What If Frank Beamer Had Left Virginia Tech?
Virginia Tech's rise to national prominence was thanks mostly to Frank Beamer.
While great players like Corey Moore and Michael Vick helped bring Tech to the brink of a national title, it was Beamer who made the whole thing possible after laying the foundation more than a decade prior.
It was no surprise then that once the Hokies were a national brand that other programs would try to hire the coach who made it all happen.
The coach ultimately chose to stay home of course. He brought continued success to Blacksburg and solidified a hall of fame career after multiple ACC Championships and a run of consecutive bowl games that continues to this day with another staff.
But what would have happened if Beamer had jumped at the chance to coach elsewhere as he so nearly did once?
Let's imagine the most intriguing scenarios.
Beamer spoke with Mal Moore during the process of his firing Mike DuBose. The Hokies had pummeled DuBose and the Crimson Tide in the Music City Bowl just a few years prior which had to be fresh in their minds, and Beamer was now the hot name.
It was just a conversation that didn't amount to anything, but what if it had?
Beamer had experience leading a program coming off probation, and Alabama got whacked multiple times during this era. That later led to Dennis Franchione bolting after just two seasons in charge.
Then Mike Shula -who once won 10 games and the Cotton Bowl before the NCAA vacated it all- happened for a time before the Tide finally found Nick Saban.
Beamer would have been a stabilizing force during a rocky era, but would he have been given time to really get the program rolling as he was at Tech?
With some patience this move could have worked out, but it's a far better deal for 'Bama than Beamer. Those were some rough seasons under those coaches and the roster issues were a major limitation.
It's difficult to imagine today, but 'Bama was not a good job between Gene Stallings and Nick Saban. Go figure. This is the least attractive option on the list.
I always thought a move to the pros would have been a disaster for Beamer. Considering it more recently, I think this is the one place it could have possibly worked.
Beamer's Mayberry sensibilities likely would have played well in the midwest city still known for being the smallest in the NFL. It's the most like college of any pro town/team.
You can easily picture them lauding the value of strong special teams in the local barber shops and restaurants as they trade shares in their Packers.
Green Bay hired Mike Sherman ultimately after another preliminary chat with Beamer went nowhere. Under Sherman's guidance the Packers won an average of 10.6 games per season during his first five seasons.
The team cratered to 4-12 the next season and Sherman was fired.
Clearly Green Bay had enough talent to reach the playoffs with sound coaching.
Having seen the value of letting your star QB go wild with Michael Vick, perhaps Beamer could have forged a similar relationship with Brett Favre. A stout ground game with prime Ahman Green would also fit the Beamer mold.
Former Tech standout Antonio Freeman would have been among the weapons along with some other great Packers from this era of successful teams.
I think Frank Beamer would have done pretty well here. Sherman was 57-39 (53-27 minus that final lost season) during his run. Beamer is a better coach than Sherman who was 25-25 in a four-year stint at Texas A&M post NFL.
I get the feeling that a Beamer team could get hot in the playoffs. Think about magic seasons like 1995 or 2004 where the Hokies ran up double-digit wins after tough starts.
He also had Ron Wolf finding personnel. College coaches often complained of lack of control over the roster, but Wolf was one of the best at using the draft to find talent.
The North Carolina job was the only time Frank Beamer ever truly considered leaving his alma mater. In fact, he famously accepted the job before changing his mind and never leaving Blacksburg.
This job is the most similar on the list to Tech. Just a few hours down the road, Carolina had outstanding facilities at the time -in fact still does- and they were in a position to step up in the college football world.
After Beamer spurned them, the Tar Heels hired John Bunting who won the Peach Bowl in his first season then finished his six years with a 27-45 overall record in Chapel Hill.
There's almost no question Beamer would have surpassed that mark and Bunting's two bowl game appearances. With improved facilities and a well-compensated staff, we might have seen what Mack Brown is doing today back then.
Beamer's hiring also likely would have prevented the later hiring of Butch Davis and most likely the problems that followed that tenure.
Tech would have been in an interesting spot had Beamer left. Rumors circulated that if it came to that, Athletics Director Jim Weaver would hire his old coach Gary Darnell.
Darnell had been fairly solid but unspectacular at Western Michigan, but had just finished a 5-6 season. He went on to finish 46-46 there. Fans wouldn't have handled that hire well. Tech was an attractive program at the time and the brand was as hot as it ever would be.
A big hire, or the right up-and-comer could have taken the program to lofty heights that the Hokies never quite reached again after the BCS title game appearance. Of course, the wrong move could have sunk the program.
Frank Beamer likely made the right choice for him and certainly for Tech. His career in Blacksburg turned out well and he was in position to help lead the university through April 16th and the changing of school presidents and athletic directors.
He now has a statue and a street named after him. That might not have happened had he left in 2001.
There's no telling what other dominoes might also have fallen.