Virginia Tech's 1986 search for a football coach came down to a pair of Hokies: Bruce Arians and Frank Beamer.
Arians, a Tech quarterback during the mid-1970s, was Temple's head coach. Beamer, a Hokies defensive back during the late 1960s, was running Murray State's program.
The job went to Beamer, who remains in Blacksburg, where he's made the Hokies into top-25 staples. Meanwhile, Arians embarked on a coaching odyssey that led him to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Sunday's Super Bowl.
Arians, 56, has coordinated the Steelers' offense since Mike Tomlin's appointment as head coach two years ago.
Previously he coached the team's receivers for three seasons under Bill Cowher, a stretch that included a Super Bowl victory over Seattle in January 2006.
"Everything works out for the best," Arians said Wednesday. "Frankie's done a fantastic job; we've got one Super Bowl ring, and we're trying to get another."
Only friends call Beamer "Frankie," and Arians qualifies. He and Beamer own vacation homes at the same Georgia resort, where they play golf together with Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen.
Arians began his coaching career at Virginia Tech, first as a graduate assistant, then as the running backs coach in 1977, when he recruited the Peninsula.
He's since worked for Mississippi State (twice), Alabama (twice), Temple, the Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints, Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts and the Steelers during his career.
Temple was his lone head-coaching position, and this marks his 11th consecutive season in the NFL, a run that started in 1998 in Indianapolis, where he coached Peyton Manning and the Colts' other quarterbacks for three years.
"I lost my patience," Arians joked of moving to the pros permanently. "When I couldn't deal with (NFL) rookies, I knew damn well I couldn't coach college kids.
"I really enjoyed the college experience, but at that level you have a little more nurturing than you have here. When you're at the highest level of any profession, you want to stay there."
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger praised Arians.
"He's said from Day One, 'This is not my offense, Ben. It's yours,' " Roethlisberger said. "He's always up for input, changing things, renaming things, whatever it is. It's been nice to be able to have that relationship with him and to be able to make those adjustments or changes, whatever we've needed to do."
CAPTAIN FARRIORLinebacker James Farrior from the University of Virginia not only leads the Steelers in tackles, but also serves as an example to younger players, Tomlin said.
"He's the kind of leader I embrace," Tomlin said, "very flat-lined emotionally. He doesn't ride the emotional roller coaster. He is very consistent on a day-to-day basis on how he approaches his business and really kind of a blueprint for doing it at a high level for a long time in this league.
"I think a lot of our young players look up to him. A lot of guys gravitate to him. A lot of guys not only look to him in terms of how they prepare to play football games, but how they prepare over a 12-month calendar.
"This is a guy who is in great physical condition 12 months a year, takes a couple of weeks off, and then gets back about the business of preparing himself for the next one. Guys followed that model. He had a big following this off-season, and I think it's one of the reasons why we are still in this thing."
This is the 12th NFL season for Farrior, a Parade All-American at Matoaca High near Richmond.
He captains Pittsburgh's defense and calls signals in the huddle.
"It's a good feeling to know that you run the ship out there," Farrior said. "I take a lot of pride in that. I know that I have a lot of responsibility. At the end of the day, I have to get those guys lined up and get them to do what they do best."
THE OTHER MIAMIThe University of Miami, ACC Coastal Division rival of Virginia and Virginia Tech, has named Mark Whipple to replace the fired Patrick Nix as offensive coordinator.
Whipple was Roethlisberger's position coach in college at Miami of Ohio.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun