Nationals

Beamer overhauls Hokies' offensive coaching staff

Beamer overhauls Hokies' offensive coaching staff

Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer has overhauled his offensive coaching staff after Hokies' worst season in two decades.

Beamer announced Friday that he's hired former Auburn offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler to lead Virginia Tech's offense, former Stanford wide receivers coach Aaron Moorehead to take over the Hokies' wideouts, and another Auburn assistant, Jeff Grimes, to coach the offensive line. Grimes was Auburn's O-line coach.

The Hokies finished 7-6, in large part because of their inability to run the ball consistently and a regressing passing game. Virginia Tech's streak of eight consecutive 10-win seasons came to end and the Hokies had to win their last two regular season games just to qualify for the Russell Athletic Bowl - where they beat Rutgers 13-10 in overtime.

The moves mark the second major overhaul of Beamer's offensive staff in seven years, and the departures of three staffers brought on during the last one. Quarterbacks coach Mike O'Cain was fired, receivers coach Kevin Sherman left for the same position at Purdue and Curt Newsome left the program, reportedly to head back to James Madison, although the school has not said if he was fired or resigned.

Bryan Stinespring, the offensive coordinator since 2001 and a 20-year member of Beamer's staff, has been moved to recruiting coordinator. Considered the Hokies' best recruiter, he will also continue to coach tight ends.

The new coaches will be introduced on Jan. 25.

While Stinespring had the coordinator's title, O'Cain has called the plays for the past two seasons.

The Stinespring-O'Cain combination directed a record-setting season in 2011, largely on the legs of NFL first-round draft choice David Wilson at tailback and the arm of emerging quarterback Logan Thomas. Wilson ran for a school-record 1,709 yards, and Thomas had a school-record 3,482 total yards.

But 2012 marked a return to the inconsistency that often prompted Hokies fans to call for change. Virginia Tech finished 81st nationally in both total offense (376.7 ypg) and scoring (25.08 ppg). Thomas had 3,500 yards of total offense, but completed just 51.3 percent of his throws and had 16 interceptions.

Beamer, who is intensely loyal to his staff and often cites the absence of significant turnover for allowing the Hokies to climb the ranks into college football's elite, decided change was in order. He is thought to have interviewed several candidates for the coordinator's job during the past few weeks.

Loeffler, 38, has coached for 15 seasons in the NFL and in college. He was the offensive coordinator at Temple in 2011 when the Owls finished 9-4 and ranked seventh in the nation with an average of 256.5 rushing yards. He moved to Auburn last season, and the inexperienced Tigers struggled mightily. They averaged just 305 yards, 115th out of 120 teams at the FBS level, and were 112th in scoring (18.67).

He has also coached six quarterbacks who went on to play in the NFL, including New England's Tom Brady and Florida's Tim Tebow, who left the Gators with five NCAA and 14 Southeastern Conference records.

Grimes, 44, spent five seasons at Auburn, including the national championship year in 2010, and worked with Loeffler last season.

Moorehead, 32, has been an assistant at Stanford for the past three years.

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Astros players plan to make a team statement on sign-stealing scandal during Spring Training

Astros players plan to make a team statement on sign-stealing scandal during Spring Training

The Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal has rocked MLB and left a dark shadow over the league during offseason. Up until this point, despite a fired general manager and on-field manager, the players at the root of the scandal have remained silent on the subject and avoided questions from the media.

That will all change in Spring Training as the Astros players plan to make "a strong statement as a team," according to Astros' owner Jim Crane. 

"When we get down to Spring Training, we'll all get them together and they'll come out with a strong statement as a team and apologize for what happened and we'll move forward," Crane said in a media scrum.

Over the weekend the team held their annual winter FanFest where several players had to face the music as many players met with the media for the first time. Jose Altuve, who is one of the players who allegedly benefited from the sign-stealing, dodged the question as best he could. The Astros shortstop's comments coincide with Crane's, saying “I think the time to comment about that will come. It’s a little early for me to say something about it.” 

Outside of their FanFest event, there is little that has come out of the clubhouse. Their owner acknowledged the lack of communication from the players and said the players were advised to stay out of the conversation. 

"The players have been beaten up a little bit and they've been all spread out. They've just kinda getting [sic] advice to take it easy."

Already Spring Training in West Palm Beach is going to be awkward between the two teams that made the World Series last season. The Nationals, who won the World Series whether or not the Astros used their system to gain an advantage, have their facilities next door to Houston's.

And if the Astros sign former Nationals' manager Dusty Baker to the same position in wake of A.J. Hinch's firing, there will be even more tense situations at Spring Training this year. 

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Jay Gruden reportedly to join Jaguars as their offensive coordinator

Jay Gruden reportedly to join Jaguars as their offensive coordinator

Just four months shy of his last appearance on the NFL gridiron sidelines, Jay Gruden may already have his 2020 gig lined up, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero.

Gruden was head coach of the Washington Redskins for six seasons, beginning in 2014 and going 35-49-1 in his burgundy and gold tenure. Gruden pushed the Redskins to their first postseason appearance since 2012 in his second year with the team, as well as back-to-back winning seasons in 2015 and 2016, not seen in Washington since 1996 and 1997. 

In March 2017, Gruden signed a two-year extension with the Redskins. He was fired after beginning the 2019 season 0-5. 

Recently, Gruden confirmed to Rapoport that he was "itching for something to do" and seeking employment before Jacksonville brought him in to interview for the OC role. 

After playing four years at the University of Louisville and and eight more in various football leagues, Gruden held many offensive roles, offensive coordinator for the Florida Tuskers and Cincinnati Bengals. 

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