Hokies Need To Implement Coach-In-Waiting Plan
By Jason Bailey
Allow me to cause an extreme disturbance in the political arena of Virginia Tech's athletics department.
The Hokies need to implement a coach-in-waiting system for the football program.
There. I said it. And having said it, I probably just screwed up the Richter Scale in the Jamerson Athletic Center. That's where Frank Beamer's administrative quarters is stationed with my 8.0 quake of a proposal.
Hokies fans have enjoyed nearly a quarter-century of glowing gridiron performances from Beamer's teams, which have merited national respect and reverence from College GameDay analysts and conference titans.
Prior to Beamer assuming supreme command of the Hokies in 1986, the Virginia Tech football program was largely unsuccessful, only reaching six bowl appearances in its existence. But Virginia Tech's gridiron skipper has been nothing short of a legend during his 28-year tenure in Blacksburg. During that time, Beamer radically transformed the Hokies from an insignificant afterthought into a perennially-ranked national power.
Per Hokie Sports:
Beamer's teams have enjoyed unprecedented success with 21 consecutive bowl appearances, good for the second-longest active streak amongst FBS teams, four ACC titles, five ACC Coastal Division crowns, three Big East Conference titles, six BCS appearances, two major bowl victories and a trip to the national championship. Under his guidance the Hokies have also finished in the Top 20 in 16 of the past 21 seasons, including four top-10 finishes during the last 10 years.
Gobbler Country also cites one of Beamer's most monumental successes as a marquee "winning record against the SEC of 40-27 and an overall record at Virginia Tech of 224-109-2, making him far and away the winningest coach in school history...In postseason bowl play Beamer has gone 9-12, including 1-5 in BCS bowls. During the Hokies inconceivable 21-consecutive bowl appearance streak Beamer has an amassed record of 200-69 (.743)."
However, it's irrefutable that Beamer is pushing 70 years young (he's 67) and the last contract extension that he inked in 2011 is set to expire in 2016.
But it isn't exclusively his age that is drawing concern from the Hokies fan base and college football analysts. Lifeless performances are starting to cloud the twilight of his career. Many question his ability to make sound judgment calls and lead effectively. The 2012 campaign in which the Hokies finished 7-6 overall (their worst record since 1992) doesn't help Beamer's case.
Virginia Tech's 2013 season was marginally up to par, but plagued with inconsistency. The Hokies struggled against Marshall, Conference USA opponent, and needed triple-overtime to gasp out a win. A few weeks later the Hokies hosted Duke armed with "the No. 5-ranked scoring defense and No. 2 in total defense, did all it could, confining the Blue Devils to a measly 198 yards of total offense, forced Duke into four turnovers and refused to allow them a first down (0-11) all game," per Bleacher Report. Duke beat the Hokies, 13-10. It was Tech's first loss to Duke since 1982. Beamer's reaction?
"I don't think we made enough plays."
The idea for a coach-in-waiting in Blacksburg has surfaced before. Former athletic director Jim Weaver commenced research, entertaining the possibility of such a plan, per Journal Now, vying "that concept can work and greatly help continuity of recruiting."
But when asked about it during his radio show, Beamer indicated that he might not be in favor of a coach-in-waiting scenario.
"To me, it makes it a little bit of an awkward situation," Beamer said.
A little bit of an awkward situation for you or the players? It doesn't sound like Beamer has the best interest of the program, players, or staff at heart. His dismissive response to a coach-in-waiting plan sounds like it would bruise his ego.
Beamer has always been pervasively loyal and politically correct to his staff and the upperclassmen on his roster when dealing with drama and confronted with opportunities to implement change that would enhance the school's football program. It's a character trait that has frustrated fans on a host of occasions and likely crippled the program's efforts to climb the ladder of collegiate supremacy. We saw this much when he refused to concede to a much-needed staff overhaul until 2013 when Virginia Tech "announced the hiring of three offensive coaches, (Loeffler, Grimes and Moorehead) completing the biggest staff upheaval since 2006," per Hampton Roads.
Beamer's personal feelings toward a coach-in-waiting plan for Virginia Tech may not fly with the recent hiring of the university's new athletic director, Whit Babcock. And they shouldn't.
According to Gobbler Country, "The program doesn't have the same consistency that it's used to advertise while the National Championship trophy case remains vacant. The next few years are an opportune time to try and get back to the National Championship game with tougher non-conference schedules already slated with the installment of the four-team playoff system."
Per Bleacher Report, "There's new blood at the top of Virginia Tech's athletics for the first time since 1997 and it looks like the leadership surrounding the football program is about to change, drastically."
For the sake of Virginia Tech's fans and the continuity of future recruiting, it's about time.