by Chris Barnhardt–
At the conclusion of Virginia Tech’s rain-soaked game versus Pittsburgh, the Hokie fans who managed to make it to Lane Stadium were understandably frustrated. The final score on the jumbotron read: Pittsburgh 17, Virginia Tech 13. The most telling stat, however, was the meager 100 total yards that the Hokie offense managed to squeeze out of a relentless, ‘no-name’ Panther defense. The conference-opening loss dropped Virginia Tech to 2-3 on the season and 0-1 in Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) play.
For many, this game was more than enough to be considered the final nail in head coach Frank Beamer’s coffin out of Blacksburg. Shades of the 2014 0-0 regulation tie at Wake Forest didn’t even compare to this outcome. Frankly, this Hokies’ performance against Pittsburgh could be considered one of the biggest disappointments in Virginia Tech football lore.
Over the past four seasons, Tech football fans have been pushed to the brink of frustration. In fact, it’s probably safe to say that they’ve been pushed beyond that brink. The denial stage of thinking it’s just ‘one more’ bad season before a long redemption stretch begins has long passed. For so long leading up to the start of the 2012 season, Hokie fans were blessed with countless 10-win seasons. To go along with all of those prior 10-win season, Beamer has guided the Hokies to 22 straight bowl seasons — the longest such streak in the nation. That active streak, however, is in jeopardy more than ever this season.
So, is it really time for Beamer to step down and hand over the reins to someone else who could bring a new perspective to the program? That question has been a hot topic of debate around Hokie Nation for the past couple of years.
“It’s really sad to see this because [Beamer] has given so much to the program, and it’s just not working out at this point,” said Ricky LaBlue, editor-in-chief of the Collegiate Times. “The talent is there but the coaching staff just hasn’t coached up that talent.” Lablue also noted that Virginia Tech has averaged the 23rd best recruiting class over the past 11 years.
It has been easy to see why people have drawn comparisons of Beamer, who is in his 29th season at the helm, to long-time Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden (1976-2009) and former Texas head coach Mack Brown (1998-2013). What do those two guys have in common? They were both driven out by their respective programs after four consecutive bad seasons.
“When are the excuses going to stop?” exclaimed Danny Nokes, co-host of the ‘The Clubhouse,’ a daily sports talk show from 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. on Supersports 101.7 FM. During his Oct. 5 show, Nokes described this team as penalty-ridden, and one that simply cannot put everything together for just one week.
Has Beamer lost his luster? Should he step down at the end of the season? Will he make it to next year’s Battle at Bristol as well as a contest with Notre Dame? Should Virginia Tech athletic director Whit Babcock not even leave it in Beamer’s hands, and instead fire the head coach himself? Barring a miraculous turnaround this season, Beamer might not be able to leave on his own terms. Instead, he could share the same fate as Bowden and Brown did just a short time ago.