Nehlen, Beamer To Serve As Honorary Captains
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Former West Virginia University football coach and Hall of Famer Don Nehlen and former Virginia Tech football coach and almost assuredly soon to be Hall of Famer Frank Beamer, will serve as honorary captains when West Virginia and Virginia Tech renew their rivalry for the Black Diamond Trophy at FedExField on Sunday, Sept. 3 at 7:30 p.m., televised on ABC.
Beamer and Nehlen are anticipated to participate in the pregame coin toss, with the winning school’s honorary captain being involved in the presentation of The Black Diamond Trophy immediately following the game.
These coaches, fierce rivals and great friends, were two of the most respected head coaches, not only in the old Big East Conference but on the national level, as each built their programs and took them to the pinnacle of success. Each produced success on and off the field and mentored many student-athletes who were all-conference, All-American, academic award winners and NFL stalwarts.
“I have all the respect in the world for Frank Beamer,” Nehlen said. “Not only is he is class man and a great friend, he did an unbelievable job at Virginia Tech and took that program to its greatest period of success. When the Mountaineers and Hokies got together to play, it didn’t matter whether either team was 10-0 or 0-10, it defined what a great rivalry was.
“Both teams played hard, physical and never quit the entire game,” Nehlen added. “After I retired, Frank was still coaching, and I always followed the Hokies because of him. I am excited to not only see Frank on Sept. 3 but to see the rivalry renewed and to see both teams play another great game. I am honored to be an honorary captain with Frank and represent West Virginia University.”
Nehlen, the winningest football coach in WVU history, served as Mountaineer coach from 1980-2000, posting a 149-93-4 record in Morgantown and a career record of 202-138-8. He was the 17th coach in NCAA I-A history to reach 200 wins, and his 1988 and
1993 squads finished the regular season with undefeated records.
Taking WVU to 13 bowls and 17 winning seasons, Nehlen coached 15 first team All-Americans, 82 all-conference players, six first team Academic All-Americans and 80 players who went on to professional football. He received coach of the year honors from Kodak, AFCA, Bobby Dodd Award, Walter Camp, Scripps-Howard, Playboy, Woody Hayes Award, Joseph Sheehan Award and was the unanimous choice as the 1993 BIG EAST Coach of the Year.
Nehlen was selected to the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame in 2005 and was recently awarded with the American Football Coaches Association’s Alonzo Stagg Award for lifetime achievement for the sport of college football.
In 1997, Nehlen served as president of the 10,000-member American Football Coaches Association, the culmination of a career that saw him on the AFCA’s Board of Trustees, chair of the College Football Association’s coaches’ committee and a nominator for
the College Football Hall of Fame.
“Don Nehlen remains one of my all-time favorite people,” Beamer said. “Every time we played West Virginia it was a big game for our team and our fans. Going into Morgantown was always a challenge. You knew you were going to have to face a tough, well-coached football team for 60 minutes and that crowd wasn’t going to let up on you, either. I’m so honored that I’ll get to join Coach Nehlen on the field as our two teams meet again.”
Beamer was the winningest active coach in FBS history at the time of his retirement in 2015, having tallied an impressive career record of 238-121-2 at Virginia Tech. Under Beamer, Virginia Tech football enjoyed unprecedented success, with 23 consecutive bowl appearances, a mark that the Hokies extended to 24 straight under coach Justin Fuente in 2016. Appointed to the College Football Playoff selection committee in 2017, Beamer received the Neyland Trophy for his contributions to the game as well this year. He is also on the 2018 ballot for the College Football Hall of Fame.
Including a six-year stint at Murray State, Beamer owns a 280-143-4 career record as a head coach, giving him more victories than the illustrious likes of Tom Osborne, Lou Holtz, Bo Schembechler, Steve Spurrier and Woody Hayes. A three-time BIG EAST Coach of the Year (1995, 1996, 1999), Beamer was named ACC Coach of the Year in 2004 and 2005. He was the consensus National Coach of the Year in 1999.