After weeks of speculation, Virginia Tech’s worst season in 20 years has officially prompted Coach Frank Beamer to implement the most drastic changes his program has seen since then.
Beamer announced an overhaul to his offensive coaching staff Friday afternoon, hiring former Auburn offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler and offensive line coach Jeff Grimes to serve the same roles at Virginia Tech and adding former Stanford assistant Aaron Moorehead as the program’s new wide receivers coach.
Former offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring, who has been in that position for 11 seasons, will remain as tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator. Beamer has parted ways with former quarterbacks coach and play-caller Mike O’Cain, offensive line coach Curt Newsome and wide receivers coach Kevin Sherman.
Newsome is expected to accept a similar position at James Madison and Sherman was announced as Purdue’s wide receivers coach Friday.
These sorts of sweeping changes are relatively new territory for Beamer, who has long taken pride in the coaching stability within his program. Back in 1993, with Virginia Tech coming off a 2-8-1 season, Beamer hired new coordinators on both sides of the ball. In 2006, he watched four assistants leave the program.
Two years ago, Beamer added his son, Shane, and former Virginia Tech linebacker Cornell Brown to the coaching staff and re-assigned former assistant coaches Jim Cavanaugh and Billy Hite to administrative roles within the program.
Though Virginia Tech fans had complained for years about Stinespring’s offense, Beamer continued to back his longtime assistant, citing the team’s string of 10-win seasons. But it appears the combination of a down year on the field and the regression of quarterback Logan Thomas were enough to convince him a new direction was needed on offense.
The Hokies finished No. 83 in the country yards per game (386.7) and scoring (25.1 points) this season. They did set multiple school records the previous two years.
Beamer did not comment on why he decided changes were needed in a school news release, but will hold a news conference to formally introduce the new coaches on Jan. 25. It’s clear, though, that Beamer preferred to continue running a pro-style offense, something Loeffler, 38, has been around most of his career.
But Loeffler comes to Virginia Tech after a disastrous season as the offensive coordinator at Auburn. The Tigers were ranked No. 112 in the nation in scoring offense and No. 115 in total offense. He did, however, have a successful one-year stint calling plays at Temple in 2011, when the Owls finished seventh in the country in rushing yards.
Loeffler is best known as a quarterback guru, having tutored future NFL signal-callers Tom Brady, John Navarre, Chad Henne and Tim Tebow as an assistant coach at Michigan and Florida. His biggest task will be restoring the confidence of Thomas, who announced Tuesday he would be returning for his senior season after throwing 16 interceptions and completing just 51.3 percent of his passes in 2012.
Grimes, 44, came with Loeffler to Blacksburg on Monday for an interview after four seasons at Auburn. He helped the Tigers set school records in rushing yards and points in two-straight seasons, culminating in the program’s BCS national championship in 2010.
Moorehead, 32, becomes the youngest member of Virginia Tech’s staff. A former NFL wide receiver, he was likely recommended to Beamer by Stanford offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton.
Hamilton was one of Beamer’s top targets as he searched for a new offensive coordinator following Virginia Tech’s ugly 13-10 Russell Athletic Bowl win over Rutgers last month, according to two athletic department officials familiar with the coaching search. But Hamilton, a former Howard quarterback, is reportedly set to become the next offensive coordinator of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts.