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Tech, UVa fans react to departing coaches

With Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia both changing football coaches, one thing is certain.

“Mike London will no longer have to lose to Frank Beamer,” said Brad Watson, a Farmville financial adviser and 1987 University of Virginia graduate.

Beamer announced his retirement several weeks ago and capped a 29-year career with a victory over the rival Cavaliers on Saturday. Memphis coach Justin Fuente was introduced as Beamer’s successor on Monday. UVa’s Mike London resigned the day after his team lost 23-20 to Tech, ending a six-year tenure in which Virginia posted a 27-46 record.

Beamer, 69, retired as the winningest active coach in the NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision, according to FOX Sports. He led the Hokies to 22 consecutive bowl appearances with a coaching style that fans deemed “Beamer Ball.”

This season, the Hokies are 6-6 overall and finished fifth in the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Coastal Division.

“Coach Beamer is a class act and has influenced the lives of not only his football players but so many his path has crossed,” said longtime Tech fan Donna Groseclose. “He is the true example of what a coach should be: teaching good sportsmanship, honesty, integrity, hard work and dedication. Certainly good wishes comes his way in his retirement (from me).”

London, 55, never got UVa’s program going after a successful coaching tenure at the University of Richmond.

“I have been going to UVa games pretty steady for 30-35 years. My dad, Cecil, hasn’t missed a game since 1983, so we have seen our share of good football and bad football in Charlottesville,” said local Cavaliers fanatic Bill Benninghove. “Mike London is a great man, but his six-year reign as head football coach at UVa would have to be considered a disaster. UVa has two main rivals in UNC and Virginia Tech, and in six years he couldn’t beat either of them once … . We really need an offensive-minded coach since the last 15 years with defensive coaches hasn’t worked out real well. I am excited about the future at UVa.”

Watson agreed: “I am definitely excited to see any new coach of football in Charlottesville. While being a really good guy and a great leader of people, London just hasn’t done much as a football leader. Any change there will be welcomed.”

As UVa fans await word on London’s successor, some Tech fans see the changing of the guard in Blacksville as bittersweet.

“When you have had a legend coaching the program, like Frank Beamer, you realize that you have been fortunate for a long period of time,” said Farmville insurance agent Edgar Jones, a 2002 Tech grad. “When you see someone like that going out, you always get a bit nervous on who is going to enter the program and try to build on what he has built on the last 29 years as well.

“When he made the announcement, it was a sad time because it was the end of an era. I think the athletic director, Whit Babcock, made a great hire with Coach Fuente. He has worked his way up and had success everywhere he has coached at.”

Jones also is pleased that Fuente retained veteran defensive coordinator Bud Foster, “because I think when you combine the defense we are known for with a newer, more modern offense that is a little more aggressive, I think it has the potential over the next few years to help Tech to come back on top.”