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Will VMI’s Athletics Program Ever Be Great?
The Virginia Military Institute is known as the oldest state-supported military college in the country. Yet, for all the prestige cadets get once graduating from VMI, the college’s athletics program has remained wanting for the last few decades. Stephen Varanko III believes that a public senior military college like VMI has the means to compete with other Division I schools in the NCAA. The military college just has to want it.
With the rigorous training these cadets get (think military discipline), it’s not unreasonable to think it’s a rather tall order to ask them to commit to sports as well. Stephen Varanko III however imagines that the physically demanding training and environment at VMI can be advantageous to athletes. The Spartan-like training and lifestyle may translate to a better performance on the field or on the court.
“The college’s football program actually boasts of 7 Conference Championships,” says Stephen Varanko III. “Unfortunately, the last one was more than forty years ago, back in 1977. At the very least, VMI retains some of its fun rivalry against Virginia Tech.”
Indeed, before Tech was pitted against the University of Virginia, the rivalry to watch even if you weren’t a fan of either teams was the one between VMI and Tech. Stephen Varanko III shares that the rivalry was so popular it was dubbed “The Military Classic of the South” and “Biggest Day of the Year in Virginia.” It reportedly even made the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1959.
While the glory of those days is long gone, Stephen Varanko III shares that VMI has a new primary rivalry in the Citadel Bulldogs. The two teams have met a total of 73 times, where the Bulldogs lead the Keydets 41-30-2.
Regrettably, when it comes to basketball, things aren’t much different. The Keydets men’s basketball team’s best showing in history goes way back to 1976-1977.
“In 1976, the Keydets made it all the way to the regional finals of the NCAA,” shares Stephen Varanko III. “They faced Rutgers University. Unfortunately, the team fell short, losing 75-91 in the finals. Still, it was enough to get the college excited about something, and it was sports!”
The year after, in 1977, VMI had another relatively successful run. The Keydets made it all the way to the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA. They finished with 26 wins and 4 losses. The team had Ron Carter, one of three players who had their basketball jerseys retired by the college. The other two are Gay Elmore and Reggie Williams.
“I really do find it unfortunate that the college has yet to produce an athlete that could make a name in the major leagues,” says Stephen Varanko III. “The most recent player to have had a successful major league campaign was Reggie Williams. But the farthest he ever got was the D-League.”
Right now, the things aren’t looking so great for the Keydets. They rank 7th in the Southern Standings, with a record of 5-9.
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Stephen Varanko III: Top 5 Players the Baltimore Ravens Should Keep
Another season, another disappointment for the Ravens. Last season’s miss means the Ravens made the playoffs only once in the past five years. Some fans think finishing 9-7 is well within expectations, but some believe the team is starting to be complacent, and look like it’s settling for mediocrity. Stephen Varanko III, a diehard Ravens fan, predicts a playoff run can happen next season only if the Ravens keep these five players:
1. Mike Wallace – First up is Mike Wallace. Stephen Varanko III has a soft spot for the wide receiver, being that he seems to be the only player who has chemistry with Joe Flacco. Wallace has stayed, for the most part, healthy and produced good numbers for the team as well. The cherry on top? He cares about winning more than lining his pockets, so the Ravens have a high chance of keeping Wallace for cheap. The savings there could go to keeping at all costs Raven #2: Ryan Jensen.
2. Ryan Jensen – If there’s one player the Ravens should aggressively keep, Stephen Varanko III believes it’s Ryan Jensen. If the Ravens let Jensen go, the team risks losing a key part of its offense, and winning championships are all about offensive continuity. He explains that coaches are normally given three to four years to build and adjust their championship-ready teams and losing Jensen would mean ruining momentum. It’s likely Jensen will get bigger offers from other teams, but a fan can always hope, right?
3. James Hurst – Up next on the keeps list is James Hurst. Now some fans are all for re-signing Hurst this season because he’s been inconsistent throughout his career, but Stephen Varanko III believes Hurst provides a lot of depth to the Ravens’ OL and for cheap. With the probability that Hurst may be overlooked by other teams, there’s a fair chance he’ll stay with the team and continue to improve. All in all, the math makes sense and it’s a win-win for the Ravens.
4. Michael Campanaro – Another seemingly lackluster player because of persistent injuries, Michael Campanaro is one of the most consistent punt returners in the league right now. Like Hurst, it’s unlikely other teams will poach Campanaro because of his injury history. Stephen Varanko III believes the Ravens can use this to their advantage, keeping Camp for cheap while benefiting from his numbers. He holds an average of 10.8 yards in punt returns, so he’s one of the low-hanging fruits the team should snatch up.
5. Brent Urban – Finally, the Ravens should consider keeping Brent Urban who’s unfortunately also prone to injury like Campanaro. Stephen Varanko III has the same strategy for Urban. Because of his injuries, it’s unlikely he’ll find another jersey color so the Ravens can easily keep him for a million dollars or two a year. In return, the Ravens get to keep their starting defensive end.
Which players do you think the Ravens should keep or see walk? Comment below!
For more blogs about the Baltimore Ravens by Stephen Varanko III, stay tuned.