News With Commentary by TSL Staff

Sunday, December 8, 2002
by Will Stewart,

Hokies Going to Diamond Walnut San Francisco Bowl

It's official: Virginia Tech will face the Air Force Academy in the inaugural Diamond Walnut San Francisco Bowl on December 31st. The game will be played at Pacific Bell Park in San Francisco. It will kick off at 7:30 Pacific Time (10:30 Eastern Time) the night of December 31st and will be televised by ESPN2.

The game is a rematch of the 1984 Independence Bowl, in which Air Force came back from a 7-3 deficit to win 23-7. That game pitted Air Force's #2-ranked rushing offense against the Hokies #2-ranked rush defense, led by Hokie legend and 1984 Outland Trophy winner Bruce Smith. Tech outgained Air Force 309-270, but four turnovers by the Hokies doomed them to the loss.

Smith was embroiled in controversy in the week leading up to the game. He and seven other Tech players had been barred by the NCAA from playing in bowl games in 1983 and 1984 because of minor recruiting violations the NCAA had uncovered in a 1983 investigation.

The other seven players, but not Smith, were later cleared on appeals, and the Hokies did not play in a bowl in 1983. But when they got the Independence bid in 1984, Smith filed suit in Montgomery County Circuit Court to force the NCAA to allow him to play. This led to a legal ping-pong battle that ultimately saw Smith play in the game, but it was to no avail, and the Hokies lost anyway.

That 1984 bowl game is the only game the two teams have ever played against each other.

This season, Air Force started out 6-0 and was nationally ranked, but a loss to Notre Dame started a 2-4 slide that saw them end up at 8-4. Air Force has the #1-ranked rushing offense at 314.5 yards per game.

The game is Virginia Tech's tenth bowl game in a row. The game payout is $750,000, but that is not what Virginia Tech will receive. The Hokies will receive $1.225 million for finishing in a fourth-place tie with Boston College.'s Links Page has been updated with bowl game information (see the Football Opponents section). For bowl, ticket, and accommodation information, please see the following links:



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