Why Virginia Tech Will Not Hire a First-Time Head Coach


Jan 29, 2014; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Whit Babcock speaks during a press conference to introduce new Virginia Tech athletic director Whit Babcock at Lane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Whit Babcock just became the Virginia Tech Athletic Director a few months ago but he already has a high-profile search to replace James Johnson started after the Hokies only won 1 game in 2014 and finished last in the ACC in both of Johnson’s seasons in charge. Whit Babcock has said that he will make sure that he gets the best possible coach and Virginia Tech is one of the premier jobs on the market along with Boston College and Washington State with the Hokies being the second best with only Boston College being better. However, Whit Babcock has said that the Hokies are willing to flash the cash to get their guy to come to Blacksburg.

The Hokies went with a first-time head coach in James Johnson and after the failure of Johnson’s tenure, the Hokies will want someone with a proven track record. Babcock’s largest hiring in his tenure at Cincinnati was hiring Tommy Tuberville away from Texas Tech to replace Butch Jones at Cincinnati even though Tuberville was at what was a better job in Lubbock. Whit Babcock has a small history of going for a proven guy but why are first-time head coaches completely out of the hunt to replace James Johnson?

1. Virginia Tech fans will want a proven guy.

After the failure of James Johnson, the Hokies will want someone who has proven themselves at another school as a head coach. The Hokies may prefer guys who have had success at multiple jobs or for longer periods of time like Tommy Amaker of Harvard, Mike Lonergan of George Washington, and Chris Mooney of Richmond. Virginia Tech had a lot of success when they hired Seth Greenberg after Greenberg had success at Long Beach State and South Florida. Virginia Tech will want someone that has had a history of success and that will be what happens.

Jan 29, 2014; Blacksburg, VA, USA; On the podium left to right are Dr Timothy Sands, President Charles Steger, Whit Babcock, Ray Smoot, and Larry Hincker after the press conference at Lane Stadium to introduce Whit Babcock as the new Virginia Tech athletic director. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

2. Whit Babcock has a preference of hiring head coaches with experience.

As mentioned earlier, Whit Babcock has a brief history of hiring big name, experienced head coaches in a lot of sports. While as an associate AD at Missouri, Whit Babcock saw the Missouri Tigers bring in the experienced Frank Haith near the end of his time there to replace Mike Anderson. At Cincinnati, Whit Babcock hired Tommy Tuberville to replace the Tennessee-bound Butch Jones which showed Babcock’s preference for an established head coach. Of course, Babcock has gone after first-timers like when he hired Ty Neal to be Cincinnati’s new baseball manager after Neal was an assistant at Indiana. Babcock has a preference of hirining experienced head coaches over first-timers and no one should expect that to change.

3. Whit Babcock will have less risk by hiring an experienced head coach.

Whit Babcock already is taking a gamble in bringing in his own guy to take over for James Johnson but bringing in an uproven guy would bring questions and be a larger gamble. Babcock will want someone that definitely has proven that he can handle the job of being a head coach as some assistants just aren’t the right fit to be a head coach at a maor collegiate program. Babcock is taking a risk even though Johnson had plenty of reason to be fired and Babcock will want someone that has a proven track record to take a gamble on.

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