TSL Round Table #3
by TechSideline.com, 6/25/02
For our "TSL Round Table" feature, we have selected a small panel of site fans and message board posters completely at random and without rhyme or reason (so don't be offended if you're not one of them), and each week, we'll pose them a question and run their answers here on TSL.
This week's TSL Round Table question: What is the first Hokie football game you remember seeing in person? What do you remember about the game (or the pre-game, or the post-game, if that's what you remember), who was the opponent, and what was the score?
Just for fun, we'll add clarifying notes where necessary, for details the round table member had forgotten or was unable to fill in.
Ben Shapiro (Beerman): The first Hokie game that I ever saw in person was the season opener against JMU, back in my freshman year. Good old 1991. I don't remember much about the game itself (stupid brain!), though I was pretty wowed by the size of the stadium and the sheer volume of people there. I'm pretty sure it ended 40sumtin to something-teen. I do remember the quote in the Collegiate Times the next issue: "They had a good quarterback, we had a good team. End of story" ... this on the way to a mighty 5-6. Sorry, no interesting tailgate or post-game stories here. Just an innocent freshman a mere few days into his college career. JMU in '92? Now there's a different matter :O)
Note from Will: Beerman's talking about a 41-12 season-opening win in 1991.
Sandy Cormack (Baltimore Hokie): The first Hokie football game I remember...a tough question. I attended all home games as a freshman in '81. However, the first I clearly remember is the '81 WVU game, my first trip of many to Morgantown.
Although I remember the game pretty well, the most impressive thing about the trip was the nonstop party atmosphere of the Downtown Campus. Dorms had suites instead of individual rooms, so you could have a nice party right in the dorm if you needed. You didn't. The drinking age was 18 in WV for everything back then, and Sunnyside was the center of the known partying universe. Beer flowed like water. Liquor flowed like beer. Even The Student Center had a bar. With a happy hour! Yes, the SCHOOL encouraged partying. Wow. Has society changed or what?
Oh yeah, about the game...WVU killed us. It wasn't even close. The score? I dunno - WVU a lot, VT not much. I remember cheering for a Don Wade field goal, that's about it (disclaimer - I was actually sober at the game). That was representative of the VT-WVU rivalry of the day - WVU had a decisive edge in talent and coaching. My how things have changed.
One other thing - I got into the game for free. Back then WVU didn't issue student tickets. All they needed was a student ID. I got in on my WVU bud's ID - they didn't check closely. I could have gotten in on a Banana Splits Fan Club ID.
Note from Will: It was WVU 27, VT 6, Oct. 17, 1981.
Dan Ramsey: Okay, I can't remember the specifics about the FIRST Hokie football game I ever saw in person. It was probably during the Fall of my freshman year in 1977 against somebody like William & Mary in front of a packed house of 25,000 or so fans (*** yawn ***).
However, I CAN tell you about the first VT game that I vividly remember seeing in person. It was in the Fall of 1980 and the opponent was none other than the villainous Wahoos. The VT program under head coach Bill Dooley had been making some noise that year (we were to eventually end up at 8-3 and in the Peach Bowl against a Miami team that was only just beginning its climb to national prominence under Howard Schnellenberger), as had the UVA team under coach Dick Bestwick So, the annual intra-state tilt had a little extra "oomph" behind it that year.
Also, I remember it as the first game ever played in the newly expanded Lane Stadium. Athletic Director Bill Dooley (yes, the same one) had practically bankrupted the athletic department to add another 15,000 or so seats to the East stands, bringing total Lane Stadium capacity to just over 52,000. However, on the day of the UVA game, the project wasn't quite finished and part of the new stands on the far South end were roped off. But even so, with an expected crowd of 48,000+ in attendance, at the time it would be the largest crowd to ever see a football game in the history of the state of Virginia.
The festivities commenced early on Friday afternoon at the old Phi Kap fraternity house at 620 N. Main Street. All was well until sometime around midnight, in the middle of a spirited game of "Prince of Wales" around the main bar, it suddenly dawned on me that I was supposed to take my GRE exams the next morning at 8:00 AM. I distinctly remember that my main concern at the time was not how I would perform on the test in what was sure to be a badly hungover condition, but whether or not I could get the darn thing over with in time to engage in at least a minimal amount of pre-game revelry at the frat house the next day.
So, I dragged myself out of bed at around 7:30 AM, wolfed down a sausage biscuit and Coke at the Upper Quad McDonald's, and was in my seat in Patton Hall at 8:00 AM, looking, I'm sure, every bit as bad as I felt. I don't remember much about the test itself aside from the fact that I finished it at about 11:45, about 15 minutes ahead of schedule, and made a beeline for 620 N. Main Street. (As an aside, it ultimately turned out that I got the best relative score on the GRE that I ever got on any standardized test that I ever took in my entire life. So much for proper test preparation!)
Around 12:30 the fraternity and our "preferred riff-raff" began to move "en masse" towards Lane Stadium, arriving about 20 minutes before kickoff. The forecast had been calling for rain and it was indeed overcast and threatening, but not too cold. We settled into our block of student seats, about 100 of us in all, located about halfway up the new stands on about the 10 yard line on the North end of the stadium. After passing around the "heat" that we'd smuggled into the stadium to warm up our beverages, we were ready for the game to commence.
There was a certain extra electricity in the air that day, even above that which normally permeates a VT-UVA game. Both programs were on the upswing, and the 1980 edition of the rivalry was expected to be a close game (at game time, I believe VT was favored by 1-2 points). Succinctly stated, it wasn't.
From the opening series on, the men in maroon absolutely dominated the preps from Charlotteshole. Behind the running of junior TB Cyrus Lawrence, the passing of QB Steve Casey, the receiving of WRs Sydney Snell and Mike Giacalone, the blocking of OL Wally Browne and FB Scott Dovel, and an absolutely terrific defense featuring the likes of DE Robert Brown, DT Pedro Phillips, NG David Marvell, CB Paul Davis, and LBs Mike Johnson and Ashley Lee, Tech beat UVA until there was nothing left to beat!!! When time finally expired, the final score was 30-0. The Roanoke Times would describe the entire event the next day as "a good, old-fashioned whipping."
With about 5:00 left in the 4th quarter, the skies finally opened up and the rains came. And not a soul in the stadium, aside from the handful of humbled Wahoos still in attendance, cared a bit. After the game, as the drenched VT students filed down from the heights of the new East stands, a deafening chant of "WA-HOOS SUCK! WA-HOOS SUCK!" was repeated endlessly in mad delirium. To top it all off, in the next edition of the Collegiate Times, they ran a picture of the UVA QB at the time (for some reason, his name escapes me) and one of his receivers that had been taken at the UVA team hotel the night before the game. They both had this faux "bad-ass" expression on their faces and they were wearing identical orange T-shirts with blue letters that read: "UVA OFFENSE: WE SCORE POINTS!" Umm ... points, fellas? I think not.
Chris Schooley: September 25, 1993: Virginia Tech 55, Maryland 28. This was a classic. Two weeks before, we had put 63 on Pitt on their home field. (Of course, the week before we'd been beaten by Miami 21-2, but that didn't really matter because it was on the road and Miami was like an NFL team.)
Pouring down rain, we had great, great seats (Row S, about the 30 yard line, which was really good for the student lottery system). And it rained. And then rained some more. The thing that got me was a blocked FG before half and the ensuing melee. It just amazed me that we blocked a kick when we needed it. At that point, I was hooked. And then we were treated to a fight. I can't remember the details, but Dwayne Thomas seemed to be quite upset about something. There was something about that day -- it was as if VT football was thanking us for sitting through the rain, and to show their gratitude, they threw in a blocked FG and a fight.
My friend Jason also swore that sitting on wet, metal bleachers was the cause of kidney stones. I try not to sit on wet bleachers, and I've never had a kidney stone, so he must be right.
Kent LaRoque: My first and fondest memory of VT football came in October 1964 (I was a sophomore in the Corps at the time) in old Miles Stadium against a then "pre-Bowden" FSU team. They entered the game in Blacksburg 5-0, ranked 10th in the AP poll. I believe they were leading the nation in either total offense or maybe just passing offense, but they were a very good team.
On offense we had players like Bob Schweickert and Sonny Utz (the great WR Carroll Dale had just graduated). I'm not sure who we had on defense, but Jerry Claiborne's wide-tackle six baffled them all day. Holding them to only a field goal most of the game, they finally scored late on a pass from QB Steve Tensi to WR Fred Biletnikoff, a player we all know.
Biletnikoff, so totally frustrated by the day and with what would clearly be their first loss of the season, simply turned to the crowd and hurled the football as far up into the seats as possible. Needless to say, there were plenty of boos and our fans really got on him for that display of poor sportsmanship. FSU did attempt and was successful with a two-point conversion, making the final VT 20, FSU 11.
I think we beat them again in 1967 or 1968 in Tallahassee by a greater score, but since then, they've pretty much had their way with us. Anyway, it was certainly one of the most exciting game I've even seen at VT.
Note from Will: VT beat FSU on the road in 1968, 40-22.
Matthew McKinley (Freddyburg Hokie): I hadn't even heard of Virginia Tech until my junior year in high school, being raised in a GT family, so the first game I went to was my first game in the Corps of Cadets, in the 1989 season. Since I've repressed most memories of that year (just kidding), the details are hazy, but I remember that we played Akron. That's because one of things all the Highty Tighties yelled together (from right behind the visitor's bench) was, "Hey, Coach! Only YOU could lose at Notre Dame!" (Gerry Faust, the then coach of Akron, had the first losing season at ND in many years, and was fired.)
Normally, opposing players are not supposed to respond to taunts, but we could see a few of them hiding laughs behind their hands/helmets. Oh, and I do remember that we kicked their butts. Not sure of our score, but we got racked the next week because we Rats let them score a field goal. So it must've been Hokies (a lot), Akron 3.
Note from Will: Tech 29, Akron 3.
Chris Hoover: Uh Oh. I thought I had left my checkered past behind me. When I first read the question, I thought I'd take the easy way out and go with the Akron Zip game of 1989, which was the first game of my freshman year at VT. It was a blowout win that I vaguely remember mainly for taunting Gerry Faust and the hideous Akron mascot. And wondering what the whole key thing was about.
However, that wasn't the first VT game I attended. Seven years before that - in October 1982 - I went to the West Virginia game in Blacksburg with an aunt and uncle. Their daughter, my cousin, was a student at Virginia Tech and she lived in Slusher Tower. The morning before the game, I went with my aunt and uncle to her dorm room to pick up our tickets. That was my first real glimpse of "college life" complete with young ladies walking around in bath robes and busily filling flasks with select beverages for the game. Good stuff. We also went by the bookstore and walked around campus a little bit, before heading to the stadium. I don't remember much about actually going into Lane, but once we were in our seats (way up on the east side), I definitely recall being surprised at how big the place was and how many people were there.
Now for the confession. I was rooting for WVU. My Mom's family is from West Virginia and I was born in Harrisonburg, just like Ralph Sampson, who was playing ball for another state school around the same time. So, unfortunately, VT was a team I rooted against quite often as I was growing up. This day was no different and I was cheering for WVU. I know that WVU won and I think the score was something like 16-10 or 16-6, but the game is mostly a blur.
One of the things that I remember was one of VT's players on the DL would wave his arms wildly before the play and the crowd would start yelling. I'm not sure if it was Bruce Smith (I think that's the right timeframe for Bruce) or someone else, but it stuck out. Also, the VT crowd seemed to be calling for the backup QB over the starter that day. Some things never change. It was a great experience and definitely set the stage for my triumphant return to Lane Stadium seven falls later when I began cheering for the good guys. If only my second visit to Slusher Tower had been as successful.
Note from Will: The 1982 WVU/VT game was won 16-6 by WVU, and the player who used to "wave his arms" was Padro Phillips (1979-82). He would crank one arm like a windmill before getting down in his stance, and it would fire up the Tech fans.
Steve Aikens (SteveinBaltimore): My memories of my first Virginia Tech game are pretty darn vague, which is surprising since I am a big football fan. I believe it was against Miami in the fall of my freshman year (1982). And I believe Jim Kelly was the Miami QB. And I believe we injured him...but that is about the sum total of my recollection of that game. I think I was still getting acclimated to college life that first fall, and a lot of it is a blur.
My football memories that year are of winning games, of Bruce and Padro Phillips and Ashley Lee and Mike Johnson, with Cyrus Lawrence on offense. Maybe Greenwood and Cox platooning at QB??? And very few details of individual games. They put lights in the stadium for the UVa game but that was over Thanksgiving Break so I didn't experience my first VT/UVa game until 1984. And finally, of course, we got snubbed for a bowl that year.
Considering the amount of detail I would be able to give you about any season in the last 10 years since I've been a season ticket holder, or even of Baltimore Oriole or Baltimore Colt seasons from the late 1970s, I have to admit I'm somewhat embarrassed to have so weak a recollection of my first fall as a Hokie. I could use the excuse that I did a lot of drinking my freshman year, but that wasn't the only year I did that!
I think to really appreciate a team, or a season, you have to be able to put it into context. And I had no context for Tech football before I came to Blacksburg. I knew they were called the Hokies, and I knew they were independents. I was a fairly big college football fan growing up. But back in those pre-ESPN days, being a college football fan meant watching the ONE GAME that ABC would give you each Saturday, and it was never a Virginia Tech game. You wouldn't even see scores of non-Top 25 games very often. There were no bottom-of-screen tickers, no frequent updates. You'd get a halftime show and they would go through the major scores and maybe then scroll the others by while heading for a commercial. So before I came to Tech I had no idea what kind of football program we had. I certainly found out quickly, and enjoyed watching Bruce & company, but specific memories are lost in the haze. Some day this fall I'll celebrate my 20th anniversary as a Hokie football fan, and I won't have any idea when that day comes!
Note from Will: On September 18, 1982, the Hokies lost to Miami 14-8 in Lane Stadium. VT defensive lineman David Marvel (1980-83) tackled a scrambling Jim Kelly from behind, separating Kelly's shoulder.
Will Stewart: My first Hokie football game was against FSU in 1977. I don't remember a thing about the game, other than we left early, because my dad was one of those "get back to the car, leave early, and beat the traffic" guys. Plus, VT was losing, and I think he wanted to get the heck out of there.
On the way back to the car, we heard the Lane Stadium crowd roar again and again, and it turns out that the Hokies were coming back. They fell short, losing 23-21. Good thing -- if Tech had come back and won, I probably wouldn't have spoken to my dad for weeks.
As an aside, the second Hokie game I saw was also against FSU, in 1979. Tech lost that one 17-10. Cornerback Paul Davis had three interceptions that day, but mainly because he was undersized and the Noles were throwing at him all day long. I remember one play where FSU lined up, and Davis came up to play tight man-to-man, right in front of the receiver. The problem was, the receiver was lined up five yards behind the line of scrimmage, so Davis was a good two yards over the line. The crowd screamed and yelled at him, but he didn't hear, and when FSU snapped the ball, Davis was flagged for offsides.
That's what I remember, anyway.