A quintessential moment in a Hokie's experience is being in Lane Stadium with Enter Sandman blasting through the sound system while jumping up and down with 66,232 of your closest friends.
On Saturday, that experience will be gone, as a 93 game sellout streak spanning 15 years will come to an end.
Hokie fans take pride in their reputation for having one of the best home field advantages in the nation. In head coach Frank Beamer’s 25 years at Virginia Tech, the Hokies have won 137 games at home, with just 33 losses and one tie.
Since joining the ACC, Virginia Tech has gone 51-8 at home, with just a single loss coming to an out-of-conference opponent. The Hokies are one of the most successful teams in the country when at home, and a large part of that is because of the fans.
The same fans that after one 7-6 season have allowed that sellout streak to end.
Hokie fans have become spoiled by the success under Beamer, and now, at the slightest sign of trouble, have abandoned their team.
Tech has earned the right to go to 20 straight bowl games, the third longest active streak in the nation. In addition, Tech has won eight conference championships in its history; five of them have come under Beamer and four in the last decade.
Before Beamer became head coach, the Hokies had an all-time .586 winning percentage. Under Beamer, the Hokies have raised that winning percentage by 23 points to .609, giving them the 33rd highest winning percentage in the country.
The second winningest coach in Tech’s history, behind Beamer — in both total wins and winning percentage — is his predecessor, Bill Dooley. Under Dooley the Hokies never won 10 or more games in a season, which is the standard that Beamer’s teams have made the norm in Blacksburg.
By any metric, the last two decades have brought unprecedented success to the Virginia Tech football team. This success has spoiled fans that have begun to turn their nose up at accomplishments that nearly any other fan base would be thrilled with.
While alumni and students will point the finger at each other, both groups are to blame for the lackluster support.
For the second year in a row, Virginia Tech was forced to open up season ticket sales to the general public after Hokie Club members did not purchase their full allotment. For the students, season tickets were offered to freshmen for the first time in recent memory.
Many have pointed to the disappointment of the 2012 campaign as the reason for the decreased turnout, but this isn’t the first time the Hokies have had a disappointing season during their streak.
In 2001, the Hokies suffered a letdown after the magnificent Michael Vicks left, finishing 8-4. Before the 2002 season, Tech added 11,120 seats in the south end zone. Even with the letdown and 11,000 new seats to fill, the sellout streak continued.
In 2004, the Hokies were coming off of three straight seasons of at least four losses and were unranked to start the season, far more adverse conditions than in 2013. Hokie fans still showed up to support their team and were rewarded with an ACC Championship and Sugar Bowl berth.
Others point to uninspiring opponents and the lack of a Thursday night home game. However, fans shouldn’t need to be enticed by shiny opponents or primetime games to support their team. Their football team should be enough of an attraction.
Fans have pinned their own complacency on the staff, but that just doesn’t sell. In the last three seasons the Hokies have made wholesale changes to the offensive staff.
There is no excuse.
The blame for the streak ending lies squarely at the feet of Hokies fans; the same fans that ensured that Virginia Tech was the only school in the ACC to fill their stadium to capacity in 2011 and 2012; the same fans that helped the Hokies earn a Sugar Bowl berth in 2011 because of their reputation of travelling well.
These fans have decided that a single disappointing season is enough for them to quit on the Hokies.
They should be ashamed of themselves.