Pep Hamilton coached Andrew Luck at Stanford

Pep Hamilton coached Andrew Luck at Stanford (December 31, 2012)

Virginia Tech has not revealed any football coaching staff changes, but the presumption for weeks among fans and media is that Bryan Stinespring no longer will coordinate the Hokies’ offense. So lack of official vacancy notwithstanding, social media is replete with opinions on whom Frank Beamer may or should hire to overhaul his attack.

Tech’s offensive coordinator for 11 seasons and a 20-year staff member, Stinespring may well remain with the Hokies. He’s an invaluable recruiter and quality line coach.  

Observations on some mentioned potential candidates. Bios can be found by clicking on the name.

Pep Hamilton: Stanford’s offensive coordinator appears the ideal fit. The Cardinal runs the power rushing, play-action passing attack that Beamer prefers, and Hamilton would arrive with references from Andrew Luck and Jim Harbaugh.

In fact, Hamilton’s official title is, no kidding here, the Andrew Luck Director of Offense. Hamilton coached Luck last season, when Stanford ranked sixth nationally in scoring, 11th in total offense, 22nd in rushing yards and 26th in passing yards. Luck was the No. 1 overall pick of the NFL draft.

Harbaugh hired Hamilton in 2010 to coach the Cardinal’s receivers. Hamilton had worked the previous three years as the Chicago Bears’ quarterbacks coach.

Stanford concluded the 2010 season with a 40-12 Orange Bowl rout of Virginia Tech, after which Harbaugh moved to the San Francisco 49ers. The school replaced Harbaugh with offensive coordinator David Shaw, who then elevated Hamilton to OC — Harbaugh offered Hamilton a job with the 49ers, but Hamilton elected to remain at Stanford.

Hamilton — his given name is Alfonza — has plenty of Eastern ties. He attended high school in Charlotte, N.C., and is a 1997 graduate of Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he played quarterback.

Without Luck and three others chosen among the top 42 picks in the draft, Stanford’s offense isn’t nearly as potent this season. But since naming freshman Kevin Hogan the starting quarterback, the Cardinal has won four consecutive games, all against ranked opponents, to claim the Pacific 12 championship and a berth in Tuesday’s Rose Bowl against Wisconsin.

Hamilton would be an outstanding hire. The question is, would he leave a program that’s earned three consecutive Bowl Championship Series invitations for one fresh off its worst season since 1992?

Shawn Elliott: Completing his third season at South Carolina, Elliott worked one year there with Tech running backs coach Shane Beamer. Elliott’s title then was running game coordinator and offensive line coach.

This year, head coach Steve Spurrier promoted Elliott to co-offensive coordinator, a position he shares with Spurrier’s son, Steve Jr. But Elliott has never served as a primary play-caller — the Ol’ Ball Coach isn’t about to relinquish that role —  and you have to believe Beamer wants someone who’s called a fourth-quarter third-and-5 with the game in the balance.

Now if Elliott were interested in coaching the Hokies’ line or tight ends, sure. But as OC? Seems risky.

Elliott’s only other coaching experience was at his alma mater, Appalachian State, where he worked from 1996 until 2009.

Major Applewhite: A former Texas quarterback, Applewhite returned to the Longhorns in 2008 after one-year stints as offensive coordinator at Rice and then Alabama, the latter in Nick Saban’s first season with the Crimson Tide.

Mack Brown promoted Applewhite to co-offensive coordinator in 2011, and when Applewhite’s fellow co-OC, Bryan Harsin, accepted the Arkansas State head-coaching position earlier this month, Applewhite became Texas’ primary play-caller.

His debut in that role came in Saturday’s Alamo Bowl, where the Longhorns scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to defeat Oregon State 31-27. Texas gained 358 yards, threw 34 passes and ran the ball 31 times.

Rice and Alabama were more productive from the previous season under Applewhite. The 2006 Owls were 41st nationally in scoring; the ’07 Tide was 64th.

Prying Applewhite from Texas would be difficult on two fronts: It’s home, and the school pays its assistants handsomely. According to USA Today’s database, Applewhite made $575,000 in base salary this year. Harsin made $700,000, meaning Applewhite is likely due a significant bump for 2013.

Defensive coordinator Bud Foster ($502,762) is the only Virginia Tech assistant making more than $400,000.