And look at that, the Hokies are back in the Independence Bowl, just like back in 1993 when the whole bowl streak and legacy of Frank Beamer began. Twenty-three straight seasons is some kind of amazing record. The bowls haven't always been the best, but we've been, and continue to be, awfully proud of our streak here in Blacksburg. The thing is, and this is in no way looking a gift horse in the mouth or saying that we are unhappy to be doing something that in so many ways has real historical significance, especially to those of us who remember the 1993 Independence Bowl, but with so few fans able to or willing to go to Shreveport the day after Christmas, it feels as though it might be a quiet goodbye for Frank, and that in itself is a little unfortunate.
As a little history lesson to those a little too young to remember what it was like in 1993, the Virginia Tech Hokies football program was not only not a formidable one going into that season, besides a few amazing players, the school wasn't even remotely on the map. Yes if you lived in Virginia you probably would have heard of it, but in the South, the East Coast, and definitely across the nation, you would have been hard pressed to have 3 out of 10 people know there was a Virginia Tech, and many fewer who had ever heard of a Hokie. How many of you remember, as I do, when Tech football was taken out of witness protection and the main question that was asked before every Hokie game was, "What is a Hokie?" Notice how almost no one asks that anymore? There is a reason for that and this bowl streak that started at the Independence Bowl all those years ago is a big reason why.
Since then, the Hokies have been on a magical journey that no one could have foreseen. Orange Bowls, Sugar Bowls, a BCS National Championship game, and countless chances for the Hokies to challenge themselves against the best in the nation.
Playing in the Independence Bowl this year though, it feels different. I'm not sure that it is totally quantifiable. We have all been pulling so hard to make a bowl over the last month plus, that so few of us thought of what bowl that would be and if we would actually be able to go.
Maybe in the end it doesn't matter if the bowl is a good one this year or not. Maybe it doesn't matter that the Tulsa team we are playing isn't very good, it could be argued that we haven't played very well this season also. And maybe it doesn't matter that most of us will be unable to go. It all kind of feels a little like it does though.
But, at the end of the day, this is for Frank and his players. We had our final home game, our finally victory over UVA, and now the bowl game is just for them. He gets extra time with them because of the game. Extra practices, extra work, extra conversations that none involved will ever forget.
That's what makes this all special.
So, the Independence Bowl for the 2015 Hokies...Hell Yes!