Who Will Replace Frank Beamer When He Retires?
Frank Beamer has long been quiet when asked about his future as the head football coach of Virginia Tech. Beamer, who will turn 68 next season, is finishing up his 27th season with the Hokies and is currently the winningest active head coach in the FBS.
Last Saturday, Beamer met with the assembled media to discuss the Hokies' upcoming game against UCLA in the Sun Bowl. UCLA wasn't the main topic of conversation for Beamer, though.
Beamer discussed his friendships with Mack Brown and Jim Grobe, both who recently left their jobs at Texas and Wake Forest, respectively, and how it puts his tenure at Virginia Tech into perspective. He told David Teel of the Virginia Daily Press:
I'm very appreciative of Virginia Tech. They stuck with me when things weren't good, stuck with me longer than most people would, and that probably won't happen again. It's a performance business. I fully understand that. Jim and Mack are probably my two best friends in this business.
Beamer's next quote was most telling: "Just kind of reminds you nothing is certain about this business. I'm very sensitive to staying around too long."
With a new president on board, and soon a new athletic director, Beamer will have new bosses for the first time in a long time. Will these new bosses want to make their own mark? Or will they allow Beamer to leave his post when he is completely ready?
Here are five candidates who should be on the Hokies' radar when Beamer retires.
Perhaps the most obvious choice is Beamer's longtime defensive coordinator Bud Foster.
Foster first met Beamer in 1979, when the latter was his defensive coordinator at Murray State. Beamer had given Foster a job on his staff at Murray State after Foster had graduated and they've been together ever since.
Foster's success certainly merits consideration for the head job at Virginia Tech. It's hard to imagine where the Hokies would have been over the years without Foster. Virginia Tech is perennially a top-10 defense and finished No. 4 overall in 2013.
At 54, Foster isn't exactly a young candidate at this point and some wonder if he isn't better suited to be a coordinator rather than a head coach. Many schools have tried to lure Foster away from the Hokies, either as a head coach or defensive coordinator, but to no avail.
If Beamer steps away anytime soon, Foster will be the sentimental favorite among most Virginia Tech fans.
Frank Beamer's hiring of his son, Shane, in 2011 was hardly a case of nepotism.
Shane graduated Virginia Tech in 2000 and quickly went out on his own. Over the next 11 years, the younger Beamer coached at Tennessee, Georgia Tech, Mississippi State and South Carolina before coming home to Blacksburg, Va.
He is currently the running backs coach and associate head coach for the Hokies.
After recruiting in the rugged SEC for several years, Shane is viewed as one of the better recruiters in the country. He's done a terrific job of recruiting specific areas since his return to VT almost three years ago.
It would seem that Shane would need a few more years of seasoning before getting the Hokies' top job, and a new administration may not want to put the pressure of replacing his legendary father on him.
The 39-year-old Torrian Gray is in his eighth season as defensive backs coach at his alma mater.
Gray, who played at Virginia Tech from 1992-96, was a second-round pick in the 1996 NFL draft and played two years in the pros. Playing for the Hokies, Gray was a three-time All-Big East selection at safety.
Gray began his coaching career in 2000 at Maine. He also coached at UConn and with the Chicago Bears for two years before coming back to Virginia Tech. Gray is a terrific recruiter, something the new Hokies head coach will need to be, and is responsible for recruiting in his native Florida.
The next coach at Virginia Tech should have a special connection with the school. They should be familiar with the state of Virginia and have ties to the fertile recruiting ground of eastern Virginia. Gray fits that description, and several of the current Hokie assistants have strong ties to the Tidewater area.
Just this season, Gray was named a finalist for the Broyles Award, given annually to the nation's top assistant coach. Foster has won the award before, and Shane Beamer has also been a finalist.
James Franklin is one of the top, young head coaches in college football. In three years at Vanderbilt—not exactly a football powerhouse—Franklin has a record of 23-15, including 11-13 in the rugged SEC.
Franklin can flat-out coach. In addition to that, he's an outstanding recruiter, but will Franklin still be at Vandy when Beamer eventually walks away?
It's possible Texas could make a major play for Franklin in the coming weeks. And even if the Longhorns go in a different direction for their next head coach, bigger schools will continue to come to Nashville and attempt to steal Franklin from the Commodores.
Chad Morris was a record-setting high school coach in Texas for 16 years before coming to Tulsa, Okla., as an offensive coordinator in 2010. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney wisely hired Morris in 2011 and paired him with talented quarterback Tajh Boyd.
The rest, as they say, is history.
The Tigers have been an offensive powerhouse with Morris calling plays the last three years and he is a fast-riser in the coaching ranks. He plays a fast, up-tempo offense, but does a good job of adjusting to his personnel.
Taking him away from Clemson would be a coup for the Hokies. However, chances are strong that he will already have a head-coaching gig by the time Beamer retires.
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