Virginia Tech Fires Seth Greenberg: Why the Hokies Will Regret It

Ben GibsonSenior Analyst IApril 23, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 09:  Head coach Seth Greenberg of the Virginia Tech Hokies reacts as he coaches against the Duke Blue Devils in their Quarterfinal game of the 2012 ACC Men's Basketball Conferene Tournament at Philips Arena on March 9, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

On Monday, Virginia Tech axed head basketball coach Seth Greenberg in a rather unceremonious fashion.

Sure, waiting until April 23 to fire a man who has coached nine seasons with the school is odd enough. Not letting the person know before you set up the afternoon press conference is even more bizarre.

Hours before Virginia Tech's Athletic Director Jim Weaver made the announcement, David Teel of the Daily Press contacted Greenberg only to be told that he was "still the coach and did not know what the press conference was about."

It was definitely an awkward situation, but then again, so was his entire stint with the Hokies.

On one hand, Greenberg was quite the success with Virginia Tech. Under his watch, the Hokies made their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1996.

He took a program that could not see above the cellar in the Big East standings and finished in the top four of the ACC standings in five of his eight seasons.

Yet, Greenberg was a victim of his own success. By elevating the program, the expectations became higher, and Greenberg simply could not deliver.

Sure, he came very close. Virginia Tech often seemed to be the one team constantly jilted at the Big Dance as the selection committee passed them over year after year.

Greenberg embraced the Virginia Tech community and was pretty well liked by the fans, but now, his era is over and the questions are going to emerge.

Will Virginia Commonwealth's Shaka Smart, a man who turned down North Carolina State, Illinois and countless other programs, jump ship to Blacksburg?

Will this impact the incoming freshman class or force more transfers on the market of over 400 student athletes already searching for new digs?

I was surprised to read former Hokie Jeff Allen blast Greenberg in a tweet on Monday.

I understand the Hokie frustration as it was similar to what Virginia fans had of Al Groh. Both men seemed to do just enough to not get fired but could never get their programs over the hump.

Well, before fans celebrate the end of mediocrity and dream big, remember that change is not inherently a positive thing. 

While it may be easy to count the faults of Greenberg and his constant assaults on the scorer's table, let us take a look at his predecessors before we judge too harshly.

Yes, Greenberg finished with a 167-117 record. (He was 66-71 in the ACC.) But Before Greenberg, it was former Virginia Cavalier Ricky Stokes who finished 45-70 in four seasons with only one winning season of 16-15.

Before Stokes, it was Bobby Hussey who coached two seasons with the Hokies before leaving to go to Clemson—as an assistant.

That statement says a great deal about just how much this program has grown.

Before that, Bill Foster got the Hokies to one NCAA tournament in six seasons with only three winning seasons in total.

Only once in the history of the program have the Hokies been past the first weekend of the NCAA tournament.

Do not get me wrong, Virginia Tech could land a home run and build success. The Hokies could open up the checkbook and find their miracle man.

There is also a chance, if not a greater one, that the Hokies swing and miss.

It is always hard to find a great basketball coach for a school where football is the top priority.

Basketball can be successful, but it will never matter nearly as much to a school that holds a special case for the BCS National Championship trophy they have yet to actually win.

Virginia Tech has to deal with Duke, North Carolina and many other programs that appear to be up-and-coming. It is no guarantee for success, especially considering the "mediocrity" Greenberg accomplished despite the strong recruiting classes.

Waiting this long also limits your options as a program. Many of the hot coaching candidates have already relocated, and many others may not want to jump ship this late in the process.

Can Virginia Tech be successful after making the move? Yes, history has shown that programs can build off the footsteps of another.

Still, Hokie fans should be careful what they wish for.