By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
BLACKSBURG, Va. —
Frank Beamer doesn’t like change, but after enduring Virginia Tech’s worst season on the gridiron since 1992, the Hokies’ head coach felt change was needed.
“Change is not easy for me,” said Beamer, who is preparing for his 27th season at Virginia Tech. “I don’t like change to be exact, but at the same time you have got to do what you think is right for your overall organization and that is what I have done in his case.”
That change comes just over a month after Virginia Tech finished a 7-6 campaign, snapping its eight-year run of 10-win seasons with an anemic offense that ranked 79th in rushing offense — quarterback Logan Thomas paced the Hokies on the ground with 524 yards — and 81st in total offense and scoring, and 100th in passing efficiency.
“It is not easy, when you are talking about people’s lives and changing and transition, it is not easy,” Beamer said. “The guys not here, I really like those guys, I really like what they are all about, I think all of them are excellent coaches, there is no question in my mind.
“It was just something I felt like we needed a change in how we were doing things so I felt like it was the right thing to do for Virginia Tech football.”
Virginia Tech held a press conference on Friday to introduce the three newest members of the Hokies’ coaching staff. They included offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler, offensive line coach Jeff Grimes and receivers coach Aaron Moorehead. They replace Mike O’Cain, Kevin Sherman and Curt Newsome.
“I think the big thing is you end up with the right guys, I feel very comfortable that we have,” Beamer said. “When I visited with each of these guys and some of my other staff visited with them, I think the important thing as you go through it, I am a person guy, a people guy.
“I kind of connect and get into what you are all about and I think these guys are about good stuff and we found the right people. I think what is important is you end up with the right people in your organization and I feel very, very comfortable that we did that.”
That trio has the task of rebuilding an offense has struggled mightily in recent seasons. Bryan Stinespring, who has been reassigned as recruiting coordinator, has long been the subject of disdain among the Hokie Nation.
Stinespring gave up the play-calling duties to O’Cain last season, but it didn’t help an offense that needed to win its final three games — two in overtime and one on a last second kick — by a combined 13 points to avoid its first losing record since 1992.
“I feel like when things are not working as well as they need to, you need to change it around and I found three guys here that I feel great about and I feel like that will add to our program,” Beamer said. “There is something to adding new ideas and new people and new personalities.
“I think there is a freshness there that kind of gets you starting over. It gets everyone excited and being with these guys and hearing them and getting them to come to Blacksburg, I certainly got excited.”
Beamer spoke to a “who’s who” of NFL and college coaches before deciding on Loeffler and Grimes, who came from Auburn, and Moorehead, who was at Stanford when the Hokies played the Cardinal in the Orange Bowl three years ago.
“I got involved with a lot of people that I really respect in the coaching business and everything has been good about these guys right here,” Beamer said. “I think we have some good guys to help us get back on a good track.”
Loeffler is a 15-year coaching veteran, who has tutored six quarterbacks that have played in the NFL, including Tom Brady and Tim Tebow. He was part of Auburn’s national championship run in 2010, and the offensive coordinator during a forgettable season for the Tigers last season.
Beamer didn’t seem overly concerned with those issues, and Loeffler didn’t comment on the 2012 woes for Auburn.
“I think the wonderful thing about our sport and the game of football is that when things go well you learn lessons and when things go poorly you learn lessons...,” Loeffler said. “I am at Virginia Tech now and to talk about what happened at Auburn, I think that is unfair to the people at Auburn...
“I am at Virginia Tech and it is a new year. Did I learn a lot of lessons? Absolutely. Do I want to get into those lessons? No, absolutely not. I am at Virginia Tech and I am excited to help this program win.”
Loeffler inherits an offense that will try to develop a balanced passing and running attack, led by quarterback Logan Thomas, who chose to return for his third season as a starter instead of leaving early for the NFL.
“I spent the majority of my time looking at Logan and had the opportunity to meet him a couple of times and he is an absolute wonderful person, I think he has got tremendous upside,” said Loeffler, who has watched film of the Tech offense, focusing primarily on Thomas. “The thing that I really like about him is he really cares about Virginia Tech football and he came back to win championships and to make sure his legacy is to go out his senior year as a champion.”
Grimes had spent the last four seasons as the offensive line coach for the Tigers, and takes over the same role for the Hokies. He has only known Loeffler for one year, but felt comfortable enough to make the move to Blacksburg, adding that Loeffler’s demanding style is similar to the mentality of an offensive lineman.
“I feel great about being here with him, and I believe whole-heartedly in his ability as a coach and a coordinator,” Grimes said. “I have been around some great ones, but this guy has more football knowledge than anybody I have ever been around, and he is a great motivator too.
“I am really excited to be here with him.”
Grimes’ focus is to develop an offensive line with a physical approach, while helping the Hokies develop a balanced attack that will produce not only wins, but possibly even satisfy the Virginia Tech fan base.
“I am really not worried about continent among the fan base, what I am worried about is developing the toughest offensive line in the ACC...,” Grimes said. “We have got to be essentially the big brothers of everybody else on the offense and I believe we are the tip of the spear, so to speak. We are the first in the fight and if we do our job with the right approach and right mindset, then I think the other guys will follow.”
Moorehead, who spent three seasons at Stanford, earned All-Big 10 honors as a walk-on at Illinois, and followed by signing with Indianapolis as a free agent and playing for five years with the Colts.
“I told him the other day I kind of like him because he kind of reminds me of me,” Beamer said. “I wasn’t always athletically what you needed, but you kind of work harder than everybody else. I think he brings a whole lot to the table also.”
Several Virginia Tech players were present for the press conference, including star defensive back Antone Exum, who asked Moorehead if the secondary was a reason why he came to Blacksburg.
“Obviously I have done my research, I know you guys are a good secondary, but at the end of the spring you are going to see what we have got on offense,” said Moorehead, taking Exum’s question as a challenge. “I am telling you right now, the receivers right now are going to out-work everybody on this football team and you had better be ready to bring it day in and day out.”
Over the last two years, the 66-year-old Beamer has made his staff noticeably younger, and these new additions had a different attribute that Beamer pointed out as they all stood at the podium.
“It is not only younger, but taller,” said Beamer, with a smile. “I looked for taller guys.”
—Contact Brian Woodson