On Thursday night, I couldn’t take it anymore. We trailed 30-0 in the fourth quarter.
Against a mediocre Miami team.
On Thursday night.
Honestly I didn’t turn the game off out of embarrassment. I turned it off out of boredom. This team just isn’t fun to watch, period. I’ve never taken sleeping pills before, but I’d imagine watching this offense has the same effect.
You can only subject yourself to so many third-and-seven’s before you hit a breaking point.
We’ve shit the bed before on national television, but this was different. I’ve never seen a Virginia Tech team look so lifeless inside Lane Stadium. It’s not in their DNA. I can remember some teams quitting before the clock ticked zero – Boston College in 2006, Stanford in 2011 are the best examples – but neither of those were at home. Barely avoiding a shutout on a Thursday night at home is baffling. It’s unacceptable. I shouldn’t have to be the one to tell you that. Frank Beamer should be.
Only he didn’t.
That’s what worries me more than anything.
Coach Beamer has never sounded as clueless as he did Thursday – during and after the game.
Let’s get one thing straight: I love Frank Beamer. Even throughout these last few trying seasons, I have never been among the (growing) minority that wants him gone. He swung for the fences with Logan Thomas only to whiff miserably and he wasn’t prepared to lose a star underclassmen running back to the NFL draft three straight years. After everything he’s done in Blacksburg, he’d earned a pass to this point. Even after last night, I wouldn’t be ready to push him out the door if it weren’t for such an aw-shucks attitude he had about the loss.
At halftime, he very casually told Shannon Spake on the sideline that they “just didn’t play good football.” Um..okay fine.
He went on to say they “would try and establish a running game in the second half.”
They were down 24-0.
Herschel Walker wasn’t bringing them back. Marshawn Williams and Jerome Wright certainly weren’t. Tech totaled negative-13 yards in the first two quarters. I need to puke.
Look, I understand the problems facing this team. Injuries have ravaged the running backs and every level of the defense. This is the least experienced team Tech has had in over two decades. There are excuses for this team to struggle, but it should never get this bad.
Afterwards, Beamer used the word “proud” three times in his opening statement to the press. Proud of how the Hokies responded in the second half. For those of you who tuned out even earlier than I did, Tech fumbled three times in the third quarter alone – on three straight possessions. Where’s the pride in that?
But that’s Beamer. He’s an eternal optimist, rarely if ever publicly castigating his team. What happens behind closed doors is a different story, but I can’t remember a time where he truly spoke his mind to the media when things have gone south. Sometimes it’s okay to let off some steam for everyone to see. Instead, he seemed almost oblivious to how bad it really was. Do I think he truly is that clueless? No, but in times like these, it’s perception that matters.
Last night should have been that time, though. This is as low as the program has been in more than 20 years. They are 4-4 and in serious danger of missing a bowl game. There isn’t a game on the schedule that is an automatic win – maybe Wake Forest.
The more I thought about it, though…maybe last night is exactly what Tech needed. It’s no secret that Beamer’s clock is ticking. His contract runs through 2019 – five more seasons. He just extended it two months ago. Unless the program completely bottoms out before then, he’s planning on being around. It’s not crazy to see the Hokies losing at least three of their last four this season. If they miss a bowl game, I’d call that bottoming out. A last place finish in the weakest Coastal Division in ACC history is about as bad as it can get.
I’m never going to root against Virginia Tech. I’ll root like hell for a four-game winning streak (also not inconceivable) to end the year and an 8-4 record – about what we expected before the season started. However, if a 5-7 season is what it takes for things to change, so be it. I’d rather suffer that pain now and start the turnaround process than watch this team spin its wheels for at least three more years.
Because I love asking “what if?” and because perhaps the thought of a new regime in Blacksburg might make some of you happy, here are my five best possible replacements for Beamer if this really is the end (even though it’s not).
- Bud Foster
When coming up with a list of possible Frank Beamer successors, it is Bud and then everyone else. Foster has single-handedly kept the program afloat in more than a handful of seasons, and flat-out deserves the job. The defensive struggles this season are the result of two things: inexperience and injuries – the latter being the ultimate downfall. This program is nothing without its lunchpail.
Words cannot express how great it would feel to have Bud Foster manning the ship with a completely overhauled offensive staff ( I can see Shane Beamer sticking around for obvious reasons, but that’s it). Foster’s made it known he would employ a wide-open offensive attack if he were in charge. Thinking about a Foster defense pairing up with a 35-points-per –game offense makes me all tingly inside.
- Chad Morris (Clemson Offensive Coordinator)
I want him so badly it hurts. It’s only a matter of time before Morris – or Gus Malzahn 2.0 – gets his chance. Malzahn turned Arkansas and Auburn into unstoppable forces as an offensive coordinator before finally getting a head coaching job. The biggest hesitation for major programs was the fact that Malzahn came straight from coaching in high school and they weren’t sure if he was ready to handle a major program. Morris is following in those exact footsteps. He’s going to get a chance to run his own program sooner than later. Lucky for him he has a sweet seven-figure salary at Clemson that gives him the leverage to be selective with potential suitors. Virginia Tech is more than a big enough program to lure him away. Since Morris arrived at Clemson, the Tigers have ranked 23rd, 6th and 8th in scoring offense (they were 86th the year before he started).
- Sonny Dykes (Cal Head Coach)
There were rumblings of Dykes’ offensive coordinator Tony Franklin coming to run the Hokies’ attack two years ago before the job went to Loeffler instead. Dykes has made serious headway in his second year with the Golden Bears, and I don’t know that he’d be willing to leave already without finishing what he’s started there, but Virginia Tech is a much easier place to win than Cal. Easier conference, lower academic standards…the Hokies are better equipped to contend for championships than the Golden Bears. This would be a serious longshot but it’s a name that intrigues me.
- Rich Rodriguez (Arizona Head Coach)
Is it a prayer? Yeah, but Rodriguez is a fish out of water on the west coast despite his amazing success turning Arizona around. The Wildcats are bona fide contenders in the Pac-12 and he’s got a young team with a bright future right now. I’m not sure Virginia Tech would be a big enough leap for him to leave behind what he’s got rolling in Tuscon. Florida is going to come after Rich Rod hard, and I think it might take a program of that caliber to peel him away from the cushy situation he’s in now.
However, until taking the Michigan job in 2008 he had only ever coached on the east coast, enjoying tremendous success at West Virginia as a head coach and Clemson as an offensive coordinator. He knows the area, he’s a proven rebuilder, and out of all the somewhat feasible candidates, seems like the one who would create the most buzz. I wouldn’t bet my mortgage on Rich Rod ever coming to Blacksburg, but if I’m in charge of hiring a new coach, he’s one of (if not the very first) the few guys I call.
- Doc Holliday (Marshall Head Coach)
Holliday finally got a chance to run his own program when Marshall hired him in 2010 and he has absolutely crushed it so far. The Thundering Herd was a complete trainwreck when he arrived, and in his fifth year they are undefeated and in great position to make a New Year’s Six bowl game. You want offense? Look no further. Marshall is second in the country with 575 yards a game this season, and are on pace for their third straight year ranking in the top 10 nationally in scoring. He’s older (57) and is the least flashy name on this list, but he’d be a hell of a fallback if this hypothetical coaching search ever comes to fruition.
By the way, here are my gambling picks for the week.
Mississippi State 38, Kentucky 28 (Kentucky +14.5)
Clemson 30, Syracuse 17 (Syracuse +14.5)
North Carolina 35, Virginia 21 (North Carolina +6.5) **UPSET SPECIAL**
TCU 49, Texas Tech 21 (TCU -23.5)
Stanford 24, Oregon State 17 (Oregon State +13.5)
Alabama 45, Tennessee 17 (Alabama -17)
Michigan State 27, Michigan 21 (Michigan +17)
LSU 23, Ole Miss 17 (LSU +3.5)
Utah 37, USC 34 (Pick ‘em)
West Virginia 48, Oklahoma State 35 (Pick ‘em)
Ohio State 42, Penn State 10 (Ohio State -14) **LOCK OF THE WEEK**