It’s about time to grab some notes and a few bits and pieces of things in the air to come up with the first official Hokie Football Top 5 Things list. Yes, we know the usual “5”; inexperience, depth, newness, lack of playing time, and of course inexperience lead the list and going into those things is more of an ad nauseum exercise that might be boring, or well there is no “or” it’s boring, now.
Let’s grab five something else ‘things’ around the 2018 Hokies that could have an effect on the season that maybe we all hadn’t considered.
1. The Story of the 2018 Hokies
You have all heard this from me before, but I’ll put it out there, again so that you know from where this comes. I don’t like analytics, statistics, and numbers. They have their place, like balancing your checkbook, or figuring out the change at the store, but humans are not numbers, and neither are teams. Teams are groups of humans all supposedly working in their own way to accomplish a goal or set of goals. In those descriptions, math has almost zero place beyond being adjectives to describe the elements of the story.
The 2018 Virginia Tech Hokies are a story that is just starting to be written. The introduction hasn’t been finished, but Chapter 1 is just a little over a week away. The sports experts have all decided that Tech isn’t going to be more than a shade above average. Their numbers, like goat entrails, are whispering mediocrity to them. They grab Rorschach tests looking graphs and pages of numbers to show all of these probabilities and possibilities. In almost no where do they have room for what sort of story the Hokies can possibly write. We are supposed to be worse than we were last season.
Football is all about what story the team writes for itself. This team looks very much like it intends to do it’s level best to write an entirely different story. That’s one thing that real fans love about football. It’s all about what you put and leave on the field for each game during the season.
2. The Blacksburg Fall Weather
Will the weather hold in Blacksburg? Last year we had the Duke Game deluge, but every other home game ranged from lovely to perfect. We just saw our first week where we had a stretch of days below 80 during the day and down into the low 50’s at night. There is a just a couple of days short of a month left in summer. Is it going to get to autumn earlier than the last few years? The only truly cold game played was the 2016 Thanksgiving Weekend drubbing of UVA, and the chill wore off by early evening as the news got better and better. Weather can really affect a team’s performance. It can also push crowds away. Most of Hokie Nation makes day and two day treks from and back to Northern Virginia or Southside. In either case poor weather conditions will definitely have an effect on those four/five hour drives. It also puts a real damper on the fun of tailgating and hanging out in town after the games. The Hokies always seem to be a good foul weather team, but too much can be a drag on everyone. (It’s brutal on the camera and support equipment, too.) Let’s hope for a repeat of 2016 - absolutely beautiful conditions for every home game, and the bowl game, too.
3. Roads and Runways
For those of you who aren’t familiar Lane Stadium is about a half mile off of US 460. For eons, the access to it has been via Southgate Drive which was a level grade turn with a signal light. Well when 460 expanded to 4 lanes, the light remained because no budget remained for an overpass. Well two years ago they finally approved the overpass, and it’s finished. The light stopping up 460 is gone, and Southgate has been shoved over to the East a bit. BUT (There is always a “but” in there somewhere), the design for the exit was performed by someone who was fixated on demolition derbies... Instead of keeping it simple and stupid, someone had the bright idea that they were going to put in a crisscross right to the left sort of arrangement with some sort of light and intersection paint guiding the tailgaters to the environs of their premium parking around the stadium. Lesser mortals are forced to park in outer lots and take the shuttles in, or hoof it. The Brat, Burger, and Booze crew has to navigate this monstrosity in the dark, perhaps in the rain, and worse. I get the impression that the builders of the intersection are going to put up grandstands and sell tickets to the mayhem after a game.
The other mess is one that seems to come from folks who have the kind of big bucks that merit increasing the runway length for Hokie International. It’s interesting to grade the level of wealth coming in. If you see a Cessna 170-270 series the occupants are wealthy. If it’s a Beechcraft Baron, they’re comfortably wealthy. A Cessna Citation means really wealthy and something like a Gulfstream V well that’s uber wealthy, and that seems to have merited tearing up Industrial Park drive (with the attendant road closure) and potentially turning Chicken Hill into a muddy mess in foul weather. We also have to wonder where all of the motor homes that parked out by the airport will go. It was like a portable town over there. Leaving the Chicken Hill lot is going to be a challenge, too. We used to miss the traffic and drive out Industrial Park, hit 460 and head north to the other side of town. Now we’ll be struggling through the Southgate and Airport road traffic getting back through the post-game escape mess. This is a very sad thing.
4. Uniforms and Helmets
I am told by those who know, that this mad passion for uniform swapping including cleats and helmets is the new cool thing, and comes with those lucrative sponsorship sorts of things for the various sportswear companies. In days gone by most teams didn’t even have “practice pants and jerseys”? They practiced in the same white pants stuffed with pads that were worn for the game. In the old days, kids saved their game jerseys for only that occasion. Old over-sized tee shirts served for practice. Even though some of us are not fashion plates; some of the uniform designs are interesting. The Hokie Stone gray and black (to honor the school’s first colors and the Corps of Cadets) was a really neat combination. This year they are supposed to be doing that two color variation in the numbers (like the black and red/orange pro combat stuff from the Boys Estate game) but with new helmet stripes and other tweaks. We’ll see how they look on the field in a little over a week. There may be a bit too much energy and effort put into looking good. There are those of us who wish we’d stick with the Maroon striped Flying VT helmet with the all maroon look for home games and the white over maroon for away contests. Let the crowd do the effect stuff. Some of us old guys have simple tastes.
5. The Fighting Gobblers of Virginia Polytechnic Institute
The story of Virginia Tech is the story of nearly a century and a half of names, and other items of cultural curiosity. Most folks who do the modern day Hokie “Thing” know Oscar M. Stull’s 1896 “Old Hokie” (well it’s actually Old Hoki) so let’s honor Mr. Stull and give you the original words:
OLD HOKI! READY! “ONE, TWO! ONE, TWO!”
Hoki, Hoki, Hoki, Hy!
Techs Techs V.P.I!
Rae Ri! V.P.I.!
Of course we added an ‘e’ to the end of Hoki, and dropped the ‘s’ off of the word Techs because back before adopting the Wild Turkey (ah hem... Fighting Gobbler) in 1909 as the mascot the short name was Techs. It seemed chopped off so someone at some time added a “Team! Team! Team!” to it.
But there are others, and for the life of me the reality of those cheers has disappeared into the wind the first official cheer for the pre 1896 football team was what we called the ‘A’ Company Cheer. Of course at that time the schools name was Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College.
RIP RAH REE
VA VA VEE
A – M – C!!!
At some point in the 20th century the second line evolved into “VIA VIA VEE” probably because it sounded and flowed better. Much like ‘Old Hokie” morphed slightly to suit the times and ears.
There are some other cheers. There was one titled Rah Tech! But the source has evaporated from the digital footprint. ‘D’ Company also had a cheer they called ‘Yayah Yayah” or something. Its origins are obscure, but Delta Company is also the source of the ‘Pig Hop’ story so maybe someone who knows which of the two companies that form 1970’s Delta Company can clue us in.
A 2006 publication on Hokie Traditions is still online for everyone who is interested. Having it handy helps with confusion, and snuffs derision. We are still technically the Fighting Gobblers, but now that Hokies and the Hokie Bird are trademarked and part of the culture we’ll just have to pull them along. At least Frank Beamer put the Gobble back after Dooley trashed it. That’s one more thing to love about Frank.
Counting the days until kickoff, but you’ll have to pardon me; I am really waiting impatiently for September 8th when the Tribe visits Lane. We love Game Day in Blacksburg!