Frank Beamer took one for the team, because that is what he always said he would do. Thus, he and Virginia Tech avoided an uncomfortable mess to end his tenure, detouring away from the Bobby Bowden route to head down Beamer Way.
This decision needed to be made, and Beamer is the one who needed to make it -- not only for himself, but for the program, too. The past four years have proved as much. As the losses piled up, it became increasingly clear that Virginia Tech needed to go in a new direction. You only hoped Beamer would eventually realize that.
Once he did, he closed the chapter, announcing Sunday he would retire when the season ended. What Beamer did at Virginia Tech goes down as one of the most incredible coaching jobs in college football history. And that is why Virginia Tech itself should not be a middling program, not after 29 years filled with building, achieving, winning, sustaining and growing.
At its height, Virginia Tech was taken by Beamer to a place where it could compete for championships every single season. He won with class and integrity, and he won with the little things that sometimes go overlooked. That’s why Beamer Ball was so fun to watch.
He also got facilities built and upgraded, thanks to BCS largess that flowed into the program. All those Coastal championships, all those double-digit win seasons, all those BCS appearances led to something much greater.
Beamer built a place that could stand without him.
Of all the open FBS jobs right now, only a few are more attractive than Virginia Tech. USC is for certain. Miami is up there. Otherwise, Virginia Tech has plenty more to offer than Maryland, Minnesota, Illinois and the like.
For one, the facilities are top notch, from Lane Stadium to the brand new indoor field that is the class of the ACC. The administration is willing to devote resources to maintaining an elite football program, and that includes paying the head coach and his assistant coaches well. There will never be a lack of support.
Though the school is in a remote area of the state, coaches can recruit from the fertile Tidewater region, which has grown into a national recruiting hotbed.
Then there is the on-field competition. Virginia Tech plays at least one attractive nonconference game a year, with future contests upcoming against Tennessee at Bristol Motor Speedway, West Virginia, Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin. The Coastal remains the far less top-heavy of the two ACC divisions.
Mediocre 7-6 seasons have been disappointing, but they have not dragged the program down to an area where it cannot recover. Virginia Tech is, in fact, poised to recover just fine -- with the right staff in place that will take advantage of everything Beamer built before them.
Athletic director Whit Babcock knows what he has in front of him. He knows what Beamer meant to this program; he knows what Beamer will mean to this program moving forward. It would be a disservice to the Beamer legacy to destroy everything he has built.
There is an important decision to be made, one that Babcock will think about with all the diligence it requires. He lured Tommy Tuberville from Texas Tech to Cincinnati the last time he hired a head coach. He has the chops to make a good hire to get Virginia Tech moving in the right direction again.
Beamer did many things as coach in Blacksburg. More than the wins, though, his legacy will live on inside the halls of the football facility, out in the “Beamer Barn” indoor practice facility, on Thursday nights in Lane Stadium, down adjacent Beamer Way and beyond. There is plenty for the new coach to embrace. It shouldn't take much to spruce up what's already there.