Frank Beamer remembers rival George Welsh: 'He did it the right way'

BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) -- When George Welsh started at Virginia in 1982, he inherited a program with two winning seasons in 29 years that was still searching for its first bowl appearance.

But by his third year, it was clear Welsh's UVA teams would be different.

"They were like him," said Frank Beamer, former Virginia Tech football coach and a rival of Welsh. "Very disciplined, very tough, didn't beat themselves."

Welsh took the Hoos to their first of 12 bowl games under his tenure in 1984. He went on to win 134 games, two ACC titles and led Virginia to its first number one national ranking in program history.

"He was an old-school coach, but I mean just a guy that really taught a lot of guys a lot of great things about football and just melded a lot of guys that I consider brothers now together," said former Virginia tight end Walt Derey, who played for Welsh in the mid-1990s.

In 1987, Welsh had a new rival, when Frank Beamer became the coach at Virginia Tech. In 14 battles with the Beamer-led Hokies, Welsh emerged victorious eight times.

"I said for a long time, the state of Virginia is the one that's really winning in this battle because they had two major programs that were going by the rules, doing it the right way, not trying to take shortcuts," Beamer said.

When Welsh retired after the 2000 season, he had the most wins in ACC history, and in 2004, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

"Tough to beat and did it the right way. I think that's kind of about as good as it gets," Beamer said.

Welsh died peacefully Wednesday in Charlottesville, surrounded by his family. He was 85.