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What Does Virginia Tech Do Better Than Anyone Else?

Hedgehog Principle Applied to Virginia Tech Football

Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

Figure 1.

Take a look at the Venn diagram. It's pretty simple. This simple diagram is used as a model for all successful businesses.  Don't be fooled. College football is a huge money making enterprise.  It's a business.  I look at what has made us successful, and I always come back to this.  Grant you, the business economic engine is profit.  For a college football program, the profit are wins. Pure and simple, wins are the engine that drives the program. When you break down our "hedgehog", there are a few interesting parallels.

1.)  What are we deeply passionate about?

All Hokies want to win, feel respected, and be appreciated.  We are passionate about defense, special teams, and running the football.  We want to turn on Gameday and see the guys talking about what a fierce, formidable place Lane Stadium is to play.  We want to play even the most daunting opponent close.  We want to be the underdog, and embrace it.  We want opposing coaches to look at next years schedule and sigh, "Damn, we have to go to Blacksburg."  We want the chip back.  We used to have a chip on our shoulder that made us an angry group.  We have transitioned from the hunter to the hunted.  We need to hunt again.  We need to go from, "I can't believe we beat Duke.", to "We beat Florida State."  Folks, we used to be there. The fans that are deeply passionate can tell you that.  Most of them were at the game.

Lane Stadium was the epicenter of college football on many Saturdays in the early 2000's.  No one wanted to play us there.  They knew.  They knew they were in for a knuckle scraping, drag out free for all.  We were physical, intimidating, and down right nasty.  "Enter Sandman" welcomed foes to a slobberknocker.  Now it's a museum piece.  It's like walking into the Smithsonian looking at the Fonze's leather jacket.  It used to be cool and original, now its a sad imitation of what it was. "Exit light...(I hope our defense shows up), Enter night....(I hope our offense can score twenty or we have no hope).  This leads me to my next part of The Hedgehog:

2.) What can we be the best in the world at?

This used to be Lane Stadium, when it meant something. This clip exemplifies what it meant to be an opponent walking into the "Terror Dome".

So yes, we can be the best in the world at this. I have been to "The Swamp". I have been to Jordan-Hare. I have been to Doak Campbell and watched those 'Noles do their chop. I am telling you, we have them beat. When we as fans, are on, there is no other more intimidating place to tee it up in the country. We need to get better. We have to improve the home field advantage.  We cannot rest on our laurels.  Those of you that have been to a noon kickoff in Lane can testify.  We ask so much of our team.  We need to get louder, we need to do our part.  These kids are out there bleeding for us.  The least we can do is show up early and vocal.  We have to get our mystique back.  This of course, transitions us into the third part of the diagram.

3.)  What drives your economic engine?

Wins are money in college football. Most smart fans would argue that the converse is true.  Since I have taken a business mind frame to our program, I won't ask you for dollars.  I will ask you for your unyielding support.  Its circular reasoning to suppose that "If Tech wins, I yell.  If they lose I won't." Does the effort from players change. Probably not.  Do the coaches coach better if Lane is louder? Probably not.  Of all my years in business I will argue that success breeds success.  To that, I would say that on any given Saturday there are approximately 40 stadiums that are difference makers in N.C.A.A. football.  Drive to Lincoln, Nebraska on opening weekend and judge if that program is failing.  Drive to Oxford, Mississippi and see if you enjoy a tailgate at The Grove.  My point is very simple: Don't let Lane Stadium lose what is has earned. Do not lose conquered ground.  When I was in Blacksburg in the late 1990's, we felt we could will our teams to win.  We felt like we were part of the game, and we could generate points.  Watching on television these days firmly in S.E.C. country, it just seems we expect a blocked punt or a huge play.  Help generate that play Hokie fans!  Help our players be successful.  Help recruiting by providing the most unreal atmosphere in college football, because it can be.

I found an awesome video online to remind everyone what Lane was.  Watch the whole thing, get excited and get ready!  The players and coaches need us next year. I hope you are willing.  The Buckeyes come to town in 29 1/2 weeks.

Figure 1: Hedgehog diagram