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A couple of weeks or so ago, Chancellor Hance was on with one of the 104.3 radio shows and they were discussing the hiring of Kliff Kingsbury and there wasn’t anything revolutionary, per se, but there was something that really caught my attention. There's been a little bit of criticism with Kingsbury and who he is hiring for his staff. Quite a few former players and other coaches that he's coached with at Houston. First, coaching is a small fraternity and you hire who you think can do a good job and who you trust. Obviously, Kingsbury's circle is smaller than a coach who has been around for 20 years, but this is part of the learning process with Kliff. I can promise you that one of these hires for an assistant coach is going to fall flat on it's face. It's the nature of the business in that not every coach will be the right fit. That's to be expected.
And yes, the title to the article is intended to be a bit funny. It does matter who he hires. Good coaches are incredibly important and invaluable to a young head coach. But there's more to it than that.
I don’t really remember what prompted Hance's response, but he said that the Virginia Tech coach (he couldn’t remember his name), Frank Beamer, had gone 3-6 one year and he asked him who was the most important person in his career and he said that it the President and Athletic Director at the time that decided to keep Beamer as the head coach.
I couldn’t find any 3-6 records, but I did find that Beamer was 2-9 in his first year, and then 3-8 in his second year at Virginia Tech. At that point, Beamer started to win more games than he lost (generally speaking). I don’t know if Hance was aware that those tough seasons were during the first two years of his career at Virginia Tech. Beamer was 41 years old when he was hired at Virginia Tech, previously spending time at Murray St. and winning there. I won’t make any comparisons about being the head coach at a young age, that’s already been said and discussed. More than anything else, Virginia Tech gave Beamer time. Plenty of time to figure things out and get things going.
As a society and as fans, we are incredibly impatient. I don’t necessarily know why that’s the case or what made us get to the point that three years was enough to make a decision about a coach. I fall into the same trap, I had seen enough of Tuberville. But what’s going to be enough time for Kingsbury? If we are as patient as Virginia Tech fans, we may have our very own dynasty if we give Kingsbury enough time. The tough part is that as fans, we really don’t know what is enough or isn’t enough.
Beamer was hired in 1987 and he had two winning records, 6-5 and 6-4-1, in his first six seasons. Then, in 1993, the Hokies took off on a run and is the Virginia Tech that we now know. But it took him six years to get going. I don’t think that it will take that long for Kingsbury to get going, but fan patience is at an all-time low. We all want results quickly. The title to the post is, I guess, somewhat misleading, but I think that if you believe that you have the right guy at the top, then sometimes there will be pieces that move around underneath the guy at the top, namely coordinators and assistant coaches.
Heck, even right now, there are rumblings that Beamer is going to replace a large chunk of the offensive staff, but there seems to be little talk about replacing Beamer. And it's also no coincidence that Beamer has been successful along with long-time defensive coordinator, Bud Foster, who has been with Beamer since their days at Murray St. Obviously, any coach needs to get some of their coaching hires correct. Still, the larger point is that Beamer isn't going anywhere.
I'd also add that players come and go. They are on a five year window and they're gone and graduated. The face of any program has to be your head coach. That's the constant. With the professional leagues, it is normally players being the face of the franchise because coaches are then the ones that typically get the hook if things go bad with the thinking that you can't fire the entire team. But with colleges, it has to be the coach and now, I think Texas Tech has it's face of the program. That consistency at the top is invaluable on some level.
But now, Hance has referenced Beamer in relation to Kingsbury and it makes me think that internally, between himself and athletic director Kirby Hocutt, they are all prepared to have significant patience with Kingsbury until he gets it right. Assistant coaching hires are incredibly important, but not as important as finding the guy, Kingsbury, to lead the whole thing. I usually preach patience, but because I’ve always thought that you’ve got to stick with a coach if you think he’s the one and I think Kingsbury is the one. From the way it sounds, Hocutt, Hance and maybe the rest of us think that Kingsbury can have this job as long as he wants it.