Reflecting their generations and experiences,
Beamer in 1999 coached
London in 2008 guided
So Beamer heartily approves of the Bowl Subdivision's impending four-team playoff, scheduled to debut in 2014. He believes the size and structure — bowls will rotate as semifinal hosts — are ideal.
Now coaching at
Long a self-professed "bowl guy," Beamer began to reconsider his no-playoff stance in 2004, Virginia Tech's first season in the
"That team," Beamer said of the Tigers, "was good enough to play for the national championship."
Indeed, coached by Tommy Tuberville and led by quarterback Jason Campbell, running backs Ronnie Brown and Carnell Williams, and defensive back Carlos Rogers, Auburn was a load. But the Tigers finished third in the
But USC and Oklahoma also were undefeated, and someone had to be the odd man out. Auburn was, and the Tigers defeated the Hokies 16-13 to complete a 13-0 season. They finished No. 2 in the polls.
Entering his 26th season at Virginia Tech, Beamer has become accustomed to the bowl routine and forged many friendships in the bowl community.
"I think if you go to eight or 16 teams," he said of the playoff, "you hurt the bowls."
Indeed, an eight- or 16-team field likely would require early-round games on-campus, which would diminish some bowls. But to London, that's a fair trade for a more inclusive tournament.
"I understand they don't want to take away from the bowl experience," he said. "Virginia hadn't been (since 2007), and we went to (the Chick-fil-A last year) and had the chance to practice for a month. And the teams that are good have that continually going on: season's over, bowl game, then, before you know it, winter workouts and spring practice. You see the consistency of that."
Yet during the ACC spring meetings in May, London told his fellow coaches and commissioner John Swofford that a playoff should include at least six teams — champions of the ACC, SEC,
Richmond made the playoffs in each of London's two seasons, advancing one round in 2009 in defense of its national championship. Never did London consider players' educations compromised.
"We took our academic advisors on the road with us," he said. "Guys had study hall. The professors and the university … bought in. The professors allowed them to take online tests or quizzes. There's an honor system there as well, but they allowed them to take them on the road proctored by the academic advisors."
Richmond hosted both of its 2009 playoff games, but in 2008 played at Appalachian State and Northern
"Everybody says you'd have to go on the road," London said of larger FBS playoff. "Is it a dome? Bad weather? Well, we went to Northern Iowa (a dome) and we went to Appalachian State in a snowstorm."
In other words, the Spiders were true national champions. They earned their title without aid of pollsters and computers.
"That's why I keep wearing this every once in a while," London said, flashing his national championship ring.