Is Frank Beamer the Right Man to Coach Virginia Tech into the CFB Playoff Era?

Randy ChambersAnalyst IDecember 31, 2013

Dec 31, 2013; El Paso, TX, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies head coach Frank Beamer on the sidelines during the third quarter against the UCLA Bruins in the 2013 Sun Bowl at Sun Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

It's been a while since Virginia Tech has been, well, Virginia Tech. The program that Frank Beamer built from the ground up has been mediocre at best over the last few years and was just smacked with another dose of reality in the 42-14 loss to UCLA in the Sun Bowl. Fans are ready to hit the panic button, especially with the bowl system being introduced next season.

If there's ever a time to make a coaching change, now would be it. If the program truly believes the 67-year-old coach has lost his magic and can no longer keep Virginia Tech competitive, it's the perfect opportunity to start over with a younger coach who can bring in fresher ideas. It'd be similar to what Texas just did with head coach Mack Brown.

The only problem here is that Virginia Tech isn't Texas. There was no Darrell Royal or anybody successful before the current legendary coach stepped onto the scene. Before Beamer, Virginia Tech was an independent team just happy to qualify for a bowl game every once in a while. A couple of decades later, Beamer has the program in a position to compete for big boy bowls and national titles.

The question is: Who?

Virginia Tech would be wise to stick with Beamer. 

Beamer is the only coach who has consistently succeeded at Virginia Tech. There's no guarantee another coach will be able to hop on board and have the Hokies back atop the ACC. Sure, Virginia Tech has reached a bowl game every year since 1993 and has established itself as a respectable football program, but a lot of that was accomplished by one guy. Making a head coaching change would be removing that guy from office.

On a smaller scale, it's like asking the Chicago Bulls to replace Michael Jordan. Penn State recently had to replace Joe Paterno, and they ended up hitting the lottery by landing Bill O'Brien, but that was a once in a lifetime hit. Nowadays, programs are making coaching changes every few years because they can't get the hire right. Bringing in a new coach is scary, especially when it'd be the first head coaching change since 1987.

It's also important to note that other programs in the ACC are improving drastically. Florida State is back to being an elite program, Miami is making strides, Clemson and North Carolina are on the map, and that doesn't include Louisville entering the conversation next season. This is a competitive conference that would need somebody who could win right away. After all, you wouldn't replace Beamer and allow multiple years of rebuilding. 

But who?

Virginia Tech is not only in a difficult conference, but it's also only been relevant under Beamer's watch. The lack of consistent success and knowing that recruiting is difficult, isn't going to attract a top-tier coach to takeover. Yes, the Hokies recruit well, but they recruit strength in numbers rather than landing countless elite prospects.

Virginia Tech would pretty much be rolling the dice with a new coach, which is what it is doing by keeping Beamer on the sidelines any longer. However, Beamer does have 224 career wins under his belt and has 13 seasons with double-digit victories. The Hokies have no choice but to ride it out and hope he can figure things out.

The unknown is a scary place. A place that Virginia Tech should try to avoid as long as possible.