If 1995 was Virginia Tech’s breakthrough season as a team to be reckoned with on the national stage, then 1996 was the one that solidified its status—and set the stage to be able to recruit blue-chip players like Michael Vick.
Although the Hokies were coming off a Sugar Bowl victory over the University of Texas, some doubters wondered if that was just lightning in a bottle—a team that had its mojo working for a magical 10-game stretch, but would return to the reality of eight-win seasons and mid-level bowl-dom.
Which, actually, wasn’t a terrible thing. After the 1993 and 1994 seasons, Frank Beamer had changed the culture at Virginia Tech, and those in the know realized the Hokies would always be a tough out. But could they consistently play at the top level, beating the big-name teams, with an outside chance at the national championship? They weren’t there yet, but the 1995 and 1996 seasons got them in the conversation. For the first time, Tech fans could count on ESPN to always include the Hokies on their highlight packages and panel discussions.
The big question on minds around the Jamerson Athletics Center was how the players would react to such unprecedented success. “I thought this might be the year we’d have to get out the whip, because of potential big-head syndrome after winning the Sugar Bowl,” Strength and Conditioning Coach...
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