- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 25, 2014

One by one, the Virginia Tech football players carried their pads through the revolving door and into the practice bubble at Redskins Park. Some paused to take pictures of the field as they entered, while others simply allowed their eyes to wander, soaking it all in.

Coach Frank Beamer would have certainly liked to be there with his team Wednesday afternoon. But after undergoing throat surgery on Dec. 1, the winningest and longest-tenured coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision was instructed by doctors to stay home this week while his players prepared for Saturday’s Military Bowl.

“He’s on his feet. He’s on the treadmill every day,” said associate head coach and running backs coach Shane Beamer, Frank’s son. “I know talking to my mom, she’s ready for him to get the heck out of the house and back to work.”

That moment should arrive Friday, when the elder Beamer is expected to join his team in Washington on the eve of their bowl game against Cincinnati. The 68-year-old is planning to coach from the press box at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, relaying calls down to his assistant coaches on the field, his son among them.

“It’ll be different,” Shane Beamer said. “Obviously he’ll be connected to the headphones and can communicate with us on the sidelines. But to be honest with you, we really haven’t talked about the logistics of it a whole lot.”

While his father has recovered, Shane Beamer has taken on many of the head coaching responsibilities this month, from orchestrating practices to addressing the team in meetings and speaking to the media. He’ll also be the one giving the pre-game pep talk in the locker room Saturday morning.

“But to me, that stuff’s overrated,” Shane Beamer said. “If you expect me pre-game to be in there throwing chairs and giving some passionate speech that’s going to be talked about for a long time in Virginia Tech lore, that’s not happening.”

Still, it’s been an exciting experience for the 37-year-old, an aspiring head coach himself, and players praised the energy and confidence he’s brought to the role. Junior defensive tackle Corey Marshall said Shane Beamer is “just a younger version” of his father, while running back Trey Edmunds said it’s been a seamless transition between them.

“Coach Shane, he’s stepped in and everybody definitely respected him and it’s been fun,” Edmunds said. “You can definitely tell they’re father and son. They definitely have different personalities, but in a sense, I think they are kind of the same.”

Yet the continuity goes beyond family ties. Over his nearly 28 seasons in Blacksburg, Frank Beamer has carefully molded every aspect of the program, from how the Hokies recruit to the way they practice and play. Shane Beamer said the structure was already in place, making it easy for him to step in and allow the team to continue without missing a beat.

“[Coach Beamer]’s left a good imprint on this football team,” Marshall added. “We know how to conduct ourselves even if he’s not steering the ship, until he gets back right. … We’ll go out here and take care of business for him.”

In Annapolis, the Hokies will look to put a bow on what will ultimately go down as a lackluster season. The year featured several memorable moments, including a 35-21 road victory against then-No. 8 Ohio State and a gritty 17-16 win against then-No. 19 Duke. But those bright spots were dimmed by a three-game skid in the middle of the season and a befuddling 6-3 loss to Wake Forest in double overtime Nov. 22.

A win Saturday would give Virginia Tech valuable momentum entering the offseason and also allow the seniors to end their collegiate careers on a high note. But most importantly of all, it would give the Hokies a winning record for the 22nd consecutive season, a streak dating back to 1992, before the majority of players on the team were born.

“Twenty-two straight years I think it is? That says it all right there,” Marshall said. “We’ve got a standard and tradition to uphold for these fans. I don’t want them to think that this is an indication of who we are these last couple years. … We want to finish this thing out right.”

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