Since Mike London has been in charge of the 'football' program in Charlottesville, some things have changed. At first it was the obvious superlative-laced editorials about the new man in charge, a man who was injecting fervor and passion into a dead program. A program that Al Groh left by the wayside to wither and rot.
With new guidance pushing the program in the right direction, it seemed a foregone conclusion that the Cavaliers would out-recruit Frank Beamer and the Virginia Tech football program. They would continue to dominate the Old Dominion's recruiting as they had for a year. Tech would then fall by the wayside and as would Beamer. A Hall of Fame coach, run out of the state and out of college football by a young whippersnapper with a fury behind him that led the mighty Richmond Spiders to FCS greatness. Oh, how the tables would turn.
The speculation and forecasting turned into paranoia among some Tech fans. When the message is delivered in a constant way from multiple outlets, that tends to happen. The paranoia began to feed an imaginative reality that the Hoos were on the Hokies heels. All of this was created despite nothing actually equating to success on the turf of Scott Stadium. No, hypotheticals created the black clouds on the horizon.
Of course, the speculation and hypothetical situations certainly had stemmed from reality. London was an impressive FCS coach with a dynamic personality. If someone were to build a prototype to oppose Beamer, a coach with the personality of London would certainly fit the mold. David Teel conveyed that message recently in a column for The Daily Press out of Hampton Roads. Beamer seems more like a grandfather that has stories, fables and lessons for the long and arduous journey of a season. London seems like the fun uncle that wants to blast the stereo when the team wins a big game.
Hypothetically the downfall of Tech and the uprising of London and UVa seemed to have legs. It made sense. However, the hypothetical could only exist in a vacuum that assumed the premise that Tech would refuse to advance while UVa moved forward. A vacuum where Beamer would stand back with his hands in his pockets and shrug while grumbling, 'Aw shucks' as he watched London speed by him with his stereo on full blast.
Maybe it was a bit premature to assume that vacuum existence.
Enter: Shane Beamer. Young Beamer has made a big difference in a big way and it seems to only be getting bigger. His recruiting prowess has been incredible and his youthful exuberance has paid dividends. In that respect, he is Tech's London. Aside from a few adjustments in the coaching staff, little has changed among the hierarchy of Tech football. Except now, the elder Beamer runs the show while younger Beamer brings in the talent.
Perhaps that's the grand irony in the London hiring and subsequent excitement. Tech knew that it would need the likes of Shane Beamer and Cornell Brown to grab the bull by the horns on the recruiting trail and the reinvigoration may take Tech to new heights. ACC Championships and pedigree are already on the Hokies' rap sheet, and now they have a couple of go-getters to help the program evolve along with the conference's terrain. Jimbo Fisher has been pounding the trail as well, and Florida State will continue to make progress towards retaking a hold on the conference. Tech had to make a move, and they made two of the strongest possible moves they could make to better the program.
It's a distinct possibility that Shane Beamer and Brown will continue to recruit their tails off and get prospects that the Tech of old wouldn't have wrestled from the likes of London and out of state competition. It's no secret that some of the best talent in the state chooses to go elsewhere. However, the known quantity of Hokies football now has an extra intangible that will entice recruits and close the deal on them.
For Tech football fans, ACC Championships are fine and dandy, the more the merrier. However, with a team holding a position as a big fish in a smaller pond, the bigger pond always seems like the move to make. For the Hokies, that bigger pond is the national scene, and a BCS Championship. Although it's certainly a long stride, it's one that becomes feasible with fresh faces with strong motivation in recruiting. Alas, it may be that hiring London was the thing that spurred the Virginia Tech football program along their way.
That includes the crossroads where a rivalry and irony meet head-on.