Continuing a mass staff shake-up, Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer has handed play-calling duties to Mike O'Cain, while re-defining roles for Bryan Stinespring, Curt Newsome and Beamer's son, Shane.
O'Cain, the quarterbacks coach, takes over play-calling from Stinespring, who retains the offensive coordinator title he's held for nine years. Stinespring will also coach the offensive tackles and tight ends. Newsome, who coached the entire offensive line for five seasons, will lead the guards and centers.
Last week, Tech added Shane Beamer and Cornell Brown to the staff to coach running backs and outside linebackers, respectively. They replaced veterans Billy Hite and Jim Cavanaugh, who accepted administrative positions. Frank Beamer announced Tuesday that Shane will be his associate head coach.
Tech had a disappointing conclusion to an 11-3 season with its 40-12 Orange Bowl loss to Stanford. The Hokies also just wrapped up a recruiting class that was somewhat lackluster in the eyes of some analysts. Beamer said the bowl game and any perceived recruiting class shortcomings weren't primary reasons for the staff changes.
"You make decisions that you think are best for your football program," Beamer said during a Tuesday afternoon teleconference. "We got into it and looked at it and this is what we came up with. I always ask my coaches, 'Don't just sit there and do things the way you've always done them. Look at better ways of doing things.' I'm hopeful that we've made our total staff stronger.
"There's a lot of pluses, there's a couple minuses, but I think in the big picture we've made our total staff stronger."
Beamer said it was Stinespring's decision to relinquish play-calling. He said the switch made sense because O'Cain meets daily with the quarterbacks, specifically Logan Thomas, and has a better feel for their preferences.
Beamer added if Stinespring didn't want to give up play-calling, and if Hite and Cavanaugh didn't want to give up their assistant coaching positions, none of the moves would've been made. Messages left Tuesday for O'Cain and Stinespring weren't returned.
Beamer split offensive line coaching duties with Newsome and Stinespring because Newsome had the heaviest workload of any assistant coach on the team, having to work with five positions. The split of offensive line coaching responsibilities will allow players to get more individual attention and make Newsome and Stinespring accountable for fewer players, according to Beamer.
O'Cain, 56, has been Tech's quarterbacks coach since 2006. In 32 years as a full-time college coach, he has been the primary offensive play-caller at a Bowl Subdivision program in just two seasons -- in 2000 as North Carolina's offensive coordinator and in '04 as Clemson's offensive coordinator. He was also the head coach at North Carolina State from 1993-99.
In 2000, UNC finished 58th in total offense among 114 FBS teams, averaging 371 yards per game on its way to a 6-5 record. Tight end Alge Crumpler was the only UNC offensive player to earn first team All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors that season.
In '04, Clemson was 110th among 117 in total offense, averaging 296 yards per game for a Tigers squad that finished 6-5. Clemson's Airese Currie led the ACC in receptions that season with 61 for 868 yards and two touchdowns.
This past season, O'Cain helped quarterback Tyrod Taylor, a Hampton High graduate, become the ACC's Player of the Year. Taylor finished his college days as Tech's career leader in passing yards (6,795) and total offense (8,969 yards).
O'Cain was Beamer's offensive coordinator at Murray State from 1981-84. This past season, O'Cain again called plays for Beamer's offense in a limited capacity, directing Tech's two-minute drills. Beamer said he anticipates having O'Cain handle play-calling next season in all situations.
Though Stinespring is coming off his most productive season as Tech's offensive coordinator, his stint in the play-calling role wasn't always successful. Tech finished 41st nationally in 2010 in total offense out of 120 FBS programs, averaging 402 yards per game. In the '06, '07 and '08 seasons, Tech finished 99th, 100th and 103rd, respectively.
Beamer also announced Torrian Gray will add strong safeties to his coaching duties, which means he'll now be in charge of the entire secondary. Only three of Tech's nine assistant coaches from this past season will enter spring practice with the same role they had last season: defensive coordinator Bud Foster, receivers coach Kevin Sherman and defensive line coach Charley Wiles.
Also Tuesday, Frank Beamer unveiled new recruiting assignments. Newsome, a graduate of Phoebus High and former coach at Phoebus, Kecoughtan and Heritage, will focus solely on the Peninsula, taking over for Cavanaugh. Stinespring will return as Tech's primary recruiter in South Hampton Roads.
Shane Beamer inherits Richmond from Cavanaugh and also will mine north Georgia and Fork Union Military Academy. Brown takes Central and Southside Virginia, including Hargrave Military Academy.
"I think where we're strong is (high school) coaches know us and trust us," Frank Beamer said, adding that a goal in re-organizing the territories was to make sure all nine assistant coaches have in-state schools to recruit. "We've built relationships over the years, and I think it's important we're in every school in the state every single year I want to get back to where we see every high school coach every year -- whether they've got a prospect or not."