Go Tech Go: The Inside Story Behind the Rise of VT Football, Part 12

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Derek Carter, photo courtesy of Virginia Tech athletics photography.
Derek Carter, photo courtesy of Virginia Tech athletics photography.

1983: A Year of Unrequited Glory

While Coach Frank Beamer’s football teams at Virginia Tech consider a bowl bid a birthright, one of the best teams in school history missed out on postseason play, and no, it wasn’t on probation.

Politics played a part, but more on that later.

Bill Dooley’s 1983 squad went 9-2 featuring a suffocating defense led by All-America tackle Bruce Smith, linebackers Mike Johnson and James Robinson, and safety Ashley Lee. The offense featured a stable of running backs dubbed “The Stallions” (Maurice Williams, Eddie Hunter, Otis Copeland, Desmar Becton, and Ricky Bailey) that finished fourth nationally in rushing, averaging 279 yards per game.

“It’s fun to ponder how the 1983 team would have fared against some of Frank Beamer’s better squads,” said defensive back Derek Carter, who played on the 1983 squad. He also worked in the athletic department from 1994-2000 and saw those great Hokie teams up close. So if anybody would know, it would be him.

“The 1983 team might have been better than a number of Coach Beamer’s teams, but the offense had its limits,” Carter said. “The question is, would the 1983