Virginia Tech hired Frank Beamer as the head football coach in 1987 and over the past 28 seasons he has lead the Hokies to 228 victories as well as 21 straight bowl appearances. Currently, Beamer is the winningest active coach in the FBS and a legend among most coaching circles.
Over the past three seasons the Hokies have 16 wins against FBS opponents, which is characteristically low for a program that for nearly a decade was used to winning 10+ games per year. Due to the recent mediocre play many fans and writers have asked the question: Is it time for Frank to step down or be dismissed as Virginia Tech's head coach?
I personally do not think so and here are several reasons why:
- Frank Beamer is Virginia Tech Football and wants nothing more than for the program to succeed. The game has changed a lot, but one thing that has stayed consistent is Frank's management of his program. He is as honest and humble a head coach as there is and he just does things the right way and if that means losing some games then so be it because cheating will ruin a program way faster then several mediocre years. If Frank gets dismissed, the next head coach will probably not run as clean a program as he has.
- Dethroning a legend is tricky business. Coaching changes are never easy for football programs (FSU didn't start winning over night) but are especially hard when a coach has been at a school as long as Frank. For example, how long will it take Michigan and Tennessee to stop feeling the effects of firing legendary coaches? Hell, Charlie Strong was supposed to be the cure-all at Texas and that program is barely treading water. Many will say that Tennessee is already back because of recruiting, but if you know anything about college football then you know that recruiting doesn't translate to wins without good coaching; Miami, UNC, Florida, need I say more?
- Lastly, a few down years cannot be the primary reason for dismissal. If a coach was fired every time they had a poor season then some of the best coaches would be out of a job. Tech fans need to keep everything in perspective because without Frank Beamer there would not be the national brand of Virginia Tech football we are privileged to watch on Saturday afternoons. Vocal fans who are pro-change might look at Florida State (Bobby Bowden) and Penn State (Joe Paterno) as examples of programs that let hall of fame coaches stay in control too long, but the circumstances at those institutions are not comparable to Virginia Tech having a few down years.
Virginia Tech is still very much in flux due to new players and new coaches, who are going to make mistakes, but the frustration of beating Ohio State and then losing to GT, Pitt and ECU seems to be pushing some fans to demand changes. I for one do not think that a coaching change would solve the problem; actually, I think that it would make winning and recruiting much harder. Frank has built a program that has been and WILL be very successful, but it is not a program that adjusts well to change, which we as fans need to understand. Being patient is my suggestion--it won't cure the gameday heartaches--but Virginia Tech will be a different program in 1-2 years than it is today all of which will happen under the helm of Frank Beamer.