Virginia Tech defeated Cincinnati 33-17 in a chilly Military Bowl that saw Bearcats QB Gunner Kiel leave in the third quarter with a head injury. The Hokies gutted out a victory despite a heavy deficit in yardage on the back of turnovers and opportunistic defense. While the win lifts Tech to a 7-6 final record, it also confirmed the need for a change at the top in Blacksburg.
Head coach Frank Beamer is a legendary figure for Virginia Tech football. Beamer effectively built the Hokies from scratch into the old Big East and then the ACC as a powerhouse. After 24 seasons as the face of the program, it’s time for a change in Blacksburg. Over the last three years, Virginia Tech is a mediocre 22-17 after a run of eight consecutive double-digit win seasons. Once built on defense and special teams, the program has struggled mightily on offense and needs an injection of youthful energy.
Defensive coordinator Bud Foster was given an extension, duly warranted with the continued promise of the Hokie defense, but Beamer needs to step down in favor of a fresh offensive wizard. Many of the top young offensive coordinators have been snatched up for lesser jobs, notably Tom Herman, Chad Morris and Mike Bobo. The most prudent course for new Virginia Tech AD Whit Babcock may be to position for a search following the 2015 season. With no indications Beamer will retire this offseason, it may be time to consider planning for next year.
Aging figurehead college coaches have mostly struggled near career’s end recently. Bobby Bowden, Mack Brown, Joe Paterno and Lloyd Carr are just a few examples of the difficulty that can arise as a respected leader falls behind the times and the program struggles both as retirement looms and adjusting to new head men. Babcock and Beamer should get on the same page to identify a smoother exit strategy for the good of the program, and appointing a “coach-in-waiting” seems to be a trendy move.
Whatever the decision may be, the Hokies need to modernize, or risk falling out of national relevance for years to come.