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Since Virginia Techís rise to national prominence, a lot has been made about the Hokiesí traveling fan base, the ability to fill opposing teamsí stadiums, and to draw out opposing fans in droves. That was certainly true in the Big East, and the Hokie Nation did an excellent job of making their presence felt in opposing venues in 2004, but as youíll see from this edition of TSLMail, itís not quite as true in the ACC.
First of all, it is still true that Tech is a pretty big draw. Just take a look at the data in the following table, which shows attendance figures for each ACC team that Tech played on the road in 2004.
Crowds definitely came out to see the Hokies in 2004. Attendance for games in which the Hokies were the opponents drew more than the average attendance for the season for all four teams, and with the exception of GT, the Hokies drew more fans than the average ACC game. The Georgia Tech game being a Thursday night game probably held attendance down, or it would have been four out of four for average ACC attendance, as well.
Part of the high attendance numbers for VT road games is due to the fact Tech fans travel so well, and partly because Virginia Tech is considered a quality team, and with the exception of Miami was new on each teamís schedule in 2004.
When we take a deeper look however, we see that the Hokies were not the single biggest draw for any of their road opponents in 2004. Letís start with Georgia Tech.
There was a pretty good crowd on hand to watch a dramatic fourth quarter comeback by the Hokies during the Thursday night contest in Atlanta, but only the Miami Hurricanes could draw a full house in Atlanta in 2004. Too badÖthey missed a much better game than the 27-3 snoozer against the Canes. Again, the VT game being played on a Thursday night was a factor. (The Miami-GT game was played on a Saturday.)
Speaking of Miami, the Hokies and Hurricanes are known for some epic matchups during the last ten years. That type of history, plus the ACC Championship on the line, would bring out a great crowd in the Orange Bowl to see VT vs. Miami, right? Well, I guess that depends on your definition of ďgreat crowd.Ē
Naturally, the Florida State game was the biggest drawn for Miamiís home slate in 2004, because it's a long-standing rivalry, plus the crowd also included a lot of Seminole fans. But surprisingly, the Hokies were upstaged by a Conference USA Team, Louisville, for the #2 spot. The Louisville game was an out of conference Thursday night game, but the Virginia Tech game was nationally televised on a Saturday afternoon for the ACC Championship. Itís tough to figure out Cane fans.
North Carolina had a pretty attractive home schedule in 2004.
Itís pretty easy to see who the attractive opponents on this schedule were. Miami and Virginia Tech visited on back-to-back weekends, while NC State is a great in-state rivalry. Itís a little surprising that Georgia Tech and Louisville did not draw more. It also says something about local rivalries when Miami and Virginia Tech did not draw more than NC State. Despite NC State having a down year, and UNCís bowl situation very much up in the air (and not looking good at that point), the Wolfpack still drew more fans. You have to figure that the crowd in Kenan Stadium that day included a lot of NC State fans.
A similar pattern can be found when looking at Wake Forestís 2004 attendance.
While Virginia Tech and Florida State drew very well, the local battle with North Carolina was easily the most sought after ticket in Winston-Salem this past fall. Not bad, considering official stadium capacity is 31,500 fans, and much like the NC State/UNC game in Chapel Hill, the crowd probably included a large number of UNC fans.
The NC State/UNC and UNC/Wake games show one thing. Despite the national name that Miami brings, and the regional notoriety that the Hokies have in ACC country, nothing tops the Tobacco Road showdowns, at least for ACC football fans from the state of North Carolina.
It is interesting to compare Virginia Tech with Miami and Florida State, the teams that most believe will remain at or near the top of the ACC standings for many years. Miami and Florida State are rich in tradition, and generally find themselves residing somewhere in the Top 10, or higher.
Virginia Tech was a higher draw than Florida State on one occasion in 2004Öat Wake Forest. A little over 1,000 more fans showed up in Winston Salem for Techís game than that of the Seminoles. And that was only because thousands of Tech fans made a very short drive to see the game. On the other hand, no ticket could be had for the Miami vs. Florida State matchup in the Orange Bowl, due to the nature of the rivalry and the closeness of many Seminole fans. The Hokiesí game at Miami didnít even approach a sellout, even though thousands of VT fans made the trip.
Miami drew about 7,000 more fans to Georgia Tech than the Hokies did. In fact, the Yellow Jacketsí only sellout of the year came against Miami. So the Hokies, who arenít quite considered to be on the same level as Miami or Florida State, have a little catching up to do when it comes to filling stadiums.
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|TechSideline.com Updates From the Past Week|
Big Plays, Epic Battles, and Eye-Gouging: Ten Years of the VT-Miami Rivalry, Part 1
A Gym Rat's Notebook: A Look Ahead to the ACC, Part 2
Would an Injury "Hurt" the Most?
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