Here are a few of the larger points from the press conference I thought I’d point out now. I’ll have much more on the new coaches over the next week on the blog:
– Head coach Frank Beamer was very appreciative of what Mike O’Cain, Curt Newsome and Kevin Sherman had done for the program, but he felt a change was necessary. “The bottom line is that we weren’t as efficient as we needed to be,” he said, not pinning the blame on one person. “And with that, I felt like we needed to make some changes. … I feel like when things are not working as well as they need to, you need to change it around.”
– In introducing offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler, offensive line coach Jeff Grimes and receivers coach Aaron Moorehead, Beamer said, “When you add new ideas, new people, new personalities, I think there’s a freshness there. That kind of starting over gets everyone excited.”
– The new staff’s eventual yearly salaries will be as follows: Loeffler $400K, Grimes $265K, Moorehead $150K. Grimes and Loeffler are also both eligible for $50,000 retention bonuses on Jan. 1, 2015. Bryan Stinespring, who was stripped of his offensive coordinator duties and will now be recruiting coordinator, had his salary readjusted from $364K to $300K.
– Now, Loeffler will be paid $150,000 per year through June 30, 2014, and Grimes will be paid the same through June 30, 2013 (prorated amounts for partial years). That’s because their previous stop, Auburn, owes them the difference from their new salary to their old one through the life of their contracts with the Tigers. Loeffler made $500K at Auburn and Grimes $400K. So Auburn has to make up the difference there, which is a pretty good chunk of change. To put the salaries in perspective, Bud Foster makes roughly $500K as defensive coordinator.
– Stinespring’s contract runs thorugh June 30, 2016, while Loeffler, Grimes and Moorehead’s go through June 30, 2015.
– Titles. Everybody’s got one. Grimes is running game coordinator. Additionally, Charley Wiles is the defensive running game coordinator and secondary coach Torrian Gray will add defensive passing game coordinator to his title. The only coach who is not a “coordinator” of some sort or an assistant head coach is Moorehead, who simply is receivers coach.
– Beamer spoke highly of Stinepspring, who had said he “convinced” to stay on staff. Why’d he stay? “It’s always been the right situation for me and my family. Virginia Tech’s part of who I am. It’s inside of me,” Stinespring said. “It’s something I care a great deal about. I think when you go back and look at it and say, ‘OK, in the decision process, is the essential figure yourself.’ Then I think sometimes I situation like this might be a little difficult. But if the central figure is Virginia Tech and these kids that you love and have loved for over 20 years, and this university and this program, then it’s not so difficult. He and I talked a couple different times. He knows how I feel about this place and this university. There’s a dream we’re chasing. And I’ve been fortunate and blessed to have a front row seat to a great football story. I’m excited about the next chapter of it.”
– Stinespring said he talked with Beamer shortly after the season. That’s when he found out the direction Tech was going in. Did he know Tech needed an overhaul? “I knew that we didn’t play well enough this year,” Stinespring said. Was it awkward? “It wasn’t as difficult as you may imagine only because of the guy I was having the conversation with,” Stinespring said. “Because of the strength of that relationship, because the respect that you have, you’re able to work through that conversation.”
– Although Beamer said they’d talk about recruiting locations later for the new staff, Stinespring said Grimes will handle Western Pennsylvania, Stinespring and Cornell Brown will be in the 757. Loeffler will recruit quarterbacks and Grimes offensive linemen anywhere, though.
– Here’s a list of folks Beamer talked to while getting ideas for people to fill these jobs: John and Jim Harbaugh, Nick Saban, Pete Carroll, Lloyd Carr, Urban Meyer, Bobby Bowden, Will Muschamp, Mark Richt, David Shaw, Bruce Arians, Clyde Christensen, Jim Tressel, Steve Addazio.
– In an offensive coordinator, Beamer wanted someone who held the same philosophy as him. He said that starts with running the football. Loeffler fit the bill. “The philosophies that have always been here at Virginia Tech is what I grew up in, particularly during my Michigan years,” Loeffler said. “So we’re getting to play to the strengths of our team. We understand that Virginia Tech has always played great defense, they’ve always played great special teams. We need to have an offense that is able to run the football effectively. Play-action pass, be productive on third down and obviously in the red area, score touchdowns rather than field goals. But the similarities that you see, there are things Bryan has done here in the past in his system that are similar to what we believe in. I think the marriage between what they’ve done in the past and what we want to do is excellent.”
– Loeffler met with Logan Thomas the day before he had to make his NFL decision. He said it kind of felt like recruiting him. “He’s an absolutely wonderful person,” Loeffler said. “I think he’s got tremendous upside. The thing I really like about him is that Virginia Tech football is important to him. And he came back to win championships and to make sure that his legacy is to go out his senior year as a champion.”
– Grimes and Loeffler coached together at Auburn. They are of a similar mindset. “I think we had an immediate connection,” Grimes said. “He’s probably in a former life been an offensive lineman. Because he has a lot more the temperament and some of the personal habits of an offensive lineman. But he coaches like an offensive line coach does. And what I mean by that is he’s very demanding, he gets after the guys. He and I just really have a great relationship and have spent the last year getting to know one another. I feel great about being here with him. I believe wholeheartedly in his ability as a coach, as a coordinator. And I’ve been around some great ones, but this guy has more football knowledge than anybody I’ve ever been around and is a great motivator too, so I’m really excited to be here with him.”
– Loeffler didn’t want to get into what happened at Auburn, when the Tigers’ offense sputtered in 2012. He said he wasn’t going to talk about it out of respect for people there. “I’m at Virginia Tech and it’s a new year,” he said. “Did I learn a lot of lessons? Absolutely. Do I want to get into those lessons? No. Absolutely not. I’m at Virginia Tech and I’m excited to help this program win.
– Beamer looked past the stats at Auburn in making this hire. “I think you deal in what’s real,” Beamer said. “The people I talked to, it was overwhelmingly positive. Then when I sat down and visited with them, I certainly was convinced. I think in this business, it happens. Andy Reid leaves Philadelphia and the next day he goes to Kansas City. It’s circumstances sometimes. The players you’ve got. I think you’ve got to take in what’s real. Are you a good coach? Are you what you’re looking for or not? I’m thoroughly convinced I’ve got three excellent guys here.”
– Here’s Grimes’ offensive line philosophy, which should be music to Virginia Tech fans’ ears: “What I’m worried about is developing the toughest line in the ACC. And that’s something that is hard to measure and it’s one of those things that you can’t necessarily put a statistic with it, but I think you know it when you see it. That’s going to be my number one goal and approach. In order for us to do that, we’ve got to have the mindset up front, in order for us to do the things on offense, particularly running the football, we’ve got to have the approach up front that we’re going to dominate the game from the offensive line position. It’s the only way it works. It’s the only way your offense takes a physical approach. We’ve got to be essentially the big brothers of everybody else on the offense. I believe we’re the tip of the spear, so to speak, the first in to fight. And if we do our job with the right approach and the right mindset, then I think the other guys will follow.”
– Moorehead’ name came up during Virginia Tech’s talks with Stanford’s Pep Hamilton. “The thing I think about Aaron here is he actually walked on at Illinois and ended up being an all-conference player,” Beamer said. “And then he wasn’t drafted out of college, but then he played with Peyton Manning and Indianapolis for five years. He’s a guy who knows about hard work and dedication and out-working the other guy and be efficient. I think he brings a lot from that standpoint. I told him the other day that I kind of like him because he reminds me of me. He wasn’t always athletically what you needed, but he kind of worked harder than anybody else. I think he brings a lot to the table also.”
– Moorehead is a Midwest guy, so the snow doesn’t bother him. He said he first got introduced to Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl a few years back. “You watch the athletes they had all over the field,” he said. “Not just receivers, defensive backs, but the linebackers, the defensive line and the tailbacks and the quarterback at that time was obviously a very good football player. And anyone that’s anyone knows that Virginia Tech has had great athletes for a long time. It was an obvious choice that when I got here you’d have great athletes.”