Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Thundering Hokies



I put together this little video sampling some photos and songs that will be familiar to both Marshall and Virginia Tech fans. Hopefully I didn't use enough of anything to warrant YouTube asking me to take the video down, especially considering I'm not using it to make money and this stuff is played at every game, so it makes sense to take these great things and pump up the fans. Guess we'll see. At any rate, as an alumnus of both Marshall University and Virginia Tech (OK, well, by May 16, 2009, I'll be an alumnus of Virginia Tech barring anything crazy going down), I felt I should do something for the upcoming college football game Sept. 12, 2009.

I really did not realize all of the connections my two schools had until I did a little research. Most notably, they both lost dear lives in the 1970 Marshall plane crash (see the video for more information on that). The two schools really are united by tragedy, not only because of the plane crash, but also because the Marshall community that lost 75 felt Virginia Tech's pain in a way when they lost 32 in the April 16, 2007, tragedy in Blacksburg. Only being three hours apart, these two schools have a connection through many of the people in the areas that surround them. The Roanoke Valley chapter of the Marshall Alumni Association just outside Virginia Tech is thriving.

In addition, both schools have legendary football programs. Marshall of course has the film We Are Marshall and has seen two national championships (D I-AA in 1992 and 1996). Players such as Troy Brown, Chad Pennington, Randy Moss, Byron Leftwich and Ahmad Bradshaw have graced the gridiron at Marshall. In contrast to the Thundering Herd, the Virginia Tech Hokies also have an impressive history. They have the third-winningest head coach in college football, Frank Beamer, just behind Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden. Only Florida and Florida State have more consecutive bowl game appearances. In the 2000 Sugar Bowl, following a highly successful 1999 season, VT played for the national championship. Players such as Michael Vick and Eddie Royal have played on Worsham Field in Lane Stadium where the Hokies will meet the Herd in September.

VT has had about five straight 10-win seasons, matched only by USC and Texas, and looks to have another right around the corner. Could Marshall pull off the upset in September? If last season was any indication, it is not likely — but the Herd have been counted out plenty of times, and they love rising to the occasion! This should be a fun feat to watch, especially for those of us with a stake in both schools.

Fun fact: Marshall was almost called the Green Gobblers instead of the Thundering Herd. Virginia Tech's sports teams were known as the Gobblers and then the Fighting Gobblers before they were the Hokies.

Fun fact #2: Marshall plays West Virginia University each year for the Governor's Cup, a trophy with a football-shaped piece of coal enclosed in glass. Virginia Tech used to play in WVU's Big East conference before leaving for more competition in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and the trophy awarded in each of those games was a similar trophy called the Black Diamond Trophy, which Virginia Tech still retains.

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