Sam Sharpe-US PRESSWIRE
With coaching changes comes both excitement and challenges. Coach Frank Beamer answered the question about whether he would make the changes necessary to return to the national elite after the bowl game concluded by hiring three replacements to a long-standing staff. After several weeks of whirlwind Twitter-driven rumors, speculations and the disappointing news that Pep Hamilton would not be joining the staff, Beamer made the changes that were, frankly, long overdue.
That is Frank Beamer's favorite word. People ask him all the time, "Why is your program so successful?" The answer was always about continuity on the coaching staff. What was the reason for success and the 10-win seasons? It was coaching stability and the continuity of keeping the same staff intact, year after year, criticism be damned.
It did not matter to Beamer that fans wanted Stinespring to be relieved of his duty as offensive coordinator the nanosecond he was promoted to run the offense. Howls of criticism fell on deaf ears. Call-in to radio shows eventually were forced to adopt the practice of "screening" calls on the subject to make sure it would not include angry questions about why Tech's offense looks so inept, unprepared, and fall flat on their face.
Several times in the past decade, Virginia Tech had commanding leads, and the conservatism in play calling and untimely turnovers caused those teams to roar back from deficits to win those games. The Chick-fil-A Bowl against Georgia comes to mind. There is of course the last-second loss to Boston College, the fourth quarter debacle against East Carolina, and what about Boise State embarrassing Virginia Tech in the 2010 season opener? Boise State's defense had every answer for Tyrod Taylor or Ryan Williams, frustrating the star players. That same year however, the Hokies rallied from a 17-point hole against North Carolina State, eventually leading to another 10-win season and possibly saving Stinespring's job.
Fans kept saying Stinespring needed to go.
Beamer kept Stinespring on the staff (as the offensive coordinator) in spite of the mounting criticism.
Then two seasons ago, Beamer stunned the fans by announcing reassignments of long-time assistants, outside linebackers coach, Jim Cavanaugh, and running backs coach Billy Hite to administrative roles, and hiring Cornell Brown, the player that was part of the class that turned around Beamer's program in the early-mid 90's, and bringing in his son, Shane, to coach the running backs. In addition, he green-lighted Stinespring's "suggestion" to give play calling to Mike O'Cain, and fans were for once somewhat muted.
It resulted in a record-setting year from the offense as David Wilson broke Ryan Williams' single-season rushing record, Logan Thomas shattered several Virginia Tech's records and Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale left school as No. 1-2 all-time receivers in Tech's history.
Then the abomination happened. I do not think I need to rehash what 2012 was like, but I will re-hash briefly.
Beamer could no longer hide behind the 10-wins. He could no longer point to coaching continuity as the reason for success, especially not after missing the ACC Championship game, not even winning a historically weak Coastal division and limping into a bowl game, needing an overtime field goal kick to keep the team's winning percentage above 0.500.
It was, in a sense, the perfect storm that fans have been waiting to happen to finally say, "This is what we have been trying to tell you for years now, coach."
Wide receivers coach, Kevin Sherman has taken the same job at Purdue. Mike O'Cain has been fired. Curt Newsome is returning to his old stomping grounds, James Madison University, as the offensive line coach and assistant head coach. Bryan Stinespring? He has been reassigned to coach tight ends and become the recruiting coordinator.
Now, we have three fresh faces on the offensive side of the ball, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, Scot Loeffler, offensive line coach Jeff Grimes, and wide receivers coach Aaron Morehead. Three coaches, fresh blood that has already provided jolt of energy throughout the fan base. The fan base, understandably, was hesitant with Loeffler, but I believe in time, he will prove his worth. Grimes has already been embraced by the fan base because, in all honesty, he is a huge upgrade over Newsome. Morehead represents an interesting hire, something nobody ever saw coming. But he coached under current San Francisco 49ers' head coach, Jim Harbaugh, and his hire is going over well with the fans.
Whether the changes will pay dividends immediately or gradually over time, it is a change that has brought fresh air to the program. Give Frank Beamer credit where credit is finally due. He did his due diligence. He was silent throughout the whole coaching search, driving fans crazy, yet he finally acknowledged what was missing from the program: passion.
Loeffler will bring it, according to current NFL quarterback, Chad Henne; Grimes is known as a cerebral type of coach, but a great teacher of the game who made his offensive line a success story everywhere he went, and Morehead brings his professional playing experience to the team.
These changes are ones I am welcoming with arms wide open and I am looking forward to what it will bring. The annual Spring Game will be held on April 20 in Lane Stadium, and I fully intend to be there to scout the new changes. In the meantime, come to Gobbler Country for all things Virginia Tech sports, and let's go, Hokies!