Virginia Tech players opt out of playing in bowl, ending nation’s longest streak at 27 years

Virginia Tech's nation-long 27-year run of bowl appearances is coming to an end as players opted out of accepting a potential invitation.

“Our players have decided to not play, and I’m going to support them 100%," coach Justin Fuente told reporters Wednesday. "I think it speaks to the difficulty of the season they’ve been through.”

Virginia Tech finished 5-6 this season but could have been eligible because the usual six-win threshold was waived due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Georgia will now hold the longest active streak. The Bulldogs have played in 23 consecutive bowls dating to 1997 and will play in a 24th this season.

Virginia Tech players celebrate a Saturday win against rival Virginia. (Photo: Matt Gentry, AP)

Fuente said some team members had wanted to go to a bowl game.

“We were going to do this all together or not," he said. "It became evident that it was a very difficult situation. There’s kids who would like to go home for Christmas and there’s kids who haven’t been home in some time.”

Virginia Tech athletic director Whit Babcock told reporters Tuesday that half to three-quarters of the team had contacted COVID since March.

“This is ultimately about our kids," Fuente said. "I think they sacrificed enough.”

Virginia Tech ended its season on an up note by beating rival Virginia 33-15 to end a four-game losing streak.

“I think it really came down to there’s nothing they could ever do to recreate what happened with our team last week," Fuente said. "I think they’re tired. It’s been really, really difficult, and I think their mental health is an important part of what we should take into consideration.”

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