VIRGINIA TECH: Frank Beamer, the first alumnus to guide the Hokies since the 1940s, took over the Tech reins from Bill Dooley in January 1987. He began work a few days after the Hokies had beaten North Carolina State in the Peach Bowl. It took a while for him to get the Hokies moving in the right direction because the football program was hit with NCAA sanctions at the time.
But everything came together in the 1990s. The Techmen finished 9-3 in 1993 after beating Indiana, 45-20, in a wild Independence Bowl game. Tech followed up with an 8-4 season in 1994, losing to Tennessee, 45-23, in the Gator Bowl.
The Tech teams in 1995 and 1996 were among the best in school history. The 1995 team swept the BIG EAST Conference championship outright, and the 1996 club tied for the title with Syracuse and Miami.
The 1995 team was 9-2 during the regular season and then came up with a stirring 28-10 victory over Texas in the Sugar Bowl. The 1996 team went 10-1 during the regular season and lost to powerful Nebraska, 41-21, in the Orange Bowl after giving the Cornhuskers a fierce battle for three quarters.
The Hokies fell to 7-5 in 1997 and were beaten badly by North Carolina in the Gator Bowl, 42-3. But they came right back with a 9-3 mark in 1998 that included an impressive 38-7 victory over Alabama in the inaugural Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tenn.
The two winningest seasons in school history followed in 1999 and 2000 with the Hokies posting back-to-back 11-1 records. Tech registered its first-ever 11-0 regular-season record in ’99 before losing its national championship battle with FSU.
In 2000, the Hokies’ only blemish was a loss at Miami in the ninth game of the season. Both seasons, Tech climbed as high as No. 2 in The Associated Press poll, finishing No. 2 in ’99 and No. 6 in 2000. The Hokies climbed as high as No. 5 in the 2001 AP poll and finished 18th. In 2002, Tech was ranked as high as No. 3 in the AP poll after posting consecutive wins over nationally ranked LSU (14th), Marshall (16th) and Texas A&M (19th). The Hokies’ youthful team finished the season ranked 18th.
During the 2003 season, the Hokies ended No. 2 Miami’s 39-game regular-season winning streak with a 31-7 victory. The ‘Canes were the highest-ranked opponent Tech had ever beaten on the gridiron. The Hokies climbed as high as No. 3 in the polls before falling victim to inconsistent play during the final month of the season. Still, Tech earned eight wins for the 10th time in 11 seasons.
The 2004 season saw the Hokies bounce back to win their last eight games of the regular season, including victories against three nationally ranked teams – No. 6 West Virginia, No. 16 Virginia and No. 9 Miami.
Beamer’s early Tech teams also registered many exciting victories. One of the most impressive came in 1990 when the Hokies capped the year with a 38-13 victory over arch-rival Virginia. During the 1989 season, Tech knocked off ninth-ranked West Virginia, 12-10, in Morgantown.
During his undergraduate days at Tech, Beamer started three years as a cornerback and played on the Hokies’ 1966 and 1968 Liberty Bowl teams. He received a B.S. in distributive education from Tech in 1969 and a master’s in guidance from Radford in 1972. Then came the start of the Beamer coaching career.
He began as an assistant at Radford High School from 1969 through 1971. Then, after one season as a graduate assistant at the University of Maryland, he went to The Citadel where he worked five seasons under Bobby Ross and one year under Art Baker. His last two years at The Citadel, Beamer was the defensive coordinator. In 1979, he went to Murray State as the defensive coordinator under Mike Gottfried. He was named head coach at MSU in 1981 and went on to compile a six-year record of 42-23-2.
The Tech coach was born in Mt. Airy, N.C., and grew up in Hillsville, Va. At Hillsville High, he earned 11 varsity letters as a three-sport athlete in football, basketball and baseball.
Beamer is married to the former Cheryl Oakley of Richmond, Va. They have two children, Shane, a former member of his dad’s football team at Tech and now the associate head coach at Virginia Tech; and daughter Casey, a 2003 graduate of Tech. He has two grandchildren, Sutton and Olivia, daughters of Shane and his wife, Emily.
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