Editor’s note: To read up on the first part of the 1983 season, see Part 12 of this series.
So there it was, all laid out for the Hokies at the end of the 1983 season. To land just the sixth bowl bid in school history, they had to win at Virginia in a game that started at 1 p.m., then hope Duke could somehow upset the slumping North Carolina Tar Heels, in a game that kicked off at 3:45 p.m.
(There was still an outside shot Virginia Tech could land an Independence Bowl bid, but those officials preferred Air Force, Baylor, and Kentucky.)
If the Hokies needed any added incentive to beat Virginia — and they didn’t — the Cavaliers gave it to them anyway. When ABC chose to air the Boston College-Holy Cross game originally scheduled for WTBS, the network needed a replacement. It had offered a $500,000 payoff to televise Tech-UVA with an 8:05 p.m. start.
The Hokies had agreed before the network official could finish his sentence. But Virginia athletic director Dick Schultz refused because coach George Welsh didn’t want to play the game at night, and the payoff wouldn’t have been as great for the Cavaliers since they had to split the revenue with the rest of the ACC. So the Cavaliers denied Virginia Tech some needed TV exposure — and a much more needed payoff.
Right or wrong, the Hokies believed two neighboring ACC schools had conspired to keep them down — and they were hungry to prove a point.
“We were the blue-collar and hard-working country bumpkins without a league, and Virginia was the shimmering urban intelligent Wahoos in the legitimate ACC,” linebacker Mike Johnson said. “So it was a huge rivalry game for us.”
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