Historian and Author Tom Perry's thoughts on history and anything that comes to mind.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Ghosts of Peyton Past

Useless Trivia Question: How many games did Tennessee Quarterback Peyton Manning winning at the University of Florida’s Griffin Stadium, Florida Field? Hint: Peyton never beat the University of Florida while at the University of Tennessee.

Answer: http://www.hokiesports.com/football/stats/showstats.html?5892

I know this bit of useless trivia because I was sitting there on December 30, 1994, watching it as the 1994 Virginia Tech Hokies lost to freshman Peyton Manning 45-23 and hearing “Rocky Top you’ll always be home sweet home to me” over and over again. VT lost to Peyton’s father Archie in the 1966 Liberty Bowl as Mississippi beat the Hokies 34-17 after Tech led 17-0 early in the game. Frank Beamer played in that game. No games with Eli Manning during his college career.

What I remember about that night is it was COLD even though it was in Florida. The Gator Bowl moved from Jacksonville because the stadium was under renovation for the Jacksonville Jaguars. So, the ex and I found ourselves in the town where many of the members of Lynyrd Skynyrd are buried.

It was Maurice DeShazo’s last game and the game Jim Drukenmiller tried to bring back the Hokies. Antonio Freeman and Brian Still were on the team. Both went on to the NFL playing wide receiver. On the defense for the “Fighting Gobblers” was Cornell Brown, the first big recruit to play for Bud Foster’s defense and Torrian Gray, who now coaches for Frank Beamer. It was the second year of the 17 year streak the team is in under Beamer. The first was a defeat of Lee Corso’s Indiana team in the 1993 Independence Bowl. It was the next to the last bowl game I went too. The 2000 National Championship Game in New Orleans was the last. I find HDTV much better than obnoxious drunk fans these days. In 1995, VT beat another UT (Texas) in the Sugar Bowl and the rest is history.

That leads to New Year’s Eve. When the Volunteers from Knoxville faced a far different Virginia Tech Football Program. I sure hope Peyton was watching and that he got tired of the Hokie Pokie. At 4 p.m. on New Year’s Day after the Criminoles from Florida State had won the Gator Bowl, Frank Beamer found himself all by himself as the number two active coach with 229 wins. Jim Tressell at Ohio State tied Beamer later that day and the two will no doubt go back and forth behind Joe Pa until he goes to the big creamery in the sky.

Call me cynical, but I doubt if any football program is clean, but I can’t imagine Frank Beamer losing his job for striking a player or locking a player in a dark room after a concussion. For six years in a row his team has won ten games. No one scored on Bud Foster’s defense in the second half of the last five games. If VT cheats I think the Hoos would have turned them in years ago, but it is football and no one is perfect. Something the arrogant Lane Kiffin and his fans in burnt orange learned on New Year’s Eve. I enjoyed it because it erased the Ghosts of Peyton Past.

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