Teel Time: Virginia Tech baseball hire another in-house promotion

In 2006, Virginia Tech athletic director Jim Weaver hired four head coaches. All came from elsewhere.

Wrestling’s Kevin Dresser had spent 10 years at nearby Christiansburg High School; baseball’s Pete Hughes came from Boston College, lacrosse’s Katrina Silva from Colgate, volleyball’s Chris Riley from Towson. All were sitting head coaches.   

Thursday’s promotion of associate head baseball coach Pat Mason to replace Oklahoma-bound Hughes marks the sixth consecutive head-coaching hire Weaver has made from within. None of the six had previous head-coaching experience in their sport — women’s basketball hire Dennis Wolff was Boston University’s men’s big whistle.

Tech faithful on Twitter today are frustrated by the pattern, characterizing the in-house promotions as easy and lazy. So let’s look at results.

* Men’s soccer: Oliver Weiss, who guided Tech to the 2007 national semifinals, was forced to resign in June 2009 over minor NCAA rules violations. Less than three months before the regular season, Weaver had little choice but to elevate assistant Mike Brizendine.

In four subsequent seasons, the Hokies are 21-45-8 overall, 4-25-3 in the ACC.

* Women’s lacrosse: Katrina Silva resigned after four seasons in July 2010, and Weaver immediately named assistant Megan Burker the interim head coach. The Hokies went 10-8, 1-4 in the ACC, in 2011, prompting Weaver to remove the interim label.

Tech is 18-15 overall, 0-10 in the ACC, in two seasons since.  

* Women’s soccer: After coaching Tech to three consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, Kelly Cagle resigned in December 2010 to relocate to Arizona with her husband. Weaver promoted associate head coach Charles “Chugger” Adair, who has continued that success.

The Hokies are 27-14-2 in Adair’s two seasons, 8-10-2 in the ACC. They advanced two rounds in the 2011 NCAA tournament and fell in the first round last year.

* Women’s basketball: Weaver’s most off-the-radar hire came in March 2011 when, after firing Beth Dunkenberger, he hired Wolff, then the Hokies’ operations director for men’s basketball. Prior to joining Seth Greenberg’s Tech staff, Wolff had spent 15 seasons as Boston University’s head coach, compiling a 247-197 record.

Wolff had never coached women, but his daughter, Nicole, was a high school All-American who played at Connecticut. So he knew the game.

Yet there’s no denying Tech’s continued struggles. The Hokies are 17-43 in Wolff’s two seasons, 7-27 in the ACC. In Dunkenberger’s final four years, Tech was 9-47 in ACC competition.

* Men’s basketball: In April 2012, Weaver fired two-time ACC coach of the year Seth Greenberg after a ninth-place conference finish and a fifth consecutive season without an NCAA tournament bid. But this wasn’t about wins and losses. Long story short, the two men didn’t get along.

Less than two weeks later, Weaver hired James Johnson, a Tech assistant the previous five years. Whether Johnson’s appointment proves a wise decision is years away, but a 13-19 debut, 4-12 in the ACC, marked the Hokies’ worst overall record since 2002.

The lone success to date is Adair, who inherited the best situation. Wolff and Johnson require more time before rendering judgment. Brizendine’s men’s soccer program is struggling mightily, but don’t forget, Tech was 0-8 in the ACC in Weiss’ final season.

Of this there is no doubt: Weaver’s best coaching hires at Tech — Hughes, Dresser, Cagle (Wake Forest assistant and professional player) and track’s Dave Cianelli (Southern Methodist) — were not in-house promotions.

Dresser guided the Hokies to their first ACC wrestling title last season, and Cianelli's programs have won eight ACC championships.

I can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at dteel@dailypress.com. Follow me at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDP

Here’s a link to my Daily Press print columns.

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