Frank Beamer‘s book “Let Me Be Frank” was released in stores yesterday. I wrote something short on the book for today’s paper after talking with Beamer and author Jeff Snook last week.
Here’s a Q&A from the conversation with Snook about writing the book, which is selling for $21,19 on Amazon.
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AB: How did the idea came about?
JS: “I think first talked to them at the Orange Bowl when they played Stanford. Since ’96 I’ve always written an Orange Bowl preview story for the Orange Bowl committee every year, and I knew Jim Harbaugh from before, and I was talking to him and Frank was there at that press conference, and I started talking to him that night, I believe. And that’s when I said, did you ever write a book? He said no. I didn’t know that ‘Turn Up the Wick’ even existed then. Then he got back to me a couple months after that game and said he wanted to write another one about his life. So I think that’s how it came about eventually.”
AB:: How amenable was Beamer about talking about stuff?
JS: “I think my caveat was that he had to open up about his life and reveal some things that maybe he didn’t reveal before or wanted to reveal before. And that was my, I guess, prerequisite of the book, was don’t hold anything back. I think he did a pretty good job with that. He had some things that he maybe didn’t want to and I twisted his arm on it.”
AB: What was most difficult to get out of him?
JS: “He never wanted to admit publicly that he had accepted that North Carolina job. And not only did he accept it, but he had the job for nine days. It was a Saturday to a next Monday, so it was nine days that he accepted the job and had a verbal deal. He never signed a contract, but his big regret is accepting it in the first place. But he never wanted to make it look like he went back on his word. To Frank Beamer, his word is golden 99.9 percent of the time. And I just convinced him that it was part of life and you’ve got to tell the truth. If you’re going to write a book, you can’t I guess say one thing if that’s not the facts. And he agreed with me. And he thought enough time had passed. To my knowledge, I think only he, Cheryl [Beamer] and John Ballein and of course the North Carolina people knew he accepted it.”
AB: Was that the only time it was hard?
JS: “He was willing from the very beginning to, whatever I asked and whatever we talked about, he was completely [open], without exactly hurting anybody’s feelings. … When you’re in recruiting in college football now, there are people who recruit against you not exactly fairly everywhere. And he just didn’t want to name names for obvious reasons. I don’t think we did that. And I think there are probably cases with certain coaches who aren’t playing by the rules 100 percent of the time that he didn’t want to name names in that, but other than that, he opened up. And I don’t think he held back on anything.”
AB: Were you surprised that he opened up about his health issues, particularly the surgery he had last summer for a blocked carotid artery?
JS: “No, because he was to the point where he made a complete recovery. The surgery was successful and there was no more danger. Now if he hadn’t gotten that addressed and taken care of, he could have had a stroke without any warning whatsoever. He didn’t have any idea about it, so they got him into surgery and the doctors said, ‘Hey, this was serious.’ It’s a good thing you took care of it. But it’s not one of those things that’s lingering. He’s healthy and that’s behind him now, but I can see why he didn’t want that out there as he went through it.”
AB: Anything surprise you about him as you were writing the book?
JS: “Not really. I’m in my 50’s. I’ve covered college football as a beat since 1981. I’ve been around a lot of those guys. And he probably has a deeper understanding of a program as a complete family. And I guess that’s why it pained him so much to make staff changes. And one thing that really struck me, no matter who you talk to in that building, the amount of respect they have for him and the affection they have for him, that doesn’t exist everywhere. And I know there are a lot of underlings and assistants that resent their head coach for one reason or another. And there’s nobody that I know of in that building that would not just completely respect and almost, to a degree, love the guy as a father.
“And that really struck me because of the way he treats people. People have said it before, but whether he’s talking to a TV announcer at ESPN two days before a game or anyone who walks through the building, he treats them the same. That really struck me. That’s a testament to his character and integrity and honesty and everything, the way he was raised. There aren’t many in his position, with his resume, who still act like they did when they were a GA 40 years ago.”
AB: You were around him a lot in Tech’s worst season in 20 years. Did that wear on him?
JS: I think there’s no doubt. Losing wears on any head coach, no matter what the past was. I think Virginia Tech had eight straight years of 10 wins or more, right? Then they have that happen to you, and that’s going to wear on you if you’re not competitive. That’s the other side of it. As everybody knows, he is a competitor. He’ll compete at anything and on the football field he hates to lose as much as anyone else. I think he wears it externally a little better than people, but I think deep down it tears him up.”
AB: What do you think of Beamer’s career?
JS: “I’m sure when all’s said and done and out of coaching, he’s going to appreciate the fact he never left and built something there, like Bobby Bowden did at Florida State, from scratch basically. There’s few of those stories. Bear Bryant coached at Kentucky first. And all the legends, to build something like that with their hands, from the bottom up, that’s what legacies are made of. And when he’s done he’s going to have a great one.”