The Notre Dame Deal: A Hokie Perspective

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The subject of Notre Dame sure does bring up a lot of emotion from Hokie fans.

That’s understandable. It brings up a lot of emotion from a lot of fan bases. There are the usual reasons that college fan bases around the country dislike Notre Dame: The college athletics world kowtows to the Domers too much, Notre Dame has an overinflated sense of their own football worth in the modern market place, NBC pays them too much money, etc.

But for many Hokies, their dislike of Notre Dame is also personal. Not “personal” by the strictest definition of the word, but “personal” because of the history between Notre Dame and Virginia Tech, or as a matter of fact, the lack thereof.

Virginia Tech hasn’t played Notre Dame much at all in college athletics’ two marquee sports, football and men’s basketball. Up until the year 2000, in the first 108 years of Virginia Tech football and the first 92 years of Virginia Tech basketball, the Hokies played Notre Dame just that once. You might remember it: in 1973, the Hokies beat the Fighting Irish in the NIT championship game, back when the NIT meant something.

And that meeting happened because the Hokies played their way into it, not because Notre Dame scheduled them.

When the 21st century dawned, the Hokies finally achieved full membership in the Big East Conference, putting them in the same 14-team basketball league as Notre Dame.

In Virginia Tech’s four years of Big East membership, they played Notre Dame just three times in men’s basketball. Here’s how many times the Hokies played all 13 of the other Big East basketball schools in those four years:

  • 7 times: BC, UConn, Miami, Providence, St. John’s, Villanova
  • 5 times: WVU
  • 4 times: Georgetown, Pittsburgh (once in the BE Tourney), Rutgers (once in the BE Tourney)
  • 3 times: Notre Dame, Syracuse (never in Blacksburg)
  • 2 times: Seton Hall

The lack of balance in scheduling Big East teams over four years is telling. For some reason, Seton Hall rarely encountered the Hokies in the Big East. Syracuse was protected from having to play the Hokies very often, and never had to stoop so low as to visit Blacksburg. (I’ll bet the ACC sends the Orange into Cassell). And Notre Dame seemed to be avoiding VT, though to their credit, they visited Blacksburg twice in the three-game Big East series.