At the conclusion of a disappointing 8-5 finish to Virginia Tech's 2013 season there was chatter about the direction of the program under head coach Frank Beamer. After the Hokies fell back to earth following their upset of then 8th ranked Ohio State there were rumblings about the future of "Beamerball" in Blacksburg. Following Thursday's game against Miami there should no longer be doubt. Athletic Director Whit Babcock has the unenviable task of ending the 28 year tenure of Beamer—and it should happen sooner than later.
Thursday night was not just a loss that effectively ended the Hokies chances in the ACC Coastal division. Thursday night was not just a rare weekday loss at a raucous Lane Stadium. Thursday night was an embarrassment for Virginia Tech. The Hokies were dismantled by Miami in a fashion that was understated in the 30-6 final score. Beamer is not the be-all and end-all of the teams struggles this season, but the baggage lies at the doorstep of the man in charge.
The offensive play calling from Scot Loeffler and Shane Beamer has been abysmal the last two weeks, punctuated with the lack of offense against Miami. Michael Brewer has been limited to short yardage passes, neglecting big play targets Isaiah Ford and Bucky Hodges. The few passes Brewer did throw beyond the first down marker ended up well above the hands of his intended target, onto the Lane Stadium turf. The offense has looked slow and awkward, and the stat line bears it out.
For a pure #OperationACCCoastalChaos outcome (everyone 4-4 ACC, 3-3 in the division), Virginia Tech now must beat both Duke & Virginia.— Patrick Stevens (@D1scourse) October 24, 2014
The offense has been slowed by significant injuries to the backfield and offensive line, making continuity on an already struggling unit nearly impossible. The Hokies are also a young team, prone to mistakes like turnovers -- an albatross this season. Thursday against Miami, any hope of a second half rally was snuffed out by three fumbles from Virginia Tech.
While Beamer isn't failing to execute plays on the field or causing the rash of injuries to his starting lineup, the buck stops with the head coach on an underperforming team. Often in college football a well tenured coach's presence almost eclipses the program as a whole. Loyalty to a coach becomes a detriment to the team. Many coaches who are the definition of their program's success, finish their careers as a ghost of their glory years.
Bobby Bowden became a legend in his 34 years on the sidelines for Florida State. He guided the Seminoles to two National Championships, but finished his tenure in Tallahassee coaching teams that weren't even competitive in the ACC. Joe Paterno wore the look of a coach who the game had passed by, and that was before the unforgivable facts of the Penn State scandal left him a disgraceful afterthought in college football. Father time has caught up with some of the game's best coaches, and may now be calling for coach Beamer.
Virginia Tech is 15-11 over the last two full seasons, and could be faced with their first .500 or worse season since 1992 this year. Beamer, at times, seems detached to the struggles of his team, often responding to questions with cookie-cutter answers. Often in sports, despite a winning track record, a coach's message can stop being received by his team even with the infusion of new players in college football.
Beamer is owed respect and a debt of gratitude from Hokie faithful for what he has built. He elevated Virginia Tech to relevance in the world of college football. While success on the big stage eluded the Hokies, Beamer built his own empire in Blacksburg, unfortunately it appears to be crumbling under the weight of several underwhelming seasons.