The Washington Post

Virginia Tech football fans unhappy that Hokies won’t play at home on Thursday night

Virginia Tech’s fans pack the stands for Thursday night games. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

For the first time in 11 years, Virginia Tech football will not play a Thursday night game at Lane Stadium in 2013. Upon learning of this when the ACC announced its football schedule on Monday afternoon, many Hokies fans voiced their displeasure about losing what they consider one of the program’s traditions.

But Virginia Tech Athletic Director Jim Weaver confirmed Wednesday night he was the one who requested to the league office that the Hokies not host a home Thursday night game this season.

“I know this sounds crazy, but I was just trying to say ‘thank you’ to our fans who over the last [19] years . . . helped make Virginia Tech a desirable candidate for Thursday nights year in and year out,” said Weaver, who added Coach Frank Beamer was also fine with the decision. “And you know, because of the travel situation and kids getting to school on Friday and parents or adults getting back to work, some can make it happen and some can’t.

“A consideration for our fans once in a great many of years, I thought was very appropriate.”

But Weaver admitted he did not conduct a formal survey of fans or consult with any other members of the athletic department staff in making his decision. He did note, however, that he expected Virginia Tech to host a Thursday night game in 2014. The Hokies will play at Georgia Tech next season on Sept. 26, a Thursday night.

The reaction from fans on Twitter has been swift and negative, with many of the program’s younger supporters accustomed to yearly Thursday night contests wondering why their input wasn’t sought. As of Wednesday morning, a poll of more than 1,700 people (about 2 percent of Lane Stadium’s capacity) on the fan Web site Tech Sideline revealed that 70 percent were “disappointed” Virginia Tech would not be hosting a Thursday night game this year.

The Hokies were one of the first programs to embrace ESPN’s concept of Thursday night games back in the mid-1990s, and the already-raucous Lane Stadium crowd is usually at its frenzied best when the primetime cameras arrive on campus. Virginia Tech hosted its first Thursday night game back on Sept. 22, 1994, when it played West Virginia on ESPN.

Weaver responded as he did this year in part because Virginia Tech opened the 2012 regular season on Labor Day against Georgia Tech and played a Thursday night game against Florida State. It meant the Hokies had just four Saturday home games last year.

Virginia Tech also lost a potential home game in 2010 when it faced Boise State at FedEx Field on Labor Day

Mark Giannotto is a Montgomery County native who covers high school sports for The Washington Post. He previously covered Virginia and Virginia Tech football for five years.



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