Twelve years is a long time to let a rivalry rest. So long that most of the players at VT were younger than 8 years old the last time Virginia Tech played West Virginia in football. According to Cam Phillips, when Fuente asked the team who knew anything about the VT-WVU rivalry, nobody raised their hand.
The Black Diamond Trophy, awarded to the winner of the VT-WVU game, currently resides in Blacksburg, Virginia. In order to understand the significance of it, however, one has to know a little history of these two teams. This isn't just a dusty trophy for older fans. These teams have slugged it out a few times when it meant something, and both teams have gotten a piece of each other. There was the Miracle in Morgantown, where VT had to score in the last two minutes in order to remain undefeated in the regular season and make it to the National Championship game. The fans of that era sure remember the rivalry, and are about to rediscover it.
The teams first played in 1912 and have met 51 times throughout the years. The rivalry reached it's peak when both teams were in the Big East; the games in the early 2000's were epic, where often either VT or WVU were ranked in the top 10 and the other was positioned to cost the other their ranking and crush their national title hopes. The last meeting between the two teams was in 2005, a season where VT cost WVU a perfect season and the possibility of a national title. The trophy been displayed in Blacksburg ever since. It will be on the line when these teams meet this year, as well as during a planned home-and-home series in 2021 and 2022.
This year's match will pit WVU's offense under new but highly-vaunted QB Will Grier against VT's strong defensive secondary. On paper, both teams have some strong talent and also some big question marks. The winning team, however, may just be the one whose players take the time to look at some old video, which should provide the inspiration to dig just a little deeper when the game is on the line.
Both teams have a lot to prove on September 3. I'm not sure they realize just how significant this match is, but when they get on the field in FedEx in front of that crowd, the rivalry is going to be renewed in the hearts of a new generation of players.