We wanted to be in the A.C.C. so bad. When the news broke of the Atlantic Coast Conference looking to add membership, I was driving the bus to get us in. They took us and Miami. They added Boston College a year later, but they had effectively raided the Big East 'fridge of all the high end groceries. It's funny now to look back and decide the three best wins I was in attendance for. They are all Big East games. Some of them don't get talked about anymore. Some of the players are forgotten. I didn't forget. So without further ado, here are the biggest wins that I saw with my own eyes. I'm going to start with the game changer of all game changers. This is the game that introduced that school in Blacksburg to the rest of the world.
Jim Druckenmiller led us into the spotlight. We beat a nationally ranked blue blood. We started the season out 0-2, dropping games against Boston College and Cincinatti. The #17 Hurricanes were next on the slate, and the local media was already writing Frank Beamer's epitaph. They were calling for his head. Then Miami came to town. This was supposed to the nail in the coffin, but we won 13-7. We won every game the rest of the season including a 36-29 nail biter against U.V.A. on national television. That incredible team took its lunchpail down to Bourbon Street and beat a solid #9 Texas club. This was our coming out party.
Two From the 1999 Season
College Gameday in Blacksburg. Michael Vick in his prime, calling the shots. Miami was ranked #19, we were ranked #2. Some guy offered me $700 bucks cash for the two tickets I was holding. I refused. I didn't even think about it. This was the biggest game I had been to at Lane. This was going to be epic. When we found our seats I can remember looking at Miami, with the dayglo orange accents warming up, and thinking that this was a trap. Ed Reed. Santana Moss. Bubba Franks. I hated those guys. I hated the "U". We went down 10-0 quick. Lane Stadium was as quiet as I have ever heard her. 43 points later, I was jubilant as the Terror Dome was electric.
The Game That Sealed It
There were no guarantees heading into this game. We had to beat Boston College to have a hope of getting to the national championship. We needed help. We were undefeated, but when #3 Nebraska had to use overtime to beat unranked Colorado, we were in. My brother and I rushed the field to celebrate after beating Boston College 38-14. Best memory of that magical night was listening to Frank Beamer (Holding a hand-held mic from God knows where) address the masses. They had wheeled out a makeshift platform to mid field and Frank yelled, "Who is coming with me to New Orleans?" After all the festivities we were trying to find a way out. The walls in Lane are high, and we were desperate.Somehow we ended up in Cassell Coliseum. There was only emergency lighting burning in Cassell. It was an eerie scene. We were just trying to begin the long, long march back to Lot Nine, but here we were. We did what most Hokie fans would do in that situation. We found a basketball and began playing horse. Picture this: two bundled up guys, who left sober around noon, chucking up threes in a darkened Cassell. After around 15 minutes a polite usher showed us how to get out of the complex. We played dumb and soldiered to our car.
We caught the end of the Kroger Point After with Bill, and ate what was left of our tailgate. The drive home was silent, but my brother and I had a quiet confidence knowing that our team had made it. We were in the national championship. Virginia Tech was about to play the biggest game on the biggest stage, and we saw it all from start to finish. That was the proudest day in my Hokie life.