“The last thing I want is for Hokies to be divided. I want everyone to be in the same direction, and I think it’s right in that regard, and so I think this is the right time,” Beamer told reporters on Monday at a press conference, his first since announcing on Sunday that he is retiring effective at the end of the 2015 season.
Beamer acknowledged “difference of opinion” in the fan base about the direction of the program, with the Hokies at 4-5 this season and 26-22 over the past four seasons, after a streak of eight straight seasons, from 2004-2011, in which the Hokies won 10 or more games each season.
With the Hokies on a bye week in advance of their Thursday, Nov. 12, matchup with Georgia Tech in Atlanta, the timing of the announcement is about as good as possible from the perspective of limiting the impact on game preparation.
The focus for the team now turns to ending things the right way, even as the administration, led by athletics director Whit Babcock, looks for the man who will succeed Beamer.
“Not every day in life will be great, but some of the greatest people are the ones who respond to adversity, and when things are not right and people aren’t saying the best things about you, how do you respond to that? I tell you what, the last one at Boston College made a great statement of our coaches and our players. There isn’t a group I’d rather be with to go down the stretch trying to win three games,” said Beamer, whose team needs to go at least 2-1 in their final three – at Georgia Tech, at home against North Carolina and at Virginia – to become bowl-eligible.
The Hokies have gone to bowl games each of the past 22 seasons, and haven’t had ended a season with a losing record since 1992, when Tech finished 2-8-1 at the end of Beamer’s sixth season.
A 2-8-1 record in year six would get a coach fired in 2015, but Beamer was given the opportunity to turn things around, and his 1993 team finished 9-3.
Two years later, Virginia Tech was beating Texas 28-10 in the Sugar Bowl, and by 1999, the Hokies were competing for a national championship after an 11-0 regular season.
“I am thankful that the administration here at the time thought I was the right guy and that I just needed enough time to get it done the right way, and I had what it takes to get it done,” Beamer said. “I doubt if anyone could come through a time like that again. At this time when people want results, I don’t know if I could’ve made it again like that.”
He might not want to leave, but at least he’s able to leave the program a lot better off than when he took it over.
“One thing I take great pride in is that it this is a very attractive job, the facilities and ability to compete we leave it in good shape,” Beamer said. “We leave some fantastic players, some really good young players who have developed and the future is bright, and I take pride in that we aren’t leaving it in a bad way.
“I wish we had a few less injuries and we had a few different things and we could go out on a higher note. But if we can win these last three, and I am going to work like heck, and I know our team will and our coaches will to go to a bowl and do some dancing.”
– Story by Chris Graham