Cox and Beamer - two different coaching careers following similar paths
The Roth Report
April 28, 2004

Bobby Cox and Frank Beamer both started their professional coaching careers in the early 70s. Cox in Ft. Lauderdale as the manager of the single-A baseball farm club of the New York Yankees in 1971 and Beamer in Charleston, S.C., as an assistant coach with The Citadel Bulldogs football team in '72.

Since then, both have gone on to Hall of Fame careers, Cox as manager of the Atlanta Braves and Beamer as head football coach at his alma mater, Virginia Tech.

Although they coach different sports, their careers have been nearly mirror images of each other, especially in the past decade. Cox's incredible run with the Braves began in 1991 and he's led his team to 12 division titles in 13 seasons. Beamer's remarkable success at Tech began in 1993 and the Hokies' boss has led Tech to 11 consecutive bowl game appearances.

If you've been lucky enough to follow either team over the past decade, you've been spoiled. And, if you're one of the thousands in our region who have followed both teams closely, you've enjoyed a decade of unprecedented success, witnessed Hall of Fame careers, and reveled in the greatest moments in both Braves and Tech history.

It's funny, but some of the most memorable moments were produced by the unlikeliest of heroes - the Braves' Sid Bream, who beat the throw of Barry Bonds at the plate in '92, to the Hokies' Jermaine Holmes, who caught a touchdown throw of Jim Druckenmiller against UVa in '95.

Both Cox and Beamer have experienced amazing success and are the winningest coaches/managers in their respective teams' histories. And to be honest, both would have liked to have better postseason records, too. Cox's losing World Series record and Beamer's 5-6 bowl record offer another similarity into their parallel careers.

Although Cox is five years older, both grew up in the 50s and early 60s, and value a hard work ethic, teamwork, and trust above everything else and are uniquely admired by both their own players and opponents alike.

This spring, Cox is trying to replace Greg Maddux, Gary Sheffield, and Javy Lopez. Beamer is making do without DeAngelo Hall, Kevin Jones, and Jake Grove.

Yet despite the holes, fans expect the Braves to win again and contend for their 12th straight division title, because they always do. And Virginia Tech fans expect the Hokies to win a lot of games, go bowling, and contend for the league title because ... well ... they always do.

And therein lies the conundrum.

The teams on the field this April look nothing like the 1999 Braves that won 103 games, or the 1999 Hokies, who finished undefeated (you'll recall that year the Braves lost to the Yankees in the World Series nine weeks before the Hokies lost to Florida State in the national championship game). In fact, the Hokies don't look a whole lot like their 2003 predecessors after losing five players drafted to the NFL, including Hall and Jones, who went in last Saturday's first round.

The Hokies are trying to replace record setters at running back and receiver, their place-kicker and their All-American center. Like the Braves, who are trying to replace the production of Sheffield and Lopez, fans are asking "who's going to carry the load offensively?"

Yeah, there's plenty of talent out there, but Javy hit 43 home runs and drove in 109 runs. KJ rushed for 1,621 yards and 21 touchdowns. Neither team has a replacement - no offense to any players on the 2004 squad, but that's a fact.

On paper, the Braves should not win as many games as they did last year when they finished 101-61. And on paper, the Hokies will be hard-pressed to win eight games as well.

But the games are played on the field, not on paper, and that's where Cox and Beamer earn their money.

You have the sense that, in October, the Braves will be pushing the Phillies and Marlins for another division title. And you have the sense that in November, Beamer will have the Hokies contending for the ACC title in the Hokies' first year in the conference.

They'll both use their own familiar recipes, getting more out of guys than is expected and getting contributions from different areas and new players. Cox is counting on J.D. Drew, while Beamer is counting on Cedric Humes. Cox has some bullpen concerns, and Beamer has some kicker concerns, but they'll get it worked out, you can be sure.

After watching both teams in action for a month this April, one thing is clear. Both teams have a lot of work to get done.

But both Cox and Beamer have consistently won with a lot of different players over the years, and you'd be foolish to bet against either man this year because they know how to win, how to build teams, and how to get the most out of key players, particularly late in a season. And for the first time in a long time, both enter a season as underdogs.

No one knows for sure how much longer Cox and Beamer will be skippers of their respective ships. But you know they'll both win a lot more games before they walk away from the game, and that's good news for fans of both teams.

Tidewater Hokie Club conducting raffle for football tickets
The Tidewater Hokie Club is once again conducting a raffle for a pair of 2004 Virginia Tech football season tickets to see the Hokies take on Duke, Maryland, N.C. State, Virginia, West Virginia, Western Michigan and Florida A&M in Lane Stadium this season. The seats are located in Section 9, Row N on about the 40 yard line! The winner will be drawn on August 15, 2004. You don't have to be present to win!

Tickets are only $5 each with all the proceeds contributed to the Lane Stadium Expansion Fund. To purchase tickets using your credit card, just visit the Tidewater Hokie Club's website at or mail your check made out to Tidewater Hokie Club with your name, address, phone number and e-mail address to: Tidewater Hokie Club, 3812 Goose Bay Dr., Portsmouth, VA, 23703-2212. Your raffle ticket numbers will be e-mailed to you upon receipt of payment.

If you want the actual ticket stubs sent to you, please include a self addressed stamped envelope and we will mail them to you beginning in May. Purchase a minimum of five tickets and the postage is on us.

The Voice's Mailbag
Dear Bill,
I was surprised and disappointed to see the huge BIG EAST logo on the Lane Stadium scoreboard and the BIG EAST signs on Worsham Field for the spring game. We had a ton of recruits at the game and we should be pitching the ACC. I know we don't officially join the ACC till July, but why wasn't there an ACC banner in the stadium? At least take the BIG EAST stuff down. We need to look to the future, which is the ACC. I'll be happy to buy paint if you guys are short on money and paint it myself.
Bob, Roanoke.

I agree with you. The BIG EAST signs should have been covered. They'll be gone by the fall.

It really makes me upset to see Hokie fans speak badly of Coach Beamer and his team. If we could win every football game, we would, but that isn't possible. I remember when Tech barely even won, and when they did win, it was against the likes of Rutgers. Tech fans need to realize that this program is going up and going up fast. The Virginia Tech Hokies are a household name in the college football world and will continue to get better. True fans wouldn't bash the Hokies and I'm a true fan. Go Hokies, I'm with you all of the way.

Two questions, Bill. I have read that the team might be throwing in new offensive and defensive looks for the upcoming season - any idea of what that might look like? And with Humes out for the spring, why not consider playing Branden Ore. He is a fine young back with great potential. Thank you, Jordan Cruise.

Tech's offensive coaches visited several other NCAA schools and the Indianapolis Colts earlier this spring to pick up a few ideas to help tweak Tech's offense. On defense, Tech has changed the responsibilities of the linebackers in pass coverage. Defensive coordinator Bud Foster hopes the subtle change will "help us take advantage of the personnel we have in our program now. It's similar to how we did things a few years ago." On passing situations, "we'll go with our nickel package more," Foster said.

As for Branden Ore, he is still in high school in Chesapeake, Va., at Indian River High School. Players can't participate in practice at Tech until they're enrolled in school.

Dear Bill,
Your response to Matt from Radford about the Hokie kickers this upcoming year was almost 100 percent correct. "Jed Dunlevy's" name is actually spelled "Jud" (short for Judson). Ellie Mae, Granny, and Jethro all asked me to write you about the error because they claim that no one can fill Jed's shoes and they didn't want to create any confusion on the part of any diehard Hokie!? Ha!Ha! Other than this slight infraction, keep up the good work!

I enjoy the weekly Roth Report, as well as the broadcasts during the season! A personal highlight in my life was hearing you, "the Voice of the Hokies" introduce my son as a new member of the Hokie football team during the Outback Steakhouse Welcome Back Picnic last year! It doesn't get much better than that! Well, maybe if he earns a starting position on the team and boots every kickoff through the uprights during the opener against USC in the Washington Redskins stadium and the Hokies win 27-13? That might be a close second ... Ha!Ha! Go Hokies!!!

P.S. - I made another request recently to for correcting the spelling of his first name in an article listed him as "Jon Dunlevy." This past year, his last name was incorrectly spelled "Dunleavy" in the football program. The Roanoke Times first listed his name as "Jed" in an article last fall. Hopefully, all of these things will get ironed out this year and Jud can be now recognized by his actual name. Regards, Keith Dunlevy, proud parent, Class of '79.

Dear Keith,
Thanks for your note. It sounds like a bunch of us dropped the ball on Jud. You can be sure we'll get it right in the future! See you at the Outback Welcome Back Picnic later this summer.

Hello Mr. Roth,
With the popularity of ACC basketball and the growing success of the men's team, will student season tickets be implemented for the basketball season in addition to the football season?
Thanks, Kevin Kurz, Class of '06

That's an idea the Tech Athletics department has been debating. Keep your eyes open for the 2004 season ticket policies for basketball coming out this spring/summer.

Thanks for helping keep me up to speed on all things Hokie! I don't get back to campus as much as I would like, so your reports are a welcome read. I recall reading that you are a Syracuse alum - a school widely known for its broadcasting program. What was it like for an Orangeman calling a Hokies' game that first time? I love sports as much as the next person, but I ALWAYS root for VT. I'm not sure that I could do what you do. Any personal conflicts when calling VT/Syracuse games? Keep up the great job - we're fortunate to have you on our sideline. Keith Jacobs. Lexington Park, MD

Thank you for your kind words. I've gotten that question a lot over the years, and as I've told most anyone (including those folks up at SU), my heart is at Tech. So to be honest, there's never really been a conflict. I'm very grateful for the opportunities athletics director Jake Crouthamel and his staff gave me while I was a student at SU, and their advice and support over the years since I've been at Tech. But even Jake knows that I'm a Hokie.

Thank you for reading and responding to my e-mail. I have to disagree with your insight for Tech football. I do recall Bill Dooley not getting the number of years Frank Beamer got. Maybe that is why the bowl record isn't the same. I do recall Bruce Smith, Mike Johnson, and Jessie Penn & Robert Brown. I do recall watching Tech for six brutally bad years from 1988-93. I was in the Superdome (both times) and in Pro Player Stadium. I was and still am a great fan and love my school. But I have watched a proud Tech defense get gutted by Pitt, WVU, the 'Cuse, Miami and even BC. I have watched fourth-quarter leads evaporate in 2001, 2002, and 2003, and prior to 2000 that would never have happened.

Short-sighted? I think the reason they keep score and stats is so that you can evaluate a team. As for the career of Frank Beamer, the fourth quarter (lately) has been a problem, (i.e. the last three years, late-season losses that occur predominately in the fourth quarter show he as a coach, staff, and program doesn't have his eye on the ball). Maybe, just maybe, he should call his good friend at the University of Maryland and get his advice. If you study the history of the past three seasons, then Tech fans will be watching a declining Hokie team and a peaking Terp team on Nov. 17. That means another football program, besides UVa, will be taking top high school recruits from the regional pool of players.

The last three seasons have been very costly in many ways. Is it short-sighted of me to think that the recruiting of great players will have a long-term effect? I don't think so. I have given you my advice about the d-line and modeling the University of MD program. There is one more piece of advice, (and I believe I read that Tech actually has looked at this). Contact another team, college and/or pro, that has a solid defense and have them evaluate Bud's Pride D. Maybe even get that other team's offensive game plan to beat Tech. Injury or fatigue are only excuses and please tell me why other college teams survive the late-season injuries and fatigue.

Frank Beamer "may" need to be replaced before Tech fans see this trend change. I think Frank has done a great job so maybe it's his staff. Maybe it's a little of everything.

Bill, you do a great job of announcing Tech games and I love your loyalty. But my advice to you - wake UP! Frank has won a big game, but two big games in 13 years doesn't make a CFB Hall of Fame coach. By the way - what does Frank's record look like without Michael Vick and against top 25 teams ? So you don't think me short-sighted, please include Frank's first six years.

Thank you again,
Jim '83

We're going to have to disagree again. I think Coach Beamer has won more than two big games in his career and we can debate his record ad nauseum. Sorry you disagree. In 1989, Tech finished 6-4-1, beat #9 WVU and won at N.C. State. In 1990, Tech was 6-5 despite a brutal five game road trip. And in 1993, Tech went 9-3 and won a bowl game. I'm sorry you consider those 'brutally disappointing seasons' but you're entitled to your opinion. See you this fall!

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