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The 1999 Virginia Tech Hokies: A Reflection on the Events of 20 Years Ago

Friday Night is going to be busy with the camera. I might not even get a break at halftime and I sure would like to have a second body for a wide angle lens. Virginia Tech is honoring the 1999 Undefeated National Championship Game team. That was 20 years ago! And still special. GO HOKIES!!!

The Hokie Bird will Celebrate the 1999 Team on Friday
John Schneider - SB Nation

The year 1999 was pretty special for me in many ways. As it came to a hectic end, an old boss called and asked me to come back to work for him and by November of that year I embarked on a pleasingly successful full life cycle project that I had a major hand in. He was a big sports fan, and one of the fun things that we often shared was the success of his favorite team, Notre Dame, and the interesting bumpiness of Virginia Tech’s seasons between 1994 and 1999. The undefeated season and the excitement of Michael Vick even got him interested in the eventual grand meeting of Florida State and Virginia Tech for the “National Championship”. I am still not sure that I saw that season, though. I know that I watched every game available, or listened intently on the radio when the broadcasts weren’t happening; but sometimes it all seems a blur.

It was nothing short of magic. It also signaled the high point in a Hall of Fame career for Frank Beamer. Here was a coach, hired as a hole filler in a time of NCAA doghouse living. Frank endured season after season of disappointment and floundering around in the basement of whatever. His children suffered taunts and personal insults. The NCAA gave back scholarships. Then there was the Sugar Bowl and Texas…. Recruiting turned around, and Beamer found a steady pulse of solid football players in key positions, including a steady stream of good quarterbacks; Maurice DeShazo and Jim Druckenmiller led the move from obscurity to the cusp of greatness. As Bryan noted in his article, the “Bowl Streak” started in the DeShazo era.

All of that was stunning and exciting. As a regular NOVA Hokie I lived for Bill and Mike on the radio, suddenly I was seeing my team on the television, regularly. Frankly I almost lost my mind at the West Virginia game. “The Kick” at the Miracle in Morgantown

so clutch, so Hokies... so Shayne Graham… But that was the only close game that season, except for the Sugar Bowl. Check out the schedule summary on Hokie Sports. The Hokies of 1999 were undefeated, unbowed, and nearly pulled it all off. It was a dominant football team, and Mike Vick wasn’t the only reason. There were some amazing talents; Shyrone Stith, Lee Suggs, Andre Davis, Shayne Graham, and Corey Moore were all made Hokie stars that season. (check out Sports Reference for the full roster)

The 1999 Virginia Tech Hokies were lightning in a bottle; no… maybe a big genie in a bottle. The team was every coach’s fondest dream and the result of a great coaching staff’s hard work.

So, Friday Night, the Hokies are going to do the White Out thing. They are going to celebrate the grandest charge of any football team from any school in many a moon. Now, upon reflection, maybe there was a downside to all of it. The near Championship pushed us into the brightest spotlight, but it also raised expectations into the often wild skies of Blacksburg, VA. Maybe we’ll get there, again. Maybe we won’t, but for those of us who saw it, we could tell the difference after 1999.

I was seeing Hokie and flying VT caps. There were people who’d see mine and point to me… “GO HOKIES!!!” High Schoolers were wearing Virginia Tech gear to school. More games were broadcast on TV. More young people knew that Virginia Tech was actually a major university, and they wanted to go there. Babies born in 1999 and 2000 are headed to Lane on Friday evening to jump to an entrance that didn’t exist when they were born.

Lane Stadium grew in huge leaps with them. The North End Zone student bleachers came in 1999. That was before the stands in the South End Zone (2002 was that project) the new improved West stands would come in 2006. There was no “Enter Sandman”. Maybe it was all caused by The Hokie Bird (current appearance starting in 1987).

I don’t know much about mixed feelings on this one. It was still an inspiring season, and some lightning that I am hoping that we catch again, soon.

GO HOKIES!!!

Poll

What was your favorite season for the Hokies?

This poll is closed

  • 66%
    1999 was the best and stays.
    (51 votes)
  • 1%
    1980 We turned a corner went to a bowl and trounced UVA
    (1 vote)
  • 16%
    1995 because that Sugar Bowl and 13th rank started it all.
    (13 votes)
  • 15%
    2004 Because the ACC thought it was better than we were.
    (12 votes)
77 votes total Vote Now

(Add any other’s below... a personal favorite is 2009, though we didn’t win a championship that season, I had my first season tickets and won over a future Hokie.)