December 24, 2015
Notes from Shreveport and the Independence Bowl
Frank Beamer, Michael Brewer and Luther Maddy answered questions from the media at Thursday's news conference

By Jimmy Robertson

SHREVEPORT, La. – Following a news conference on Christmas Eve, Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Brewer talked head coach Frank Beamer into a quick stop at What-A-Burger.

The Hokies’ retiring head coach ended up buying lunch for seven people, taking photos along the way. It was the latest event in a farewell tour that ends Saturday when the Hokies take on Tulsa in the Independence Bowl.

The gesture, and the morning, showed a coach relaxed and at peace in his final days as the head man.

“Wednesday was the last day we’re going to be in pads together,” he said. “Today will be our last Thursday practice together.

“But I’m on the other side of it. I’m not one to look back. I’ll look back and cherish the memories and be appreciative, but I’ll look forward to what’s next. I look forward to coming and watching Virginia Tech play next year.”

Then he added with a smile, “And griping about what play we call and what we should have done. Nah, I’d never do that.”

Much of the news conference focused on Beamer’s thought as he nears the end of a 29-year tenure at Tech and a 42-year coaching career that started when he took an assistant’s job with Bobby Ross at The Citadel in 1973. As he has said many times, he will miss the relationships, both with his players and his assistant coaches – and their families.

“The things you miss are the players and the more you’re around them, the more you realize how much you’re going to miss them,” he said. “When they’re good guys, that makes even more of an impression on you. Then the coaches that you coach with and the uncertainty in some of their lives, I hate that. That’s the tough part.

“I’m just thankful for staying in one place for 29 years. It’s just not done in this business. To have been able to do that an for them to put up with me and keep me around and to be with good people … I’m an appreciative guy. That’s the way I feel right now. I feel blessed and thankful and look forward to what we do next.”

Tech AD Whit Babcock tabbed Justin Fuente to be the Hokies’ new head coach. Fuente has kept four of Beamer’s assistants – Bud Foster, Charley Wiles, Torrian Gray and Zohn Burden – and brought James Shibest, Holmon Wiggins and Vance Vice with him from Memphis. He still has two slots to fill.

Fuente, Shibest, Wiggins and Vice have watched some of Tech’s bowl practices to learn about the personnel whom they will be inheriting. Beamer welcomed their presence at those practices and has helped in other ways.

“They were going over personnel, and I invited them to use our conference meeting room,” he said. “They’ve been working in the stadium, but the boards, our depth chart, are on the walls [in the meeting room]. So it’s gone very smoothly.

“I think Virginia Tech made a good decision. We’ll see it become bigger and better. That’s what I’ve always said. We got to the national championship game. I’d like to see them get there and win it this time. I’m all for them. I’ll do whatever I can to help them.”

Here are a few more notes from the day:

• Tech’s current bowl streak began in 1993 with the Independence Bowl, and much has been made about Beamer ending his career where the bowl streak began. He had not been back to Shreveport before Dec. 14 when he came back to town for a bowl news conference.

When asked if the town had changed, he smiled.

“They’ve added a couple of big hotels,” he laughed. “But the people haven’t change, that’s for sure. That’s what I remember, and that’s what I’m remembering this time around.”

• Tulsa coach Phillip Montgomery has guided the Golden Hurricane to a bowl game in his first season. He becomes the latest head coach to make his inaugural bowl appearance in the Independence Bowl, joining Beamer, Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops and Alabama’s Nick Saban.

Given how those careers turned out, Beamer didn’t feel compelled to offer Montgomery any advice on how to prepare for a bowl.

“I don’t believe he needs any advice,” Beamer said. “Nick Saban at both Michigan State and Alabama, his first bowl game was the Independence Bowl. Bob Stoops at Oklahoma, his first deal was the Independence Bowl. My first deal was the Independence Bowl, and now his first deal is the Independence Bowl.

“Just hang on and go for the ride. That’s what I’d say. Everything is good.”

• Speaking of Montgomery, Brewer knows the Tulsa coach from his days as an assistant coach at Baylor. He once offered Brewer a scholarship when Brewer was the quarterback for Lake Travis High School in Lake Travis, Texas

“He offered me there at Baylor when I was in high school,” Brewer said. “They like to spread it out. They want to create as much space within the defense as possible from what I remember. They’re going to throw it around, and by spreading it out formationally, they’re going to try and run the ball and create seams.

“They’ve done a good job. They did a great job at Baylor, and he’s done a good job here at Tulsa. I’ve got a buddy [Conner Floyd] that plays receiver there, so I’ve watched them quite a bit, recording their games and watching him. The quarterback has played great all year. It should be fun.”

• Brewer is asking all of his teammates for any spare tickets that they may not be using for this game. His immediate family lives a short drive from Texas, and other family and friends from Texas want to come to the game as well. He and Floyd, a Tulsa receiver who was one of Brewer’s receivers in high school, are coordinating ticket dispersals for friends.

“I told everybody, ‘Give me as many as you can, and I’ll figure it out from there,’” Brewer said. “I’ve got a lot of family in Austin, Dallas and in Houston that will be there. Connor Floyd and I, a lot of our buddies from high school are coming up from, and we’ve kind of been exchanging tickets to them as well. It’ll be a good crowd for the Lake Travis boys and the Brewer clan will be up there.”

• Beamer told media members at Tec’s practice this afternoon that Deon Clarke, Demitri Knowles and Kevin Asante have been sent home and will not be playing in the Independence Bowl. Only Clarke is a starter, having served as the Hokies’ starting backer. Tremaine Edmunds will make his second start of the season – he started the Georgia Tech game after Clarke had been benched for a half for disciplinary reasons.

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