I don't labor under the delusion that this will ever find your desk. I know you don't keep up with the internet ramblings of the more passionate (some would say deranged) faction of your fan base. Shane has made it clear that technology really isn't your thing. But some of this has to be said if only to relieve some of my own cognitive dissonance.
I came to Virginia Tech in 1997. I was not a Virginia Tech fan growing up, nor a college football fan in general. High school football was huge in my hometown and I followed the pro game sporadically, but as far as college ball went I really only knew anything about the national "brands," so to speak. But Lane Stadium immediately hooked me.
There is nothing like Lane Stadium on a fall Saturday. It is an amazing experience. And I watched some of the greatest moments in the history of that stadium unfold on the field. I stood, I screamed, I cheered. And I watched Michael Vick set the world on fire. One of my greatest college memories revolves around me and a group of my friends huddled around the TV in the living room of my apartment, stomach tied in knots as I waited to see if Shayne Graham could save the season with a long field goal against WVU. And as the Miracle in Morgantown unfolded, I will never forget how outside our window Blacksburg just... erupted. Like the whole city rose as one to cheer that victory (and hope) had been snatched from the jaws of defeat. I remember all of us spilling out of the apartment onto the street below to join in the celebration, and the sense of how magical that moment and that season was. It was the sense of being caught up in something amazing, something that the entire rest of the world would look at and immediately covet. It was the sense that we were the envy of the rest of the college football world.
Frank, I don't have that feeling anymore. I haven't had it for a long time.
What made Virginia Tech football special in the late 1990s wasn't elite recruits, fancy schemes, trick plays. It was pure, distilled, unadulterated piss-and-vinegar attitude. It was a dedication to not just a certain way of playing football but a certain way of approaching any challenge, the mindset that we might not be the fastest, biggest, or strongest, but by God we were the MEANEST sons of bitches that you'd ever line up against. We would punch you in the mouth, and when you punched us back we'd laugh at it. We'd throw our absolute best at you regardless of what was going on. We had that proverbial fire in the belly.
In 1994, when Phil Elmassian left the program, you had an important decision to make as to who you wanted to take the reins of the defense and continue the agressive, hardnosed revolution Elmo had begun, and in true Frank Beamer style you stayed in house and promoted Bud Foster to the defensive coordinator position. I doubt at the time you had any idea that you had captured lightning in a bottle. I'm sure the results bolstered your confidence that building a strong, close knit family of positions coaches and coordinators was the best possible way to build a program.
Then in 2001, Rickey Bustle left Virginia Tech to become the head coach of UL-Lafayette. What he left behind was a Virginia Tech offense that had been turned on its ear by the most electrifying athlete to ever play the quarterback position in the NCAA. There was no way of estimating at the time what effect Michael Vick would have on offenses not only of college football but the NFL, but I'm sure you knew that things were going to be different than the old school I-form A-gap offense that Rickey had coordinated for most of his career. And I'm sure that all the ideas Bryan Stinespring was throwing around at the time about multiple offenses with several different looks sounded like the next logical step. You'd had success promoting from within before. At the time, naming Bryan Stinespring the next offensive coordinator at Virginia Tech made all the sense in the world to you, I'm sure.
Frank, you made a mistake.
I know you're not the sort of man who takes kindly to other people telling you you made a mistake, but you made a mistake. And at this point it's clear to literally everyone outside of your coaching brain trust. And your refusal to admit your mistake is beginning to poison the well. I don't know how firmly your finger is on the pulse of Hokie Nation, Frank, but there is a growing angst and apathy in the fan base. This letter isn't to call you out on it. This letter is to explain why.
I know you believe in Bryan Stinespring. You see him work hard, put in the hours, coach up his tight ends and tackles, draw up the game plan, break down the film. You see him put in the work, and you honest believe he's going to turn the corner. But he's had eleven years to turn that corner, Frank. Nobody gets an eleven year learning curve.
Or maybe you think he's given you the offense Virginia Tech has needed. I know that wins and losses are what you're ultimately concerned with, and that you've never cared much about the offensive stats as long as we've got the bigger number on the scoreboard when the final pistol sounds. But so far in 2012 we have more three-and-outs than touchdowns on offense. An offense doesn't have to be sexy when it's paired with an elite defense. Just look at Florida, LSU, and Alabama. But it must be efficient. We're a model of inefficiency under Bryan's leadership. We have been for over a decade.
Frank, I want you to retire with a national championship. I honestly believe you deserve it. And you told me that you were going to go after one with everything you had by putting up that trophy case. I know you don't like talking about that case, but you can't hide from it. You stated the goal. No takebacks allowed.
You will not win a national championship with Bryan Stinespring as your offensive coordinator. He doesn't have it in him, no matter how hard he works. Because when we struggle on offense, Bryan's answer will always be "more," not "better." He will always believe that he's one scouting trip away from having the answer, when the answer has always been and continues to be a rededication to the fundamental elements of what made Virginia Tech a nationally relevant football program. We don't need a new package of plays or a new gimmick wrinkle every offseason. We need a hard nosed, hardcore commitment to learning the fundamentals of our base offense - whatever base offense we choose to run - so well that our players could run our base plays in their sleep. Or in the fourth quarter of a slobberknocker, when they're so beat up and exhausted they could puke.
I'm not trying to tell you what kind of offense to run. That's up to you. And I'm not trying to say that I don't think a multiple, more pro style system like the one Bryan tries to run can't be successful. In fact, I'd rather see us run that type of an O than another flavor of the month spread option. The spread option revolution in college football is about to jump the shark - if it hasn't already. But whatever offense we run, I want to see us run it well. I want an O that operates at the same level of intensity and accountability as our D. I want the Bud Foster of offense. Because if we get that, you get your crystal football. And I desperately want to see you hoist one. Like I said, I think you deserve it.
To put in language you're comfortable with, Frank, it's time to turn up the wick again. And that means making some really tough choices. It means admitting a mistake make eleven years ago. I know you don't want to hear this. I know you're going to say I'm out of whack. But I'm just telling you where the heart of the fans are headed. We're holding you to your promise. We don't expect a national championship every season. Hell, to be honest we're probably going to be okay if you never win one. But right now we don't get the sense that you're even serious about trying.
For the first time since joining the ACC, a conference team has beaten us three games in a row. Clemson hasn't just beaten us, they've owned us. They've put up a bunch of points against us, yes, but in all three losses they've scored below their season average. But their defense has figured out or O and completely shut it down three straight times. And Clemson's defense is god awful, Frank. Since joining the conference, the Hokies have been kings of the ACC. Now there's the sense that the torch is being passed. There's a growing concern that our sun is setting, that the program has peaked and is now on a decline, that Beamerball has become irrelevant.
Take care of the little things and the big things will come. Your words, sir. But right now the little things aren't getting taken care of. On offense we're more interested in the newest gadget or the latest wrinkle instead of lining up eleven tough as nails sons of bitches and playing some by-God Virginia Tech football. Our priorities have gotten out of whack. If we don't get them sorted out then my fear is your name will be spoken in the same breath with Bobby Bowden and Phillip Fulmer, great coaches who rested on their laurels late in their careers and tarnished their legacies.
Refocus. Recommit. Make the tough decisions. And prove assholes like me wrong.
FBS Mission Statement:
We at FBS believe that offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring bears the largest share of the blame for years of sub-par output from some of the most talented players ever to set foot on Worsham Field. We believe the main objective of the VT football program - a national championship - will escape us as long as Stinespring is making the calls. We therefore advocate the improvement of our football program through the replacement of our offensive coordinator.