CollegeFootballNews.com 20th Anniversary Top 20 Coaches
Who were the top 20 coaches since CFN started in 1998? No. 13 Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech
CFN Era Top 20 Coaches: No. 13 Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech
CollegeFootballNews.com is turning 20 this season, so we’re looking back on the greatest players, games, coaches and more since we first kicked things off back in 1998.
Wins and losses are certainly a part of it all – okay, a massive part of this – but it’s also about who came up with the biggest coaching performances over the long haul. Consistency matters, championships matter, and personality plays a role, too.
Who are the 20 coaches who defined college football since 1998?
One note, accomplishments before 1998 don’t count, other than when it comes to a coach’s legacy and overall status.
Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech (in CFN era 1997-2015)
By the time CFN started up in 1997, Frank Beamer finally had his Virginia Tech program rolling.
But it took a while.
Beamer took over in 1987, and after the Hokies went 9-2-1 in 1986, it clunked hard in a 2-9 first year for the new guy. And things weren’t much better in 1998 going 3-8.
But the program started to turn, with two straight winning seasons before two more losing campaigns. Just as Beamer needed something big following a mediocre six-year run, he got it, with a strong two seasons before winning two straight Big East titles.
From 1997 on, Beamer never had another losing season, winning one more Big East championship, and in an extremely underappreciated way, made Virginia Tech – not Miami – the ACC’s star get from from the scuttled Big East.
Rock-steady for a very, very long time, Beamer led the Hokies to four ACC titles and two more division titles in a fantastic run of eight-straight double-digit win seasons.
There weren’t any national titles, and the era got a little stale over his last four seasons, but with the utmost class, and with unquestioned respect from his peers, the future College Football Hall of Famer became the rare coach who made a program totally his during a 29-year run in Blacksburg.
Biggest Moment: 2010 ACC Championship
The biggest moment that put Virginia Tech and Frank Beamer on the national map was the win over Texas in the 1995 Sugar Bowl, but that was outside of the CFN era.
There wasn’t any one specific game that proved to be the big moment in the epic 1999 season, and he won four ACC titles, but the 2010 championship was his last, and maybe his finest.
The Hokies started out with two straight disasters, losing on national TV to a phenomenal Boise State team in a neutral site game that was really a home game in Landover, Maryland, and followed it up with a 21-16 loss to James Madison for a stunning 0-2 start.
Had Beamer lost it? Nah, there wasn’t any real talk of that, but it certainly started to look like things were slipping.
Instead, Virginia Tech wouldn’t lose again until it got dropped by Andrew Luck and a phenomenal Stanford team in the Orange Bowl.
With a ten-game winning streak, the Hokies roared through the season, leading to a date against Florida State for the ACC title.
In a fun shootout, Virginia Tech got a massive game out of QB Tyrod Taylor – throwing for 263 yards and three scores – in the 44-33 win.
Frank Beamer’s Best Season: 1999
Virginia Tech had been improving under Beamer and had a few conference titles during his run, and there were also a few terrific quarterbacks who came through the program.
But in 1999, Virginia Tech had The Guy.
Michael Vick had been ripping everyone up in practices during the 1998 season, and the next year, he hit the ground running – or flying. He hurt his ankle leaping for a score in the opener against James Madison, but came back a few weeks later to lead an offense that cruised through the season.
Vick was the star, but the defense wasn’t all that close behind, allowing 20 points or fewer in every game, and allowing two touchdowns in just four games.
A mediocre West Virginia team gave the Hokies a run in a 22-20 Tech win, but that was about it – every other game was decided by double-digits.
The dream regular season never had a hiccup, with a blasting of Miami, and a dominant performance against Boston College to go 11-0 with a Big East title and a trip to the Sugar Bowl to face Florida State for the national title.
Vick put on a show, but the Seminole firepower was too much to overcome in a 46-29 win to give Bobby Bowden the national title.
But Virginia Tech had more than arrived.
Frank Beamer’s Worst Season: 2014
Of course, the worst seasons happened well before CFN got started, with four losing seasons in his first six. But over the last 20 years, 2014 was Beamer’s worst run for a few reasons.
It was close to being the end of the line. Beamer was never going to be on a force-him-out hot seat, but the program was starting to fall behind the ACC stars.
It was also, technically, Beamer’s worst conference finish ever. From 1993 on, Virginia Tech never finished worse than fourth in league play, and the 2014 finished fifth in the Coastal Division.
But it didn’t seem like there would be any issues at the start, with a 35-21 win over Ohio State – the only loss suffered all season by the eventual national champs.
With five losses in the next seven games, though, the win over the Buckeyes was a distant memory. Just when it seemed like the Hokies were pulling up out of the nosedive with a road win over a strong Duke team, they didn’t show up in a 6-3 loss against a bad Wake Forest.
However, with a win over Virginia – keeping the Cavaliers from getting bowl eligible – and a nice bowl win over Cincinnati, it wasn’t all bad.
But that’s what qualifies for a bad year for a Beamer team since 1998. That’s how good he and his teams were.
CFN Era Coaching Record: 194-68 in 18 years
2004, 2005 ACC Coach of the Year
1995, 1996, 1999 Big East Coach of the Year
1999 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year
CFN 20th Anniversary lists compiled by Rich Cirminiello, Pete Fiutak, Phil Harrison & Russ Mitchell