The new football season is upon us and once again, the Hokies are ready to take the field. However, a familiar foe, that we have not seen in quite a while, occupies the opposing sideline this time.
The Mountaineers of West Virginia and the Hokies of Virginia Tech were involved in one of the most heated rivalries in college football for 33 years. The battle for the Black Diamond Trophy was a game every fan circled on the calendar as not only a must watch game, but a game where records meant nothing and, more than likely, a fight was going break out either on the field or in the stands. You could ask Hokie fans at that time who do you want to beat this year and the answer was always UVA and WVU.
The rivalry was downright nasty sometimes, unlike our rivalry with UVA where it’s more like big brother beating up on little brother. Hokie fans generally hate WVU and hate much of what their football program stands for. I still have my shirt that says “beat those couch burning hillbillies”.
Trust me folks, this is not just your school-yard hatred. I remember the year the Hokies beat the Mountaineers when they were highly ranked to ruin their shot at a BCS berth. Morgantown burned and Blacksburg rejoiced.
How does this hatred even start? Like many other heated rivalries, it stems back to the two being conference foes and the matchups being, for the most part, very even.
Both teams were members of the old Big East conference where they both shined. The final straw which caused the real hatred was when the Hokies joined the ACC. Now granted, most will say the Hokies took the money and ran, but I prefer to think the ACC took the cream of the crop. The Mountaineers lead the all-time series 28 to 22 with the Hokies being winners of the last two games. The last time the Hokies lost to WVU, Tech was ranked number 3 in the country and were on their way to a possible BCS berth.
I guess the rivalry is a natural one with the state being Border States and to begin with competing for some of the same recruits. It was the fans that really escalated the hatred. Smack talk is as much a part of the game as running and catching, but with these two teams fan bases, it has goneto a whole new level. Fans from the visiting team in this rivalry can expect to be heckled, jeered, and even have objects thrown at them.
The fans are not the only ones who get objects thrown at them as in a previous game, WVU fans pelted the Hokie players with batteries. It got to a point where the Virginia Tech higher-ups said the Hokies would never play in Morgantown again.
Even with all this hatred, this rivalry has not disappointed in producing some great college football memories. The “miracle in Morgantown” comes to mind which was when Mike Vick and Shane Graham single-handedly kept the Hokies’ national championship hopes and undefeated season alive with some late game heroics in a very hostile environment. Morgantown had a ton of burnt couches that night as well. Hopefully this year’s version of the Hokies will not have to resort to such late game antics.
The bottom line is younger fans will not have the same hatred for WVU as the older generation. That being said, there is no reason to believe the fans in Sunday’s game will not be rowdy and very vocal. Hopefully, this game will start a revival of the hostility between the border states. After all, what is college football without having a good, nasty, heated rivalry to really get a fan base going.