Virginia Tech athletic director Whit Babcock has reaffirmed his support for coach Frank Beamer, who has come under increasing criticism and scrutiny for sub-par results the last three seasons.
Though Babcock gave Beamer an extension before the season started, questions surrounding the long-time coach's future continued throughout 2014 -- a season in which the Hokies struggled to overcome a rash of key injuries and finished 7-6.
Virginia Tech, which posted eight straight seasons with 10 or more wins between 2004-11, has lost a combined 17 games the last three seasons. In a statement released Saturday, Babock said he and Beamer met extensively on Nov. 30 and again after the Hokies beat Cincinnati in the Military Bowl presented by Northrup Grumman.
"The Military Bowl win was a good, positive step for our program and should provide strong momentum for recruiting and as we look forward to spring ball," Babcock said. "Coach Beamer and I both realize that this season was not up to the overall standards we expect, however, or that our fan base expects. I support the plan that Coach Beamer has in place moving forward. After 22 seasons without a losing record, as the active NCAA FBS wins leader, and winning 15 out of 16 against our in-state rival, he has earned the opportunity to elevate our program back to where we all want it to be: competing for ACC Championships."
Virginia Tech raised expectations early in the season after beating Ohio State, which has earned a spot in the national championship game. But the Hokies saw one key player after another go down with injury, including running backs Shai McKenzie and Marshawn Williams, defensive tackle Luther Maddy and cornerback Brandon Facyson.
The Hokies were never a factor in the ACC race, finishing 3-5 in league play. But they did keep their bowl streak alive, making it 22 straight years with a postseason appearance.
Beamer had throat surgery last month and had to coach the bowl game from the coaches' box, but that should not hinder his abilities to coach or recruit moving forward. Throughout 2014, both Beamer and Babcock maintained Virginia Tech had a bright future ahead with so many key freshmen and sophomores returning.
Virginia Tech also expects to have McKenzie, Williams, Maddy and Facyson healthy again. It may not be a coincidence that Babcock released his statement one day after the Hokies picked up a huge commitment from five-star defensive tackle Tim Settle, the No. 17-ranked player on the ESPN 300.
"Coach Beamer is an educator who does it the right way," Babcock said. "We have a very solid core of returning lettermen, we suffered a rash of injuries at key positions; those guys will be back next season, too. Our enhanced recruiting efforts will and must continue. Our student-athletes graduate at high levels and Coach Beamer represents this university, our community and this profession with class."
Babcock added the meetings he had with Beamer "included a productive, candid, and constructive conversation regarding the state of our program, opportunities for improvement, and the direction we need to take. Again, we both have higher expectations. Coach Beamer, his staff, and our players are committed and focused on the success of this football program, as we all are. Coach Beamer told me 'we have competed for championships before and we have what it takes to get back to that level.'
"I appreciate his drive and determination to get us there. We share the same goal. We both understand the significance and importance of a successful, national brand for Virginia Tech football."