Virginia Tech Football: Can Hokies Return to ACC Title Game Under Frank Beamer?

Bryan ManningFeatured ColumnistDecember 2, 2013

Nov 30, 2013; Charlottesville, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies head coach Frank Beamer talks on the sidelines against the Virginia Cavaliers in the second quarter at Scott Stadium. The Hokies won 16-6. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Since the inception of the ACC Championship Game back in 2005, the Virginia Tech Hokies have represented the Coastal Division five times, winning three ACC titles.

This weekend's matchup between Florida State and Duke marks the second straight year the Hokies are not competing for an ACC title. After last season's disappointing 7-6 campaign, in which Georgia Tech represented the Coastal, the Hokies finished this season 8-4 and will watch as Duke represents the less-competitive of the ACC divisions.

Yes, folks. Duke. 

That's not to take anything away from the Blue Devils; they earned their spot in the ACC title game by winning in Blacksburg in October. However, when did it become acceptable for the Hokies to lose to Duke and Maryland? At home, nonetheless.

That begs the question: Can Frank Beamer lead the Hokies back to the ACC title game? 

At first glance, the answer to that question seems rather easy. Virginia Tech plays in the same division as Duke, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh, Virginia and Miami. Outside of Miami, a team that Virginia Tech arguably owns, do any of those schools actually scare you on the gridiron?

The Blue Devils are a great story, but they aren't a football school and never will be. Same for North Carolina, only the Tar Heels actually get talent each year and underachieve. 

So, playing in the Coastal Division, at least in theory, should allow the Hokies to get back into the title picture as soon as next year. The appropriate question may be, can the Hokies win another ACC title under Beamer?

With Jameis Winston behind center at Florida State for at least one more season, the Hokies won't win the ACC in 2014. They can, though, get to the title game next year.

Why have the Hokies lost 10 games in the past two years? Many would point to the inconsistency of the offense, and that would be entirely accurate. Specifically, though, how much of that blame should be placed on three-year starter Logan Thomas at quarterback?

Logan Thomas
Logan ThomasGeoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

It would be inaccurate to place too much blame on Thomas. He suffered from poor coaching his first four seasons on campus. And once Danny Coale and Jarrett Boykin graduated, he never had a consistent receiving threat again. 

How good could Thomas have been if current offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler coached him for his three years as a starter? That's an interesting question but irrelevant at this point.

Now that Loeffler will go into his first full offseason as offensive coordinator, can he improve this group with a different quarterback?

How the offense replaces Thomas next year will be the biggest story of the spring. Whether it is Mark Leal, Brenden Motley, Bucky Hodges or Andrew Ford, the Hokies' ACC title hopes will begin and end on the offensive end.

Now, let's get back to Beamer. It's fair to ask if Beamer, who will turn 68 next season, is content with the current state of the program. Is he OK competing for ACC titles and 10-win seasons, or does he still yearn for much bigger things as he's stated in the past?

Beamer essentially built the program from scratch. Yes, there was some success at times before he took over at his alma mater, but it was sporadic. Beamer transformed Virginia Tech into a national power. 

The Hokies will be going to their 21st consecutive bowl sometime later this month. That is the second-longest streak in the country, behind Florida State. Are back-to-back appearances in the Russell Athletic Bowl or a trip to the Sun Bowl—this year's likely destination—enough to satisfy Beamer at this point?

Or can Beamer get his program back in the national discussion?

Beamer must first get the Hokies back to the ACC title game, and that quest should begin anew in 2014.