There are college football traditions, and then there are college football traditions. Blacksburg, Virginia, ranks 20th on our Top 100 College Football Towns of America Countdown because it makes the drive worth it.
To celebrate 100 days until the start of the college football season, HERO Sports is counting down the Top 100 FBS College Football Towns in America. Each day, through Aug. 24, a new city will be revealed. We will analyze the city, the program, the good and bad of the city as well as the bottom line. If you got a problem, @me on Twitter.
20. Blacksburg, Virginia — Virginia Tech
Justin Fuente and his staff have worked hard at the recruiting game, and we might not know the full affects of his ability until next year.(Photo: Steve Helber/Associated Press)[/credit]
There may be no coach in college football history that has meant more to a singular program than Frank Beamer and Virginia Tech. In the 92-year history of Hokie football, before Beamer took over, they ended the year only twice, ranked. Beamer Ball's hallmark is outstanding special teams play. During Beamer's time in Blacksburg, Tech blocked 136 kicks. With Michael Vick at quarterback, the Hokies played in one national championship game, losing to Florida State.
Coming into 2018, "VaTech" has been to 25 straight bowl games. The longest active streak. To make it 26, Justin Fuente will have to rebuild–and fast. Nearly 75 percent of the team will be underclassmen. The defense returns just five starters. Returning starting quarterback Josh Jackson will be a bright spot, but he will have to improve after starting 13 games last season, with 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
Blacksburg has seen its share of accolades recently. Southern Living named it the "Best College Town in the South." Business Week named Blacksburg the "Best Place in the U.S. to Raise Kids." While it may be considered part of rural America, thanks to a premier university, Blacksburg seamlessly combines outdoor living with 21st-century technology. The small Virginia town was the first wired school system, the first library with free internet and the first online grocery service, among others.
The New River Valley is an outdoor person's dream. Go fishing in New River or Clayton Lake, hike up Dragon's Tooth and McAfee's Knob. Twenty miles away is the beautiful Cascade falls and a four-mile hike to one of the most powerful and scenic waterfalls you will ever see. It's a 69-foot drop into a watering hole where the summer can bring throngs of people looking to cool off in the Virginia heat.
Downtown Blacksburg is still your typical college town, with the student population representing the majority. Which means good bars like Top of the Stairs and good food like PK's Bar and Grill. There's something for everything down on Main street.
The. Greatest. Pregame. Tradition. In. College. Football.
They say the best things in life are hard to find, and Blacksburg is no exception. Although Roanoke airport is just an hour away, there are not many options for those flying into Virginia. More than likely, you'll be flying into some of the other more commercial airports hours away. Basically, going to a game in Blacksburg is signing up for an unguided tour of Virginia countryside–for hours!
Blacksburg is home to one of the greatest traditions in all of college football, and a bucket-list item for any sports fan. While the town is in the middle of nowhere the city's hub does not lack for entertainment. It's just a trek to get out there.