Frank Beamer turns 68 in October, and his College Football Hall of Fame credentials were long ago secured. But rather than plot retirement and more frequent fleecing of golf partners, Virginia Tech’s iconic coach has signed a two-year contract extension that stretches through the 2018 season.
Announced Wednesday, the new deal benefits both parties and could further the Hokies’ recent recruiting momentum by quieting chatter about Beamer’s inevitable exit.
The Bowl Subdivision’s longest-tenured and winningest active head coach, Beamer had three seasons remaining on his previous deal, signed in January 2013. This is his 28th year leading his alma mater, and the new contract would give him 32 seasons on the job.
Beamer has said that after watching the messy exits of peers such as Penn State’s Joe Paterno and Florida State’s Bobby Bowden, he would be careful not to overstay his welcome. But recent changes to his staff and an infusion of young talent have energized him and furthered his resolve to return the Hokies to national prominence.
Tech was 7-6 in 2012 and 8-5 last year, the program’s worst consecutive seasons since 1991 and ’92. In 1993, the Hokies began their current 21-year run of bowl bids, second nationally to Florida State’s 32.
That dip, Beamer’s age and the arrival of a new athletic director — Whit Babcock replaced the retired Jim Weaver seven months ago — led prospects, rival recruiters and media to wonder aloud how long Beamer intended to coach and how long Tech would support him.
So within the last two weeks Babcock approached Beamer about an extension, and the two quickly agreed to terms. Beamer and new Tech president Tim Sands signed the contract Monday.
“As I’ve stated numerous times, the only job I desire is right here at Virginia Tech,” Beamer said in a statement. “My passion and commitment have been further energized with the arrivals of President Sands and Whit Babcock and the leadership and vision they provide. I am appreciative of the confidence they continue to show in me and our football program.
“I can honestly tell you that our program currently stands atop a rock-solid foundation. This coaching staff is the best I’ve ever had. We’ve had an influx of talented, young student-athletes into our program and we’re hard at work recruiting more just like them. So, I’m confident in the character and talent of our coaches, players and support staff. Then, you see this impressive, state-of-the-art indoor practice facility on its way up, which shows the continuing dedication from this university, its people and our fans, and our future can only be bright. I’m proud of where we’ve been, and I’m extremely excited about where we’re going.”
Defensive coordinator Bud Foster and offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler said the news would help them recruit.
"I think it makes a tremendous statement about how the new administration, President Sands and Whit, feel about what Frank's all about and what our staff is all about," Foster told Comrade Wood and other scribes in Blacksburg. "I think it makes a big statement, what he's done here, what we've done here and that should impact us down the road in recruiting. It's nice to know you're going to have one of the top, legendary coaches of all-time to be here for the next several years. I'm excited about that. I really am for our program and our future. ...
"As good as we've been in the past, I think we have a chance to be even a lot better."
The new contract does not alter Beamer’s pay scale or bonuses. He continues to receive 5 percent annual raises on a base salary that started at $285,944 last year, $100,000 yearly bumps in supplemental compensation that began at $2,020,672, and $185,000 annually from Nike and IMG in university-approved outside income.
In short, Beamer is scheduled to make a minimum of $2.6 million this year. His bonuses range from $25,000 for winning the ACC’s Coastal Division to $200,000 for winning the national championship.
Again, as in the previous contract, unless Tech terminates Beamer for “good cause” such as willful NCAA violations, he is guaranteed to receive $250,000 annually for eight years as a special assistant to the athletic director. That is the deal’s lone “buyout,” which makes it risk-free for the school.
Beamer is 266-132-4 as a head coach, 224-109-2 with Tech and 42-23-2 in six seasons with Murray State. Hired to replace Bill Dooley after the 1986 season, Beamer inherited a program reeling from NCAA violations and, after early struggles, built the Hokies into national contenders.
Football’s success landed Tech in the Big East Conference and later the ACC. Championships in those leagues earned the Hokies invitations to Orange and Sugar bowls, iconic postseason games previously beyond their reach.
Beamer’s first home game as head coach, a 22-10 loss to Clemson in 1987, drew 42,000. Saturday, Tech expects a crowd of 60,000-plus at an expanded Lane Stadium for the 2014 opener against William and Mary.
“Announcing before our home opener serves as a tangible show of support for the winningest coach in college football who does it the right way, continues our positive momentum in recruiting, and signals the stability of leadership in our program,” Babcock said in a statement. “His stamp on our football program, and our institution, is indelible. This well-deserved extension is a reward for 27 tremendous years, certainly, but also is based upon my observations and work with him these past seven months. His integrity and work ethic is even better than advertised and he still has that competitive fire and wants to move Virginia Tech forward. I believe in him and support him, his staff, and our team. We look forward to a successful 2014 season and beyond.”
Rare is the coach who leaves hoisting a trophy after a Gatorade bath and a ride on his players’ shoulders. How Beamer’s career concludes is anyone’s guess, but this sensible, and likely final, extension enhances his chances of a happy ending and smooth transition.
The FBS’ 10 longest-tenured head coaches:
COACH SCHOOL FIRST SEASON
Frank Beamer Virginia Tech 1987
Larry Blakeney Troy Univ. 1991
Bob Stoops Oklahoma 1999
Kirk Ferentz U. of Iowa 1999
Gary Patterson Texas Christian 2000
Gary Pinkel Missouri 2001
Mark Richt U. of Georgia 2001
Mike Riley Oregon State 2003
George O'Leary Central Florida 2004
Steve Spurrier South Carolina 2005
Frank Solitch Ohio Univ. 2005
B. Mendenhall Brigham Young 2005
Les Miles Louisiana St. 2005
Mike Gundy Oklahoma St. 2005
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