan boy blogger who was going to annoy him with questions like, "So what's Bud Foster REALLY like?" It was a good reason. One I won't repeat here. I'll just say he was busy with lower body issues.
So as Kyle rides off into the sunset, we wish him good luck and hope that for him the bluegrass is greener on the other side. We'll miss his dedication to providing us with the best possible coverage of Hokie football and for playing a part in changing how it gets covered. Thanks for making it easier to follow this team and for not looking down your nose at those of us who follow it.