“This is the first time since the 2001 season that Virginia Tech has not been the host for a Thursday night ESPN game.”
The Hokies have been a staple in ESPN’s Thursday night lineups because the game is almost always a good show. Virginia Tech was almost always near the top of the ACC, almost always playing for a conference title and a BCS bowl invitation – and if you had to face them in Blacksburg on a nationally televised Thursday night game, good luck.
Lane Stadium is an intimidating place for opposing teams, never more menacing than on Thursday nights. For more than a decade, fans reveled in the atmosphere and, usually, a win: the Hokies are 10-3 at home on Thursday nights since 1999.
Virginia Tech took a tumble in the ACC ranks in 2012, but their uninspiring performances throughout much of last season weren’t the reason they were bumped from the schedule.
Hokies athletic director Jim Weaver wanted to give the fans “a night off” from traveling to weeknight home games, according to The Roanoke Times.
“It just wasn’t fair to have a game every year where so many fans couldn’t come and had to sell their tickets,” Weaver said earlier this week of the desire to have a “normal” schedule to show appreciation for fans.
For fans accustomed to annual Thursday night home games (after a decade, that’s most of the younger crowd), the abrupt change in plans is anything but normal, and according to The Washington Post, many aren’t happy about it.
The games have become a tradition in Blacksburg, outweighing the “inconvenience” of a weeknight game. Besides, how many Tech students would rather forego a game on ESPN and a chance at getting on TV in favor of a good night’s rest before Friday morning classes?
An editorial in VT’s Collegiate Times said:
“…For the student body, Weaver has angered — to put it politely — any Tech fan that understands the magic of Thursday nights in Lane.
The national exposure alone from being the only college football game on television one day a year should be more than enough to keep it around.”
Thursday night games at Lane Stadium are fan favorites, and fortunately, the experience is expected to be back on the slate next season, now that Weaver realizes it may not be the most appreciated “thank you” gift.
Fans would rather just have wins, which are usually pretty easy to come by in Blacksburg on Thursday nights.
The Hokies will play one Thursday night game this year, on the road at Georgia Tech on Sept. 26.