Thoughts on Aaron McFarling's "Time for a change at Tech" Column

Aaron McFarling wrote a fire Bryan Stinespring column without typing that f-word once. McFarling argues Stinespring should be replaced as offensive coordinator, but retained on the staff because of how well he recruits, essentially the dream scenario for most Tech fans. I don't recall any member of the local media that covers Tech writing that Stinespring needs to be replaced. So it's kind of a big deal, at least among those who let Tech football consume way too much of their life, which is all of us here.

It's a gutsy column to write. I don't know how many media sessions McFarling attends, but it's more than the zero you or I do. It's part of his job to look these coaches in the eye. He stuck his neck out, and did it in an extremely professional and respectful manner. That is commendable.

However, I don't agree with everything he said, even though I think the program needs to move in a new direction. Play calling has been a problem. Hell, I wrote way too many words about one play, but that's not really a valid criticism of Stinespring anymore. Also, consistency is good, but being loyal to a fault is bad. Both happened over Tech's remarkable 10 wins a year streak.

Either way, there really is no escaping this.

For an accomplished coordinator, you simply could write this off as a one-year hiccup and vow to fix it next year. But Stinespring never built the statistical equity required to get this benefit of the doubt. The Hokies won in spite of his offenses many times. Now, at long last, they are losing because of them.

I have a few thoughts and questions after reading Aaron's piece.

  • What guarantee is there that Stiney will remain in Blacksburg? Would you take a demotion and a pay cut in stride and stick around a place you've never been appreciated at? I know I wouldn't. I'd update my resume and look for new a job. Every college football coach wants a tireless recruiter. Stinespring is that, as well as solid positional coach. He's already had his legs cut out from under him once, when Beamer made Mike O'Cain play caller. I hope he remains a part of this program, and if he does, we all owe him a thank you.
  • I think Beamer deserves more blame. The Frankinator gushed over Chad Morris' offense during his media session Clemson week. It was apparent all the pre-snap motion added in the offseason was an attempt to makeover our offense, and Clemson was the model. If Beamer wants a Chad Morris offense, then he needs to hire a Chad Morris. Otherwise, he needs to let his coaches run a system they know, and do what they are good at.
  • How much do you trust the Frankinator's judgement with regard to a new hire? He's the man who delegated the responsibilities of the offensive staff, and for years has signed off on a "multiple" offense. Those decisions have resulted in a lack of accountability and identity, respectively. Will Beamer risk going outside of his comfort zone, or will a hire be a retread? Will he trust any new coordinator as much as he does Bud Foster, stay out of their way, and let them do their thing?

Comments

I'm sure BS is a great guy

and his recruiting successes have been well documented, but we really need a paradigm shift on the offensive side of the ball. If Stiney is allowed to stay on the staff, it's a sign that Beamer just doesn't understand what we need. As far as I'm concerned, everyone save for Shane on the O-staff needs a pink slip.

Recruiting may take a hit this year (see Jim Reid) but I doubt it. If our offensive recruits see that we're genuinely dedicated to fixing the past wrongs and to start scoring some goddamn points, they'll stay.

I'm not that worried about Beamer meddling in a new offense

If a new OC runs the offense as well as Bud does the defense, Beamer will have no problem letting him run the offense. BS didn't run the offense well, so it's no wonder Frank stepped in.

I'm sure frank will still step in and say things like "time to kill the clock" or "go for this 4th down" or "stop running up the score," but if we get an accomplished/effective OC, I don't think we'll see Frank having that much influence on the offense.

Kinda off topic, but I was a little disappointed with the article. Could've been a lot longer, with more stats, details, quotes, etc.

Twitter me

I also think BS needs to be retained in some form, but I highly doubt he is. Way too many ill informed fans are out for his head at this point that keeping BS on the staff would cause an outrage. I personally would like to see Stinespring take over a role similar to Cav, and see O'cain, Sherman, and Newsome get the boot.

I'm very interested to see what changes are made if any, and I hope I don't have to wait too long into the off season to see them happen.

"Go Hokies!" - Thomas Jefferson
@HaydenDubya

McFarling basically highlighted the big problems we have pointed out on thekeyplay.com for the last two years. Stinespring (and O'Cain) are both copycats, not innovators. Copycats have two general faults. Either they lack conviction and jump on the latest new trend without ever fully implementing their first system, or, they hold stedfast to their first ideology without fully understanding or implementing that ideaology. The Hokies don't need an innovator, but they do need someone who will implement a system, recruit to it, and make sure it compliments Bud Foster's defense. I think that requires being the bully, controlling the clock, and complimenting it with vertical passing. Hokie football.

At the same time, Stinespring can not be fired. 2014 is a critical recruiting year in the Commonwealth. In the Norfolk/Hampton/Virginia Beach area alone, 2014 features the type of defensive line class that most SEC schools dream about. Andrew Brown (five star DT from Oscar Smith), Derrick Nnadi (high four star DT from Ocean Lakes), Ricky Walker (four star DT from Bethel), Jayln Holmes (high four star DE from Lake Taylor), Quinn Blanding (five star safety from Bayside), and WR Jamil Kamara (four star WR from Catholic-VA Beach) are all from the 757. With Vincent Mihota already locked in, and D'Shawn Hand a possibility, winning the war on three of these recruits would make for one hell of a foundation for future success.

Stinespring has leverage. I am 100% sure that Curt Newsome will not be back, and I have a feeling that we will see a new offensive staff with the exception of Shane Beamer. Newsome and Stinespring are the only 757 recruiters on staff, and Newsome only has responsiblity on Walker. Stinespring has built those relationships, and no other Hokie coach has a well established relationships in the Tidewater while Shane Beamer and Bud Foster have Richmond and northern VA on lockdown. Stinespring is critical, unless...

With all the coaching hires taking place I have been looking all over the place of the logical fit. There is no way Newsome and O'Cain are coming back. It just isn't plausible. Staff connections (Tony Franklin with Foster) have not panned out. Ricky Bustle, Fridge, and Kevin Rogers are out there, but I just don't buy that those hires, which we expect, are the correct path. I think the hire will suprise all of it, and with the 757 in play (and the new found relationship with ODU) I really think Beamer will go sniffing around the ODU offensive staff. Again, no insider information, no rumors, no papertrail, but my gut tells me that this approach makes sense and fits a perceived notion that I have that Beamer wants less responsibility and turning it over to a team that knows how to work together and recruit to the system makes sense to me.

Viva El Guapo

100% on Newsome? I sure hope you're right, but how can you be so confident?

"Go Hokies!" - Thomas Jefferson
@HaydenDubya

I just can't see a scenario where he stays. Ultimately, Beamer has eyes, and if he watches film, he will see talented players who are not playing anywhere near potential. I think that, given that we have seen Newsome's responsibility scaled back (OL to guards and centers only, and then less recruiting responsibility for 2014), and that guards and centers were the weak link up front this fall, means he is done.

If he isn't let go in some fashion at this point, I would be stunned. Absolutely stunned.

Viva El Guapo

I too am 100% on Newsome

Since boosters and people close to Newsome have said he fully expects to be released.

Never too late to change things for the better.

It's always a great day to be a Hokie

VT '10, Born & Raised in the 804. Hokies, Keydets, Army Black Knights, NY Giants, NY Rangers, and ATL Braves.

Tom O'Brien for QB Coach? I'd say he's developed QBs pretty well.

It's always a great day to be a Hokie

VT '10, Born & Raised in the 804. Hokies, Keydets, Army Black Knights, NY Giants, NY Rangers, and ATL Braves.

Hope you're right french. I just hope that some running. Game will be mixed into the odu air raid. The other option I see is a mix of some of the nc state coaches but TOB is a head coach, not an OC .. And dana bible has health concerns--no offense to him but that doesn't make him a very hire-able coach. He should focus on his health...odu's entire offensive staff would kick ass

I wonder if the ESPN criticism of our offensive system not being

...NFL friendly might send Beamer after a coach with NFL ties. May also help convince LT to stay around?

Otherwise, I'm still expecting a retread like Dana Bible, Jim Bollman or Randy Sanders. That's competition that Fridge compares favorably too, especially in Beamer context. Of note, Fridge is no spring chicken but his 4-5 year timeframe would mesh well with Franks retirement timeframe.

It is very difficult for me to get excited about any of these guys.

I don't have any information on ODU. Hell, I don't even see any ties, and those coaches know that they are getting a raise to make their pay competative with other Conference USA schools http://hamptonroads.com/2012/12/move-fbs-should-pay-odu-coaches , but that pay raise hardly seems competative with what VT could offer. The staff at ODU knows how to recruit the 757, leaving Foster and Shane to cover NOVA and Richmond area. They have coached a successful offensive system. It just makes sense.

At the same time, outside of recruiting, I would be lukewarm to that hire. I didn't like ODU's committment to the running game, and I still think Beamer's vision includes being able to keep Foster's defense off the field, which allows them to take more chances and create turnovers when on the field. Shortening the game is critical to his thinking. We can argue over that approach, but for an OC to get autonomy from Beamer, Beamer must trust his approach.

Viva El Guapo

Yeah, recruiting....it makes sense

Especially if that 7 on 7 coaches influence is making things uncomfortable. You mentioned a handful of recruits in the 757 saying we need 3. I would be surprised to land 2 of those kids as of now.

But besides recruiting, it doesn't make any sense. No connections. A 34 yr old OC. No commitment to the running game.

If it happens, it may be Shane driven. I really believe Frank wants, more than any other thing, to keep this program at a healthy enough level to turn it over to Shane. As a father,that would absolutely be my #1 priority. Frank sent Shane out to learn under others. He only brought him back when Shane's resume merited it. Now, as the end is near and Shane is poised to spend 5-6 more years and be the obvious heir apparent, a major change is afoot. If Shane has a connection to the ODU staff, or even if he vouches for their approach, it may go through. Especially with a vote from Bud.

If not, regurgitated OC. And it's not anymore risky than the ODU system. Look at what Noel Mazzone did at UCLA this year.

I don't think McFarling would have written that column ...

... if he didn't know that change is coming, or at least have a pretty darn good idea that change is coming.

For him to be able to do his job, he has to have access to the VT coaching staff. If Frank Beamer ever felt that he was agitating to have a member of his staff removed, that access could completely dry up very quickly. So while I could certainly be wrong, I don't think he would have written that column unless he felt that he was on solid ground with Beamer.

As for Bryan Stinespring himself, if he is indeed replaced as OC we most definitely want him to remain at VT in some capacity, perhaps as a full-time director of recruiting. He's the best recruiter on the staff and he genuinely loves VT.

Sound logic

You make good sense, hope you are right. Stiney would be good to keep for recruiting and as a positional coach. Not sure if he would accept that change, but it would keep him in B'burg and maximize his talents. We'll see soon...

VTCC '86 Delta Derelicts, Honduras Hokie

We always talk about connections, but Frank's tree is limited

Maybe it's because I've always held out the hope that the reins will be turned over to Bud when Frank retires, but I've been resistant to accepting this idea that Frank is just going to turn the program over to Shane. To me, that seems like that is what would be best for the Beamers, not necessarily for Tech. Not saying anything against Shane, but jumping from a positional coach to a head coach with only your illustrious bloodlines as real justification for the move (especially when it's your dad making the call) seems sketchy. I just don't think Frank would be willing to do that unless Shane leaves to take a HC job somewhere else to get experience.

But let's explore this idea of Shane taking over AND go back to the connections idea. Perhaps Frank is willing to trust Shane's connections? Which would expand our list of potential candidates to (including only coaches he worked with AFTER being a GA) Sylvester Croom and Woody McCorvey (who ran a West Coast offense) at Miss St, and Spurrier (fat chance), Spurrier Jr and a whole slew of guys I've never heard of at South Carolina. McCorvey is now an Asst AD at Clemson and Shane was a Defensive and ST coach at USC, so I'm not sure there's much there, but...

Croom is a former NFL OC currently coaching RBs for the Jax Jags. You telling me if Frank called he wouldn't leave to take an OC position? Plus, dude won a freaking award as the best blocker in the SEC (thanks Wikipedia) as a tight end, which should get French drooling. If Shane trusts him, I'm sure Frank could be talked into it. Not sure what Croom (he's from Alabama, seems a Deep South guy) gives us recruiting wise or what kind of offense he prefers (can't tell what he ran in Detroit, but again, at Miss St they ran West Coast), but thought I'd throw the thought out there.

Keep in mind, connections does not = tree

Mike O'Cain is a perfect example. That was a guy Frank knew well, and is/was well respected in the game (and in particular, in this region) and has been given a lot of responsibility. MOC, from what I remember, had no direct cnxn to Frank.

I hear you that Shane needs more experience before getting the job, that's why I think Frank is hanging around for another 5-6 years. I don't agree that HC's need coordinating experience, I have always lumped that into a separate category. That's why I also think Stiney would be a good HC. I believe a good HC needs to have an understanding of how things get done, but does not necessarily need the technical knowledge to replace his coordinator. It's the CEO mindset, my CEO doesn't need to know my skills, he needs to know how to utilize my skills and apply them correctly. Specifically for football coaches, I put more value on recruiting skills than coordinator skills. A HC is constantly applying the same living-room-holding-momma's-hand skills to all sorts of constituents. Boosters, media, administration, coaching hires, and recruits.....many overlapping skills. You have to have the skills to know the game and to delegate, but you better be a great recruiter.

In a perfect world, Shane is hired for a mid-major HC job in the next few years, succeeds and comes back when Frank retires.

I don't want an offensive coordinator over 45 years old. I'd prefer someone in their late 30's. I want someone who has the leverage that comes with a future elsewhere in order to ensure autonomy. I don't want someone who sees this as the last paycheck and who will placate Beamer to keep the checks coming.

Viva El Guapo

I find it hard to believe that's a possibility.

You are describing the type of person that seems to be the opposite of what Frank Beamer wants. He wants someone who is beholden to him, either because he's from the VT/Beamer tree (Foster, Wiles, Gray, Beamer, Brown) or is a trusted and experienced outsider (Cav, MOC). Newsome brought a specific skill (knowing Tyrod's dad), Sherman is a bit of an outlier hire, you can draw your own conclusions to that.

But this is (potentially) a Coordinator hire, which Beamer hasn't had to do ..... since Elmo. So that becomes our data point, someone with the credentials to control their side of the ball. You bring in Ralph Friedgen, he's trusted and nobody will question who the boss is on the Offensive side of the ball. You bring in Brian Scott, people will assume he's a new GA and throw him dirty towels.

You're looking for offensive autonomy, I would project that only comes from Beamer due to respect and experience. You are asking for that autonomy to be rooted in the leverage of a competitive market. That's not how old-boy networks operate.

That said, I don't think its impossible. I think Shane could break that old-boy network. There is a Baby Boomer v. Millenial thing going on here, an Experience vs. Innovation contradiction. Let the corporate dynamics begin!

Sherman isn't really an outlier

He grew up and went to Radford High School. Frank's first coaching gig was DC for long-time legend Norman Lineburg there. Sherman played for Lineburg and was very close to him. Frank trusts Lineburg a lot (even rumored to offer him the OC job at VT when he first was hired in 1986/7). I'm sure Lineburg put in a good word for Sherman and Frank trusted that.

We put the K in Kwality

Thanks, I missed that one.

But, again, Beamer hires from those he knows.

Just

helping you prove your point :)

We put the K in Kwality

Here here.
I liked the article, makes me hopeful.

I forgot

what we were talking about for some reason....

Take the shortest route to the ball and arrive in bad humor.

Something about "penetrating the gap"...

I'm here for the memes, I just stay for the football.

She could call WR screens all day...

...and none of us would complain!

We put the K in Kwality

While I'm sure she prefers when they hit the holes hard and power through, I would imagine she's not afraid to go deep either

If it turns out...

That is Stiney's daughter, I may change my vote to fire him...

We put the K in Kwality

One of the reasons I was dissappointed when Seth Greenburg was fired...

"Go Hokies!" - Thomas Jefferson
@HaydenDubya

funny story...i know the kid who's dating her...

"We are better than we think, but not quite what we want to be" - Nikki Giovanni

Sshh...sshh...sshh...

Don't ruin it for me.

In my mind...she is single, available, interested and my wife is understanding.

We put the K in Kwality