So after reading the title for this article, you might be thinking, "If you're going to do a series of posts on which Virginia Tech coaches should be fired and which should keep their jobs, why in the world are you starting with Shane Beamer?" To which I would answer, I understand what a peculiar choice it seems like, but I will be doing these posts chronologically relative to when the coaches were hired. So, by virtue of being the newest hire on the staff (two days senior of Cornell Brown), Shane is up first. So let's dive right in.
Reasons For Keeping Him
I think this is going to be one of the quickest posts in this series, if not THE quickest. Let's start with his best asset. The younger Beamer is somewhat of a master recruiter, having made a name for himself on the recruiting trail both at Virginia Tech and his previous stops. According to Rivals.com, since 2009, (only the second year he was given a full recruiting load), Beamer has individually landed an astounding EIGHT four-star recruits, including guys like Alshon Jeffery, Connor Shaw, and for the Hokies, Joel Caleb, Holland Fisher, Drew Harris and Deon Clarke. He was also assigned as the personal recruiter for names like A.J. Green, Robert Quinn, and Trent Richardson at South Carolina, so it shows the kind of faith Steve Spurrier and his staff put in Beamer.
For the Hokies, he has also been assigned as the personal recruiter for guys like Derrick Green (the nation's top running back prospect), Jarron Jones (a huge Notre Dame commit from a year ago), Tim Harris (now a UVA decommit) and Dorian Johnson (a Pitt commitment that the Hokies desperately wanted), all of whom were ranked four stars or higher by Rivals and two of whom may not have even considered Tech without Shane Beamer being their personal recruiter. It is also worth noting that for whatever reason, Rivals shows that Beamer did not have a full load in 2011 as well, so if you were to take an average of how many four star recruits Beamer raked in between the recruiting classes of 2009-13 (seasons in which he had a full recruiting load), you would come up with two per year. That's pretty terrific for an individual recruiter.
Over that time period, the coach who was previously considered as Virginia Tech's best recruiter, Bryan Stinespring, has nabbed exactly five four-stars. In fact, going back all the way to 2006 to include Virginia Tech coaches' recruiting efforts (the first year Rivals began tracking recruits landed by an individual recruiter), no Hokie coach landed as many four-star or higher recruits individually in those eight classes as Beamer did in the five classes since 2009. Just in case you were interested, Coach Cavanaugh pulled in six and a half, Gray and Stinespring landed six apiece and Newsome added five and a half (the halves represent a player in which the two coaches shared the lead as a primary recruiter for Tyrod Taylor). So it's fair to say that Shane has galvanized the recruiting efforts, as in his two years at Tech, the football program has seen probably its best two recruiting years in school history (as long as the 2013 class remains intact).
To that end, he is personable, relatable, charismatic, courteous and young, character traits that players and their families take note of. That's why Virginia Tech players (particularly running backs like David Wilson) have oozed about how much they've enjoyed playing for him and how much he fires them up. It's always great to have guys like that on the sideline (ahem, Stinespring, you too buddy) as a lot of the Virginia Tech coaches seem fairly vanilla in their interactions with players on the sideline.
Reasons For Trashing Him
So here are the knocks on Shane Beamer. He is a positional coach who has coached at least three different positions in his assistant coaching stints. There is nothing wrong with being a positional coach, but often it's hard to judge a positional coach because you don't get to see the X's and O's, and unless you know what you're looking for or the commentators point it out, a lot of what a positional coach teaches is technique. And let's be honest, if you're watching a game and the running back goes 80 yards, are you paying attention to his technique, or are you saying "Holy hell look how fast that kid is," or "Man what a great call that was" (I am aware you're not saying that for Hokie games, just giving a hypothetical). In fact, David Wilson fits the first part of that scenario to a T, and given that Beamer inherited that supernatural freak athlete at his position, coupled with the struggles of the group this year (even thought the offensive line often played horribly), it is fair to ask how much of the success Tech has had with their running backs in the last two years was David Wilson/J.C. Coleman, and how much of it was Beamer? TBD.
The point is, while positional coaches are rarely the goat, you often don't know what you have in them until they take a position as a coordinator or a head coach, something Shane might be poised to do in the near future. Speaking of which, Shane's name came up as a a person of interest several times during coaching searches after the season, including reported interest by Georgia State, who ended up replacing the retiring Bill Curry with Trent Miles. To several people I have spoken with, taking a job as the head coach of another team for a few years to develop some head coaching experience wouldn't be a bad thing. I understand that logic, but what I don't understand is why he would leave a job working for his father in which he is essentially being groomed as the coach-in-waiting. As far as head coaching experience goes, I think having been around the elder Beamer in his coaching career can only help to prepare him. I know that Shane taking another job isn't necessarily trashing him, but the end result would essentially be the samd: Shane would not be at Virginia Tech under either scenario.
The very last thing I think you could fault Beamer for is the sporadic and often questionable running back rotations used this season. I don't know if Shane really has full control over personnel decisions, but at any rate, some of the substitutions for certain plays/packages were so boneheaded (for instance using J.C. Coleman as a lead blocker and Martin Scales on outside runs) that even being a part of the decision-making and not objecting signals a pretty significant problem. Also, contrary to what the staff said about the running back-by-committee in the off-season, they often went away from the hot hand instead of sticking with it. So the rotations and substitutions based on play-calling/packages has to get better, no matter who's responsible for it.
Again, as I said in the beginning, this one is pretty easy. I don't see any reason to want to fire the team's youngest coach, most successful recruiter and potential head coach-in-waiting. Shane has a promising future (most likely at Virginia Tech), and despite some unknowns to this point, he has brought a lot to the program with his influence both in recruiting and on the sideline. I think he is and will continue to be a stabilizing force on the staff for years to come.
Verdict: Keep 'Em