Q&A

Shane Beamer Q&A

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OU assistant coach talks about his time so far with the Sooners

The name Beamer has been synonymous with major college football for more than four decades, and actually much longer when retracing the path Frank Beamer took during his ascent from player to legendary coach at Virginia Tech.

During his 29 seasons as head coach in Blacksburg (1987-2015), Beamer’s teams won 280 games and earned 23 bowl game appearances, which ultimately solidified his credentials for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2018.

While Shane Beamer may not have the head coaching resume that his famous father put together, he has spent the past 20 years helping build and fortify several winning programs as an assistant coach, including the final five seasons of his father’s tenure at Virginia Tech.

This fall, Beamer enters his third season as assistant head coach for the offense at Oklahoma. His work with the program’s tight ends and H-backs has made him a key member of coach Lincoln Riley’s staff.

“(Shane is) a great coach with proven success who brings a wealth of experience from his time at Georgia, Virginia Tech, South Carolina and Mississippi State,” said Riley upon hiring Beamer in January 2018. “He’s a tremendous person and recruiter, and will do nothing but add to the great staff that we already have.”

Those words have held true as Beamer’s positive influence on players like Jeremiah Hall, Carson Meier and Austin Stogner has been evident in their overall development and production. He has also been instrumental in the success of OU’s special teams over the past two seasons.

Sooner Spectator caught up with Beamer recently to discuss his role with the Sooners, his football pedigree and much more.

Sooner Spectator: Two-plus seasons into your time as an assistant on Coach Riley’s OU staff — how has your experience with the Sooners been?

Shane Beamer: Honestly, it’s been better than I could have imagined. Just being able to come here to a place with the tradition that OU has — I’ve said it before — it’s humbling every day when you come to work and drive past so many Heisman Trophy statues and see all of the conference titles they’ve won here and the national championships. Oklahoma is a program that I followed growing up because of that tradition and history. And to have a chance to work here and be a part of that has truly been great. The other thing that has made it fun are the people here. Getting a chance to work with Coach Riley was a huge factor in my decision to come here, but also getting to know (athletics director) Joe Castiglione, as well. Also, just the family atmosphere that exists throughout the athletic department is important and the overall success of so many different sports here that have won championships has helped make it a really cool experience.

SS: What was the main connection or contributing factor that played a role in you ending up at OU and part of Coach Riley’s staff?

Beamer: The first time I met Coach Riley was when I was at Virginia Tech and he was coaching at East Carolina with Ruffin McNeill. Virginia Tech and East Carolina pretty much played each other every year so we crossed paths that way a few times. I believe it was in 2014, we had just beaten Ohio State in Columbus the week before and East Carolina came into Blacksburg and beat us the very next week. After that game, I went up to Lincoln to introduce myself and just say hello. We’d bump into each other every once in while after that, including one time in Charlotte, North Carolina, watching quarterback Austin Kendall at practice. We visited again then and just kept in touch over the years. When he reached out to me about coming to Oklahoma, I was surprised and flattered — and we just worked it out from there.

SS: Growing up with your father Frank Beamer being a legendary coaching figure, was football always in your blood?

Beamer: It was. Growing up in that environment and being a coach’s son, I was always around the team, the locker room and the players. I got to ride the bus to away games and see the program from a different perspective than most people do. It was amazing. But I also played lots of other sports when I was younger, too. I loved basketball and baseball, maybe even more than football before I got to high school. But as I got older and being around my dad growing up around the game — that played a big part in how I came to love football and it became such a big part of my life.

SS: At what point did you realize you wanted to follow in your father’s footsteps and get into the coaching business?

Beamer: Probably pretty early on, to be honest. My mom tells a story that when I was around 11 or 12 and my dad got the job at Virginia Tech, that I would round up some of my friends — and I’ve got a sister who is a little younger than me — and I would round up her and some of her friends, and we would play football in the backyard. I had these Fisher-Price headsets and would stand up on the deck overlooking the back yard and call down the plays on the headset to another kid who would then run out on the field and relay the play. So it started way back then and as I got older, I always kind of knew that’s the direction I wanted to go.

SS: After college and playing for your dad at Virginia Tech, you had an opportunity to either coach or maybe go into a different area of sports as a TV reporter?

Beamer: There was an opportunity to be a graduate assistant at Georgia Tech and another opportunity to be a weekend sports anchor at a local television station in Roanoke, Virginia. I went back and forth between the two jobs, but I wanted to try the coaching thing because I felt I needed to give it a chance. So in 2000, I started as a GA at Georgia Tech and I think it was about a day into that job that I realized for sure that this is what I wanted to do. It’s been great to me ever since.

SS: You worked your way up through the ranks and eventually got a chance to be a part of your dad’s staff at Virginia Tech and coach with him for five years before he retired?

Beamer: That was very special. When I went into coaching, one of my goals was to earn my way on my own and not be given anything because of what my last name is. So working my way up at other programs like I ended up doing was very important to me. When that job came open in 2011 — I knew no one ever left my dad�s staff — I felt it might be my only chance to get back there and coach with him, so I took it. Getting the opportunity to come back and coach with my dad and to be able to spend those five years with him and to be there for his final season was such a great experience. I would never trade a moment of that.

SS: You’ve been in the coaching business for 20 years and even though your dad is retired, do you still lean on him for his expertise or basic coaching advice?

Beamer: Absolutely. Being a head coach for such a long time, he’s got great insight to the game and a great intellect, which I certainly have relied on at times over the years in a lot of ways. Even though he’s been out of coaching now for five or six years, he’s still in tune with the game and still has a good mind for football. Coach Riley has been great about whenever my dad has been in Norman that he allows him to come around and be a part of things — whether that means coming to practice or sitting in on some of our meetings. I pick his brain whenever I get the chance.

SS: What has been your favorite thing about Norman?

Beamer: Probably just the relationships we’ve made and the friends we’ve made. We love the area because it’s just such a great college town. But you also have Oklahoma City just 20 minutes away to the north and then Dallas isn’t very far to the south. We’ve been able to get out and explore some since moving here. My wife (Emily) is from Mississippi and we’d never lived west of the Mississippi, so moving here was getting a little bit out of our comfort zone. But we’ve enjoyed it, especially the people and being part of such a great athletic program at OU. And Coach Riley is so good about making our families so important and including them in so many things that we do.

SS: Are you excited about the group of guys you are working with at tight end and H-back, like Jeremiah Hall, Austin Stogner, Brayden Willis and Mikey Henderson, among others?

Beamer: I really am. It’s a great group of guys — not just in relation to football players but as young men. We’ve got a lot of depth in that room, filled with guys who are not afraid to compete and work their tails off. All of the things we gave them to work on during the quarantine, you could see that each of them took it to heart and really worked hard during that time so they would be ready to go when camp opened for us. I’m very excited about this group.

(Editor’s Note: This interview appears in the August Kickoff edition of Sooner Spectator. To read more or to subscribe, call 405-364-4515)

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