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Dooley picks the Hokies in Chick-fil-A Bowl

Bill Dooley’s final game as Virginia Tech’s coach was in the 1986 Peach Bowl. Since then, the Peach Bowl has become the Chick-fil-A Bowl, which this season will pit Virginia Tech against Tennessee.

And as the Hokies prepare to return to the bowl game on Thursday, Dooley predicted Virginia Tech (9-3) to beat the Volunteers (7-5) in the Georgia Dome.

“I think they’ve got an excellent shot against Tennessee,” Dooley said in a telephone interview from his home in Wilmington, N.C. “Frank Beamer’s a sound football coach; he’s got a good staff. They’ve recruited well. That’s the makings of a good program.”

Dooley was Virginia Tech’s coach from 1978 to 1986, before Beamer took over. Dooley’s tenure came to an ugly end; the NCAA penalized Virginia Tech for violations under Dooley, and he sued the university for breach of contract, alleging he was fired from his dual roles of athletic director and football coach.

Although Dooley left Virginia Tech on bad terms, he said he has continued to root for the Hokies when they are on television. But when Virginia Tech plays the other schools he coached, North Carolina and Wake Forest, he jokingly says he pulls for whichever team wins.

Virginia Tech has developed tremendously since Dooley was last coaching in Blacksburg. He credited the Hokies’ growth to Beamer and the decision to break their football independence by joining the Big East in 1991 and then the ACC in 2004.

“We were just fortunate to sign guys like Bruce Smith,” Dooley said, referring to the Hokies’ legendary defensive end. “There was a lot of them we signed that took that thing to another level. Then Beamer came along, and he’s taken it to another level. The whole program has gone higher and higher every year.”

By Mark Viera  |  December 29, 2009; 12:00 PM ET
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