Editor's Note: Any argument/discussion worth having requires examination of both sides. Like many of you, I am aggravated there's no Thursday game in Lane, but Hokie Stone wrote a good post that maybe it's not such a bad thing. I thought that it was worth bumping to the front. --Joe
When the schedule came out yesterday I, like most Hokie fans, took note of the glaring omission of a home Thursday night game in Lane. The annual Thursday night game has become a tradition and something VT fans have helped create the standard for. Thursdays in Lane have traditionally been rocking environments and the Hokies have (until somewhat recently) done quite well on Thursday nights at home. So when this year's schedule didn't include one, I was sad/mad/confused. Then, after thinking about it a bit, I kind of shrugged my shoulders and thought that maybe this was a good thing. Am I crazy? Have I lost my O&M mind? Maybe. But hear me out on a few reasons why a break from Thursday night might be a good thing:
- The mystique is gone: Both for VT and Thursday night games in general. First, VT has lost its mojo on Thursday nights. Call it the curse of Matt Ryan, but ever since that awful night back in 2007, VT has not fared entirely well at home on Thurs. We lost to BC in 2007, won against MD in 2008, lost to UNC in 2009, barely won vs GT in 2010, barely won vs UNC in 2011, and lost to FSU in 2012 (although we played a lot better than expected, the result was still an L.) As for Thursday night games in general, they aren't quite as special as they once were. When VT was on the rise it was a great way to gain exposure. But now ESPN is shoving as much college football down your throat as you can handle and the over-saturation is here to stay. I envision a world soon where there are 1-2 games every weeknight, even going so far as to showcase FCS matchups, whether the games are worth watching or not will be debatable. But the point is, playing on a Thursday night just isn't that special in and of itself.
- Lack of Saturdays in the Burg: One of the absolute best parts about VT football is spending a weekend in Blacksburg in the late summer–early fall. When the weather cooperates, Saturdays in the Burg are special, and not just for the game. And if it's a 3:00 kickoff or later, tailgates are at their best. But lately, I feel like we've gotten screwed out of Saturdays/weekends in the Burg. Labor Day games, neutral site games, Sunday games, whatever. It just feels like we do whatever ESPN wants and that means sacrificing full weekends in Blacksburg. The further away I get from my college days, the more I appreciate those weekends. I think it always worked out great having mostly Sat games and the annual Thursday night game, but with all the manufactured neutral sites/weekday games it has just gotten to be too much. So the silver lining for me is that I get another Saturday/weekend in B'burg
- Crappy weather and time off work: For whatever reason, a lot of recent Thursday night games have just sucked weather wise. Mainly because they get scheduled so late in the year for whatever reason. It just takes the fun out of it. Also, for a lot of us its 1, 1.5, or 2 days off work. That's fine but when you add in the Labor Day games or other "manufactured for ESPN" games, it becomes a bit much.It all depends on the year, so this point is dependent on outside factors, but still.
- The fans just aren't as into it: I've been going to Thurday night games since I was an undergrad. Maybe this is just a corollary to point 1, but over the years it seems like fans have gotten less into the whole Thursday game day experience. The stadium atmosphere is usually rocking, unless the weather sucks, but it's still intense compared to most other ACC venues. However, the tailgate scene and build-up isn't as hyped as it once was. Maybe part of that is just me getting old, getting married, having kids, getting more serious about work, etc. And maybe there are others partying as hard as I used to. But I remember for Clemson 2006 there were lots that were filling up by 10 am. Now, its 3 pm and lots are half-filled as people battle their way in off I-81.
- Frank's game prep: Purely speculation here, but maybe Beamer didn't want a Thursday night game this year. They do require you to alter your game week plans and strategize a bit different. And the players are students too and do have other mid-week things to distract them. With a new coaching staff and Beamer's focus on the "little things that make a big difference" perhaps he wanted a high degree of regularity to the weekly game prep.
So maybe a break from Thursday night is a good thing. I will certainly miss my annual Thursday tailgate/game this year. But maybe, if everyone else misses it too, it will return in full glory on some future schedule and we'll all jump and scream so loud during Enter Sandman that we'll cause another Richter Scale event. That would certainly make the wait worth it.