Chris Graham: Coaches on the hot seat

Mike London was the 2011 ACC Coach of the Year. Frank Beamer is pretty much the God of Hokie Nation.

And right now, both coaches are on the proverbial hot seat, at least judging from the comments on various locales on the Internet.

London’s ‘Hoos have lost four straight after a 2-0 start. Beamer’s Hokies are 3-3 with bad losses to Pittsburgh (35-17 on Sept. 15), Cincinnati (27-24 on Sept. 29) and North Carolina (48-34 on Oct. 6) in which the vaunted Tech defense failed to live up to BeamerBall standards.

Neither coach is obviously in serious danger in the short term, no matter what the message boarders have to say on the matters. But that said, the heat is on the seats for both, maybe more so on London right now, if only because the UVa. fan base is fighting what seems to have become its destiny, namely, perennial second-rate status.

Virginia seems poised to put up its fifth losing season in the last seven years, making the 2011 season look more and more like the fluke that was 2007 than a sign that London had gotten things turned around from the disaster that was the Al Groh era.

(Ironically, that flukish 2007 season also ended with a UVa. coach being named ACC Coach of the Year, in the form of Groh, who this week was unceremoniously dumped by Georgia Tech after a dismal two-plus-year run as the Yellow Jackets’ defensive coordinator.)

At Virginia Tech, it’s far from being as gloomy and doomy as many of the posters online are making it out to be. While it’s difficult to figure out what the heck is wrong with the Tech D that has become the surprising weak link, it’s not difficult to foresee that just as quickly as the Hokies’ fortunes have fallen in the first half of 2012, they could turn around just as quickly in the second half.

Beamer and defensive coordinator Bud Foster didn’t suddenly forget how to coach, after all.

And that being the case, after 26 years, Beamer has earned for himself the right to go 3-3 at some point in a season without the village idiots mobilizing the moving trucks.

With London’s case, the jury is still out. He’s in year three of a rebuilding that obviously isn’t going all that well. His Cavs quit on him in the second half of last week’s 42-17 loss at Duke, and if they lay an egg this weekend at home against Maryland, the rest of the season could be a freefall, with Wake Forest, North Carolina State, Miami, North Carolina and Virginia Tech all likely to go into matchups with UVa. down the stretch as favorites against the ‘Hoos.

If the unthinkable – a 10-game losing streak to end the season – were to occur, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that London could be done. Anything short of a surprise win in the second half of what is shaping up to be a disappointing 5-7 or 4-8 season – perhaps a win over Virginia Tech? – sends London into year four with a bullseye on his back.

And in the meantime, the tens of thousands of empty seats in Scott Stadium in October and November will make the $1.8 million salary being paid to London look that much more ridiculous.

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