Ask TKP: How'd Beamer Turn It Around?

In 1992 Beamer went 2-8-1. How'd he turn it around to 9-3 the following season? and then never looked back.

Can anyone provide me a Hokie history lesson, as I was in the second grade at the time, and didn't know to much about football.

[Mod Edit: Update thread title.]

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In a nutshell, he fired several assistants at the behest of AD Dave Braine. In 92, that team was not terrible- most games came down to blowing late leads in the 4th Q. You could tell they were getting more competitive. Beamer also started signing better players like Cornell Brown, Maurice DeShazo and Myron Newsome from Va. He really started to hit the state hard in recruiting with Coach Cav and Billy Hite. Once the defense got the 4th quarter figured out, Beamer started to win, and then got better players, etc. he also finally built a great coaching staff with Hite, Cav, Foster, Wiles, etc. They stuck with his plan and knew what he wanted. That helped player development too.

blowing late leads in the 4th Q

I believe 5 of the L's and the T were this case. The tie was NCState, where we had a 3 point lead with under a minute to go when we kicked off...

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This is basically how it happened. He hit some home runs in recruiting with players like Cornell Brown, JC Price and Antonio Banks (and probably about 10 others), and a lot of those future studs played as freshmen in 1992, when the team just couldn't figure out how to finish games.

The next year, they were talented and experienced and the Hokie train started rolling with smash-mouth offense and big-play defense and special teams.

The doll's trying to kill me and the toaster's been laughing at me.

FWIW Cav joined the staff in 1996 from UNC

One of the firees was my former HS football coach, who did play with Beamer at VT.

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Thanks for the edit! Sorry, I didn't finish my coffee yet.


'92 team needed a little more depth and by the next year, they had it. Elmo was brought in to rework the defense from Beamer's wide tackle 6 and the bowl streak began.

Beamer was a combined 24-41-2 over a 6 year stretch. He did what he always did. He recruited guys who he could develop over 2-3 years then plugged them in junior/senior year. Say what you will about stars and talent evaluation, a 22 year old is, on average, significantly more developed physically than an 18 year old. Beamer was prolific because of the depth of his team, not always the talent of individuals.

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The depth of the team was never the strength of a Beamers team. There was a SIGNIFICANT drop off between first and second string. But he got top line guys on the first string, and then a lot of fillers. Deangelo Hall, Vick, Harris, RW, DW, Freeman, Moore were all studs but the backups were questionable. Subs were rare but that was before spread offenses and 90 plays per game. Keep the score low play tough D and grind out wins. That formula lost its luster in the late 2000s as the game changed.

Well no shit there was a drop off after All American starters, doesn't mean depth wasn't there

I just sit on my couch and b*tch. - HokieChemE2016

Except for a couple years (2004) there wasnt depth. Those last year's of Beamer's had a lot of unfortunate injuries that really hurt or season.

My freshman year our safety got injured early and we started a true freshman because that's what we had. Beamer never had great back up QBs. They were very linear.

I'm not sure the lack of QB depth ever really hurt us other than 1998 with no one after Al Clarke. Dave Meyer was a solid backup for Vick.

Oh it never hurt us, but we were lucky. But if Vick goes down we weren't the same team with Dave Meyers, he did win us the Pitt game (I believe) in 2000. But if we lost Randall in 2002 we would have been hurting.

Well if you have a backup where there's little to no drop off then that backup is probably looking for more playing time elsewhere

I just sit on my couch and b*tch. - HokieChemE2016

There is a difference than playing a back up and playing a converted high school QB because you don't have better options (ala Anquan Boldin, who might have been the best QB on that FSU team)

Either that, or you are an Alabama, Clemson, et all...with 4 and 5-star backups. VT has always been a great talent developer (4 star performance from 3 star talent), but my impression of the drop off between 1st and 2d string was a developmental, rather than talent one. VT could go the distance, but needed to avoid the injury bug as the each position would drop back a year (or more) of development when it hit.

Much of that drop off becomes masked with the blue blood programs who have a bench full of elite talent as the backups don't have the same developmental starting point.


I only cherry picked a few examples, all 22 starters weren't AllAmericans during Beamers tenure in the bowl streak. Not even close. He used starters on special teams. If the teams had depth why use starters on special teams? It's because there was no one else. The backups were a huge drop off. Tech rarely subbed. They shortened the game with their style of play. I've been watching Tech football since my freshman year in 1992 and I can say with confidence that the strength of those teams was NOT depth, it was high end first string talent and style of play.

He used starters on special teams because his philosophy was that special teams was a third of the game (not an afterthought) and he could gain an advantage with superior play. And those starters actually had to earn their way onto the units.

People forget that the 1990 and 1991 squads also had some tough late game losses as well. I think that 1993 we finally got some breaks and won some games that kind of evened out the prior years. I don't think the 1993 team was significantly better than the prior ones, but you make your own luck, I guess. I, however, think the 90 and 91 teams were better than 93...those teams played a tougher schedule (1990 was my freshman year and we weren't in a conference that year so we had a mish-mash schedule but it included quite a few bowl teams). Those squads played at a high level and were definitely bowl-worthy.

I was a freshman in 1992, but my understanding is that VT had begun to show positive signs during the Will Furrer years in 1990 and 1991, and that was why Beamer was given a mulligan for 1992.

I remember hearing Bill Roth and Mike Burnop valiently defending Beamer from angry callers after a soul-crushing 50-49 loss to Rutgers (I can't believe that game is on YouTube) at home on the last play of the game. I was yelling at the radio because I thought Roth and Burnop were delusional.

Good thing they didn't listen to morons like me.

The doll's trying to kill me and the toaster's been laughing at me.

That Rutgers game. Rutgers had the ball on their own 20 with 21 seconds left and no timeouts down 5 points. Two hail marys later...WIN. Still the worst VT loss I've ever seen (in the way we lost not that we quit in a game or anything like that), still makes me angry thinking about it. Ugh.

Still the worst VT loss I've ever seen hem.


AD Dave Braine forced Beams to fire some inept assistants & hire some competent ones.

Any chance it was the offensive coordinator?

Recruit Prosim

Actually, it was. Rickey Bustle was promoted to OC in 1993 (then left for USCe one season in 1994 and returned to the role in 1995).

Adding to the above, the first few years VT was on probation resulting from the Dooley era and had scholarship reductions.

Weren't scholarship limits much higher until the mid 90's?

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in 92-93 they went from 95 to 92 scholarships, I 93-94 they went to 88 and the next season to 85

There were no scholarship limits until 1973. Title IX legislation prompted schools to introduce a limit of 105. In 1978 it was reduced to 95, then in 1992 it was further reduced to 85. The scholarship limits helped spread the talent around. Before the introduction of limits, the blue bloods would sign huge scholarship classes with no intention of ever playing them, just to keep them away from other schools.

How'd Beamer do really getting after the other teams!

"Take care of the little things and the big things will come."

I'm more interested in the 92 to 93 turn around and how that happened. I of course know about how we started to sustain it, but that's a drastic turn around.


It was a culmination of things - getting rid of under performing assistants, coming off probation and getting scholarships back, the 85 scholarship cap, etc. This all happened around the same time. As others mentioned, they were in every game (except Syracuse and Miami) in 92, so they were already close.

Beamer was always very good at turning things around after a rough stretch. Obviously his first 6 seasons were rough, then from 1993-1996, we became very well respected nationally. Then we went 7-5 in 1997 only to go 9-3 in 1998 and 11-1 in both 1999 and 2000. Then the 2001-2003 teams became notorious for their late season collapses in a period that was kind of embarrassing for VT football. Constantly entering the top 5 as media darlings only to lose like 2 or 3 straight and falling on their faces at the end of the season. After that, we had 8 straight 10-win seasons and 4 ACC Championships. He was very good at looking in the mirror and making the necessary changes. I just really wish he had done something about Stinespring, O'Cain, and Newsome sooner. 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2011 all could have been championship teams with more offensive power.

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