Frank Beamer, now 63, enters his 24th year at Virginia Tech. He's won just about every coaching award possible and ranks tied for second among active coaches in victories (229). Prior to the 2005 season, a Seattle Times poll of more than 40 coaches voted him as the current head coach for whom they had the most respect.


PERSON I MOST WANT TO MEET: I would've liked to have met Vince Lombardi. Just to talk football. Not so much X's and O's, but how to handle people. How do you know the right thing to say, and when to say it?

FAVORITE MUSICAL ARTIST: I still like Shania Twain, but she's been away from it awhile. I like Sugarland a lot. Little Big Town, I think they're good. Martina McBride. Oh, I tell you: I'm a big Darius Rucker guy, now. Brad Paisley has to be right in there too. And I'd have to throw Metallica in there, at least for one song.

FAVORITE MEAL: Cooking out cheeseburgers in the summertime. I don't think it gets any better than that.

DESSERT: I've never been a big dessert person. (My wife) Cheryl loves to make homemade chocolate ice cream. Maybe some of that on top of some chocolate cake.

MY PERFECT DAY: It would start off with breakfast. I love breakfast. Probably an omelet in there. Country ham. Grits. Anything. Then we need to move to a golf match. Then I think we'd come back and cook out some hamburgers. And then I'd probably like to see a live music show. And just being with the people I'm closest to, my family and my coaches.

HOKIE ANNUAL: You've now won back-to-back bowl games for the first time. What's the difference?

FRANK BEAMER: We changed our philosophy on that the last two years. I should have done it sooner, but I've always been a big believer that you reward your kids for a good season. In the end, though, what you really appreciate is winning that last one. So our approach to curfews and practices tightened up and it paid off.

HA: What specifically did you change?

FB: Before, we would treat the bowl game preparation like a regular week. So on 'Monday,' we'd have a 2 a.m. curfew. I got to thinking about that; in reality, I wouldn't want them out till 2 a.m. in Blacksburg getting ready for a Tuesday practice. I don't know how many times we had that first practice and guys looked rough. They weren't ready to have the kind of practice you needed to beat somebody. We moved up our curfew and kids got in at a reasonable hour. But I think they still had fun.

The practices in Blacksburg, we had more of them and they were more physical. We had more tackling to the ground. We didn't do it much last year because of the weather. But in 2008 we had a scrimmage the last practice before the kids went home. We had never done that before. We might've had a little middle drill, but that's it. That helped keep us sharp, because there's a month between games.

The other thing we did was change our hotel the night before the game. You love your fans and having them in the same hotel is great. But the night before a game it helps just to get away and do it like we normally do it. It keeps you in a normal rhythm and you realize how important the game is.

HA: Your offense really played well the last five games. But the criticism of the past few years, particularly with coach (Bryan) Stinespring, has to tear you up.


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FB: Yeah, it does. I think it's a great tribute to our kids and the program, and the coaches, the way we finished the season. One of your main goals, to win the ACC, was gone. A lot of people, after we lost those two, were ready to call it quits. But what I like about the team and coaches is that we went back out, kept working hard, and got better as a football team. I appreciate that. After you've got your hopes up and you lose two and you're out of it, it takes strong character to come back and have success.

HA: Talking about coming back from adversity; this spring Michael Vick made his first return to Blacksburg following his dogfighting scandal.

FB: I tell him all the time, he's going to have a great story to tell and in the end he'll have a chance to help other people. He had it all and lost a lot of it. He just made bad decisions. You've got to be responsible for your decisions. I think he understands he messed up. Now he's a humble guy trying like heck to get his life back.

My knowledge of Michael Vick is he's a good person who cared. It bothered him when he disappointed people. That's the way I knew him. That's the way I still know him.

HA: Billy Hite told me the other day that your administrative assistant, John Ballein, was "As important to this program as anybody."

FB: John is the glue that keeps it all together. If you ask, 'What's he responsible for?' the answer is, 'Everything.' From our clinics to our recruiting to our organization around here, he's probably the best you could imagine at what he does. He's very efficient, very smart, very creative. Organization-wise, he's always two steps ahead. I can't tell you how many times I've asked, 'John, have we got so-and-so done?' And he'd roll his eyes at me like, 'What do you think?'

HA: Billy also said that your hiring of Jim Cavanaugh was one of your best moves, because he's such a great recruiter.

FB: You've got a veteran guy there. But more important is the trust he has around the state. People trust what he says. That goes a long way in the recruiting circles. That's the foundation of good recruiting, I think.

HA: How long do you want to keep coaching?

FB: As long as we can win and my health stays good. I think this is important: you must still want to attack the challenge. This team we have, I like the kids. I realize we're probably short on experience at a couple of positions. Can you overcome that with great team chemistry and hard work? You have to be ready to accept that challenge each and every year.

The other side of it around here is that the losses have gotten more devastating. After the losses to Georgia Tech and North Carolina (last season), you would've thought the world was falling apart. And I understand it. You want it to be that way. You want to play at a high level. But when the losses are more devastating, that gets harder to deal with. That's part of accepting the challenge each and every year. I don't know how long we're going to go here, but it's fun right now.

About Chris Colston: An 11-year veteran of the Virginia Tech athletics department as editor of The Hokie Huddler, Chris Colston (Marketing 1981) has written four books on Tech football. (Virginia Tech Vault - 2009; Virginia Tech Sideline - 2003; Turn Up the Wick! - 2000; The Hokies Handbook - 1996). Colston covered the NFL and NBA for USA TODAY from January 2006-December 2009. From 1996-2005 he served as a writer and editor for USA TODAY Sports Weekly. Colston has won numerous awards and has done one-on-one interviews with some of the biggest names in sports, such as Peyton Manning, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James. For information on all of Colston's projects, follow him on Twitter: @chriscolston.