November 5, 2015
Historical perspective on the Hokies' upcoming trip to Georgia Tech
Twenty-five years ago, Frank Beamer coached against Georgia Tech for the first time and went up against one of his mentors, Bobby Ross

By Jimmy Robertson

BLACKSBURG – Four days ago, Frank Beamer made the announcement that he plans to retire after this season. Now, he and his coaches are game planning for next Thursday night’s game against Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

The Hokies have played at Georgia Tech six times, but this season’s game marks the 25th anniversary of the year in which Beamer coached against Georgia Tech for the first time as the Hokies’ head coach – and against one of his mentors, Bobby Ross.

In fact, Virginia Tech fans probably remember the game, a 6-3 contest won by the Yellow Jackets on Nov. 10, 1990. The Hokies led 3-0 in the fourth quarter, but Georgia Tech’s Scott Sisson hit two field goals, the final coming with eight seconds left, to give Ross a victory over his pupil.

Georgia Tech went on to win the ACC that season and claim a share of the national championship with an 11-0-1 record.

Ross gave Beamer his first coaching job back in 1973. Beamer had been working as a graduate assistant at Maryland under his former college coach, Jerry Claiborne, who coached at Virginia Tech from 1961-70. Beamer took a job coaching the defensive line at The Citadel under Ross, who had been named the head coach at the Charleston, South Carolina, school earlier that year. Beamer coached with Ross for five seasons before Ross left to take the special teams coaching position with the Kansas City Chiefs.

“I didn’t hesitate [to hire Beamer], I’ll tell you that,” Ross said. “I wanted to get him right away.

“I still remember a time when Frank reached a young man in our program at The Citadel. It was a boy named Kevin White. He helped that young man immensely, and I think that boy has gone on to great success. It all had to go back to this guy [Beamer].”

Ross retired from coaching in 2007 after a three-year stint as the head coach at Army. He lives in Henrico, Virginia, a two-plus hour drive from where he went to college at VMI, and he stopped in Blacksburg this past August – though not necessarily to chat with Beamer.

“I’ve got a granddaughter who is in the ROTC program here at Virginia Tech,” Ross said. “She’s one of the most competitive, if not the most competitive, of my 18 grandchildren – but she’s not more competitive than Coach Beamer.”

“I think she’s a lot smarter,” Beamer joked.

Ross, who would go on to lead the San Diego Chargers to their first and only Super Bowl appearance, stopped by the football offices that day and met with Beamer, Shane Beamer, Bud Foster and Scot Loeffler. The Hokies’ head coach appreciated seeing a guy who means so much to him.

“He taught me that the No. 1 thing you’ve got is people, your relationships, and that’s the heart and soul of your program,” Beamer said. “You can talk X’s and O’s – and he’s probably the most knowledgeable guy in all areas. He’s been a special teams coach, he’s been an offensive guy, and he’s been a defensive guy. He can talk it all. He’s the most knowledgeable guy I know.

“But it all got back to people and relationships and taking care of them and treating people right. That’s where my foundation came from.”

“I’ll go back to what he said … he’s a great people guy,” Ross said of Beamer. “Wonderful. All you have to do is look at this program and look where it’s gone from the time that he’s been here. He’s very loyal, all of those things.

“It all goes back to what he said, though. Just being a great people person – and he is that. He’s a hard worker, he’s got a lot of knowledge – he’s studied the game well – and he was a real, real team guy. He knew how to reach guys beyond what they did on the field, and I thought that was really, really important.”

The Hokies and Yellow Jackets meet for the seventh time in Atlanta on Nov. 12. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.

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