It's all kind of an inside joke now. A snicker to be shared at meetings and cocktail parties in and around Hokie Nation.
No more references from the outside to overalls, hillbillies or hicks. That school with the weird mascot, Virginia Tech, is now, and for the future, a major football power because of some savvy political clout.
|Frank Beamer led the Hokies to a Sugar Bowl matchup vs. Auburn. (Getty Images)|
It took as much muscle from the state's politicos as it did from the defensive line to get into the ACC two years ago. Nothing's wrong with that. In fact, it was fun watching the ACC's hostile raid two years ago get sidetracked by, well, a cunning counterattack of hostility.
The original idea was to invite Miami, Boston College and Syracuse from the Big East. Lobbying for Virginia Tech were Gov. Mark Warner and University of Virginia president John Casteen. When it became apparent an in-state brother was going to be left behind, the lobbying subtly turned into a political roadblock.
They made sure that ACC expansion wasn't going to get approved without a permanent outpost in Blacksburg, Va. The compromise was arguably the biggest moment in Virginia Tech's athletic history: Syracuse was out; BC, Tech and Miami were in.
"This governor got a few extra votes from Hokies, I tell you that," Beamer said.
Beamer is beaming at the ACC meetings this week in Amelia Island, Fla. Things couldn't have worked out better for his program. The Hokies won the ACC outright in 2004, their first year in the exclusive fraternity. Went down to Miami and punked the 'Canes to do it, too. They should be favored to repeat in 2005.
Unexpected? Considering the school was suing the ACC at this point two years ago, surprise would be a good place to start.
Unbelievable? Not after Beamer spent the past 18 years of his life making this program matter on a national scale -- and to local politicians.
Fake smiles plastered on their faces, ACC officials were forced to welcome Virginia Tech into the league. Syracuse had a better TV demographic and more history. Some might argue a better academic profile for the haughty ACC.
The bottom-line difference, though: In recent years, Syracuse's national football prominence has diminished.
Miami and Florida State were presumed to be the 800-pound gorillas in the new lineup. The presumption was, Virginia Tech was taking a substantial step up in competition from playing Temple and Rutgers each year in the Big East.