Rather than revel in the details of a specific Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University story this week, instead we will take a left turn into a bit on the past and present of homecoming at Georgia Tech, featuring a lot of links and a bit of background.
When I sat down to write this column, I realized something peculiar. After a fairly mundane week of talking about Virginia at a general historical level last week, I realized that I simply didn’t want to do that in this space this week. Too much of the same makes for a dull column. Upon exploring the historic annals of homecoming, I realized that Virginia Tech being the homecoming game is particularly fitting synergy, giving us one game in particular to highlight of interest. And, oh, what an interesting game it was.
But first, it’s worth setting the scene.
You’ll note in the rather minimalist sidebar here that Georgia Tech has only ever played one game against Virginia Tech one homecoming weekend. Of course, that is due to a combination of factors. There’s a table of historic results below, but if you take a look, you’ll note that Duke appears on this list a lot. Yeah, they’re on it a lot. In fact, since 1949, they have been the opponent for a whole third of the homecoming games Tech has played. The next team even close to their level is Tulane, who essentially fit the bill more or less on a rotating basis with the Blue Devils for the better part of two decades. After that come Virginia with 6, Clemson with 5, and a smattering of ACC teams with a handful. One year, someone decided to make Alabama the homecoming opponent. Not sure who did that, but let’s just say that I, personally, would not have made that same choice, if you know what I mean.
For those that are less familiar, the reason that Duke, a historic conference ne’er-do-well, and Tulane, a program that receded following its exit from the SEC, are frequently the homecoming opponent, is that it is often nice to schedule a game that might be a high win percentage. In 2009, someone must have missed the memo.
For the first eight years of the ACC Coastal Division’s existence, the winner of the annual game between Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech was the division’s representative in the ACC Championship Game. In the modern divisional era, if the ACC has been won by a Coastal Division team, it has been the Jackets or the Hokies. Suffice it to say, for a rivalry essentially born out of the necessity of early 2000s conference realignment — the matchup was scheduled twice before the teams shared a division, with one game in 2000 cancelled due to weather and the other coming in 1990 — it immediately became high stake and of high importance.
By luck of the schedule, that meant that the #4 Virginia Tech Hokies would roll into town to face the #19 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on homecoming night, October 17, 2009. Yes, that Virginia Tech, they of two straight ACC Championships. That Virginia Tech, riding over a decade of dominating and debilitating football. With Georgia Tech having a fine year, sure, they were ranked and had just one glaring loss, it set up to be yet another high-stakes edition of the Techmo Bowl.
In fact, in hindsight, with how good the Hokies were throughout that year, and in conjunction with what Tech would achieve, all of which happened regardless of the opinions of the blue-clad gentlemen from Indianapolis, dare I say that is likely the highest the combined stakes have ever been. The crowd size - 54,405 - was large, and the game was a night game. As always, the feeling of an evening in Bobby Dodd just hits a little bit differently. For as young as the rivalry was, this being just the seventh time it had been played, there was real interest and real buy-in from the fans. Dare I say it, but the addition of Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech to the annual calendar as a rivalry that really makes a lot of sense has been one of the clearer-cut positives of the last few decades of conference musical chairs.
Of course, I thought about trying to summarize the game in this space, but I wasn’t there and it’s already been done far better on this here site by someone who got to experience it all in person. So, while I encourage you to read through to the end of the column to catch the start times and prime viewing locations for the homecoming events — catch me at the corner of Fourth and Fowler at the first turn of the Mini 500 tomorrow — I implore you to read Carter’s excellent and thorough tale of what was almost certainly the best Tech Homecoming game since the Jackets upended Notre Dame 23-14 in 1976 as a part of that bitter, fish throwing, and rather one-sided rivalry a year after some walk-on was offsides in a rout in South Bend.
Tech Homecoming Historic Results
Homecoming — Schedule of Events
Friday, October 29th, 5:30 PM - Peters Parking Deck
Recommended Vantage Points:
- First Turn, between Beta and ATO along Fowler and Fourth St.
- Callaway Plaza and Freshman Hill along Bobby Dodd Way
- Start/Finish Line on Fowler Street
Friday, October 29th, 7:30 PM - Ferst Center for the Arts
Freshman Cake Race
Saturday, November 2nd, 6:30 AM - East Campus
Recommended Vantage Points:
- Start Line, Location Varies
- Freshman Hill
Saturday, November 2nd, 8:00 AM - Fowler Street
- Fowler St. (traditionally)
Recommended Vantage Points:
- Judges’ Stand: Intersection of Fowler St. and Ferst Drive (traditionally)
At noon, the Techmo Bowl is renewed for the first time since 2019. Tune in here at From the Rumble Seat for coverage through the gameday thread and the postgame recap, along with live updates via @FTRSBlog on Twitter.