I’ve talked to some Hokies about Friday’s VT bashing column and the reactions ranged from annoyed to genuinely angered. They wanted to know why the post was necessary and what I was going to do about it. The post was “necessary” because the only thing Rudy loves more than himself is stirring up trouble and getting a rise out of people. That’s a large part of why this little blog was started so if you read, you’d better get used to it.
As for the second question: what am I going to do about it? At first, I figured the best thing to do was not to dignify it with a response. Frankly, as Rudy’s attempts to get under my skin go, this ranks somewhere near the bottom. The whole post screams “inferiority complex” and the fact that he felt it needed to be posted in the first place proves its fallacy. After a while though, I changed my mind. I figured, if we’re going to turn this thing into a fanboy cheering section, I might as well take this opportunity to toot the Hokies’ horn a bit. Now, you may notice that unlike Rudy, I prefer not to make myself feel better by trying to tear down someone out of jealousy. I don’t need to belittle other local institutions to make myself feel important. I prefer to build. Virginia Tech has a multitude of endearing qualities and therefore can rest on its own laurels and beam at its own accomplishments. So, in preparation for today’s opening game, here are my top five reasons that it’s great to be a Hokie.
5) Hokie Football – No, we haven’t won a national championship*. Yes, we lost to JMU. In fact, I’m going to address the JMU loss up front. The game was hard to watch as a Hokie fan and may have been the most depressing loss I have attended. That said, it was hardly the most important. VT ended up bouncing back that season and won the ACC.
*At least not in football… VT Bass fishing, on the other hand, has brought home the hardware.
From JMU’s perspective, that game was the best thing that has ever happened to their program or their fans. I was at the “National Championship Game” that JMU won in 2004. The game was fun and their fans were excited about the win but they used it mostly to talk about how it gave them a chance to get into the MAC and start playing good college football teams on a regular basis. If you ask any JMU fan if they’d rather have the title win over Montana in 2004 or the regular season win over VT, not a single one is holding onto that “National Championship” trophy. The win in Lane Stadium was the most important in the history of the JMU program. If Virginia Tech had won that game, it wouldn’t have ranked in the top 209 most important moments of the last 25 years. Shouldn’t that tell you all you need to know?
You’ll notice that Football is #5. Yes it’s important to the school and the community but it’s just a part of what makes Virginia Tech great. Football is a symbol, something that puts us all on the same team with the same goal. Football is something that we can watch together, even when we’re far apart. It’s also a hell of a lot of fun.
The team may have disappointed in some big games but they have played well and been in the hunt every year since Joey was in pre-school. Virginia Tech football has been one of the strongest and most consistent programs in football since the turn of the century. The Hokies have finished in the top 25 every year but one since Y2K and have won 10 or more games for the past 8 years which is the longest streak in FBS. Frank Beamer is the active coach with the most wins in FBS. That’s pretty good boys and girls.
4) Maroon and Orange – No, this probably shouldn’t rank above football but it felt better to lead with that. At freshman orientation in Blacksburg they tell all of the incoming students, “we’ll make you believe that Maroon and Orange are complimentary colors.”
They were right. I loved both colors individually before I went to VPI but learned to love them together when I got there. My favorite thing about the combo is that we are the only school that rocks the maroon and orange. When I wear my maroon and orange striped tie, there is no question what it means, even though it doesn’t have any logos or symbols on it. When Bud Light released it’s “fan cans” the maroon and orange was one of the top sellers, and VT was the only school buying.
There are some great color combinations out there. While some may disagree, I love JMU’s purple and gold. The difference is, I also love East Carolina’s purple and gold. No matter how much you love either school’s look, when everyone sees purple and gold they are really thinking of LSU. The same goes for other great color combos, all except one. When people see maroon and orange, they know exactly who you are talking about*.
*By the way, the same goes for the Hokie Bird. Yes, this is a bit of a cooky mascot but its OUR cooky mascot and we love him. Yes, our fighting gobbler is different but that’s a part of who we are. It’s a hell of a lot better than being repped by a tiger or a bulldog like half of the schools in college football.
3. The Food – Virginia Tech’s campus has a lot to love. On a bright spring day, there’s nowhere I’d rather be than walking across the drillfield or strolling around the duckpond. The beautiful old school architecture, punctuated by Hokiestone buildings, compliments a high tech university atmosphere. Of course, on a fall Saturday, there’s nowhere I’d rather be than Lane Stadium.
However, if you talk to any college student, these features are just fluff. The most important amenity that a campus can provide is quality dining. VPI has been ranked at or near the top of the rankings for campus food for years and is well decorated with awards. Campus dining in Blacksburg offers a wide variety and has something for everyone. If you’re looking for some down home Southern fare, you can get a great BBQ sandwich from Blue Ridge BBQ in Hokie Grill or fried chicken from the new Turner Place’s 1872 Grill. If you want to stick with the chain foods feel free to hit up Pizza Hut, Au Bon Pain, Chick-Fil-A, Qdoba, and many more. However, if you’ve got some spare dining dollars at the end of the semester and you want to treat yourself, you can really go upscale. Try out a succulent lobster from West End or eat at Origami, the new on-campus Japanese steak house.
Thanks to the great on-campus options, Virginia Tech may be the only college campus where alumni come back to town and eat in the dining halls. In fact, I could really go for an Old Hickory burger… if I left right now, I could make it to West End before kickoff…
2. We Build Things – Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University has always been ranked well but has never been among the elite universities in the US. The US News and World Report ranked VPI the #71 overall university and the #28 public university in the US. While that’s respectable, it’s really not all that impressive. However, Virginia Tech lags primarily in softer studies like social sciences and liberal arts. No, Tech’s English Lit and European History programs don’t impress. Let’s be honest though, who the hell is getting an English Lit or Euro History degree? English Lit and European History teachers, that’s who.
*This robot, named CHARLI, is a robot designed and built at Virginia Tech. We’re going to feel really silly if he ends up leading the robot apocalypse and destroys all of mankind. Until that happens though, he’s pretty freaking cool.
Where VT does excel is in actual sciences like Architecture, Engineering, Agricultural Sciences, and Animal Science. These are people who use their degrees to make some really cool shit. They build skyscrapers and bridges, airplanes and computers, farms and flocks. Tech students have designed and built some pretty cool stuff over the years including a fully sustainable solar house and soccer playing robots. VT has the blue-collar work hard, play hard but get your shit done kind of atmosphere that has made America great over the years.
1. Lets Go… HOKIES! – Blacksburg, VA and Virginia Tech were touched by tragedy. The students, faculty, and citizens of the community could have rolled over and become a town defined by their loss. Instead, they banded together and became a community defined by their strength and ability to overcome.
“The Hokie Nation embraces our own and reaches out with open heart and hands to those who offer their hearts and minds. We are strong, and brave, and innocent, and unafraid. We are better than we think and not quite what we want to be. We are alive to the imaginations and the possibilities. We will continue to invent the future through our blood and tears and through all our sadness.
We are the Hokies.”
Now, without further ado, a VT football pump up video: