How will the final football chapter end for Frank Beamer? Will the legendary Virginia Tech coach live to coach another day for the Hokies or will he be ushered into retirement feeling the sting from his long time rivals in Charlottesville?
How will it end for Frank Beamer is the biggest question mark heading into the final weekend of the college football regular season. But does it really matter? One game does not define a life’s work. He’s lost 115 times before as a head coach, so why would this one feel any different? Because the last game in a playing or coaching career always feels different. Games, plays, moments all meld into one, but that last game will occupy the forefront of one’s mind. The key plays that shape the outcome seem to stand out more in losses than victories. Maybe its just me, but games that I played in, I tend to remember the key moments in losses more than how games were won.
But let’s not dwell on the negative. What Beamer has accomplished should be celebrated. From putting his hometown of Fancy Gap on the map to taking the Hokies to national prominence, Beamer has elevated the national conscience about the state of football here in the Commonwealth.
Before Beamer, the state of Virginia was not known for powerhouse college football. With Michael Vick leading the way, Beamer’s 1999 Hokies came one win shy of the national championship. Twenty-two straight years of going to a bowl game makes the Hokies a post-season staple. When west coast viewers see Virginia Tech football on their TV they think “Beamerball.” He has almost single-handedly branded VT.
I first got to know Beamer back in 1993 at the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana. The Hokies beat Indiana 45-20 and Beamer joined us live on WAVY-TV that night to celebrate the win. Recruiting trips and alumni visits has made him a fixture here in Hampton Roads. Imagine seeing Frank Beamer walk into your high school on a recruiting visit; It happened a lot here in town.
During a round of golf at the Princess Anne Country Club, Beamer allowed me to tag along with he and Michael Vick soon after Vick was released from prison. Vick and Beamer playing golf together and the entire time, Beamer giving advice to Vick. You hear about the coach-player relationship being like a father-son relationship and it was never more apparent on this day.
Over the past couple seasons, most diehard Hokies knew this day was coming. But none of us knew how hard it would be to say goodbye. So instead of goodbye, it should simply be thank you Frank Beamer. Thank you for guiding this football program with class, honor and respect. Thank you for giving us so much to cheer for. And thank you for your dedication to excellence.