When Bill Dooley, the brother of Georgia’s Vince, left Virginia Tech after the 1986 season and a 10-1-1 record, the Hokies hired Frank Beamer. Over his first 6 years in Blacksburg, Frank Beamer went 24-40-2 and I have no idea how he kept the job. His best season during those bleak early years was in 1989 when the Hokies went 6-4-1. Beamer went 6-5 in 1990 and no bowls in either year. But, those moderately successful seasons were surrounded by 2-9 and 3-8 type seasons.
Things were not going well for Frank Beamer and Virginia Tech.
Then, along came 1993 and the Hokies went 9-3 and went to their first bowl game since 1986, the Independence Bowl.
Virginia Tech went 8-4 the following season and played in their second straight Bowl game which they lost to the Tennessee Volunteers and Peyton Manning.
But, 1995 was the year that the nation really started following the Virginia Tech Hokies. In 1995, the Hokies under Frank Beamer went 10-2 won the Big East Conference for the very first time and took on and beat Texas and Ricky Williams in the Sugar Bowl.
The term ‘Beamer Ball’ became a football fan’s household name. Beamer Ball, obviously nicknamed that because of Frank Beamer, is playing great defense and winning football games by extra ‘special’ special teams play. Also, Frank Beamer was the head coach at Virginia Tech, but he was also the special teams coach for his Hokies. He spent a lot of time working on the art of special teams play. They were known for blocked kicks and punts, for returning kicks and punts and for not letting Kickoff return teams make it back to their own 20 yard line.
1995 was also the year that Bud Foster got moved up from Linebackers coach to Defensive Coordinator a job which he still holds to this day.
The coach that couldn’t win but a couple of game per year in the 1980s suddenly won 10 or more games per year in 13 out of the next 19 years. 1992 was the last losing season that the Hokies would see under Frank Beamer. Virginia Tech and Beamer Ball would be one of the most feared programs in the country.
Later in the 1990’s they would sign Michael Vick who would lead them to their first ever National Championship game in 1999 where they would lose to Florida State in the middle of their dynasty period.
In 2004, Virginia Tech entered the ACC and didn’t miss a beat. They continued with the 10 and 11 win seasons.
The coach that went 24-40-2 over his first 6 seasons, saw his teams go 200-69 over the next 19 years and became the most winning active college coach in the nation.
His 24-40-2 record would never have cut it at Alabama, or Texas, or Michigan, or Notre Dame. But, the Virginia Tech Hokies let him stick around and get things turned around in a huge way and put the school on the map.
In 2011, the Hokies went 11-3 and lost in Overtime to the temporarily revitalized Michigan Wolverines.
Since that time, the Hokies have gone 7-6 and 8-5 and have looked like a shell of their former selves.
Watching the Spring Game made most think more of the same was in store for 2014.
But, the Hokies looked pretty good by going into Columbus, Ohio and beating the favored Buckeyes by a 35 to 21 score.
Could be the arrival of Texas Tech quarterback transfer, Michael Brewer from Austin, Texas has given the Hokies an infusion of optimism and leadership. I could be reading too much into this, but Brewer led his team to a state championship in high school and is a proven winner. Former Virginia Tech Quarterback Logan Thomas took his talent to the NFL, but he seemed to have peaked in 2011. Thomas was huge at 6-6, 260 and had all the intangibles, while Brewer is listed at 6-1, 200 which I believe to be a bit of a stretch.
Michael Brewer’s father, Robert, played at Texas and led the Longhorns to a Cotton Bowl victory over favored Alabama while coming in as a walk-on and beating out much higher rated players that were ahead of him. Brewer’s grandfather also played at Texas after leading his Amarillo High School football team to a state championship. Quarterbacking is in Michael Brewer’s blood and he has been a big winner everywhere he has been.
The television announcer said the same kinds of things about Michael Brewer that they said about his father against the Buckeyes on Saturday night. He doesn’t have a big time arm and he doesn’t have great speed but he just has great Quarterback instincts. He is just a player.
He was beaten out at Texas Tech by Davis Webb the current starting Quarterback and chose to transfer elsewhere. He wanted to go home and play for his father’s and grandfather’s team, but Texas Tech obviously blocked that move and forced him to leave the conference. They let their other Quarterback, Baker Mayfield, transfer to Oklahoma which is also in their conference but he was a walk-on so they may not have had a choice.
But, I have seen Michael Brewer play many times and I saw his father play many times and I think Brewer can take the Virginia Tech offense to levels they have not seen in a while.
Of course, it does help that Bud Foster is still the Defensive Coordinator and that Frank Beamer still takes special care of his special teams.
Not a lot of teams come into Columbus, Ohio and beat the Buckeyes and especially in night games. It’s just not done very often.
The Virginia Tech Hokies have East Carolina coming to town on Saturday and then Georgia Tech is next. They have Western Michigan the following week and then travel to North Carolina and then up to Pittsburgh and face James Conner.
They will be a fun team to watch over the coming weeks and to see if the Ohio State victory was a fluke or if the Buckeyes are just really terrible this season. It was another black eye for the Big 10 to have one of their top teams beaten at home during a really rough weekend for them.
The North Carolina Tar Heels and coach Larry Fedora, the Pittsburgh Panthers and their terror at Running Back, James Conner and the Duke Blue Devils should be the Hokies top competition to win their division of the ACC. Plus, they end the year with the annual game with in state rival the Virginia Cavaliers who are much, much improved this season.