The Hokies suffered their most embarrassing loss ever, which is tough for a program that has been defeated at home by the likes of James Madison and Temple. When the game was over and the punts finally stopped, the discussion quickly turned to the fate of head football coach Frank Beamer. Even the worst of programs seldom experience this kind of loss when their defense shuts out the opposing offense in regulation and only allows a total of two field goals. Hokie fans have the right to be irritated after this atrocity which showcased the ineptitude of offensive coordinator Scott Loeffler and their inability to score more points than a speeding ticket.
On paper, Virginia Tech has a clear reason to force the resignation of Beamer, who is struggling to lead his team to an early December cold weather bowl. The offense has been miserable for a number of years, special teams have declined over the past decade and most importantly, ticket sales are on a steady decline. New athletic director Whit Babcock has a tough call to make, and there is a growing consensus of people who believe that simply replacing the offensive staff will not turn this train around.
Hokie fans might be correct to think that time has passed Beamer by and that it is time for a change. These fans need to quickly remind themselves that before Beamer and Michael Vick, there still was Hokie football, and outside of All-American Bruce Smith, it wasn’t pretty!
Blacksburg does not have the appeal that schools in Tallahassee, Gainesville and Ann Arbor possess. A small university in Southwest Virginia, it may be a great college town, but its proximity and relaxed atmosphere have never been attractive to four or five-star recruits on a regular basis. These factors will make it difficult to win immediately and in the future. When Beamer took over the program following the 1987 Peach Bowl victory, there were few interested coaches in the position.
Beamer built the program into a consistent winner by recruiting lightly-regarded players who had enough talent and determination to fit into his blue collar type system. The change did not happen overnight, and that is what Babcock needs to consider. The Hokies have been constantly overhauling their facilities, but so have most other ACC schools. Not having the luxury to count on signing blue chip SEC type players would put a new coach at an immediate disadvantage.
Virginia Tech needs to learn from their mistakes. A contingent of Tech fans and administrators, including former Athletic Director Jim Weaver, decided to fire basketball coach Seth Greenberg because he rubbed them the wrong way. This action resulted in two of the worst seasons in Virginia Tech’s mediocre basketball history. It is not far fetched to think this could also happen to Hokie football.
The fact of the matter is Beamer’s football teams have done more for the university and its academic reputation than any other football program in the country. College football provides universities the opportunity to market themselves and their institutions. Since his arrival, there has not been a better ambassador for the school than Beamer. Through the wins and losses, and tragic events of 2007, Beamer has always handled himself with class. The university and its alumni should recognize his contribution and let Beamer leave on his own terms instead of a repeat of Tennessee‘s forcing out of head coach Phillip Fulmer.
Keeping Beamer may not be the easiest and most popular decision to make, but neither was his choice to return to his heavily NCAA sanctioned alumni in 1987, leaving a secure job at Murray State where he was regarded as a rising star in the coaching industry.