RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — It’s hard to imagine Blacksburg and Virginia Tech without Frank Beamer — no matter what job he’s doing.
“This place is so good to me,” the legendary coach said during a recent 1-on-1 interview. “I told them, anyway I can ever help out Virginia Tech, If I can do it, I’m gonna do it.”
And that’s how one of the longest-tenured coaches in NCAA history — and the winningest coach in Virginia Tech history — extended his post-retirement run on campus a little longer, serving as an ambassador and tireless cheerleader for the athletic department and university.
But is his new role as Special Assistant to the Athletic Director really retirement? Perhaps that’s a question for the person who knows him best.
“Well, my wife thinks I’m busier now than when I was working,” he says.
Beamer is proud of the growth he saw at Tech during his 29 years as head coach, including 23 straight bowl appearances and a spot in the National Championship game in 2000. He credits a lot of the success to the faithful fans.
But there was also heartbreak.
Coach Beamer recalled the campus and community in so much pain in the wake of the mass shooting in 2007 that left 32 students and staff dead.
Beamer spent time with victims, their families, and grieving students in the days and weeks after the shootings and was humbled by what he saw.
“I think this has always been a caring place, a respectful place,” he said. “After that shooting on campus, I think we came together even more, to say we are not going to let one guy define who we are.”
As for a defining moment in his coaching career, Beamer says there were many. But, he has one he thinks about often.
“The Sugar Bowl win against Texas,” he said. “That was the game that put us at the next level. Major program, major bowl. I think people started thinking about Virginia Tech differently.”
A big part of his nearly 3 decades of success in Blacksburg was his ‘Beamer Ball’ style of play, which emphasized an ‘anything goes’ mentality.
“We got blocking, kicking and returning those kicks, scoring that way,” he said describing his teams’ style of play. “Then defensively, intercepting balls, picking up fumbles, scoring that way.
“Beamer Ball became, whatever team is on the field, we’ve got a chance to get points and I loved that.”Coach Frank Beamer
Coach Beamer passed the torch to Justin Fuente in 2015. He regrets he never made it back to the National Championship Game, but he’s confident in Tech’s potential to get back there.
Even today, signs of Beamer’s legacy can be found across the campus. Many of the sports buildings carry his name — the road in front of Lane Stadium is called ‘Beamer Way’ and his No. 25 jersey flies high above Lane Stadium. Like Beamer himself, that jersey it’s only semi-retired. It’s worn by the outstanding Special Teams player of the week.
“I kind of noticed the guys played pretty well when they wear that number, certainly they play better than I ever played when I wore that number,” Beamer said. “It’s quite an honor.”
From the football team’s iconic ‘Enter the Sandman’ entrance into Lane Stadium to the tradition of slapping the Hokie Stone as the players exit the tunnel, re-living those pregame rituals still gives Coach Beamer ‘all the feels.’
He gave WRIC a guided tour of the tunnel walk into Lane Studium, showing off the view he had many a Fall Saturday.
“Do you still get the feels as you walk through the tunnel?” Morgan asked.
“Oh yeah,” Coach Beamer replied. “Every time.”
Morgan also got a primer on slapping the ‘Hokie Stone.’ That pregame ritual dates back to the 60s when Beamer wore a jersey, not a whistle.
“Hit it with my right hand,” Beamer explained.
He recently got the community and Hokie nation talking when a ‘For Sale’ sign popped up in his front yard.
“We’re downsizing,” he said. “I’m not leaving Blacksburg. This is where my buddies are and my friends.”