As we wind down the Frank Beamer era here at Virginia Tech, we ask a simple question. Does Frank Beamer belong among the elite all-time as college football coaches? The question, of course, is loaded. It really breaks down to how you weight the following: winning percentage, quality bowl games, longevity, and national championships. The "X" factor in all of this is degree of difficulty. Obviously it might be easier to win at Texas or Alabama, than Virginia Tech. With so much football played over the past century, it's really hard to judge. For example, would Paul "Bear" Bryant be successful in modern day college football? My money says yes, but folks like Amos Alonzo Stagg, I'm not so sure. For argument's sake, I am beginning from 1990. So starting in 1990, who are the four faces that will be chiseled on a cliff somewhere in South Dakota? Without further ado, here are my four faces to be remembered forever (again, since 1990).
National Championships: 4 (2 different schools)
Longevity: Current school 8 years (Alabama)
Saban gets high marks for winning 2 national championships with two different S.E.C. clubs. He has created the closest thing to a dynasty in the modern college football world. He plays in the toughest division, in the toughest conference in all of college football. The only knock on Saban is that he seems to crave change. Leaving Michigan State to take the L.S.U. job, and bolting the pros for 'Bama are prime examples.
Record: 149-26 (.851)
National Championships: 2 (At 2 different schools)
Longevity: Current School 4 years (Ohio State)
Meyer also won 2 rings with 2 different schools. The only black eye on Meyer's record is that he does not like to stick around very long. Meyer moves like I change socks. In the S.E.C., Meyer was dominant with Tim Tebow. In the Big-10 he has brought the same mentality of speed matched with depth. He has started a war machine in Columbus, and is the odds on favorite to repeat as national champion.
Record: 357-124-4 (.740)
National Championships: 2, Both at Florida State
Longevity: Previous School Florida State (33 years)
Hard to think about the "Noles without seeing this guy. He came to Tallahassee in 1976, and built a powerhouse. The legacy continues with Jimbo Fisher, probably the biggest statement of all. Bowden won an astounding 12 A.C.C. championships in his tenure. He could have had more national championships, but his hopes sailed "wide right".
Record: 225-49-3 (.836)
National Championships: 3, all at Nebraska
Bowls: 25 (12-13)
Longevity: 24 years at most recent school (Nebraska)
Nebraska doesn't produce talent. All they have there is corn. Tom Osborne will disagree with you vehemently. Those corn bread eating lineman paired with an explosive running attack netted Osborne 3 rings, which in case you forgot is 3 more than VaTech. I personally can't wait to hear the Hokie homers explain that away. Football hotbeds don't get any hotter than Lincoln, Nebraska. Sorry, the sarcasm font isn't available for Windows 10 yet.
These guys are on my Mount Rushmore of college football coaches since 1990. Frank Beamer got a very solid honorable mention, just like Bill Snyder. Also on the short list: Steve Spurrier, Pete Carroll, and Larry Coker. There should be a category for GCCWNWANC. If you are unsure of what that means, it is simply this: Great College Coaches Who Never Won A National Championship. Folks, have some bad news for you, there are about 20 programs who feel the same way we do.