November 2, 2015
Beamer offers insight on retirement decision
Tech's longtime football coach came to his decision last week

By Jimmy Robertson

BLACKSBURG – One day after Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer announced his retirement at the conclusion of this season, he met with members of the media at a packed McConnell Auditorium in the Merryman Center to explain what led to his decision.

Few dry eyes could be found among the family members, players, coaches and staff members from the athletics department who gathered to hear college football’s all-time active winningest coach and the man who ushered Virginia Tech onto the national scene say that it was simply time to retire after 29 years as the head coach.

“I have always said I think I will know when its time, and I think its time,” Beamer said. “There have been some difference of opinions out there, and any time you have a public life, there will be that. The last thing I want is for Hokies to be divided. I want everyone to be in the same direction, and I think its right in that regard and so I think this is the right time.”

Beamer came to that decision last week, waking up one morning and telling wife Cheryl that he planned on retiring. He told his son, Shane, on Friday before the team left to travel to Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, to play Boston College. Following the Hokies’ 26-10 victory, Cheryl Beamer asked her husband if he wanted to reconsider his decision, and he said he was at peace with his decision.

“When you’re not sure it’s the right thing, that’s when you’re not at peace,” Beamer said. “I do feel like it’s the right thing to do, and it’s the right thing for Virginia Tech. I think it’s the right time for me. It’s a tough business. I think it’s a younger guy’s business, talking about practices and games. Everything is critical. Every loss is critical. After you do that a number of years, I think it wears on you a little bit. I knew what I was getting into. I chose the profession, and I’m not bad-mouthing the profession. I’m just saying it’s a tough profession.

“The hardest thing I’ve had is that so many people are counting on you and then when you let them down – and people express it differently and all that – but still that’s kind of my deal. I didn’t want to let Hokies down. That’s the hardest part about being average the last few years. That’s another thing I’m proud of. At one time, average wasn’t so bad. Now, average is unacceptable, really. That’s a good thing. I’m proud of that. Tech fans deserve better. We’ve been average for too long.”

Beamer decided to inform the team of his decision at Sunday’s team meeting rather than wait to announce the decision at the end of this season.

“I have always wanted to be honest with people,” he said. “If I know something, I can’t keep it a secret, and I don’t want to. My players and coaches deserve to know what’s going on. For me, it was the right thing to do.”

Speculation had been surrounding Beamer’s future for roughly a year, dating back to December when the longtime coach underwent throat surgery that kept him from coaching in the Hokies’ Military Bowl win over Cincinnati. He returned for spring practice, and he told media members at July’s ACC Kickoff that he was energized for the upcoming season.

Beamer said Monday that his health was not a factor in his decision to retire.

“After this operation, I don’t know that I’ve had quite the energy that I once had, but that hasn’t been an issue at all,” he said. “My health is good, and I’m thankful for that. Full speed ahead.”

The accolades have been flooding in since the official announcement on Sunday. Many in the media industry, such as ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit, took to social media to wish Beamer the best, while many schools released statements from their coaches on Beamer’s accomplishments.

“Frank Beamer is, has been and will remain a beacon of light for college football,” Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said in a statement. “Not only a great career at Virginia Tech, but most importantly, a tremendous leader and model for the young men in his program and his personal family. He has guided so many to become successful in life through a value system much needed to today’s society. A sincere and caring family man, Frank has brought that feeling to the entirety of his university.”

Those in the audience at Monday’s news conference included university president Dr. Tim Sands, current athletics director Whit Babcock, former AD Dave Braine, who made the critical decision to keep Beamer after a 2-8-1 season in 1992, and Traci Weaver, the wife of former AD Jim Weaver, who passed away this past July. Jim Weaver’s leadership, and particularly his investment in facilities, helped Beamer take the Hokies on an unprecedented run of 22 straight bowl games.

Beamer and the Hokies will be looking to extend that streak this season, needing two wins in their final three games to become bowl eligible. The Hokies have lost some tough games and suffered injuries at key spots, including quarterback and cornerback, but he and the team begin that challenge Nov. 12 with a game at Georgia Tech.

“Not every day in life will be great, but some of the greatest people are the ones who respond to adversity, and when things are not right and people aren’t saying the best things about you, how do you respond to that?” Beamer said. “I tell you what, the last one at BC made a great statement of our coaches and our players. There isn’t a group I’d rather be with to go down the stretch trying to win three games.”

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