September 11, a date that will live in infamy. Not to make light of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, but for the Hokie Nation, Sept. 11, 2010 was almost as dark a day. The Hokies had fallen 33-30 to Boise State on Labor Day and now, five days later, the unthinkable occurred when Tech fell to FCS-member James Madison. Blacksburg was not a happy place, but as Frank Beamer is fond of saying, “Good things happen to good people.”
And now, 11 wins later, the Hokies have returned to their accustomed position atop the ACC mountain. Saturday night’s eye-catching victory over Florida State allowed the Hokies to make history in going undefeated through the ACC schedule: The first team to do so under the present divisional set up. The Hokies will be representing the ACC in another Orange Bowl on Jan. 3. Since entering the league, the Hokies are 73-20. They have an impressive 18-year string of bowl appearances and have the longest active streak in the nation of 10+ win seasons (seven seasons and counting).
And yet, in the present BCS system where only one team hoists the trophy, something is amiss. No matter how impressive the record, unless our team gets to Glendale, we somehow have come up short. The Hokies know it. In spite of a 157-47 record since 1995, 11 seasons in a row in the top 20, division championships in five of the last seven seasons, four BCS Bowl trips since 2004, a trip to the National Championship game in 1999, the second-winningest active coach in America and a wonderful game day atmosphere, they continue to wear the label “Chokie Hokies.” The multi-million dollar renovation of the Merriman Center includes a very prominent and empty trophy case. The plan is that someday in the near future this will be the permanent home of the National Championship Trophy. Until then, Tech football just won’t measure up to the storied programs at Alabama, Southern Cal, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Oklahoma and Texas.
Why can’t we just cherish the moment? Many remember the 1-10, 2-9, and 3-8 records of the past, but the fact remains that sports is always about “What have you done for me lately?” Unfortunately, JMU 21, Va. Tech 16 will long be the defining moment of this brilliant season.
This edition of Tech football is a young one. The defense had to rebuild, the receivers were untested and the offensive line had some holes to fill. Going in, 11-2 sounded pretty good. Beamer and the Hokies have delivered and hopefully on Jan. 4 we will be celebrating our first 12-win season in school history.
Now, if we can get Mike London and the ‘Hoos to live up to their end of the bargain, we can talk next year about rivalry!