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For ACC, new staffs new norm
Steve DeShazo's column on ACC football

Date published: 7/24/2006

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.--Col- lege football is essentially a billion-dollar revolving door. Every season, every team must replace players who graduated, were injured, turned pro early or disqualified themselves with their actions off the field.

It's rarer when good teams have to make wholesale changes to their coaching staffs. Sure, an assistant's lifestyle is only slightly more stable than a carnival worker's. But the best programs stay relatively intact.

This fall, though, even die-hard fans may need a program to know who's calling the plays at Virginia Tech, Virginia and Maryland--let alone who's running them.

After more than a decade of stability, Frank Beamer had to hire four new assistant coaches at Virginia Tech. So did Virginia's Al Groh, who saw three of his lieutenants take head-coaching jobs elsewhere. And Ralph Friedgen replaced both of his longtime coordinators after two straight losing seasons at Maryland.

The biggest surprise came in Blacksburg, where Beamer almost never has to read a resume in the off-season.

"It is different," Virginia Tech center Danny McGrath said yesterday at the Atlantic Coast Conference's Football Kickoff press conference. "We were so accustomed to [former quarterbacks] coach [Kevin] Rogers and the others. But when you lose a player, you just plug the next guy in and keep going. We haven't slowed down for them."

"They" are Tech's new assistants: former Hokie Torrian Gray (secondary), Curt Newsome (offensive line), Mike O'Cain (quarterbacks) and Kevin Sherman (receivers). They represent nearly 50 percent of Beamer's brain trust, but the transition should be relatively smooth--even for one of the nation's most stable staffs.

O'Cain has been a head coach (at N.C. State from 1993-99). Newsome and Sherman are experienced, albeit at lower levels of college football. And Gray knows all about the Hokies' program after earning all-Big East honors three times.

Plus, the men who make the play calls--defensive coordinator Bud Foster and offensive coordinator Brian Stinespring--have been with Beamer for 25 and 16 years, respectively.

"I don't think there's going to be a drop-off," safety Aaron Rouse said. "They'll help guys step up and be even better players."

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