The Black Diamond Trophy game is coming soon, and I have been recalling some of my best Virginia Tech/West Virginia memories. My dad was a W.V.U. grad (class of ‘66), and I have always particularly enjoyed this rivalry game growing up. When Virginia Tech left the Big East, that was my only qualm. We wouldn’t be playing West Virginia every year. I was 20 when I went to Morgantown for the first time. My dad picked me up and promptly told me to go change. I was wearing my best Virginia Tech gear, and I didn’t even get in the car. I walked outside my apartment, and he was already rolling down the window of his Plymouth K-Car. “You’re not going to be able to wear that.” He almost spat it. He was huffing under his breath as I went inside and grabbed a neutral outfit. I didn’t understand it, then I got to Morgantown.
Those of you that read us regularly know I live in the heart of S.E.C. country. I have never seen a fan base quite like the Mountaineers until I went to an L.S.U. game. These two fan bases are brothers from another mother. They devoutly love their team, and absolutely hate everything else. They are so passionate, it’s hard not to like them. When we were playing West Virginia regularly, it was easy to bang on West By God. They used to act like mo-rons (that’s how my dad pronounced it, MO-rons) at Lane Stadium, and we returned in kind at that other stadium up north. L.S.U. fans also made an impact in Blacksburg. Here is a report from espn.com:
BLACKSBURG, Va. -- At least 15 people were arrested early Sunday after a shouting match between Virginia Tech and LSU fans got out of hand.Police officers in riot gear dispersed a crowd of about 3,000 unruly fans, hours before 14th-ranked LSU was to play 16th-ranked Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.Police Lt. B.E. Bradbery said football fans gathered on opposite sides of Main Street and began exchanging team chants about 9:30 p.m. Saturday. By midnight the crowd had grown and become disorderly, Bradbery said.Blacksburg police called in every off-duty officer and contacted other police agencies for help. Police Chief William H. Brown declared the disturbance an "unlawful assembly" about 2 a.m., and officers in riot gear made their way down Main Street and scattered the crowd by firing "pepper balls, pepper spray encased in plastic."Order was restored by 3:30 a.m., police said.Those arrested were charged with a variety of offenses, including public intoxication, disorderly conduct and felony assault on police officers, Bradbery said.
I wasn’t at the riot, but I did witness Frank Beamer beat Nick Saban. The next season Nick went on to win a natty, and the rest is history. If you head to uproxx.com , you can see Ryan Joseph’s ranked list of best couch burning episodes. Here is the Virginia Tech’s entry:
The Mountaineers scored a huge upset over the No. 3 Hokies in 2003, taking a 28-7 win in Morgantown. For that big of a victory, the students were ready to f*cking rage, brah: they attempted to tear down the goal posts and took to the streets to light stuff on fire. The police stymied the goal post destruction, using force and pepper spray to eventually dissuade attendees, but students and fans did manage to “set nearly 60 fires… a dozen of them ‘sizable.'” The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote about the incident later and how it intersected with the university’s cracking down on the rioting, which drew both positive and negative criticism.
See any parallels there? It begs one simple question. What is the best “lost rivalry” game due to reallignment? For me, if it’s not VT/WVU, it’s Pitt/Penn State. They took a 16 year hiatus, but it’s making a comeback. The Backyard Brawl is a great rivalry, and I’m happy it’s back on the slate. Are there any other games I’m missing? Hit us up on twitter @gobblercountry or facebook!