Fired Up for FedEx

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went to bed last night just beyond midnight, and I tossed and turned until 1:30
AM, pondering the possibilities of Virginia Tech’s matchup with Boise State. The
opener at FedExField (note that it’s one word) is just one week away, and if
it’s keeping me up at night, I can only imagine what it’s doing to the Tech
players and coaches.

Things are building to a crescendo. It’s hard enough for us fans to stay calm
in the preseason, but when you take the regular August optimism and sprinkle in
unprecedented levels of confidence coming from the Tech coaching staff and
players, plus the highest preseason ranking ever and a high-profile opponent in
the opening, the mind starts to ponder the possibilities.

Those of you who have read my writings for years know that I’m not a national
championship guy. I think you should aim for it, and it’s nice to be in the
discussion, but the college football fates take so many twists and turns along
the way, and it’s such a difficult achievement, that I in no way base my
judgment of success or failure on whether or not the Hokies win a national
championship. That criterion is too rigid and narrow.

But I also remember 1999, and how much fun it was to drive — successfully —
towards that ultimate goal. It was a high as a fan, but more so than that, it
was a blast to watch all those hard working players and coaches and yes, fans,
see everything come to fruition. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to
experience that again.

Hence the anxiety over the Boise opener. Going into the 1999 season, the
Hokies knew they had a chance to be good — they were ranked in the preseason
top 15 — and there was little to stand in their way. There were only 11 regular
season games back then, and Tech’s schedule wasn’t exactly murderer’s row. The
Big East was pretty soft back then, and out of conference, the Hokies had
Clemson at home and Virginia on the road. There were no Alabamas dotting that
schedule, and no conference championship game to wade through.

Point being, the 1999 Hokies got to hold on to their dream a long time. All
season long, as a matter of fact. If we’re to dream this year of a run at the...