September 19, 2020 and September 11, 2021 were going to be special days for the college football world. Two of college football’s premier programs were about to line up toe-to-toe, for the first time since a controversial overtime thriller in the 2012 Sugar Bowl. Two programs that boast some of college football’s greatest coaching legends in Frank Beamer and Bo Schembechler. Two programs that have produced notable defensive stars such as Bruce Smith and Charles Woodson. Two programs that boast some of college football’s most thrilling traditions from Enter Sandman to the Go Blue Banner.
These two programs were going to be in their prime when they took the field; Jim Harbaugh would’ve been in his sixth season at his school, Justin Fuente in his fifth. These two games had great potential for playoff implications.
However, Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel had other plans. On Thursday, Michigan decided to cancel the 2020-2021 home and away series with Virginia Tech, giving the Hokies $375,000 in return. This leaves an open date for the Hokies’ 2020 and 2021 schedules. Their 2020 non-conference schedule currently consists of Liberty, Penn State, and ECU, while their 2021 schedule consists of Richmond, West Virginia, and Notre Dame. Michigan, who has a home-and-away with Washington in 2020-2021, is likely to replace their schedule void with Arkansas State. (MGoBlue) (Virginia Pilot)
According to Michigan’s press release, the Wolverines and Hokies will discuss future dates to take the gridiron. But, had the game been played in 2020, there may have been the potential for an interesting storyline surrounding the Hokies signal-caller. (MGoBlue)
Assuming that he would’ve returned for his senior season, Josh Jackson would have had the chance to play in a place he is very familiar with: The Big House. Jackson, who grew up in Ann Arbor, has some family ties to the University of Michigan. Jackson’s brother, Jeremy Jackson, was a wide receiver with the Wolverines from 2010-2013. Jackson’s father, Fred Jackson, was an assistant coach for Michigan from 1992-2014.
Fred Jackson’s run at Michigan came to an end with the hiring of Jim Harbaugh in 2015. Certainly, it wouldn’t have been an ordinary game for Josh Jackson, especially since he would have returned to a place where his father coached for more than two decades.
Another apsect of this game would've revolved around the only time the Hokies and Wolverines ever met: the 2012 Sugar Bowl. The game was full of craze, excitement, and most frustratingly for the Hokie faithful, controversy.
In case you didn't already know, "Danny Coale caught the ball” came from a Danny Coale touchdown catch being overturned and ruled incomplete. The touchdown would’ve put Tech up 26-20 in overtime, which would’ve looked promising considering how well the Hokie defense contained star QB Denard Robinson. Instead, the call was overturned, Virginia Tech missed the ensuing field goal, and Michigan hit the game winning field goal to give the Wolverines a 23-20 overtime victory.
That game, which was the last BCS bowl ever for the Hokies, was a tough one for Tech to swallow. However, a matchup in The Big House eight years later would have been the perfect shot at revenge. Unfortunately, it looks like that vengeance will have to wait.
Although the ACC Coastal has many teams on the rise, and Virginia Tech’s non-conference schedule features formidable opponents such as Penn State and Notre Dame; there would have been something special about this matchup. Without question, a win over college football’s winningest program would have been a huge win for Fuente’s program.
Instead, Virginia Tech will face a Big 10 team in 2020 that, like Fuente, has actually played for a conference title under their current head coach.
Photo Credit: Harley Taylor
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Editor's Note: Last sentence was added by editor. Virginia Tech will face Penn State at Lane Stadium in 2020.