Frank Beamer built a solid program in Blacksburg. Who will take it to the next level?
It is easy for Virginia Tech fans to remember the 2000 National Championship versus the Florida State Seminoles.
The Hokies, led by dynamic quarterback Michael Vick, gave the electric Seminoles all they could handle in a 46-29 defeat at the hands of Bobby Bowden's team.
That, Tech fans, was the high-water mark for the Hokies under Frank Beamer.
Since that point, football in Blacksburg has been defined by over-hyped preseason predictions and underwhelming big-game performances.
Sure, there were a few exceptions that kept alive hopes of Tech being an "elite" program, one of them being wins over No. 14 LSU and No. 16 Texas A&M in 2002. A 31-7 domination of No. 2 Miami in 2003 certainly was a big win, but represents Beamer's only win against a team ranked in the top five of the Associated Press poll.
Looking over past Virginia Tech schedules, other nice wins include victories over decent teams such as Miami, Nebraska and Cincinnati.
The last decade of Hokie football is best described as overrated mediocrity masked by occasional ACC Championships and big-game losses.
But, wait, Virginia Tech currently holds the top streak of consecutive 10-win seasons, right?
Nick Saban nor Les Miles would trade BCS National Championship trophies for that distinction.
BCS victories and spotlight wins make elite programs. In that respect, Virginia Tech has been found wanting.
Take this commentary as no indictment of the fans, which includes yours truly. They are among the most loyal in the nation, selling out 90 consecutive games, even in the midst of embarrassing defeats to James Madison and East Carolina.
No, this is a direct claim that fans of the Hokies deserve better.
Better performances in big games.
Better productivity on offense.
Better starts to every season.
Better starts in the first quarter.
The only way to make any improvement is for changes to be implemented immediately. Offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring must go. Quarterbacks coach Mike O' Cain must go.
The oblivious, self-defeating loyalty to fellow coaches because they are friends, and not because they are effective, must go.
Tech fans are tired of seeing rivals West Virginia and Clemson put up video game-like offensive numbers on a weekly basis while their offense, led by a future NFL-caliber quarterback in Logan Thomas, gets two first downs in 25 minutes of game time versus Cincinnati.
What's the next move in Blacksburg?
They are tired of seeing the Hokies blasted by the media and friends for lackluster prime-time performances.
They're also tired of having to revert to the inevitable defense of consecutive 10-win seasons. At the rate this season is going, at least we won't have to worry about that discussion any longer.
A 7-5 record looks pretty optimistic at this point. Perhaps that is just what the doctor ordered to bring about change in Blacksburg.
Fans aren't stupid. They know it is time.
It is about time Frank Beamer realized it, too.