Why Frank Beamer Is the Next Mack Brown

Sean Frye@Sean_E_FryeFeatured ColumnistMarch 28, 2014

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Mack Brown's departure from Texas was far from the glorious exit to the sunset that, just a few years ago, everyone in Austin thought he deserved. 

The Longhorns competed for a national title in 2010. Brown won one in 2006 thanks to Vince Young and one of the greatest national title performances in FBS history. Texas won two Big 12 titles and six Big 12 South titles when the conference used to be two divisions. 

But Brown's success in Austin set the bar high, and after a few bad seasons, he fell victim to falling short of his own expectations. 

In 2013, after a fourth season that saw Texas lose the Alamo Bowl and fail to win the conference, it happened. Brown resigned in mid-December, ending a tenure that saw 158 wins and just 48 losses. He leaves college football with 244 wins, ranking ninth in NCAA history.

Mack Brown's tenure at Texas ended when he couldn't live up to his own expectations. Is Frank Beamer next?
Mack Brown's tenure at Texas ended when he couldn't live up to his own expectations. Is Frank Beamer next?Chris Jackson

Four seasons without being a legit BCS contender was enough for the fans in Austin, who expect to be among the elite year in and year out. So now Texas will enter the new era of the College Football Playoff in its own new era of Charlie Strong. 

Brown's credentials weren't enough to save him from the ugly exit he suffered in Austin. And if recent trends continue, Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer could be the next victim of his own shortcomings. 

Beamer is a legend in Blacksburg. He's just three spots behind Brown in all-time wins with 224. In 1987, he took over a fledging Virginia Tech program and turned the Hokies into one of the winningest teams in the 1990s and 2000s. 

He's taken the Hokies to six BCS bowls, four ACC titles, three Big East titles and a BCS National Championship appearance in the 2000 Sugar Bowl, which they lost to Florida State. Currently, Beamer is the winningest active coach at the FBS level. 

College football is a "what have you done for me lately?" world, and lately Beamer hasn't done much with the Hokies. Since losing the Sugar Bowl in 2011, Beamer went 7-6 in 2012 and 8-5 in 2013. 

But it's not just the last two seasons that spell trouble for Beamer's job security. In fact, since that 2000 national championship appearance, the Hokies have routinely struggled with issues of consistency, which has led to losses in games they should've won and preseason expectations not being met. 

It started in 2001, the first year after Michael Vick's departure, when Virginia Tech was ranked No. 5 in the country and sitting pretty at 6-0. They were slated for back-to-back games against unranked teams—Syracuse and Pittsburgh—the former being in Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, a place routinely known as one of the toughest places to play in all of college football. 

But instead of rolling on to 8-0 and being squarely in the hunt for another BCS title berth, the Hokies lost to both the Orange and the Panthers. Beamer lost two more games that season, one to top-ranked Miami and the Gator Bowl to Florida State. 

2001 saw Virginia Tech spoil a perfect 6-0 start to the season with two losses to unranked opponents.
2001 saw Virginia Tech spoil a perfect 6-0 start to the season with two losses to unranked opponents.Craig Jones/Getty Images

The very next year, the Hokies found themselves sitting at the place they should've been the season prior, 8-0 and ranked No. 3. But a late season collapse that featured three straight losses to unranked teams again put a sour note to what was looking like a promising season in Blacksburg. 

In 2003, Virginia Tech was once again ranked No. 3 and once again lost, this time to West Virginia. That year was a disappointing one on many levels as the Hokies finished just 8-5, failing to get to double-digit wins for the second time in three years. 

In the next few years, Beamer once again oversaw a renaissance of sorts at Virginia Tech. From 2004-11, the Hokies won at least 10 games every season, made five BCS bowls and won four ACC titles. 

But even in that stretch, there were blips on the radar that showed inconsistency from a team considered to be elite. In 2005, the third-ranked Hokies lost to fifth-ranked Miami in a game that figured to put Virginia Tech in line for a bid to the Rose Bowl, the national championship that season, which was later won by Brown. 

In the 2006 Chick-fil-A Bowl, Virginia Tech lost 31-24 to Georgia in a game that saw the Hokies take a 21-3 lead, only to squander it away due to three interceptions thrown by Sean Glennon in the fourth quarter. 

In 2010, one of the biggest upsets in recent college football history happened when the Hokies lost to James Madison in Week 2, a FCS school in Virginia located just a few hours north of Blacksburg. That loss came one week after losing the season opener to No. 3 Boise State. 

The 2011 season that saw the Hokies make the Sugar Bowl brought more promise of another resurgence. Logan Thomas was one of college football's finest quarterbacks that season, passing for 3,013 yards, rushing for 469 more and accounting for 30 total touchdowns. 

But the past two seasons went terribly by Beamer's own standards, for both himself and for Thomas. The Hokies have won just 15 games and have essentially passed the torch of the ACC Coastal Division to Duke, a school that was formerly the bottom feeder in the conference. 

Thomas fell off the map as well, going from one of college football's most promising players to one of its biggest disappointments. He had just 20 total touchdowns in 2013 compared to 16 interceptions, and failed to eclipse the 3,000-yard mark in his last two years. 

Logan Thomas' downfall may be a sign of things to come for Frank Beamer.
Logan Thomas' downfall may be a sign of things to come for Frank Beamer.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

It's a shame that Beamer may go by the wayside the same way that Mack Brown did. Both coaches' tenures at their respective schools will go down as some of the best coaching jobs in college football history. But when you set the bar that high for yourself, you put yourself at risk of failing to reach that bar. 

And lately, Beamer hasn't been meeting expectations in Blacksburg. Virginia Tech isn't a bottom feeder of college football anymore. The Hokies have a good reputation of being a quality football school that can pull in top recruits, but a reputation that is taking hits after two rough seasons and over a decade of disappointing losses that have derailed once-promising seasons. 

It's hard for a community like Blacksburg to let go of a coach that has essentially given the school legitimacy in the college football landscape. But that landscape is ever-changing, and it's becoming more and more apparent that "Beamerball" isn't keeping pace with the rest of the crowd. 

It's time for the Hokies to put Beamer on the hot seat. And if he can't deliver a team that can compete for an ACC title in the next year or two, Beamer will likely go the way Brown did at Texas. 


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