Coach Frank Beamer reflects on his place amongst all-time greats
Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer had to pause for a moment and collect his thoughts. While he'd been quick to praise his team after it defeated rival Virginia for the seventh straight time, this question was one Beamer says he never believed he'd be answering when he began his tenure in Blacksburg back in 1987.
What does it feel like to pass Woody Hayes for ninth place on college football's all-time wins list?
"It means you're getting old," Beamer said to laughs following his 239th career victory.
Beamer and the Hokies now have seven-straight seasons with 10 wins or more, the longest active streak in the country now that Texas concluded its disappointing 5-7 campaign. They're also in the midst of the second-best single-season winning streak in program history -- the best being that 1999 run to the national championship game. But more meaningful to historians is Beamer's growing stature in college football lore.
Just this season, he's passed Hayes, former Michigan Coach Bo Schembechler and former SMU Coach Hayden Fry in terms of all-time wins. Besides Penn State's Joe Paterno, there is no active head coach with more career victores than Beamer.
Beamer said Saturday he didn't realize just how high he'd climbed on the list until he read about it in the paper this fall. He described the whole situation as "unreal."
"Those are guys that I grew up and thought were bigger than life and for me to be in that same company, to be fortunate enough to ... be mentioned with those guys, it means a lot to me," Beamer said.
Some other notes and quotes
*First off, before we look back at another win in this one-sided rivalry, let's look ahead to next week's ACC Championship. With Maryland's 38-31 victory over North Carolina State Saturday, the Hokies will take on Florida State in Charlotte with a spot in the Orange Bowl on the line.
Virginia Tech and Florida State last met in 2008 when the Seminoles won 30-20. They also played against one another in the
2006 2005 ACC Championship game. Florida State won that as well.
*Now back to Saturday's game. Ever since Mike London was introduced as Virginia's head coach last December and made regaining control of this state -- be it on the field or on the recruiting trail -- it seems Virginia Tech fans craved a chance to show just how far apart these two in state rivals remained.
On Saturday, to the delight of a sold out senior day crowd at Lane Stadium, the Hokies proved nothing has changed when it comes to the one-sidedness of this rivalry. The Commonwealth Cup will once again stay in Blacksburg for another year. Virginia Tech has now won seven-straight and 11 of the last 12 meetings against the Cavaliers.
And though this game became a laugher shortly after the second half began, there were several key moments that turned the tide following a scoreless first quarter.
1) The interception: Virginia senior Marc Verica wasn't horrible in his final game as a collegiate player, but his 14th interception of the season at the start of the second quarter was atrocious. His inaccurate pass sailed directly into safety Eddie Whitley's hands, and he returned it all the way to the five-yard line. Before this pick, the Hokies offense gained just 15 yards on its first three series.
But one play later, running back Ryan Williams barreled over Virginia's Rodney McLeod for a five-yard touchdown run that gave the Hokies a 7-0 lead. We would see this sort of thing later in the game as well.
“It was motivation," quarterback Tyrod Taylor said. "All year the offense feeds off the defense’s energy."
2) The fake punt: On Virginia Tech's next possession, London went to his bag of tricks. After a third-and-2 stop by the Hokies defense. Punter Jimmy Howell faked the ensuing punt, completing a pass to sophomore tight end Colter Phillips. But Hokies linebackers Bruce Taylor and Jeron Gouveia-Winslow were not fooled and tackled Phillips for a minimal gain.
“We’d seen on film that they like to do the rugby style kick, and you know there’s always a potential fake off that play," Taylor said. "If it looks open, then you know they’ll dump it off. I knew it was fourth and short, so I didn’t break out or anything. I just tried to run through it and made a big play.”
Running back David Wilson (83 yards rushing, 65 yards receiving) then gave the Hokies a 14-0 lead when he lined up as a wide receiver and took a bubble screen 20 yards for a touchdown, breaking a Corey Mosley tackle on the way to the end zone. The score was set up by a pass interference penalty on Virginia’s Chase Minnifield two plays earlier.
3) The Dragging: Not sure what else to call this, but running back Ryan Williams put the stamp on this victory when he scored a 15-yard run in which he carried Virginia linebacker LaRoy Reynolds with him the final five yards. It was reminiscent of last year's North Carolina state game and pretty much summed up a dominating afternoon for the Hokies.
Here's Beamer on whether this victory meant a little more because of the new coaching regime at Virginia.
“Anytime you beat your in state rival, it’s good, and we’ve been fortunate here for seven years to get it done," Beamer said. "But we’re gonna keep doing the things we do. People talk about what they’re doing, and I give them credit. They’re working hard, they’ve got a good staff, but we’re gonna keep working hard to continue the relationships we’ve built with these high school coaches over all these years. Treat people right, and if we say something you can carry it to the bank, and keep recruiting that way and keep coaching our guys and keep going in that direction. I think sometimes when you start worrying about other people, you don’t worry about yourself."
*This was Tyrod Taylor's final game at Lane Stadium, and it only made sense that he would become Virginia Tech's all-time leader in passing yards Saturday. In addition, his touchdown pass to Wilson also made him the third quarterback in Virginia Tech history to hIn addave 20 or more touchdowns in a single season. Taylor owns just about every significant quarterback record here at Virginia Tech following his 33rd career victory.
Taylor got a little choked up talking with reporters when asked about his emotions. "That’s the last time I’ll hear that loud noise that our fans create," he said.
I'm sure every Virginia Tech fan is making it a point to savor Taylor's final two games. Players like him just don't come around often.
*Freshman Kyle Fuller didn't look like one today filling in for injured cornerback Rashad Carmichael. He registered a career high 10 tackles, including three for loss, and had two pass break ups.
*Junior wide receiver Jarrett Boykin also moved up to fifth all-time in career receptions with his six catches Saturday. He's now only 12 away from the school record set by Ernest Wilford.
That's all I've got for now, but much awaits this Virginia Tech team in the coming weeks. If these Hokies can string together two more wins, it's fathomable that they could go down as perhaps the second-best team ever fielded by Beamer. First, though, they must deal with Florida State, a subject we'll tackle at length over the next few days or so. Get ready for championship week!
| November 27, 2010; 6:24 PM ET
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