Beamer talks College Football Playoff, Drive for 25

By Jimmy Robertson

BLACKSBURG – So much for hanging out at his lake house in Georgia, fine-tuning his golf swing and lowering his handicap.

Frank Beamer is darn near as busy in retirement as he was during his nearly three-decade long tenure as the Hokies’ football coach.

In fact, in less than 24 hours, he’ll be on the bus with the men’s basketball team, as it heads to Charlottesville for a Wednesday night game against Virginia – the special guest of head coach Buzz Williams.

“I told a few of the players before the Boston College game that I was going to be drawing up some plays,” Beamer laughed. “I’ll have that thing that they use [a dry-erase board] ready.

“Nah, I’m interested in seeing how that works. I know how football works the day before a game and the day of a game. I think Buzz is a terrific coach, and I’m eager to see how it all works.”

Beamer, looking as happy and relaxed as ever, said in an interview Monday that he is better busy than simply lying around the house – and that wife Cheryl would agree. He went to most of the Hokies’ football games this past fall. He’s been at most of the basketball games, both men and women, because, as he says, “Cheryl and I love basketball.” He went to Charlotte on Wednesday to hang out with former Tech legend Dell Curry and to watch Dell’s son, Steph, play for the Golden State Warriors. He’s the spokesperson for the athletics department’s “Drive for 25” campaign designed to increase membership in the Hokie Club, the department’s fundraising organization, to an ACC-best 25,000 members.

His latest hobby was his appointment to the College Football Playoff Selection Committee, a group that determines the four teams that play in the College Football Playoff to determine the national champion at the end of the year. Many recommended Beamer as a choice once he retired from coaching and both Bill Hancock, the executive director of the College Football Playoff, and ACC Commissioner John Swofford approached him about the idea.


The CFP Management Committee named Beamer, Robert Morris President Chris Howard and Ohio State Director of Athletics Gene Smith to the committee in mid-January. They will serve a three-year term, replacing those whose term recently expired.

“I wasn’t really familiar with it, to be honest with you,” Beamer said. “I agreed to do it, and Bill Hancock called me back and said I had been approved. Then the more I found out about, the more exciting it is for me.

“I’ve never been one to have long meetings. Let’s talk about what we need to talk about and get out. Early in the year, you do everything by phone and then about halfway through the year, you go out to Dallas. You go out on Sunday and meet on Monday and Tuesday morning. Even a couple of people who know me – one being my wife – said, ‘Are you sure you want to do that?’ The more I thought about it, it’s really a select group of people, and I look forward to getting to know those people.”

Beamer said he thought that the selection committee got it right last year, though the folks at Penn State and Michigan might disagree. Therein lies the challenge for Beamer – picking the four best teams and risk angering a coach or coaches with whom he remains close.

“We’ve got a tremendous obligation,” Beamer said. “I understand that part of it.”

The committee’s first meeting occurs in Phoenix in late March just a few days before the Final Four at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Beamer hopes to be able to attend the Final Four – something he’s never been able to do.

Beamer’s busy schedule takes some of the sting away from no longer coaching. He enjoyed watching his former team this fall, but admitted that he missed the daily interaction that came with his former profession.

“I do miss the players and my staff,” he said. “But I was more about how thankful and appreciative I am to have been the coach at a place I love for 29 years than I was about not coaching this year.”

Despite his busy schedule, he remains keenly focused on his responsibilities with the Drive for 25 – the Tech athletics department’s top priority for 2017 and thus Beamer’s top priority. Department officials find themselves facing a financial shortfall, as it relates to paying for scholarships, and dipping into the general operating budget to cover the shortfall risks, potentially slowing the momentum many of the school’s 22 varsity sports.

Beamer, an immensely popular figure in Hokie Nation, plans on doing his part to increase membership. In fact, he tried to convince an ESPN reporter to join the Hokie Club during a recent interview.

“To continue to develop, it takes money,” Beamer said. “Last year, they [the NCAA] brought in the cost of attendance, and scholarship costs continue to go up. It [success] just doesn’t happen. I’ve always said that we’re all in this together, and truly we are. If we’re going to continue to go grow, we need people who will give and be a part of it.”

So Tech fans can expect to see Beamer around quite a bit. Not that they haven’t seen him around a lot these days. At nearly every basketball game, he finds himself signing autographs and posing for pictures, many of which appear on Facebook.

Posing for photos usually leads to introductions and conversations, so Beamer often misses bits and pieces of games.

“Heck no,” Beamer said when asked if he minded posing for so many photos.

Then he added, laughing, “They always ask if I mind taking a picture. I’m like, ‘Sure. I was around here at a time when no one wanted a picture of me.’ I don’t mind a bit. I’m honored. I’m glad they feel like it’s worthwhile to get a picture with me.”

One gets the feeling that he enjoys being around people and he enjoys being busy in retirement – and that those feelings won’t be changing any time soon.

As for lowering that golf handicap … it may just have to wait.

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