October 25, 2011

By dslater82

Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer had a couple interesting – and very much unrelated – things to say today at his weekly press conference.

The first involved the current debate in college sports about giving players more money to cover the full cost of attending college. NCAA president Mark Emmert on Monday backed a proposal to let conferences increase by $2,000 the amount of money athletes are given. And based on Emmert’s comments Monday, this could happen very soon.

Beamer said at ACC media days this summer that he supported giving athletes more money to cover the full cost of college, and he reiterated that point today.

“I think the $2,000, I’d be all for that,” he said. “I think kids have different situations where you kind of take care of some things. Some of them have to travel further to get home, have different ways of getting home. Back when I was playing [at Tech from 1966-68], we got $15 a month to cover laundry money. We thought we’d died and gone to heaven. I think they should get something.”

Another issue currently being debated in college sports involves multi-year scholarships. They are now renewed every year. Beamer said over the summer that he does not favor guaranteeing an athlete a multi-year scholarship – and he emphasized why today.

“I’m not quite sure I know all the details about this, but just on the surface, right now we’re responsible for kids’ academics, how they handle themselves socially downtown,” he said. “There’s a lot involved. And to me, we’ve got a system that works very well now. It’s a one-year renewable scholarship. You’re going to renew the scholarship unless the kid messes up. I would think if a kid knew he had a scholarship for four years, some kids wouldn’t care what I was saying – ‘to heck with coach Beamer.’ We’ve got a system that works now. We don’t need multi-year scholarships.”

Some people think multi-year scholarships would prevent coaches from running off players simply because they aren’t as talented as the coaches thought during the recruiting process. With one-year scholarships, coaches can (and sometimes do) just recruit over these players and then not renew their scholarships, even if the kid is not a behavioral problem, but just not a very good player. Or so say those who favor multi-year scholarships.

“I don’t think you exist [as a coach] in this business by not renewing scholarships, unless you have a good reason not to renew a scholarship,” Beamer said. “To me, the system is working just fine. I don’t think we need to mess with that.”

Later in his press conference, Beamer told a story about why he doesn’t do hands-on coaching with his kickers, instead letting them deal with their individual kicking coaches, such as Doug Blevins, who has worked with several past Tech kickers, and its current kicker, sophomore Cody Journell.

Journell said he has worked through nerves from earlier in the year – and also altered his steps – in order to find consistency in his first season as Tech’s kicker. In the first four games, he made four of seven field goals, missing from 30, 37 and 40 yards. He has hit six straight since then, with a long of 36. None of the other five were longer than 28. His long for the season is from 41 at Marshall in Week 4, when he also missed from 37.

Beamer does supervise the kickers and punters, but doesn’t tweak their technique. Why?

“I think all of them need one coach, and I think when two guys get coaching a guy … I don’t know if you’ve ever heard my story, but out at Murray State, I had this great punter. When I first got there [1979 as defensive coordinator, before becoming head coach in 1981], my first practice at Murray State was at night, so we went in the stadium and turned the lights on. And I’ll never forget this freshman punter. And he could hit the ball further and higher than anyone I had ever seen. I mean, that ball would go up there and it seemed like it would stay up there forever.

“He had one problem. He was a little bit slow getting the ball off. About 19 people coached him from his freshman year to his senior year on how to get that ball off just a little bit quicker. Everybody had an answer. My last game there, we were playing for the Ohio Valley Conference championship against Austin Peay, and I stood out there in pregame, and my boy that hit those high, long punts was shanking them up into the stadiums. The people up in the stands were ducking. So I’ve always told my coaches, ‘Don’t be messing around with kickers. I don’t want any of you guys coaching those kickers.’”