BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR) — From a local boy … to a hometown hero … and then… a Hall of Famer. It has been an impressive and storied career for Fancy Gap native Frank Beamer. The man credited with helping put Virginia Tech and its football program on the map!
After 29 years as the Virginia Tech football head coach, Beamer stepped back from the sidelines eight years ago. He remains a Virginia Tech legend and an essential part of the university.
Coach Beamer’s thoughts about being a football coach came about once he stopped playing football for the Hokies.
“I didn’t go through spring practice. It was the spring after my last year. I said, ‘Wait a minute I do not have football anymore.’ This just doesn’t feel right. Actually, my major in college wasn’t conducive to being a teacher in high school. So, I had to go back and take a couple of math courses during the summer, so I could teach math at Radford High School and to become the assistant football coach at Radford High School,” said Beamer.
During the 1970s, not only was Frank Beamer an assistant at Radford High School, he was an assistant at Maryland, The Citadel, and Murray State. He also became the head coach at Murray State University.
In December 1986, Coach Beamer got the call to come back home to his alma mater.
The first six seasons at Virginia Tech, were hard for Coach Beamer as he went 24-40-2…including a 2-8-1 season in 1992. The athletic director for Virginia Tech at the time, Dave Braine believed in Beamer and kept him as head coach.
“There are not too many people that after a 2-8-1 season in your 6th year. I think that Dave saw we were doing things right. When I came in, we had restrictions with the scholarships. I forgot how many there was a year. About my fourth or fifth year, there were about 70 kids that were not in our program that you need to win in that fifth year and fourth year. I think he saw that they are working like heck to graduate the kids. They care about the kids and thank goodness he kept me on there and we got it turned around pretty soon after that,” said Beamer.
Beamer turned it around at Virginia Tech in a big way. From 1993-2015, a span of 23 seasons, Beamer led Tech to a bowl game each season. The Hokies won 11 of those bowls. They also won three Big East titles and 4 ACC titles. Many feel Coach Beamer’s best team was his 1999 squad which played for the national title against Florida State in the Sugar Bowl. Coach Beamer has some regrets connected to that game.
“I think back to the Florida State teams that we played in the 1990s. We always had to do something special I thought to beat them because they were so good. So we ended up faking a field goal and we lost field position. We faked a punt and we didn’t get it and we lost field position. I think we were good enough to beat them straight up and play straight. We had Michael Vick and a lot of other good players so I always regret that my choices took us out of the game and having a good shot at winning the game. It was great getting there. The other regret that we have is that we didn’t get back. It was hard to do,” said Beamer.
As time progressed with Coach Beamer leading the Virginia Tech football program in 2015, he made a decision to retire as head coach. Some of the reasons Coach Beamer said were his age and the program not having the big-time success it had in the past.
“Some of the fans thought I should stay and some of the fans thought he was getting old. I never wanted to be the guy that split our fan base. I loved it when we were all going in the same direction together. I felt like we were getting divided and I didn’t want to be that guy,” said Beamer.
Overall, Frank Beamer is proud of being part of the growth and legacy of Virginia Tech in so many ways.
“I was fortunate to be coaching at a place that I love. When we started going to those bowls and being on TV and being on Friday Night Football and Thursday Night Football. They were getting tremendous ratings. I think people started seeing the crowd at Lane Stadium with them jumping and having a great time and it was great TV. The applications and the enrollment went up. I think kids sitting at home were seeing this atmosphere and said you know I want to check into Virginia Tech. It was a growing time together and I am honored to be part of it,” said Beamer.