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Tech lands Gator Bowl

By Netta S. Eisler

Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 14 - December 1, 1994

Virginia Tech will play the University of Tennessee in the Outback Steakhouse Gator Bowl in Gainesville, Fla., on Friday, Dec. 30.

The game will be televised on TBS at 7:30 p.m. The Tennessee Volunteers finished second in the SEC's Eastern Division; the Hokies finished second in the Big East.

Each team will receive $1.5 million to play in the Gator Bowl, the country's sixth-oldest college post-season bowl game.

"Everyone here is extremely excited about being selected for the Gator Bowl," said President Paul Torgersen. "Certainly it marks an important milestone in the development of our athletic programs here at Virginia Tech" and it "will benefit all of our intercollegiate athletic programs."

Torgersen said bowl games are also about student athletes. "For them and their families, the hard work, discipline, and training it takes to create a winning program is being recognized nationally by the Gator Bowl bid. We are proud of every team member and coach for what they have achieved."

This is the first time in school history that Tech has received back-to-back bowl bids. Last year, the Hokies won the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La.

"We're extremely excited here at Virginia Tech," coach Frank Beamer said during a conference call with Gator Bowl officials, media from around the nation, and University of Tennessee coaching staff. "I think we did have a great season."

Beamer said he expects to have "a healthy club going into the Gator Bowl" after being "a little banged up at the end of the year."

When asked about how the team had performed throughout the season, Beamer said, "We've had different things go well at different times this year. Overall, our defense has played well all year. Our offense has had its moments." He added, "Over the course of the year, we've had a pretty good football team. They haven't always played well, but they've always played hard."

Beamer said that "it's a super honor for us to play a school with the tradition Tennessee has. I think many people would argue they're the hottest team in the SEC conference."

Gator Bowl President Carl Cannon, who extended the official invitation to the two teams, said he and his staff "got a lot of pressure from a lot of football teams" that wanted a Gator Bowl bid. "It was a difficult decision," Cannon said, but added that he believes the match-up between Tech and Tennessee "will prove to be one of the most exciting post-season bowl games of the year."

Beamer noted that being picked for a coalition bowl "is a prestigious honor. This is another big step forward in our program."

Torgersen called playing in two back-to-back post-season games "a reward for our many alumni. Through their tireless dedication and financial support, Virginia Tech alumni have helped elevate our programs. We'll need their strong Hokie support in Gainesville," he said.

Each team must sell a minimum of 8,000 tickets for the game. The Gator Bowl has pre-sold 37,000 tickets, and officials said they hope to fill the 82,233-seat Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field.

"The Gator Bowl is counting on a lot of Tech people coming with the football team, and I know our students and fans won't disappoint them," Beamer said.

Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer congratulated Beamer and his staff. "They always play hard," Fulmer said. "I think a lot of Frank (Beamer) and his program. It's an honor for us to be playing Virginia Tech."

Travel arrangements can be made by calling Akra Travel at 1-800-352-2572. Teams will stay in Jacksonville; fans will stay in Jacksonville and Gainesville. A pre-game street party and tailgate party are planned for game day in Gainesville.

Motor coaches will depart from five locations in Jacksonville at 3 p.m. on December 30 for the 63-mile trip to Gainesville. Tickets are available through TicketMaster at 904-353-3309.

Game tickets, which cost $30 each, are now on sale through the Tech Ticket Office at 1-6731. There is no limit on the number of tickets which may be purchased now through December 9. The ticket office is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.