In a decision probably three seasons overdue: after 29 years, Virginia Tech head football coach Frank Beamer will step down. His replacement, now-former Memphis head coach Justin Fuente, will assume the same position with the Hokies.
It’s these moments where I realize how much of a sucker I am for sentiment, but also how much my life — and my sports fandom — has evolved over the last half-decade.
It was 1999 when I first fell in love with Virginia Tech. For whatever reason they were playing one morning on NBC (of all places to catch a college football game), with the incomparable Michael Vick leading the offense, and from that moment I was hooked. Not only on a school, but on an entire sport.
I can argue back and forth with myself on this, but there was a time — between 2003-2009 — where college football was the sport I invested myself in the most. For Christmas one year my mom ordered me a subscription to Rivals.com, and since the payments recur annually, I’ve had it ever since. (My bad, mom.) I was just as interested in high school football prospects, and where they would eventually be going to play college ball, as I was in the game action every Saturday morning.
As a student at VT, my childhood dreams were fulfilled. Whenever anyone asked why, as a Californian, I would want to go all the way across the country to study journalism; my reply was always “because growing up I loved the football team.”
I could get a degree in writing anywhere. I could not, though, watch my favorite college football team anywhere.
Frank Beamer was the head coach one of my favorite sports teams. In retrospect, to think that any team could have been playing on NBC that day, it’s kind of crazy. Virginia Tech could have been South Dakota St., or fucking Wyoming. Why Michael Vick chose VT, or why they were playing on NBC that morning, I don’t have to know. But here we are, 16-plus years later, and I’m paying homage to the man that built the program that inspired a child to go far away from home.
I saw coach on a few occasions when I was in Virginia — a couple times walking near the sports facilities and once at Logan Thomas’s senior homecoming game at Brookville High School. I never said “hi” or anything because I figured he got that type of shit all the time. I guess I’ve always had a sneaky fear of acting basic in public.
To be completely honest, whether it’s due to work or shitty on-field play or some combination of the two, I haven’t paid very much attention to Virginia Tech over the last couple-few years. I mean, of course I still follow the score while I can, but as far as dedicating hours every week, those days are pretty much over.
But again, that could be because of the direction it’s been going. For all the greatness Beamer has proven himself to be, at present he is, how should I put this, a little long in the teeth. It would be kind to say the game has passed him by. So I’m rather looking forward to seeing what a younger, offensive-minded coach can accomplish.
Tech is, and will forever be, a football school.