Virginia Tech Hokies: Frank Beamer's 19-Year Renaissance(1993-2011)
It's been a long time since Virginia Tech wasn't seen as a major force in college football. However, before Frank Beamer's time in Blacksburg, the Hokies were mostly an afterthought in the college football landscape. Before 1987, Virginia Tech only had six appearances in bowl games. Even worse, ever since the inception of the AP Polls in 1936, the school had only had two appearances in the final polls.
Beamer first came in as coach in 1987, taking over Bill Dooley. The year prior, Dooley led Virginia Tech to a win in the Peach Bowl and a 9-2-1 finish. However, after 1986, much of the roster was depleted, and as a result, a rebuilding project took place. Through Beamer's first six years from 1987 to 1992, the Hokies struggled mightily, going a combined 24-40-2.
However, despite the struggles, the program turned around in 1993. During Beamer's seventh year, everything clicked. Led by future NFL All-Pro receiver Antonio Freeman and Super Bowl champion defensive back Tyronne Drakeford, the Hokies went 9-3. This was the first season with at least 8 wins for the program since Dooley's last year in 1986. Their Independence Bowl win over #21 Indiana, catapulted Virginia Tech to just their third ranking in a final AP poll since 1954.
The Hokies would then make bowling a yearly tradition after '93, appearing in one for the next 27 seasons. From 1995 to 2009, they would end seven years in the top 10 of the final AP poll. During this run, the school had six Consensus All-Americans. Beamer would earn ten total Coach of the Year awards. Beamer ranks eleventh on the all-time wins list and bowl wins, along with ranking seventh in career bowl games. In this run, the Hokies won seven of their eleven total conference championships. Three of those were in the Big East and the other four have come in the ACC.
During this run, Beamer led the schools to thirteen of the fourteen double-digit winning seasons in program history. The school would appear in four Sugar Bowls, four Orange Bowls, and two Peach Bowls. Beamer also had the Hokies on the brink of a National Championship in 1999, however, they finished #2 in the country that year. The last great season under Beamer was 2011 when the Hokies went 11-3 and went to the Sugar Bowl. Beamer would coach for four more years in Blacksburg but they wouldn't be as successful as this run. With all the accomplishments and strides of this era, 1993 to 2011 earned the honor of the best era in VT history.