Anyone keeping tabs on the Hokies during the off-season noticed a story that is somewhat out of left-field for the football program: A Staff Shakeup. Among the many things Tech football is known for, one of the program's biggest selling points and most notable tendencies is to go many years while keeping the whole staff intact. However, in 2011 the Hokies had a staff shakeup the likes of which we haven't seen since...since...I'm stumped. As far back as I can remember. In this post I look into the staff changes and try to explain the reasoning for making them.
Shane Beamer- Shane was brought in to replace Billy Hite as the RB coach (and ultimately succeed the Frankinator. Believe it). However, aside from the obvious family motives echoed by Cheryl Beamer, Shane just pulled in the #1 recruit in the nation for Steve Spurrier at South Carolina. We just got killed on the recruiting front by a charismatic young coach, and so we sprung for another charismatic young coach to rebuild our recruiting prowess. I truly believe Shane as a RB coach is just a means for us to have Shane as a member of our staff to recruit for us for the time being. But he along with Brown and Gray are the recruiting workhorses and they add a dynamic our staff sorely missed.
Cornell Brown- Cornell is a good hire for several reasons: 1. He is a former player, which gives the continued impression that we keep our staff in house. If you're a HS senior looking at the Hokies it should strike you that there are several coaches that have played at Tech on the staff. That means 2. There is always a chance a player you can return to the program to coach, an aspiration for a lot of athletes. Also, many people have made light of this, but because Cornell is a former player, young players can relate to him. 3. It also gives us another young guy on the recruiting circuit, which has pretty much been proven lately to be an effective way to get the blue-chippers.
STAFF POSITION TITLE CHANGES
Added Responsibilities: O'Cain, formerly an Offensive Coordinator for Clemson and UNC, has been the Hokies' QB coach since 2006. He will also be awarded the gameday playcalling duties this season in an odd move that no Hokie fan really expected after Beamer's unwillingness to move Stiney and Stiney's best season in '11. Another reason it was an unexpected move is that O'Cain has found little success previously as an OC. So it's certainly a curious move to hand a guy like that the keys to potentially a national championship contending team, but we'll see how it plays out. The staff likes the idea though especially because they're breaking in a new QB, and think that relationship between QB and QB coach will help to make it a smoother transition.
Subtracted Responsibilities: Well, Ladies and Gentlemen, it's over...well, sort of. Bryan Stinespring is still the OC but he does not retain playcalling duties. So he will coordinate the offense, he just won't call the plays. Uh-huh. Gotcha. Is anyone else having a hard time following this? I don't know if this is a permanent move, but I do believe that Stiney was given a favor in that he kept his title despite not retaining his responsibilities. However, he also got sort of a raw deal. That's right, I said it. Wanna fight about it? And this is coming from a guy who is about as anti-Stiney as the OC as you can find. Last year may have been all about Tyrod, but I think it is just as plausible that perhaps Stiney turned the corner as a playcaller. I mean we were pretty dang good on offense last year (at least by our standards). And although the unit is somewhat different this year, I do believe that Stiney earned the chance for us to see if last year was all T-Mobile goin' crazy or Stiney bein' STINEYSMART!™
Former Titles: Associate Head Coach and Running Backs Coach
New Title: Assistant to the Head Coach and Senior Advisor
It was rumored that after 34 years Hite was looking to retire soon, maybe even as early as last year. I mean it's hard to fault a guy who's been at a school for that long to want to hang it up no matter what. But, Hite was moved to a front office position created for him instead of retiring altogether, maintaining the facade of us keeping our staff intact for another year (something that recruits say about our program as its top selling point. You know when you come in that those guys will be there all four years AND some) as he is still a member of the staff.
Former Titles: Strong Safeties and Outside Linebackers Coach and Recruiting Coordinator
New Title: Director of Recruiting and High School Relations
Cavanaugh was named the Strong Safeties and Outside Linebackers Coach in 1996 and added to his responsibilities by becoming Tech's Recruiting Coordinator in 2001. He helped to organize pulling in some of the Hokies best classes in that nine-year period. Individually, Cavanaugh has quietly been maybe the Hokies best recruiter in terms of the biggest number of star players brought in. However, he has been a little like Kobe Bryant in the dying seconds of a game. Kobe has the most game-winning shots all-time and he has missed the most game-winning shots of all-time. Looking at who he's missed on over the years probably has something to do (especially with who he missed on in the 2011 class) with him being pushed out of action and into the front office. Also our whip and rover play in the last several years (sans Cody Grimm in '09) has been pretty porous.
This is probably a good move because it moves him to something he is obviously very good and experienced at although like I said most Hokie fans never knew it. Heck, I didn't even know it. That's why it seemed peculiar that after Shane Beamer pulled in the #1 overall player in the nation last year in Jadaveon Clowney and is apparently a young recruiting dynamo that he or even Bryan Stinespring was not given the position of Recruiting Coordinator.
So in summation, we've made some pretty good moves. We'll obviously see if it pans out, but it certainly looks like we're in better position staff-wise to reach the ultimate goal...to fill that empty trophy case for Mr. Hokie football, Frank Beamer.