Beamer built Virginia Tech from ground up


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Frank Beamer took over as the head coach of his alma mater, Virginia Tech, in 1987 and has built the Hokies into one of the nation's top programs by coaching a hard-nosed brand of no-frills football.

The Hokies usually have a great defense, a great running game and one of the most physical teams in the nation. Of course, they usually are excellent on special teams and are notorious for changing games by blocking kicks.

It might not be a sexy formula, but Beamer is the active leader in wins among Division I-A coaches with 253 and is eighth on the all-time list. By the end of the season he could pass former Nebraska coach Tom Osborne (255) as well as former Brigham Young coach Lavell Edwards (257).

At ACC media day earlier this summer Beamer was asked repeatedly about how long he will continue to coach and also about what it means to be the winningest active coach.

First, he said, "It really just means I'm old." Then he laughed and said he has been fortunate to have a lot of people help him over the years.

"It makes you go back and appreciate the people around you," Beamer said. "I've had a lot of good coaches around me to work with, and a lot of really good players. And I think it should also be noted that I have had a great administration at Virginia Tech, that I wouldn't have been there at a lot of places after a few years.

"But they hung in there with me and were patient and that's not the way things are done these days."

In his first season at Virginia Tech in 1987, Beamer finished 2-9, then followed it with a 3-8 record in '88. Then after two six-win seasons, he posted two more losing seasons -- including a 2-8-1 disaster in '92 for a 24-40-2 start to his career.

At that point most administrations would have pulled the plug.

But Virginia Tech stuck with him and that patience was rewarded with a 9-3 record in '93, and the Hokies have been to a bowl game and among college football's elite ever since.

The Hokies (2-0) are poised for run to the ACC championship game again this season after beating Georgia Tech, their biggest Coastal Division challenger.

Virginia Tech has won the ACC title four times since joining the league in 2004, have played in the championship game four times in the past six seasons and have posted double-digits wins in eight consecutive years.

Beamer credits that to the Hokies doing things the right way on and off the field regardless how much the game has changed over the years. And, he said, the secret to Virginia Tech's success is no secret at all, just hard work, consistency and building and maintaining a good foundation.

"I think the game has changed some and maybe we do some things differently on offense or defense to reflect those changes," Beamer said. "But I don't think the basics have changed. I don't think the fundamentals of football, the fundamentals of what I think makes a successful program -- caring about players, respecting each other and all of those things -- they haven't changed.

"So how you do things maybe has changed a little bit but the things that are really important, I don't think that has changed at all."

The Hokies, ranked No. 13 in both polls, come to Heinz Field on Saturday to face the Panthers (0-2), and like most of Beamer's teams, they are excellent on defense (third in the ACC in scoring defense and total defense) and good at running the ball (141 yards rushing per game).

Pitt coach Paul Chryst said earlier this week that while he doesn't know Beamer personally, he knows about his teams and that their success speaks for itself.

"You look at what he's done and the program truly is one of those measuring sticks in college football," Chryst said. "I think anytime you have a combination of good players executing good sound schemes that is a good recipe for success. And I think why they have had success in the past is they've had good players, good schemes and they execute."

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