Today it was announced that a monument celebrating Frank Beamer will be unveiled at Moody Plaza, located on the Southwest corner of the Lane Stadium footprint adjacent to Beamer Way. It will happen about 3 hours and 15 minutes before kickoff of Saturday's game between Notre Dame and Virginia Tech.
My first thought was "I wonder if younger Hokies realize just how bad things were when Frank took over the program?" They probably know him as a former coach, I thought, or even a nice old man they see on television from a long time ago. But maybe not the guy who totally transformed this program into what it is today.
Three years ago, when it became apparent Frank would retire, I wrote this to summarize just how I felt. Seems appropriate to re-post it now....
To truly appreciate what Frank Beamer has done for Virginia Tech, allow me to share some of my earliest memories of being a Hokie.
The year was 1973, my senior year of high school. The check was in the mail to the admissions office, and I was going to be spending the next 4 years in Blacksburg. I picked up the Sunday Virginian Pilot in Norfolk (my hometown) and there was a story on Virginia Tech losing to Alabama in Tuscaloosa. By a score of 77-6.
That’s no typo. 77-6. Laughingstock wasn’t a strong enough word for how the Hokie football program looked back then.
My four years at Virginia Tech would be the four years of Jimmy Sharpe. The wishbone worked in the second year, as the Hokies won 8 games, but didn’t get a bowl bid. Things then fell apart as the team would go 6-5 and then 3-7-1. Sharpe would be fired. A football player would die in the dorms the day after a game in 1977, and Virginia Tech was in the national news for all the wrong reasons.
Meanwhile, teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference were the envy of all of us. Why not Virginia Tech? many of us thought, but the perception was simply we were not good enough. In 1977, an expansion committee actually sent a group to Blacksburg to examine the possibility, but they stayed all of about 45 minutes. Their minds were made up before they ever got there.
The Hokies were small potatoes.