Q&A With Frank Beamer (From Chris Colston’s Hokie Football Annual 2010)

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Frank Beamer, now 63, enters his 24th year at Virginia Tech. He’s won just
about every coaching award possible and ranks tied for second among active
coaches in victories (229). Prior to the 2005 season, a Seattle Times
poll of more than 40 coaches voted him as the current head coach for whom they
had the most respect.


PERSON I MOST WANT TO MEET: I would’ve liked to have met Vince Lombardi.
Just to talk football. Not so much X’s and O’s, but how to handle people.
How do you know the right thing to say, and when to say it?

FAVORITE MUSICAL ARTIST: I still like Shania Twain, but she’s been away
from it awhile. I like Sugarland a lot. Little Big Town, I think they’re good.
Martina McBride. Oh, I tell you: I’m a big Darius Rucker guy, now. Brad
Paisley has to be right in there too. And I’d have to throw Metallica in
there, at least for one song.

FAVORITE MEAL: Cooking out cheeseburgers in the summertime. I don’t think
it gets any better than that.

DESSERT: I’ve never been a big dessert person. (My wife) Cheryl loves to
make homemade chocolate ice cream. Maybe some of that on top of some chocolate

MY PERFECT DAY: It would start off with breakfast. I love breakfast. Probably
an omelet in there. Country ham. Grits. Anything. Then we need to move to a
golf match. Then I think we’d come back and cook out some hamburgers. And then
I’d probably like to see a live music show. And just being with the people I’m
closest to, my family and my coaches.

HOKIE ANNUAL: You’ve now won back-to-back bowl games for the first time.
What’s the difference?

FRANK BEAMER: We changed our philosophy on that the last two years. I should
have done it sooner, but I’ve always been a big believer that you reward your
kids for a good season. In the end, though, what you really appreciate is
winning that last one. So our approach to curfews and practices tightened up and
it paid off.

HA: What specifically did you change?

FB: Before, we would treat the bowl game preparation like a regular week. So
on ‘Monday,’ we’d have a 2 a.m. curfew. I got to thinking about that; in
reality, I wouldn’t want them out till 2 a.m. in Blacksburg getting ready for
a Tuesday practice. I don’t know how many times we had that first practice and
guys looked rough. They weren’t ready to have the kind of practice you needed
to beat somebody. We moved up our curfew and kids got in at a reasonable hour.
But I think they still had fun.

The practices in Blacksburg, we had more of them and they were more physical.
We had more tackling to the ground. We didn’t do it much last year because of
the weather. But in 2008 we had a scrimmage the last practice before the kids
went home. We had never done that before. We might’ve had a little middle
drill, but that’s it. That helped keep us sharp, because there’s a month
between games.

The other thing we did was change our hotel the night before the game. You
love your fans and having them in the same hotel is great. But the night before
a game it helps just to get away and do it like we normally do it. It keeps you
in a normal rhythm and you realize how important the game is.

HA: Your offense really played well the last five games. But the criticism of
the past few years, particularly with coach (Bryan) Stinespring, has to tear you


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While it features commentary by “The Voice of the Hokies,”
Bill Roth, this is no athletics department PR piece. “The Annual” is
not officially affiliated with Virginia Tech, although it has strong ties
inside the department. It’s an independent publication by Tech fans, for
Tech fans.

more information, and to order a copy, click here.

FB: Yeah, it does. I think it’s a great tribute to our kids and the
program, and the coaches, the way we finished the season. One of your main
goals, to win the ACC, was gone. A lot of people, after we lost those two, were
ready to call it quits. But what I like about the team and coaches is that we
went back out, kept working hard, and got better as a football team. I
appreciate that. After you’ve got your hopes up and you lose two and you’re
out of it, it takes strong character to come back and have success.

HA: Talking about coming back from adversity; this spring Michael Vick made
his first return to Blacksburg following his dogfighting scandal.

FB: I tell him all the time, he’s going to have a great story to tell and
in the end he’ll have a chance to help other people. He had it all and lost a
lot of it. He just made bad decisions. You’ve got to be responsible for your
decisions. I think he understands he messed up. Now he’s a humble guy trying
like heck to get his life back.

My knowledge of Michael Vick is he’s a good person who cared. It bothered
him when he disappointed people. That’s the way I knew him. That’s the way I
still know him.

HA: Billy Hite told me the other day that your administrative assistant, John
Ballein, was “As important to this program as anybody.”

FB: John is the glue that keeps it all together. If you ask, ‘What’s he
responsible for?’ the answer is, ‘Everything.’ From our clinics to our
recruiting to our organization around here, he’s probably the best you could
imagine at what he does. He’s very efficient, very smart, very creative.
Organization-wise, he’s always two steps ahead. I can’t tell you how many
times I’ve asked, ‘John, have we got so-and-so done?’ And he’d roll his
eyes at me like, ‘What do you think?’

HA: Billy also said that your hiring of Jim Cavanaugh was one of your best
moves, because he’s such a great recruiter.

FB: You’ve got a veteran guy there. But more important is the trust he has
around the state. People trust what he says. That goes a long way in the
recruiting circles. That’s the foundation of good recruiting, I think.

HA: How long do you want to keep coaching?

FB: As long as we can win and my health stays good. I think this is
important: you must still want to attack the challenge. This team we have, I
like the kids. I realize we’re probably short on experience at a couple of
positions. Can you overcome that with great team chemistry and hard work? You
have to be ready to accept that challenge each and every year.

The other side of it around here is that the losses have gotten more
devastating. After the losses to Georgia Tech and North Carolina (last season),
you would’ve thought the world was falling apart. And I understand it. You
want it to be that way. You want to play at a high level. But when the losses
are more devastating, that gets harder to deal with. That’s part of accepting
the challenge each and every year. I don’t know how long we’re going to go
here, but it’s fun right now.

Chris Colston:
An 11-year veteran of the Virginia Tech athletics
department as editor of The Hokie Huddler, Chris Colston (Marketing
1981) has written four books on Tech football. (Virginia Tech Vault
– 2009; Virginia Tech Sideline – 2003; Turn Up the Wick!
2000; The Hokies Handbook – 1996). Colston covered the NFL and NBA
for USA TODAY from January 2006-December 2009. From 1996-2005 he
served as a writer and editor for USA TODAY Sports Weekly. Colston
has won numerous awards and has done one-on-one interviews with some of
the biggest names in sports, such as Peyton Manning, Kobe Bryant, and
LeBron James. For information on all of Colston’s projects, follow him on
Twitter: @chriscolston.
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