Dear Coach Beamer,
I have a word of advice for you.
Don’t get me wrong. I really appreciate the work you have done building a storied football tradition at Virginia Tech. You have been there more than twenty-five years. You have won at least eight games for the past fourteen years. (That’s currently the longest streak in major college football.) You have given all of southwest Virginia something to cheer about on fall Saturday afternoons for a long time.
We are grateful.
It has been a good run. I remember when things weren’t so good in Blacksburg on fall Saturdays. I have been a Virginia Tech fan since an October day in 1971 when, as a ten-year old, a friend’s father gave us tickets.
I sat on the 45-yard line in Lane Stadium and watched Don Strock start the game, like he did every game, with a downfield bomb. On this Saturday afternoon, against William and Mary, the pass was intercepted. It didn’t matter. Strock would eventually lead the nation in total offense and have a career holding the clipboard for the Miami Dolphins. I always looked for him on that sideline and fondly remembered when I saw him play in Blacksburg.
The Hokies were called the Fighting Gobblers then. The south end zone, that now seats tens of thousands, was a grass field where a couple of cadets fired a cannon every time Virginia Tech scored.
That Saturday afternoon was cloudy. I remember the smell of cigars and brandy. My parents tolerated the weather, the game, and the atmosphere. (Mom spent the second half sitting in the car.) I loved it.
I didn’t go to school at Virginia Tech. The music program wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, so I went to East Carolina. I’m grateful the two schools play each other in football most seasons. That game was the excuse I used to get cable television years ago.
Again, I beg you to retire.
You have done a wonderful job of making Virginia Tech football relevant. Even though I live 2000 miles away from VPI – I’m sure you remember when Tech was called that – I watch the games every chance I get. I love explaining to my fellow New Mexicans what a Hokie is and the tradition of the lunch pail. It is reassuring to know I can watch your team play a bowl game every holiday season.
However, at some point, you will need to step aside for a new coach. The time is coming. You know it is.
Soon, someone somewhere will decide it is time. They will look at the longest tenured coach in major college football. They will see you have become an icon. They will think you are too big for the school. They will target you.
In fact, I bet someone has already put together a file. It may be an isolated incident that happened more than a dozen years ago with one of your former staff members or players.
When the time is right, they’ll release the details to the authorities and the media. There will be an indictment, maybe in the courts, definitely in the media.
The public will demand the resignation of the coach, the athletic director, and the university president. They will blindly think this solves the problem that you had little or nothing to do with and they will not be content until you leave.
Save us the heartache. Please retire before that happens.