How does a college football program reinvent itself? How does it go from a middling regional independent – a school without a bowl victory until 1986 – to a national title contender?
How does that happen?
In 1973, Virginia Tech lost to legendary Bear Bryant and Alabama by a score of 77-6, giving up a mind-blowing 828 total yards, 743 of them on the ground. The Hokies were as non-competitive in a single game as any football team has ever been in modern college football history.
But just 26 years later, Virginia Tech found itself on the edge of glory, just one quarter short of winning a national college football championship.
How, in the wide, wide, world of sports, does something like that happen?
The Hokies had no benefit of a fertile home recruiting ground like Florida, Texas, or California. It had little to no tradition to sell to recruits. It couldn’t ride the momentum of a heavy-hitting conference like the SEC or Big Ten. It didn’t have a gimmicky offense. Virginia Tech had something special going for it – but what, exactly?
In his ongoing (subscription-only) series on TechSideline.com titled GO TECH GO: THE INSIDE STORY BEHIND THE RISE OF VIRGINIA TECH FOOTBALL, Colston answers that question in depth--with insight, humor, and inside stories.
Chris Colston first attended games in Lane Stadium during the Don Strock era as a youth and graduated with a degree in Marketing Management from Virginia Tech. His freshman dormitory room, 444 Lee, had a view of Cassell Coliseum, and his sophomore-year room, 155 Lee, overlooked the site of old Miles Stadium. Colston worked in the Virginia Tech Athletics Department from 1985-96 as editor of The Hokie Huddler, and went on to cover the MLB, NFL, and NBA as an award-winning reporter for Sports Weekly and USA TODAY. His books about Virginia Tech football include The Hokies Handbook, Tales From the Virginia Tech Sideline, Frank Beamer’s first autobiography Turn Up the Wick, and Whitman Publishing’s Virginia Tech Vault. From 2010-12 he produced and authored the Hokie Football Annual.