Two days removed from Virginia Tech's 20-30 loss at Miami I realized I would eventually have to write that Frank Beamer didn't deserve a victory lap in 2016 — one that included pit stops at Bristol Motor Speedway and Notre Dame Stadium. That was a tough conclusion to come to. My heart said no, but my brain said yes.
Immediately after Frank's offensive staff overhaul following Tech's 2012 campaign, I decided it was reasonable to allot three seasons before I judged the progress of the program and Beamer's future. To put it mildly, there's been an unhealthy amount of contention among Hokie Nation over that timespan. Many argued Frank's 235 wins and 7 conference championships as Hokie head coach earned him the right to leave the program he built on his own terms without oversight. Others contended Virginia Tech football slipped on Frank's watch and he was culpable.
I discarded the history and analyzed the situation objectively and in a vacuum. It's unfair for any coach to turn around a program in a shorter amount of time. Beamer Co. needed to restock Tech's roster with ACC caliber players, which would take multiple recruiting classes. That talent needed to be developed. Offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler had to teach and install a new scheme. Virginia Tech had to adapt to modern recruiting. All of this would take time.
And since, the program's exhibited glimpses of progress, but has stumbled along the way. Virginia Tech's been average and punched its way through the ACC's undercard. The Hokies both inexplicably won at Ohio State and lost at Wake Forest. Tech signed blue chippers Tim Settle and Dwayne Lawson, but failed time and again to close on Virginia's top talent at positions of need. It's been an up and down ride. Tech didn't reassert its dominance over the Coastal division, and for a program that has greater expectations than middle-tier bowls, Frank's future-is-bright pitch began to ring hollow.
So on October 19, 2015, I passed a threshold. I didn't think Frank Beamer was the man to catapult Tech to the top of the ACC, a conference he owned for so many years. It wasn't the result of any one game, or thing, but rather the body of work from 2013 through Tech's 3-4 mark. In my gut I didn't feel good about the state of Virginia Tech football moving forward, and evidence on the field supported the instinct.
Even though it would be fair to call for Frank's job, and I was prepared to do it, it never felt right for me to do. Frank Beamer and I are both Virginia Tech alumni and he has done more for the university I love than I ever will. (Both French and Teel hammered that home.) Even though I dreaded it, it had to be done.
I was wrong though, it didn't. On Sunday afternoon Frank Beamer did the dirty work, he announced his retirement. He did exactly what he said he would do when asked countless times about his future. He did what was in Virginia Tech's best interest. Throughout his tenure at Tech, Beamer never provided a reason to doubt his integrity, and I'm a fool for believing he'd be anything but true to his word.
Beamer saved the Virginia Tech athletic department, scribes and fans from a messy breakup too common to the separation of long term relationships. It's a dignified exit which personifies the manner in which Frank CEO'd Beamer Co.
To boot, Frank is going to let us all be there to celebrate when he receives his gold watch against North Carolina. Frank's never sought the limelight, and I can't imagine that was his suggestion, but again it's best for the program. Hokie Nation needs to come together and get closure on the Beamer Era. I'm elated I'll be there.
"I am sorry, Boy," said the tree, "but I have nothing left to give you"
Frank Beamer didn't always make the decisions the fans wanted. He made plenty of questionable calls that pundits and armchair quarterbacks were justified to criticize. He didn't fill the empty trophy case. But if Tech wins the national championship, it'll be thanks to the foundation Frank Beamer laid.
I'm going to miss rooting for the coach that never took himself too seriously.
The coach that was always there for the Virginia Tech and Blacksburg communities.
The coach that his players loved.
Coach Beamer gave my father and I the opportunity to make our dream a reality. I can't explain how grateful we are for you, Coach. Thank you— Kyle Chung (@kchung84) November 2, 2015
And ultimately I'll miss rooting for the coach that did in his opinion what was best for Virginia Tech. Frank Beamer is a Hokie and followed the simple charge of Ut Prosim. I don't know who the next football coach will be, but I doubt he'll always do what's best for Virginia Tech over self. We won't get that again.