Monday, February 04, 2013
ANALYSIS: Virginia Tech football coaches will have to push egos to back burner
The Roanoke Times | File 2011
Virginia Tech offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring celebrates a 38-0 win over Virginia in Charlottesville. Stinespring has accepted a demotion and pay cut, but says working for his replacement won't be awkward. "Virginia Tech is part of who I am," he said.
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Frank Beamer met with Bryan Stinespring shortly after the season and several subsequent times to talk about the direction of Virginia Tech's offense.
It could have been an awkward conversation, with Beamer planning to replace him as offensive coordinator after Stinespring held the post for 11 years.
Because of their history, it wasn't.
"It's been a 20-year, 22-year relationship that's built on and strengthened through good and tough times," Stinespring said last week.
"It's not something you stammer through. You're able to sit down as two people that believe strongly in this university, believe strongly in this program and believe strongly in these young men and the future of it, and how do we best serve it. The key is, how do we best serve it."
The result was a change of stewardship in the offense. Beamer hired Scot Loeffler as the Hokies' new offensive coordinator two weeks ago but recognized the value on the staff of Stinespring, whom he first hired from Patrick Henry High School in 1990 as a graduate assistant and had promoted up the ranks through the years.
The answer was to remove Stinespring's offensive coordinator title but make him recruiting coordinator, a move that came with a $60,000 pay cut but kept him on the staff. (He'll make $300,000 going forward.)
Stinespring's history as a recruiter, first in the Tidewater section of the state (fondly known in those parts as "The 757" in reference to the coastal region's area coach), then in Southwest Virginia and again, recently, back in the 757 was apparent to Beamer.
He made a point at the introductory press conferences for the new coaches to rattle off a list of Stinespring recruits over the years, including James Anderson, Kam Chancellor, DeAngelo Hall, Darryl Tapp, David Wilson, Logan Thomas, Andrew Miller, Demitri Knowles and Trey Edmunds.
"It's an unusual situation," Beamer acknowledged. "And if he wasn't the kind of guy he is, I don't think it would work. But there's not an ego involved. There's a love for Virginia Tech and the kids in this program.
"And I told him, I think certain parts of it are going to be tough, but I think all of us, we knew each other, and I just think that the people involved here and Bryan are going to make this thing work. I feel very fortunate that he's staying on at Virginia Tech. I think he means a lot to us."
Stinespring will continue to coach tight ends, working within the framework of Loeffler's offense. That too, given his history, could be an awkward situation, although Loeffler didn't have any apprehension about it upon taking the job.
In fact, when Loeffler was at Temple, he had the same situation. Steve Addazio hired Loeffler as the offensive coordinator, a position Matt Rhule had held the previous year. Rhule stayed on staff as an assistant offensive coordinator, in addition to coaching tight ends. (After a year with the New York Giants, Rhule has since been hired to replace Addazio as Temple's head coach. Loeffler calls him one of his "best friends in the business.")
"I know that we have a room that there's zero ego," Loeffler said. "It's not Scot Loeffler's offense. It's Virginia Tech's offense. We're all going to work together. I was extremely ecstatic with Bryan's knowledge. He's a smart football coach. He understands Virginia Tech and I'm really, really happy walking into this situation where he's in that room.
"There was never a discussion whatsoever. They said, 'Bryan is going to be coaching here.' And I was, 'Great.' Any time a guy has been at a place [as coordinator] for 11 years, they get it, they understand how to win. And his knowledge is awesome. I know it's going to really work."
Stinespring's main objective, though, is to formulate a recruiting plan for the Hokies. His title -- recruiting coordinator -- is different from Jim Cavanaugh, the team's director of recruiting and high school relations. As an on-field coach, Stinespring is allowed by the NCAA to do things that Cavanaugh can't - recruit off campus, for instance.
Stinespring will organize the team's recruiting plan, which, from the sounds of it, will be more of a group effort, with coaches assigned to general areas but position coaches getting more directly involved with players who they'll work with at the next level.
New offensive line coach Jeff Grimes, for instance, will recruit western Pennsylvania, but he will be directly involved with any offensive line recruit the Hokies target. Loeffler, similarly, will recruit quarterbacks, regardless of where they reside.
"I think it's a little about the direction, how you want to do things, how we can always get better," Stinespring said. "Not just offensively, not just defensively, special teams. But we can do something from the recruiting standpoint that can enhance our ability to attract top student athletes. ... We'll do a couple things here and there somewhat differently. But the base core of how we recruit and who we're going to recruit is still going to be the same."
Stinespring had opportunities to go elsewhere but decided to stick it out with the only college program he's ever known.
"It's always been the right situation for me and my family," he said. "Virginia Tech's part of who I am. It's inside of me. It's something I care a great deal about. ... The central figure is Virginia tech and these kids that you love and have loved for over 20 years, and this university and this program, than it's not so difficult.
"[Beamer] and I talked a couple different times. He knows how I feel about this place and this university. There's a dream we're chasing. And I've been fortunate and blessed to have a front row seat to a great football story. I'm excited about the next chapter of it."