Lightning aside, Blacksburg's a great place

Texas A&M and Virginia Tech are set to kick off at 7:30 tonight, and with Hurricane Isabel bearing down on the East Coast I'm getting a little nervous.

See, the last time I saw a storm in Blacksburg my rental car didn't survive the trip. Our Thursday night crew had travelled to Virginia Tech for the 2000 BCA Classic between the Hokies and Georgia Tech, and prior to the game I announced my picks for the national championship on the big screen in Lane Stadium.

Hearing Florida State vs. Kansas State didn't make the home fans too happy and they booed me off the screen, even though I was one of the few people who correctly predicted Virginia Tech would make it to the championship game after the 1999 season.

A thunderstorm blew in shortly after and lightning forced a delay in the action. On the field at least.

Lightning struck in the stadium parking lot, and as luck would have it my rental car was on the receiving end. I knew immediately what had happened. As we went on the air during the delay I told the audience, "I don't know what a Hokie is, but God must be a Hokie!"

That is one of the most memorable moments in all my years of broadcasting, and I still have a t-shirt at home with that phrase on the front. Blacksburg is a terrific place and the fans there are some of the friendliest in the country.

It sure helps that they have such a tremendous program to cheer for. Head coach Frank Beamer is going to leave quite a legacy when he departs Virginia Tech.

He and his great staff are responsible for turning Tech into a great place to play and watch football. The athletic facilities have improved, the stadium has expanded once and is in the process of doing so again, and the school is headed to the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Beamer has done nothing but good things down there and made Blacksburg one of the great venues in college football, and Virginia Tech will have a hard time replacing him when he takes his leave.

Lee Corso is an analyst for ESPN College GameDay. His "Lee-Mail" column appears every Wednesday.