The great career of Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer came to an end last night in Shreveport, as his Hokies beat Tulsa 55-52 in a wild Independence Bowl. Here’s a look back on the biggest wins in the career of Frank Mitchell Beamer…
September 22, 1994—beat West Virginia 34-6: Virginia Tech had made its first bowl game under Beamer in 1993—ironically it was the Independence Bowl where they beat Indiana. In this game, the Hokies made a major statement before a Thursday Night audience against a West Virginia team that gone undefeated in the 1993 regular season.
September 23, 1995—beat Miami 13-7—The Hurricanes were still “The U”. In 1991, they won a national title, played for one in 1992 and been a major bowl team in 1993 and 1994. Virginia Tech’s win over Miami ended up being the tiebreaker in the Big East and gave Beamer’s program its first major bowl bid.
December 31, 1995: beat Texas 28-10—Speaking of that major bowl, Virginia Tech took full advantage in New Orleans. Their decisive win over the Longhorns earned the Hokies a spot in the final Top 10.
November 16-30, 1996: These three weeks have to be taken as a whole. Virginia Tech beat Miami and West Virginia the first two weeks to assure themselves a piece of the Big East title, along with Miami and Syracuse, whom they had lost to earlier in the year. In a three-way tie, the major bowl spot would go to whomever was ranked higher. VT’s win over Virginia got them another marquee bowl ticket. Incidentally, all three opponents in this must-win stretch—the Hurricanes, Mountaineers & Cavaliers—were all ranked in the Top 25 at the time.
November 13, 1999: beat Miami 43-10: The 1999 team was Beamer’s best, one that played for the national title. They had the chance because they blew out the Hurricanes before a national Thursday night audience. This was the game that swung the Big East title.
September 1-21, 2002: Another hunk of three straight wins over ranked teams. The first one came at home against LSU, then coached by Nick Saban and one that would win the national championship a year later. The next win came against Marshall, with future NFL quarterback Byron Leftwich. Virginia Tech sealed the sweep by beating Texas A&M. The Hokies rose as high as #3 in the polls before a late-season fade.
November 1, 2003: beat Miami 31-7: The Hurricanes had played for the national championship each of the previous two years, winning once. They were ranked #2 in the polls and aiming for another shot when they came to Blacksburg. The Virginia Tech defense and special teams dominated in pulling the ‘Canes down several pegs.
December 4, 2004–beat Miami 16-10: Another big win over the Hurricanes and perhaps the most surprising because this one came on the road with all the money on the table—it was winner-take-all for the ACC title in the first year for both programs in their new conference.
November 18, 2006—beat Wake Forest 27-6—On the surface it doesn’t look like much, but this was a really good Wake Forest team, one that won the ACC title and went to the Orange Bowl.
The 2007-08 ACC Championship Run: In both years, Virginia Tech played Matt Ryan’s Boston College teams for the conference championship. Both times, Tech won decisively, 30-16 and 30-12. It earned the Hokies two straight Orange Bowl bids, one of which they won, beating Brian Kelly’s Cincinnati following the 2008 season.
December 31, 2009: beat Tennessee 37-14—This wasn’t a great Volunteer team that came to the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Coached by Lane Kiffin, they were 7-5. But given the SEC’s historic dominance of the ACC in this inter-conference games, this was a big win for Virginia Tech and it got the Hokies into the final Top 10 again.
December 4, 2010: Beat Florida State 44-33—Beamer gets revenge for a disappointing 2005 ACC Championship Game loss to FSU and wins what would prove to be the final conference crown of his career.
September 6, 2014: Beat Ohio State 35-21—This win in Columbus last year was the only Ohio State loss en route to the national title. It was also Virginia Tech’s only real high point, but what a high point it was. The final score doesn’t tell the story of how completely the Hokies owned the trenches.
When you coach at a program like Virginia Tech that operates just below the level of the national elite, it isn’t always the wins that tell the story. Sometimes it’s the noble near-miss. With that in mind, here’s some tough losses for Frank, but ones that show just how far he brought his Hokies…
January 4, 2000: Lost to Florida State 46-29—Don’t let the final score obscure how close this Sugar Bowl battle for the national championship was. Virginia Tech led 29-28 after three quarters and was controlling the line of scrimmage until FSU’s Peter Warrick went crazy to enable the Seminoles to pull away.
The 2000 Bowl Selection Process—Virginia Tech went 10-1 in 2000, were led by Michael Vick and deserving of a major bowl spot. They were passed over by a Notre Dame team that was pedestrian by major bowl standards. Virginia Tech went ahead and beat up Clemson in the Gator Bowl while Notre Dame got rocked by Oregon State in the Fiesta Bowl. Both bowl games were the worse for the Fiesta’s decision.
December 1, 2001: Lost to Miami 26-24–This Miami team won the national title with a roster filled with future NFL legends, was arguably the most talented national champion of the modern era. Virginia Tech nearly sprung what would have been a massive upset.
November 8, 2003—lost to Pitt 31-28—Actually this one isn’t that big of a deal. But it’s historically notable because this writer, living in Pittsburgh at the time, was in attendance. And it was a great football game, decided only when Larry Fitzgerald caught a TD in the closing minute. Although I can still feel the frostbite on my toes.
January 3, 2005—lost to Auburn 16-13—Auburn was undefeated and looking to make a major statement that they’d been robbed by not getting a chance to play for the national championship. Instead, they barely survived Frank’s troops in the Sugar Bowl.
January 3, 2012—lost to Michigan 23-20 in OT—I put this one on the list because Virginia Tech was absolutely robbed in overtime. Wide receiver Danny Coale caught a touchdown pass that went to instant replay. It was a very close call, but Coale appeared to catch it and at minimum, VT had the call on the field. It still got overturned. Michigan kicked a field goal and won it the next possession. Beamer should have had one more major bowl victory.
It was an amazing run for Frank Beamer and he can now get on with a well-deserved retirement doing some golfing with his retired coaching buddies in Florida.