When Joe Paterno was abruptly dismissed in November, Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer was suddenly the nation's top active head coach in terms of victories.
Entering 2012, Beamer has won 251 games, 209 of which have come at Virginia Tech. Beamer also won 42 games in six seasons at Murray State.
Beamer has a long list of accomplishments. In 1999, he was the unanimous National Coach of the Year. Beamer was a three-time Big East Coach of the Year, and twice he has been named ACC Coach of the Year.
In his 31 seasons as a head coach, the one thing that has eluded Beamer is a national title. The closest he came was in 1999 when the Hokies came up short against Florida State.
One knock against Beamer is the number of times his teams have failed to defeat Top 10 teams. For one reason or another, the Hokies generally struggle against the nation's elite.
How can Beamer add to his impressive resume?
Here are three ways Beamer can win Coach of the Year.
Okay, winning the ACC isn't as impressive of a feat as say, winning the SEC.
The fact that Virginia Tech has dominated the ACC in their eight years in the league also works against Beamer. People expect the Hokies to win the ACC.
But 2012 could be much different.
Florida State has high expectations and Clemson returns quarterback Tajh Boyd and wide receiver Sammy Watkins from a high-powered offense. And Clemson was the ACC Champion in 2011.
The Hokies non-conference schedule in 2012 isn't particularly daunting. However, the Hokies have a three-week stretch of league games in late October and early November where they face go on the road to face Clemson and Miami and return home to face Florida State.
If the Hokies survive that stretch, they will be in the driver's seat to represent the Coastal Division in the ACC Championship game.
As the Hokies enter 2012, they need to replace eight starters on offense. Fortunately for the Hokies, they return junior quarterback Logan Thomas.
The Hokies' defense is expected to be one of the best in the nation, too. Returning nine starters, Bud Foster's group has more depth in the front seven than they've had in years.
In past years, the Hokies have failed to meet the hype they were given in the preseason. In 2012, there will not be a ton of hype. Will that work in the Hokies' favor?
While going undefeated is unlikely, it isn't beyond the realm of possibility, but the stars will have to align perfectly for the Hokies.
How often does that happen?
If the Hokies do finish undefeated, Beamer has to be Coach of the Year, right?
This isn't a prediction, merely a thought. If Thomas were lights out and by chance won the Heisman Trophy, it would obviously bode well for the team's overall success.
If Thomas puts up rushing numbers like he did in 2011, he will have a chance to be in contention for this prestigious award.
With an entirely new backfield behind him, look for the Hokies to throw the ball more in 2012. They return three senior wide receivers in Marcus Davis, D.J. Coles and Dyrell Roberts.
Look for Thomas and the wide receivers to be the strength of the offense.
If the Hokies pass more, combined with Thomas's potential rushing numbers, 2012 could be a special year in Blacksburg.
While it is extremely doubtful Thomas will approach the numbers Matt Barkley will presumably put up, remember that the past two years featured a dual-threat quarterback winning the Heisman Trophy.
If Thomas were to win the Heisman Trophy, chances are the Hokies would be among the Top Five teams in the country.
If the Hokies finish the season in the Top Five, then Beamer would be deserving of Coach of the Year honors.