Yesterday via a press release, Frank Beamer announced his retirement from Virginia Tech at the end of the 2015 season. The end of the Beamer era has arrived in what is year 29 of one of the most successful tenures of any coach in college football history.
Now, Whit Babcock has the job of leading the coaching search to find the replacement for the legendary Beamer. To say that this is the most important decision he will make to date would be understating it. Fans are confident that Babcock will get the right guy especially after hiring Buzz Williams to take over the men’s basketball program.
With that said, here’s a look at the most-likely candidates to get the Virginia Tech job.
Houston HC Tom Herman
Tom Herman is probably one of the fastest-rising coaches over the last few years. Herman has worked his way up as he has impressed at every stop including his stop as the offensive coordinator at Iowa State in Paul Rhoads’s first three seasons, helping the Cyclones get to two bowl games in three seasons.
As Ohio State’s offensive coordinator, Herman adapted to whoever he had especially in 2014 when Herman relied on backup J.T. Barrett to get to the Big 10 Championship and third-string QB Cardale Jones to win the national title. After that season, Herman won the Broyles Award and took the Houston job.
Already, Herman has been impressing in his first-year at Houston with an 8-0 record. Herman has built a great offense around Greg Ward Jr. while also doing a tremendous job on the recruiting trail including having local five-star DT Ed Oliver committed despite most major programs in hot pursuit.
Herman has proven to be a great offensive mind and quarterback coach proven by some of Ohio State’s early-season offensive struggles without Herman at the helm. Herman has proven that he is a great national recruiter that also can run and lead a program from being expected to be mid-pack after losing its starting QB to being on fringe of the playoff hunt out of the AAC.
The one risk with Herman is that its only his first year. However, Herman seems like the real deal, and would be the first guy I would offer the job to. It would also be quite appropriate if Herman got the job since he is currently 40-years old, the same age as Frank Beamer when he got the job.
Memphis HC Justin Fuente
Justin Fuente is the coach that has been mentioned with just about every job with what he has done as TCU’s co-offensive coordinator from 2009-2011, and actually building the Memphis program into a team that is on-pace for a second-straight 10-win season.
Fuente may not be as good of a recruiter as Herman, but Fuente has proven that he knows how to find the right guys while getting some bigger recruits. Fuente has proven that he has the ability to develop some very good quarterbacks from Andy Dalton at TCU in their undefeated season with a Rose Bowl victory to Paxton Lynch who some see as a future first round pick.
Fuente has built Memphis from a program that had won five games in the previous three seasons before his arrival to a program that won 10 games last year, and has a chance at going undefeated and maybe even making the Playoff this season.
Fuente has proven that he knows how to build a program, and is going to make a very good head coach at a major program whether it be Virginia Tech, South Carolina, or somewhere else. Fuente is not as good of a recruiter as Herman, but he knows how to build a program.
Fuente will be linked with just about every job, but we will have to wait and see if Fuente will end up in Blacksburg?
Arizona HC Rich Rodriguez
Rich Rodriguez is going to be on just about any list to replace Frank Beamer as Rodriguez has been rumored as a potential Beamer replacement for a long time. Rodriguez and Whit Babcock have worked together in the past when they were both at West Virginia, and it is fairly well-known that Rodriguez has a desire to move back to the East Coast closer to home.
Rodriguez is the one guy on this list that has proven himself at major programs with three seasons of 10 or more wins at the end of his tenure at West Virginia along with a 10-4 season and Pac-12 South title last year at Arizona. Even at Rodriguez, Michigan improved each season though the spread offense coach was never much of a fit in Ann Arbor.
Rodriguez has had a lot of success, but is he the right guy for the job at Virginia Tech? Yes, Rodriguez is a very good offensive coach, but Rodriguez may not have the most upside or be the right guy to come to Blacksburg. South Carolina also has Rodriguez on their radar though the Gamecocks have not had contact with Rodriguez.
Rodriguez’s teams also have not been known for having great defenses, and the fact that he coached at West Virginia will rub some fans the wrong way given the Black Diamond Trophy rivalry.
Rodriguez seems like he could be a good coach, but in some ways seems like a riskier fit than Herman or Fuente. Personally, I don’t think Rodriguez will be the guy, but Hokie fans should have confidence that Whit Babcock will get the right guy even if it is Rich Rodriguez. Plus, Rodriguez has had some success at programs like West Virginia and Arizona.