When Frank Beamer took on the job of head coach at Virginia Tech, he knew he needed to find a way to put his program out there to gain some national attention. That opportunity was given by ESPN as the network began expanding its college football coverage to Thursday nights. Virginia Tech was an early adopter of the Thursday night timeslots, and both benefitted as a result. This Thursday, Beamer will get a chance to coach one final time on a Thursday night when Virginia Tech visits Georgia Tech. The importance of the Thursday night games has not been lost by Beamer.
“It kind of gave us our identity here,” Beamer said. “It was the total program. It was a football team that played hard and hopefully played well most of the time, but it was a fan base that cared, that was loud, that was there pre-game, there after the game. I think it was kind of the whole deal.”
As noted by Andy Bitter of The Roanoke Times, this will be Virginia Tech’s 30th Thursday night game. The Hokies are 20-9 on Thursday nights, including a 5-0 mark against the Yellow Jackets. The only team to appear in more Thursday night games? Georgia Tech. The nighttime atmosphere in Blacksburg has grown over the years, and it remains one of the best atmospheres for a weeknight game. The success of Thursday night college football has led to other conferences embracing weekday games in more recent years, like the MAC and Sun Belt Conference playing games on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. Those conferences may get the national spotlight, but it takes more to create a unique environment for a primetime college football game in the middle of the week, and Virginia Tech had it.
“Great band, a couple of them matter of fact. And just the atmosphere and our fans and our students — they’re the ones that really created that,” Beamer said. “I think that was kind of the big picture.”
Virginia Tech will enter Thursday night’s game needing a win to inch closer to bowl eligibility. The Hokies need tow wins in their final three games to give Beamer one last bowl appearance. Georgia Tech is also fighting for their postseason lives, as one more loss will officially eliminate the defending ACC Coastal and Orange Bowl champions from postseason contention.