Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Beamer Handled Hard Times Hokies Coach Endured Losses

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Beamer Handled Hard Times Hokies Coach Endured Losses

Article excerpt

NEW ORLEANS -- There's a reason Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer can walk around New Orleans this week, a smiling, carefree individual.

The stress and anxiety of playing for a national championship hasn't affected Beamer's demeanor in the least bit. That's because Beamer has chosen to relish in the moment, one that is clearly the pinnacle of his 13 seasons as coach of his alma mater.

For it wasn't that long ago that his career at Virginia Tech was in serious jeopardy. Beamer had just completed his sixth season in 1992, one that saw the Hokies slip to 2-8-1. Alumni and even some school administrators were calling for his job.

Beamer's son, Shane, a senior long snapper for the Hokies, recalls a crazed fan calling the house one night, ripping Beamer to his daughter, Casey, who was 11 at the time.

"The guy just decided to go on a five-minute spiel just blasting my dad," Shane said. "She was obviously upset and crying. . . . Mom said Dad came home and told her, 'Daddy's a good coach and eventually we're going to be back.' And the next year we went to the Independence Bowl."

But it wasn't without Beamer convincing then athletic director Dave Braine and the Virginia Tech administration that he deserved more time. Not only did he receive more time, but they gave him the monetary resources that would allow the Hokies to hire top-notch assistants to compete in the newly formed Big East football conference, which they had joined.

"The administration at the time did something that was probably different than most universities," Beamer said. "I really think it's a lesson for a lot of universities. We were 2-8-1. The thing that was different is that we were ahead of seven of those teams in the fourth quarter. Then we were down three points, six points and 12 points to three more teams. The only team that really just beat us soundly that year was the University of Miami. We had a chance to win 10 games and certainly a good chance to win seven games. But we won two.

"The game we tied, it was one of those years that N.C. State was lining up to kick the winning field goal, we blocked the field goal and that thing goes wobbling through the goal post. It was just that kind of year. It was a closer 2-8-1 year than you might think. At least that's the way I tried to tell it to the administration."

It was the last losing season Beamer would endure. Since then, he has guided the Hokies to a 64-19 record, including a perfect 11-0 mark and No. 2 ranking heading into Tuesday's Nokia Sugar Bowl against top-ranked Florida State. Virginia Tech is one of eight teams to go to a bowl game in the past seven years.

"I'm proud of the fact that we're one of eight teams in the country that has gone to seven straight bowls," Beamer said. "When you think of all the great teams in the country, there's only seven others besides ourselves that have gone to seven straight bowls. …

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