Beamer was born in Mount Airy, North Carolina, grew up on a farm in Fancy Gap, Virginia, went to high school in Hillsville, Virginia, and earned 11 varsity letters in high school as a three-sport athlete in football, basketball, and baseball. He then attended Virginia Tech and was a starting cornerback for 3 years on the football team, playing in the 1966 and 1968 Liberty Bowls. He graduated from Virginia Tech in 1969 and attended Radford University for graduate school while serving as an assistant football coach at Radford High School.
Beamer is a direct descendant of the Allen clan of Carroll County, Virginia; his great-uncle, Floyd Allen, fired rounds at the county courthouse in a spasm of violence in 1912 that left five people dead, including the judge, a prosecutor, and the county sheriff.
In 1954, when Beamer was seven years old, he used a push broom to help keep a pile of burning trash in place. When the job was done he returned the broom to the garage not knowing that its bristles were still smoldering. A spark ignited a nearby can of gasoline, which exploded in front of him. His 11-year-old brother Barnett saved him by rolling him around on the ground, but Frank was left with burns on his shoulders, chest, and the right side of his neck. He underwent dozens of skin graft procedures that left him with permanent scarring.
Beamer began as an assistant at Radford High School from 1969 through 1971. His college coaching experience began in 1972, when he became a graduate assistant for the University of Maryland, College Park. After one season, he became an assistant coach at The Citadel under Bobby Ross. He spent seven seasons at The Citadel, the last two as the defensive coordinator.
Beamer was hired as the defensive coordinator at Murray State University in 1979 under head coach, Mike Gottfried. In 1981, after two seasons as defensive coordinator, Frank was promoted to head coach. In his six years as head coach, Beamer compiled a record of 42–23–2 (.642). Frank hired former Murray State defensive back, Bud Foster as a graduate assistant in 1981. Foster later joined Beamer's coaching staff at Virginia Tech in 1987.
On December 22, 1986, Beamer was hired as the head coach at Virginia Tech, replacing Bill Dooley, the winningest coach in school history to date. However, Dooley had been forced to resign due to numerous NCAA violations. Beamer signed a four-year contract worth $80,000 annually. Virginia Tech's new athletic director, Dale Baughman, also replacing Dooley in that capacity, received criticism for hiring Beamer. "Some people have questioned this decision because he is not a big name," Baughman said at the time. "But it's a sound decision, and I'm standing by it." Beamer took over a Virginia Tech football program that had reached only six bowl games to that point (three under Dooley). As punishment for Dooley's violations, the Hokies were limited to 85 total scholarships in 1988 and 1989, and 17 initial scholarships in 1989.
In 29 years at the helm of VT, Beamer amassed an overall record of 238–121–2 (.663). His teams went to postseason play after every season from 1993 until his retirement in 2015; the 23 consecutive bowl appearance streak was the longest in the nation at that time. He owns all but one of the Hokies' 10-win seasons, and all of their 11-win seasons.
During Beamer's tenure at Virginia Tech, the program evolved from independent status to a member of the Big East Conference to a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference. His teams won three Big East championships and four ACC titles. Beamer was named the Big East Coach of the Year three times, in 1995, 1996, and 1999.
In 1999, Beamer led Virginia Tech to arguably the greatest season in school history to date. The Hokies, led by freshman quarterback Michael Vick, went undefeated in the regular season and appeared in the Sugar Bowl, where they lost a bid for the national championship to Florida State. Despite the national title game loss, Beamer won several coach of the year awards. Beamer was named the ACC Coach of the Year in 2004, his first year competing in the conference. He repeated as ACC Coach of the Year in 2005 while leading his team to the ACC Coastal Division title and an appearance in the inaugural ACC Championship Game. His team was also given the Fall Sportsmanship Award in its inaugural season in the ACC.
On November 1, 2015, Beamer announced his retirement from coaching at the end of the 2015 season which concluded with a 55-52 win over Tulsa in the Independence Bowl on December 26. At the time of his retirement, he was the winningest active coach in Division I FBS with 280 career victories. and is the sixth winningest coach in history at the Division I FBS level. Memphis' Justin Fuente replaced Beamer as the head football coach at Virginia Tech.
After twenty-nine seasons as head coach of Virginia Tech, legendary coach Frank Beamer retired at the conclusion of the 2015 season. He coached the Hokies to 23 consecutive bowl games, including a national championship appearance, along with seven conference championship titles.
In late 2015, Beamer signed an 8-year contract with Virginia Tech, serving as a special assistant to Whit Babcock, Director of Athletics at Virginia Tech, focusing on athletic development and advancement.
On January 17, 2017 Frank Beamer was appointed to the College Football Playoff Committee. The 13 member panel was formed in 2013 when the College Football Playoff was implemented. The position is a 3-year appointment and Frank is the 14th person to ever be named to the committee. The panel's sole purpose is to determine the 4 best college football teams that will play in the post season bowl games to decide the national champion. The members meet each of the final 6 weeks of the regular season to create a weekly poll of the top 25 teams in the country. The top four teams in the final poll are the teams that play for in the national championship playoff.
Frank Beamer married his wife Cheryl (née Oakley) on April 1, 1972. The two met on a blind date, arranged by Cheryl's sister Sheila, while Frank Beamer was a senior at Virginia Tech. They have two children, Shane and Casey, and five grandchildren. His son, Shane played football at Virginia Tech as a long snapper, and was a member of the 1999 team that played for the national championship. After assistant coaching stops at four different universities, Shane was hired by Virginia Tech in 2011 as the running backs coach and associate head coach. Shane left Virginia Tech upon Frank's retirement in 2015 and currently serves as the tight ends coach and special teams coordinator at the University of Georgia.
In 2006, Beamer and his wife Cheryl published the children's book Yea, It's a Hokie Game Day! under Virginia publisher Mascot Books, Inc.
After the April 16, 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, Beamer was a powerful voice in the Blacksburg community, stating that the most important thing that the Virginia Tech and surrounding community could do was to disallow the act of violence to define the university. Beamer is quoted as saying, “We can’t let one person destroy what goes on here every day, the caring, the thoughtfulness. We can’t let one person destroy that.”
During Beamer's tenure at Virginia Tech, putting points on the scoreboard has become a full team effort with the offensive, defensive and special teams units. Often when the team scores one or more non-offensive touchdowns, the style of play is described as "Beamerball". Since Beamer's first season in 1987, a player at every position on the defensive unit has scored at least one touchdown, and 35 different players have scored touchdowns on Virginia Tech's special teams.
On August 6, 2015 Virginia Tech announced plans to name a street in honor of Frank Beamer. The street (formerly named Spring Road) is the primary access route to the campus sports facilities, running along the west side of Lane Stadium. It is now known as to 'Beamer Way". The Virginia Tech Athletics Department also changed its mailing address to 25 Beamer Way in honor of Frank's number as a player at the school.
Frank Beamer Day
February 4, 2016 was declared "Frank Beamer Day" in the Commonwealth of Virginia by Governor Terry McAuliffe. In a ceremony on the steps of the Virginia State Capitol in front of a crowd of Virginia Tech students, faculty, and alumni— including his wife, Cheryl Beamer, Government Affairs Directors, Paul Rice and Harvey Creasey III, and university President, Timothy Sands— Governor McAuliffe presented Beamer with a framed certificate to honor his achievements as the head coach of the Virginia Tech football program.
On July 29, 2016, Frank was honorarily initiated into the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity at the chapter's 54th Grand Chapter in Norfolk, Virginia.
On August 29, 2016, Virginia Tech football Head Coach, Justin Fuente announced a season long tribute to honor former head coach, Frank Beamer. As an homage to Frank's transcendent contributions and dedication to special teams, one deserving special teams player would be chosen to wear Frank's number 25 for each game of the 2016 season, earning the title "Special Teams Player of the Week". Consideration would also be made to continue the tradition beyond the 2016 season.
On February 1, 2017, Frank Beamer accepted an invitation from Virginia Tech Men's Basketball Coach, Buzz Williams to be an honorary assistant basketball coach and travel with the team for a game at the University of Virginia.