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When Ross later cooled on the job, he recommended Beamer, then Murray State’s head coach.

“It was an incredible endorsement from someone I had enormous respect for,” Baughman said.

Baughman interviewed Beamer and loved his humble and comfortable demeanor, his simple approach.

“He didn’t come in trying to sell himself,” Baughman said. “He wasn’t pushy.”

But Beamer had plenty of selling to do when he arrived. Tech was an independent that attracted little interest locally, let alone nationally.

Braine, who became the athletic director in 1988, personally distributed tickets at elementary schools on Friday afternoons to boost attendance at games. Assistant coach Bud Foster was once asked during a recruiting trip to Philadelphia, “Are you guys I-A or I-AA?” Foster came with Beamer from I-AA Murray State, and based on Tech’s talent alone, he understood why someone might wonder.

“We had better players at Murray State,” Foster said recently.

But Beamer weathered the early lean years, and after McComas kept him following the 1992 season, Beamer revamped his staff by firing three assistants. This was his chance to chase his dream for the Hokies that few others shared. In the late 1980s, he told a recruit during a home visit that Tech would eventually play for the national title.

“I almost fell out of my chair when he said that,” said assistant Billy Hite.

Said Beamer’s brother, Barnett: “Somewhere along the line, Frank became a bigger dreamer than the rest of the family.”

The ultimate dream — the national title — is still out there. But Beamer took Tech to places that once seemed unreachable largely because he made his assistants want to stay. And he did it by relying on the personality he got from his father, a reserved man who never tried to dominate a room by blurting out his opinion.

“It’s kind of always been my nature that I wanted people to enjoy working here,” Beamer said. “Some places, [assistant] coaches coach out of fear. I never wanted to be that way.”

So he got raises for his assistants when he declined North Carolina’s advances after the 2000 season. He had money set aside in his contract in the mid-1990s to take all of his staff members and their spouses on a trip after bowls. (Foster’s favorite moment is seeing Hite parade around in a leopard-print Speedo in the Dominican Republic.)

For 25 years, Beamer, and everybody and everywhere around him, gathered lasting memories and markers of what he has done.

There was the call he got from President Bill Clinton after the 1999 national championship game. There are the palatial facilities Tech’s players now enjoy. There is the sign in Fancy Gap that welcomes you to “Coach Frank Beamer Country.”

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