The top program 'elevators' 

June, 8, 2011

The dominant storyline this offseason has been the Ohio State scandal, which has continued to unfold with new developments throughout the past several months. The latest bombshell came Tuesday when Terrelle Pryor -- the most-hyped recruit of Jim Tressel's career -- announced that he was leaving OSU. Later on Tuesday, Outside the Lines' Tom Farrey and Justine Gubar reported that the Buckeyes QB made thousands of dollars autographing memorabilia in 2009-10.

Tressel did many great things for the Ohio State Buckeyes' program and the community that surrounded it. There's no doubting that during the decade he was in Columbus, Tressel elevated the program to a place it hadn't been in more than a quarter-century. But in the wake of this mess, the depths of which no one knows just yet, you have to wonder how far things might fall back down because of violations that happened on his watch, given that a significant NCAA investigation is still ongoing.

An attempt to size up the impact Tressel had on the Ohio State program inspires this week's Top 10 list: the best elevation jobs done by coaches over the past 25 years.

(One caveat here: I'm focusing on guys who took over programs that had never been to such heights previously, or were dormant for a very long time. This excludes coaches at programs that had won titles or been outstanding in the previous decade, no matter how exceptional their coaching jobs were. In other words, that means no Bob Stoops, Mack Brown, Urban Meyer or Kirk Ferentz.)

1. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech Hokies

After winning five games in his first two seasons at Tech in the late 1980s, Beamer has gradually built the Hokies into a national name. Before he took over, VT had only had two seasons in its history in which the Hokies finished ranked in the top 20. Since 1995, they've only been ranked outside the top 20 twice. In the past seven seasons, they've never won fewer than 10 games and have gone to four BCS bowls. They've also finished in the top 20 in 11 of the last 12 seasons and been in the top 10 six times, including a second-place finish in 1999.

Beamer's impact on the brand has been sizable. The community has embraced "BeamerBall," Lane Stadium has expanded by almost 15,000 seats, new hotels have been built and facilities have been overhauled. A regional program has gone national in a very big way.