With 'Beamer Ball' back in Blacksburg, Va. Tech gets set for Pitt
In 33 years of coaching, Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer has won 263 games and earned 20 consecutive bowl berths while building a low tolerance for imperfection.
Chris Drager found that out the hard way.
It happened during Drager's redshirt freshman season when video review of a loss to Boston College caught him being penalized for a block in the back. Beamer made sure Drager — and everyone else in the room — knew sloppy play was not acceptable.
“I deserved it,” said Drager, who played on a PIAA champion and two WPIAL title-winning teams at Thomas Jefferson. “He just told me that wasn't necessary. It made me feel bad, but it made me work harder.”
Drager spent five years at Virginia Tech (2007-2011), playing tight end and defensive end and learning enough football to land on TJ coach Bill Cherpak's staff this year.
“It was stick to the basics, do what's right and don't mess around,” Drager said of what Beamer taught him.
“We had to be early (for meetings).”
Such simple logic has served Beamer well in a career that has made him one of the most successful all-time FBS coaches in terms of victories. His 263 wins (against 128 losses and four ties) heading into Saturday's game against Pitt in Blacksburg, Va., are tops among active FBS coaches.
“That's unbelievable,” North Carolina coach Larry Fedora said of Beamer's longevity. “I don't know if people realize how hard that is.”
Beamer, who will turn 67 on Oct. 18, doesn't give much thought to how long he will coach. Yet, he's a realist.
“I'm very aware you can overstay your welcome,” he said.
But that doesn't seem to be the case this year, his 27th as Virginia Tech's head coach. After a stretch from 2004-2011 in which the Hokies lost more than three games only once, Virginia Tech was 7-6 last year, including a surprising 35-17 loss to Pitt at Heinz Field.
“We learned that Pittsburgh will pound you if you don't play well yourself,” said Beamer, who was former Pitt coach Mike Gottfried's defensive coordinator at Murray State from 1979-80.
For his part, Drager learned it's not wise to bet and lost some money to former Pitt player Dom DeCicco, a teammate at TJ.
“They let me down,” Drager said.
In the wake of that season, Beamer remade this year's Hokies, and the result so far is a 5-1 record and No. 24 ranking.
“We are playing more young guys than we ever played, trying to get the chemistry right,” he said. “Seeing the team progress, that's kind of what keeps you going. Being around the kids and seeing their life change, those are the things.”
Beamer said he will continue coaching if he can maintain three important commodities.“As long as I have a good quarterback and my health is good, and throw in a good kicker,” he said.
Pitt coach Paul Chryst called Beamer “a legend” whom other coaches would do well to emulate.
“It's what you strive to do and do it in a way that he did it — classy and a guy who truly is all that is good about college football,” Chryst said.
“Fortunately, it's not coach Beamer against Paul Chryst (Saturday). I don't like those odds.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pitt’s surge goes for naught as No. 11 Purdue prevails
- Pitt guard Robinson says free-wheeling offense is ‘a lot of fun’
- Pitt’s Whitehead, Ollison grab ACC rookie of the year awards
- Central Catholic holds ‘emotional’ ceremony for Marino
- No. 11 Purdue presents tall order for Pitt
- Gilbert, son of ex-Pitt football standout, commits to Panthers