Hokies QB proves to be selfish Vick-tim

Now that Virginia Tech quarterback Marcus Vick has picked up where he left off in his campaign to neuter every opportunity tossed at his preternaturally quick feet, the words of Vince Young ring louder and truer today than when he spoke them Thursday.

Young, operating on minimal sleep after the defining moment in his athletic life, that 41-38 comeback victory in the Rose Bowl that brought Texas its first national championship in 35 years, talked about how he had cried in the wee hours after the game as he thought of his Houston childhood.

"There was a lot of guys in my neighborhood supposed to be in the position I am right now or even better," Young said, "but they're really not doing anything. So it kind of pushes me every time I see them to keep working harder."

One guy succeeds. One guy fails. It happens every day, not just when ABC has set up 30 cameras in the Arroyo Seco. It happens on the field and off.

I'll say right up front that I don't know Marcus Vick. If I ever interviewed him, it was in one of those scrum deals, where the only insight you get is into the breath of the writer next to you.

But you didn't have to be in the Hokie huddle to recognize that trouble has a much easier time of wrapping up Vick than most tacklers ever do. There is a trail of evidence that suggests that Vick can't be bothered with the rules. Virginia Tech president Charles Steger decided that the Hokies will no longer be bothered with Vick.

In a statement Friday, Steger said, "Virginia Tech quarterback Marcus Vick has been permanently dismissed from the Hokie football program due to a cumulative effect of legal infractions and unsportsmanlike play."

That means, athletic spokesman Bryan Johnston said in an e-mail, that Vick may remain at Virginia Tech as a student if he so chooses.

Anyone can screw up once. But Vick turned it into an art form.

Virginia Tech -- the university, not head coach Frank Beamer -- suspended Vick for the 2004 season after two incidents, the first involving alcohol and teenage girls, the second a combination of reckless driving and possession of marijuana. When the university allowed him to enroll again last January, he knew he had no more chances.

Quarterbacks are supposed to operate at maximum efficiency when stressed. That's why coaches have hours and hours of meetings. That's why coaches leave their doors open. They build a relationship with a player, teaching and nurturing him so that when he gets on the field, he doesn't have to think. The enormity of the moment shrinks to a manageable size.

Beamer and quarterbacks coach Kevin Rogers have spent four years of their professional lives tutoring Vick. Quarterback coaches and quarterbacks may be closer than any other coach-player relationship in the game. Over and over, Rogers said, he counseled Vick.

"You're in change of your own future. You have a bright future if you make good decisions," Rogers described. "Respectability and accountability and all those things."
But at two stressful moments this season, Vick dumped his self-control. In response to taunts from the West Virginia fans, he flipped the bird. And on Monday, in the second quarter of the Gator Bowl, Vick got up from his tackle and stamped down on the calf of Louisville defensive end Elvis Dumervil.

"I saw it happen right in front of me," Rogers said. "I just couldn't believe it. There's no place for it. The amazing thing is, in my heart, I know it was a knee-jerk, stupid reaction, which is the kid's problem. It wasn't anything premeditated. The guy's leg was there, so he stamped on it. You can't do that."

As Virginia Tech officials deliberated Vick's fate, The Washington Post reported Friday that Vick had been arrested Dec. 17 for speeding and driving with a suspended license. In and of itself, it's just a speeding ticket. But it's also one more example of Vick's disregard for the rules. If your license is suspended, don't drive. Hello?

Vince Young takes his great fortune and succeeds. Vick takes his and washes out. There has been a lot of speculation regarding Vick's ability to cope at Virginia Tech in the shadow of his brother Michael, the quarterback who led the Hokies to the BCS Championship Game in 1999, became the first pick in the 2001 NFL Draft and had his jersey retired by Tech in 2002.

That's better left for armchair psychologists, who can explain how Michael providing for his younger brother gave Marcus an excuse not to know right from wrong.

In the end, Steger, the university president, retired Marcus Vick's jersey, too. Whether or not Marcus remains at Virginia Tech, he has placed his name as indelibly in Hokie football history as did his brother. Stamped it, even.

Ivan Maisel is a senior writer at ESPN.com. He can be reached at ivan.maisel@espn3.com.