GREENSBORO, Ga. — There is perhaps no one better to speak on behalf of the Atlantic Coast Conference than Frank Beamer.
The recently retired Virginia Tech coach just finished his 12th season in the ACC and his 29th overall in Blacksburg, Va. At age 69, he is transitioning into a new role in the Hokies’ athletic department — special adviser to the AD — while easing out of the profession that earned him eight conference championships and a storage facility full of awards.
Monday, he was in attendance alongside several prominent southern coaches and alumni at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Classic golf tournament.
It was there where one of the ACC’s most beloved figures showered significant praise upon his conference’s biggest rival.
“I think the SEC will be there for a long time,” Beamer told SEC Country. “You look at the stadiums, the passion that’s in southern football. Not many of them are fighting other elements — pro football is not a direct conflict — so I think just the whole setting, what it’s become, the stadium sizes, the competition. It’s probably, from top to bottom, the best conference going. I think all these things lead to that.”
Winner of eight of the past 10 national titles, the SEC is considered by many to be the sport’s premier league, with the rest of the power conferences — ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 — lagging behind.
But Beamer’s league has appeared in two of the past three national title games, with Florida State’s 2013 team earning the conference’s first championship in 14 years and Clemson suffering a narrow loss to Alabama in January.
“I think the ACC continues to get better,” he said Monday. “Florida State and Clemson have been in there the last few years. Miami’s on its way back. North Carolina’s good. I think the coaching in the ACC is really very, very good, and the end result is going to be very good from top to bottom.”
The legendary coach acknowledged recruiting will be key to wresting the “nation’s top conference” tag away from the SEC, and he added that a talented group of coaches need to be more consistent on the biggest stages.
“You’ve got to win some big games,” Beamer said. “Win the bowl games when you get a chance. Win one for the conference. I’m not ever sure you’re gonna pass another league. And that kinda changes from year to year, but I think just generally, are you on the level of the SEC? Or are you not? And I think we’re working our way there.”