Probably within a week's time Virginia Tech will have a new offensive coordinator and this site will begin the auto-destruct sequence. It might be Pep Hamilton, or it might be Shawn Elliot out of South Carolina, or it might be Fridge, or it might be someone whose name has yet to penetrate the Twittersphere. But it won't be Bryan Stinespring. That's the most important detail.
Except maybe it isn't.
The 2012 regression caused me to really examine what the fundamental problem is within the VT football program. And the primary debilitating factor on offense is that Bryan Stinespring can't tell a football from his left testicle. He was a bad hire from the start and has been propped up for a dozen years. But will kicking his candy ass out of the booth cure what ails Hokie football of late?
Maybe. But I don't think that alone will do it.
The lion's share of the problem is a lack of offensive identity, the buffet style that Stiney tried - and failed miserably - to install at VT. But coupled with a lack of offensive identity in recent years has been a flat out lack of intensity. There has been a disturbing trend of just lining up and going through the motions, most notably on offense but also on special teams and finally, in the first half of 2012, on defense. Now Bud Foster kicked that shit right out of his squad by game six and the Hokies flexed their muscle enough to finish with a top-20 defense, but even then it would be hard to argue that this was a classic lockdown lunchpail offense like we've become accustomed to seeing at VT. This defense was good, but it wasn't clutch. With the game on the line this defense folded more than once this season. Against Georgia Tech LT managed to pull some magic from betwixt his butt cheeks and get us off to a 1-0 start. Against Cincy and FSU, no such luck.
The question is why are we getting soft? And there's a lot of answers. For one thing, Frank Beamer has never been a rip your head off and shit down your neck kind of coach. He's a disciple of Jerry Claiborne, but Beamer doesn't seem to have ever inherited any of the Bear Bryant intensity that was bequeathed to Jerry. And really, that's fine. Frank takes a lot of shit for being old, fat, and out of touch, but I honestly think he's forgotten more football than half the coaches at the 1A level will ever manage to learn. He knows dick about offense, but he's never broadcast himself to be an offensive guru. He prefers an offense that doesn't fuck up, and that's fine. Alabama has won 47 national titles in the last six years with an offense that doesn't fuck up. Beamer has a brand of football, and taking it at face value it's a good formula for success. And you don't have to have Saban level intensity to win. But you do have to have discipline and focus, and that's what's been slipping of late.
I read an article about two weeks before the start of the 2011 season taking about how two-a-days have basically gone the way of the dodo in the NFL but is still standard practice in college football. It mentioned that Virginia Tech was one of like three schools at the 1A level that doesn't do two-a-days during spring and summer camp. When asked about it, Beamer said he just didn't see the value in it, because by the second practice of the day the squad was exhausted and the only thing to come out of it was maybe a sense of solidarity among the players for having endured it.
Well, Frank, that's kind of the fucking point, isn't it?
Football is like 90% muscle memory, even in this era of the game being defined by getting playmakers in space. Unless you simply straight up outman the opponent, games are won and lost in the forth quarter when everyone feels like they've been punched in the dick by an East German woman. And why do you think over the last several years VT has come up just short in huge games against marquee opponents with comparable skill level? Most of it is due to the fact that all those other good teams that beat us hurt themselves intentionally during practice, so they knew how to perform through pain. We were essentially trying to learn on the job. So we came up short.
Beamer has always been a very even-keel kind of guy, and he has always based his coaching philosophy on basic technique and fundamentals. One of his enduring mottos is, "Focus on the little things, and the big things will come." And of course that's true. Fundamentally unsound football teams don't win titles. But I think over the last decade or so a sense of complacency has crept its way into the program, so that "focus on fundamentals" has slowly become "go through the motions." And that issue goes way deeper than Bryan Stinespring.
Before we all drop the old "the game has passed him by" bomb on Beamer, I'll say that I think Frank is aware of the problem. He knew that the coaching staff was starting to resemble the 19th Hole at a private country club, and he gave the program a healthy injection of youthful badassery in the form of Shane and Cornell after 2010. The result was immediate improvement on the recruiting trail. And a part of the dropoff we've seen of late is the direct result of some bad recruiting classes that resulted from us getting outhustled on the recruiting trail. The 2012 recruiting class was the best we've seen in a while, and the 2013 class is going to be better. But getting the recruits into the program is only half of it. You then have to get them ready to go play major college football. And if we continue this trend of just going through the motions it's won't matter if we land the top recruiting class in the nation. Just ask Mack Brown.
The question is, does Frank think that a new offensive staff is going to solve the entire problem, or does he also realize it's time to tighten up the entire culture of the program?
Don't get me wrong. We will see major and immediate improvement simply by swapping out Stiney for an OC who understands offense rather than just one who runs computer simulations of it. But unless we reprioritize as a program I'm not sure that replacing the OC will amount to more than treating the symptoms instead of the disease.
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.