Many staples of the Virginia Tech football program have been born during the 28 season tenure of head coach Frank Beamer. "Beamerball" is a phrase coined for the Beamer lead team's ability to score points from units other than offense, especially on special teams.
Starting in 2000, Metallica's "Enter Sandman" blaring through Lane Stadium signals the Hokies arrival at home games. And 20 years ago Virginia Tech played it's first Thursday game under the lights on ESPN, a venture that has turned into a Hokie tradition.
Virginia Tech defeated rival West Virginia 34-6 on September 22, 1994 in the first of 28 nationally televised games on Thursday's. The Hokies have won 20 of those 28 contests, including a superb 12-3 record at Lane. Following a home loss to Boston College in 1995, the Hokies were 7-0 at home on Thursday's until falling to the visiting Eagles again in 2007.
With such success over the team's 15 home games on Thursdays, the question must be asked, what has made Lane such a challenging place to play for road teams?
Lane Stadium has never been a desirable place for the opposition to play on any day of the week. In fact, ESPN once ranked the Hokies home as the second scariest place to play, after LSU's Tiger Stadium. From a physical standpoint, Lane sits 2,057 feet above sea level, challenging the stamina of team's who don't routinely play at such elevations. From an intangible sense, Hokies fans are some of the most vocal in all of college football.
The noise begins during tailgates, ramps up during "Enter Sandman", and doesn't end until well after the final whistle. On any given Saturday the fans inside Lane can be found bouncing, screaming, jingling keys, and generally making life miserable for the opposition. These traits of the Hokie faithful are only amplified on Thursday nights.
Many teams in the midst of a promising season have swaggered into Blacksburg on a Thursday, only to leave humbled following a meltdown under the national spotlight. Miami Hurricanes quarterback and true freshman Brad Kaaya likely has been prepared for what he will face Thursday by his coaches. However, being prepared only goes so far when an opposing quarterback steps out of the tunnel into a Lane Stadium packed with 66,000 fans and countless more watching on ESPN. These games seem to do something almost inexplicable to opposing quarterbacks, much to the delight of Hokie Nation.
In 2013 there was anger amongst Hokie Nation when the school failed to secure their annual Thursday night home game for the first time since 2001. The school instead traveled to Georgia Tech, winning 17-10. The uproar was not misguided, as Tech fans know that even in a season where all seems lost, Thursday night football in Blacksburg makes things right—at least for the night.
To Hokie faithful Thursday games at Lane Stadium are in the same realm as "Beamerball" and "Enter Sandman", part of the fabric of Virginia Tech football.