With the 2016 college football season drawing closer with each and every day, all the Hokie faithful should be on the edge of their seats. Why? There are two reasons. The Hokies will face Tennessee in The Battle at Bristol which could set the attendance record for any college football game in history. Tech will also travel to Notre Dame to take on the Fighting Irish. But to top it all off, the conclusion of the 2016 season will mark the end of Head Coach Frank Beamer's newest contract extension. This could in fact be the end of the Beamer Era in Blacksburg. Or not?
In 2011, Beamer signed a contract extension, running through 2016 and includes the stipulation that Beamer will be a special assistant to the athletic director for eight years after retiring as head coach. But why then? Beamer will be turning 70 years old in 2016 which seems like a decent landmark to call it quits. Beamer could pull a Bobby Bowden and coach until he's 80 if he wants, but I just don't see it happening. Although he did say that he would want to coach past 2016, with the way the past few years have unfolded, it's obvious things are changing for good.
The coaching carousel continues to go round and round while Beamer remains at the VT helm. The program doesn't have the same consistency that it's used to while the National Championship trophy case remains empty. The next few years are an opportune time to try and get back to the National Championship game with tougher non-conference schedules and the installment of a four-team playoff. If Beamer can't get it done under the new format, don't look for him to stick around for long.
But let's take a look at what Frank Beamer has done:
High School: Hillsville (1965)
College: Virginia Tech (1969)
Postgraduate: Radford University (1972)
Virginia Tech (1966-68)
1972 Graduate Assistant, Maryland
1973-76 Assistant Coach, The Citadel
1977-78 Defensive Coordinator, The Citadel
1979-80 Defensive Coordinator, Murray State
1981-86 Head Coach, Murray State
1986 (7-4-1) Ohio Valley co-champion
Record at Murray State: 42-23-2
1987- Head Coach, Virginia Tech
1993 (9-3) Independence Bowl champion
1994 (8-4) Gator Bowl
1995 (10-2) BIG EAST, Sugar Bowl champion
1996 (10-2) BIG EAST co-champion, Orange Bowl
1997 (7-5) Gator Bowl
1998 (9-3) Music City Bowl champion
1999 (11-1) BIG EAST champion, Sugar Bowl
2000 (11-1) Gator Bowl champion
2001 (8-4) Gator Bowl
2002 (10-4) San Francisco Bowl champion
2003 (8-6) Insight Bowl
2004 (10-3) ACC champion, Sugar Bowl
2005 (11-2) ACC Coastal champion, Gator Bowl champion
2006 (10-3) Chick-fil-A Bowl
2007 (11-3) ACC champion, Orange Bowl
2008 (10-4) ACC champion, Orange Bowl champion
2009 (10-3) Chick-fil-A Bowl champion
2010 (11-3) ACC champion, Orange Bowl
2011 (11-2) ACC Coastal champion, Sugar Bowl
2012 (7-6) Russell Athletic Bowl champion
2013 (8-5) Sun Bowl
Record at Virginia Tech: 224-109-2 (27 years)
Overall head coaching record: 266-132-4 (33 years)
With change coming sooner than later, who are some of the candidates that could lead Tech to the promised land?
1. Bud Foster
High School: Nokomis (Ill.) High School (1977)
College: Murray State University (1981)
Murray State (1977-80)
1981-82 Murray State (graduate assistant)
1983-85 Murray State (outside linebackers)
1986 Murray State (linebackers/special teams)
1987 Virginia Tech (inside linebackers)
1988-92 Virginia Tech (outside linebackers)
1993 Virginia Tech (linebackers/special teams)
1994 Virginia Tech (inside backers/special teams)
1995-Present Virginia Tech (defensive coordinator/inside linebackers/special teams)
Bud Foster IS the number one candidate for the Virginia Tech head coaching job once Beamer steps down simply because he deserves it. He's remained loyal to the Hokies, to the players, and to the staff. He could've left Blacksburg a number of times for different coaching jobs with great opportunities, but instead decided to stay and construct the lunch pail defense that Virginia Tech has come to know. Tech is known for being a hard-nosed, intense football team that never gives up, and Bud Foster embodies everything that the team stands for. If he does become Tech's next head coach, Hokie faithful should be ecstatic and hopeful about the future of football in Blacksburg.
2. Torrian Gray
High School: Kathleen High School (Lakeland, FL)
College: Virginia Tech (1996)
Virginia Tech (1992-96)
Minnesota Vikings (1997-1999)
2000-02 Maine (defensive backs)
2002-04 Connecticut (defensive backs)
2004-05 Chicago Bears (assistant defensive backs)
2006-12 Virginia Tech (defensive secondary)
2013-Present Virginia Tech (defensive secondary/passing game coordinator)
Torrian Gray comes in at the number two candidate spot because he's built up the motto of DBU to represent Virginia Tech. The Hokie secondary positions are among the most valuable on the team and Gray has helped recruit talent, develop that talent, and produced NFL caliber players that go on to succeed professionally. Just take a look at the names: Brandon Flowers, Kam Chancellor, Rashad Carmichael, Jayron Hosley, Kyle Fuller, Kendall Fuller, and Brandon Facyson. In his first year as secondary coach, Gray led the team to have the best pass defense in the nation. The years after speak for themselves. Gray prides himself and his players on hard work and excellence. If Gray becomes head coach then that's what you should expect.
3. Shane Beamer.
High School: Blacksburg High School (1995)
College: Virginia Tech (1999)
Postgraduate: Tennessee (2003)
Virginia Tech (1995-99)
2000 Georgia Tech (graduate assistant)
2001-03 Tennessee (graduate assistant)
2004-05 Mississippi State (cornerbacks)
2006 Mississippi State (running backs/recruiting coordinator)
2007 South Carolina (outside linebackers/co-special teams coordinator)
2008 South Carolina (cornerbacks)
2009-10 South Carolina (Spurs/strong safeties/special teams/recruiting coordinator)
2011-Present Virginia Tech (associate head coach/running backs)
Shane Beamer is my third candidate for the head coaching position. His last name speaks for itself when looking at his resume. Frank's son has become the associate head coach and seems to be learning the ropes of becoming a head coach sometime in the future. Shane saw success during his time at South Carolina, is great for recruiting at Tech, and helped with David Wilson's record breaking season during his first year back in Blacksburg. It's clear that Shane is a talented young coach, but I think it's going to take some more time for him to be considered as a top candidate head coach. Time and experience just isn't on his side. Besides, if Foster or Gray don't get a shot before Shane then something is wrong.
But don't rule out someone outside of the Virginia Tech coaching staff. If Tech sees a big name they like, they won't be hesitant to go after it. The head coaching job in Blacksburg is a lucrative one with a stable tradition, great fan base, and a state rich with talent. But it would be surprising if the Hokies didn't hire within the program with so many suitable candidates.
Will Frank Beamer finally step down in 2016? Only time will tell. But with all the change occurring now, don't be surprised if the program sees even more of a shakeup in the next few years.