BY MICHAEL LEESE
Game day in Blacksburg, Virginia, proved to be very enjoyable and a good learning experience. Virginia Tech is in a beautiful college town just outside the Blue Ridge Mountains. Early fall weather had the leaves turning colors, which provided terrific backdrops for taking pictures. The first thing you immediately notice as you walk to Lane Stadium, is the buildings on campus are all the same stone structure, which I later found out is called Hokie stone. It gives each building a unique look, that is beautiful. I wandered throughout the tailgating areas, meeting many fans from both Virginia Tech and the visiting Pitt Panthers. It seems many Pitt fans are excited to be in their ACC, and are enjoying the inaugural campaign. During my visit to Blacksburg,I learned a lot about both the history and tradition of Hokie football.
HISTORY……..Football began at VPI (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University) on October 21, 1892 against St. Albans Lutheran Boys School, located in Radford, Virginia. The game took place on a plowed wheat field that was “about as level as a side of Brush Mountain.” The Hokies won that first game 14-10, but were defeated 10-0 eight days later, on a return trip to Radford. In 1954, the Hokies had their first, and only, unbeaten season in school history. The team finished 8-0-1, and ranked 16th in the Associated Press post-season football poll. The team’s lone blemish was a 7-7 tie against William & Mary in Blacksburg. Despite being undefeated, the 1954 Hokies did not appear in a post-season bowl game.
Head Coach Frank Beamer is in his 26th year at the school. He has compiled a 226-106-2 record during his tenure. People in this part of the country refer to Virginia Tech football as “Beamer Ball.” Virginia Tech has sent many players onto the NFL during Beamer’s tenure. The two most notable are Bruce Smith, the first pick in the 1985 draft and Michael Vick, who was the first player selected in the 2001 draft.
THE BIG EAST AND THE BCS……..In 1991, Virginia Tech joined the Big East Conference for football. Virginia Tech’s most successful season was in 1999, when The Hokies, led by redshirt freshmen quarterback Michael Vick, went 11–0 through the regular season. The highlight of the season was when the Hokies came from behind to win over the West Virginia Mountaineers. Michael Vick led a desperate last-minute drive that culminated in a dramatic Shayne Graham game-winning field goal. The 22–20 victory became known as the “Miracle in Morgantown.” The Hokies then played Florida State in the Sugar Bowl for the BCS National Championship. The Hokies led the game at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but the Seminoles scored 18 points in the fourth, en-route to a 46-29 victory and the BCS National Championship..
The following season, in 2000, the Hokies were again established as contenders for the national championship. An early November loss to No.3 Miami, a game in which Michael Vick was limited because of an injury, cost them a trip to the Orange Bowl. The Hokies later would defeat the Clemson Tigers 41–20 in the 2001 Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida, ending the season at No. 6.
JOINING THE ACC……In 2004, Virginia Tech moved from the Big East to the Atlantic Coast Conference, along with the University of Miami and Boston College. Since joining the conference, Virginia Tech has appeared in the ACC Championship Game as the winner of the Coastal Division five times. The Hokies appeared in the inaugural ACC Championship Game in 2005, losing to Atlantic Division winner Florida State. They have a 3-2 record in the ACC championship games.
FIGHT SONG…….. Tech Triumph, the university’s most popular fight song, was composed in 1919 by Wilfred P. Maddux (class of 1920) and his neighbor, Mattie Eppes. It was officially adopted by the student body in December 1919. Tech Triumph is played at sporting events by both the Virginia Tech band, The Marching Virginians, and the Corps of Cadets’ band, the Highty Tighties. The Old Hokie spirit yell, in use since 1896, is familiar to all Tech fans.
HOKIE STONE . . . Virginia Tech exhibits its character and pride every day via its buildings, most of which are made of Hokie Stone. Hokie stone is a native limestone common in Southwest Virginia and parts of Tennessee and Alabama. No two stones are the same color, varying from grays, browns, and blacks to pinks, oranges and maroons. Since the mid-1950’s, the university has operated its own quarry.
CORPS OF CADETS . ..The Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets is another tradition that distinguishes the university, which required corps participation for every able-bodied male for four years until 1923. The requirement was then relaxed to two years until 1964, when it became voluntary. Virginia Tech remains one of three public universities in the country (Texas A&M and North Georgia College and State University are the others) with both an active corps of cadets and civilian lifestyle on its campus.
THE GAME…….Virginia Tech jumped out to a 7-0 lead on their first possession of the game when Logan Thomas delivered a perfect strike to Kalvin Cline for a 27-yard touchdown. The Hokie defense then took control of the game, as they dominated the Panthers offense. Pitt was held to 210 total yards on the day, while quarterback Tom Savage was sacked eight times. The Panthers managed only 11 first downs and were held to 23 yards rushing! The 19-9 win moved the Hokies to 6-1 overall, and 3-0 in the Coastal Division of the ACC.
NEXT WEEK JOIN ME AT EAST CAROLINA
- Rock out: Hokies dig deep for helmet motif (espn.go.com)