Chris Graham: Dumb move, dumping Greenberg
Keep in mind that in the eight seasons prior to his arrival, Virginia Tech had won just 49 percent of its games, and that the program had gone a woeful 30-54 in the three seasons before Greenberg showed up in Southwest Virginia to take on the program’s latest rebuilding effort.
What Greenberg failed ultimately to do was live up to the expectations that his success had created among the fan base and administration, both otherwise fat and happy with the gold standard that is Virginia Tech football.
That Greenberg’s most heralded success came five years ago, when Tech went to what turned out to be its only NCAA Tournament under Greenberg, in 2006-2007, was his biggest sin. It felt like there were several near-misses at NCAA bids after, but really there were only two, in 2010, when a 23-win Hokies squad was denied a dance ticket, and a year later, when a 21-win Tech team was similarly left on the outside looking in.
The 2011-2012 Hokies finished 15-16, but the record was deceptive as far as indicating a major step back in that Greenberg fielded a young team that was nonetheless quite competitive if not all that often victorious, splitting a pair of two-point games with eventual NCAA entrant Virginia and dropping a pair of late-game decisions to perennial ACC power Duke while also falling on a last-second three to eventual ACC champion Florida State on the road.
Apparently, Virginia Tech athletics director Jim Weaver thinks he can do a lot better, with the emphatic World War III oversized headlines on the HokieSports.com website announcing the Monday press conference a sign of the enthusiasm with which the school greeted the coach’s pending departure. And Weaver didn’t mind the department’s official news website announcing the pending press conference at noon, or about an hour and a half before he had the nerve to tell the coach in person that he was being let go.
That Greenberg was caught off-guard was evident when he was first confronted by members of the news media calling for comment. It seems that Greenberg was busy hosting a recruit and was unconvinced that it could be him, even telling one reporter that “I’m still employed, so I don’t think it’s about me.”
And in actuality, it wasn’t about him, but rather about an athletics administration with absolutely no class, one, and two, an off-the-charts measure of hubris. The year-in, year-out success of Virginia Tech football under Frank Beamer seems to have Weaver et al convinced that all it takes is a snap of the fingers to repeat what Beamer has achieved across the sports spectrum.
What that ignores is, for starters, Tech was thisclose to having made the same dumb move with Beamer after his initial six-year run left his record as a I-A head coach at 24-40-2. A year after almost axing Beamer, Tech won nine games, and two years after that the Hokies were playing in the Sugar Bowl.
The second point ignored is how difficult it is to recruit to Blacksburg, which is almost literally in the middle of nowhere, and where even Beamer has become adept out of necessity with making do with for the most part second-tier recruits. Greenberg, too, seemed to have a knack for taking talented players who had nonetheless fallen through the cracks on the recruiting trail and turning them into good team players who could hold their own against the likes of UNC and Duke night after night in the ACC.
So now it’s up to Weaver to find a suitable replacement for a guy who won consistently where it’s not easy to win consistently, at a late date, late April, after more than three dozen coaching vacancies have already been filled, and after the awkwardness of the Hey, We Just Bagged bin Laden breaking-news press conference that was little more than a stick-a-fork-in-him-he’s-done jabfest aimed at the guy who just found out that he’s going out the door.
Good luck not becoming the doormat of the ACC.