- Heather Dinich, ESPN Staff Writer
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Virginia Tech running backs coach Shane Beamer lives about 10 to 15 minutes away from his parents in Blacksburg, Va. At the beginning of the season -- before it began to cut into bedtime for his kids -- Beamer and his family would spend Thursday nights after practice at coach Frank Beamer’s house eating takeout together for dinner because it was the one day of the week the staff didn’t work late.
It was also just about the only hint that Shane and Frank Beamer were a father-son coaching duo this year.
“If you came to practice every day, you’d never be able to tell they were father and son,” said quarterback Logan Thomas. “They take it as their job. They act just like any other coaches. You’d never be able to tell, and I think that’s good for our team that there’s nobody higher than the law.”
Heading into his first season on his father’s staff as associate head coach and running backs coach, Shane Beamer intended to make sure that was the perception, and apparently, he succeeded. He also proved to be an important addition to the staff’s recruiting efforts, and the running game has fared well under his watch. Now, the Beamers will have an opportunity to coach in the Allstate Sugar Bowl together when the Hokies face Michigan next week. While Virginia Tech wasn’t able to deliver Beamer any titles in his 25th season, it was a successful transition for a rookie coach with a big name to live up to.
“When your last name is Beamer, whether you’re a high school football player here in Blacksburg or playing in college at Virginia Tech or a coach at Mississippi State, I think people sometimes look at you a little bit differently,” Shane said. “Maybe there’s the perception you’re in the position you’re in because of your last name. I’ve dealt with that all my life. I try and go out of my way to prove in any situation I do belong. I wouldn’t want anybody to ever say I’m in this position because of who my dad is or anything like that.”
Most of the coaches on staff know the Beamers too well to make that mistake. Shane has known quarterbacks coach Mike O’Cain since he was born and defensive coordinator Bud Foster since he was 2 years old. He’s known defensive line coach Charley Wiles since he was 5. In a way, the staff is just as much family to him as the head coach.
Not that he ever saw his dad much this season.
Shane spent most of his workdays during the regular season in the offensive meeting room. The time spent with his father was limited to about 30 minutes a day in a staff meeting, maybe another 20 minutes in special-teams meetings and on the practice field. He spent more time with offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring than he did his father.
“Coming into it, I was worried about how I might be accepted, and I didn’t want anybody on our staff to feel that they couldn’t be themselves around me because of who’s son I was, and I don’t think they do,” Beamer said. “When I was a player he treated me like any other player, and as a coach, he treats me like any other coach. I have a job to do, I try and work extremely hard at my job to prove I belong, and to me it hasn’t been awkward at all.”
It has, however, been special.
“The things that stand out are being able to share in the big wins, beating Virginia up there like we did and an exciting win over Miami, or the opening ballgame when they had a presentation for him, with it being his 25th year, being out there with him and share in that,” Shane said. “And then moments off the field, having dinner with my mom and my dad on a Thursday night after practice, just things like that make it special.”
So did winning 11 games and becoming the first ACC team in league history to receive an at-large BCS bowl bid. Shane was a part of that, as Virginia Tech’s running game is No. 30 in the country entering the Sugar Bowl, and running back David Wilson is No. 6 in the country in rushing yards per game.
“At this level, it’s not just having your son on the staff; it’s having good coaches on your staff, and I think Shane is a good coach,” Frank Beamer said. “He works hard at recruiting and is very good at that. I’ve really been pleased at having Shane back here and working together and having that kind of relationship. And I can tell you, my wife, Cheryl, is particularly happy to have two granddaughters running around and getting to see them every day. Then I think Emily, Shane’s wife, is happy to have a baby sitter in Cheryl. So I think everybody wins in this deal.”
And there’s no question the Beamers love to win. Like father, like son.