Virginia Tech quarterbacks coach Mike O'Cain has been both a head coach and an offensive coordinator. Never, though, has he been a coordinator without calling the plays, as will his colleague, Bryan Stinespring.
"It may be a little bit unique, but it's a system that can work," O'Cain said. "I think you've got to have a good working relationship with the guy sitting beside you. Calling plays is not magic. It's something we do during the week."
The dynamic of Virginia Tech's staff has changed, as older, more tenured assistants have been moved to administrative roles, younger assistants hired, and the play-calling duties have been assigned to O'Cain. Should the staff come to an impasse about a decision, Stinespring will have the final say. What has made Virginia Tech's staff so special during Frank Beamer's tenure is its cohesiveness, and in order for it to stay that way, some egos might have to be shelved in order for this new plan to work. Those within the program have insisted that it's not a big deal -- that Stinespring gave his blessing and even initiated the changes to the offensive staff.
It's a major upheaval, though, for a staff that has built its reputation -- and its success -- on its stability.
"You've got to get your egos out of it," O'Cain said. "A lot of times egos get in the way and there's a power struggle, but I don't feel that way. ... Unless you're involved in our game and particularly with our staff, you've got to be around us and understand our makeup and how we go about things and the personalities involved and leave your ego at the door and go do what's best for this football team and what's best to help you win. Whoever makes the call -- it really doesn't make a rat's rear end who makes the call -- as long as the call is made and we're successful."
What happens when there are differences in opinion?
"I've been in this profession for 34 years and there are very few times in those 34 years -- I can probably count on one hand -- where there's been a disagreement over what the play should have been or could have been," O'Cain said. "You call the play, you send it in positively, your quarterback calls it in positively, and you go. Now, could sometimes a better play have been called? Ain't no question about it. That happens every Saturday. But the disagreements are very few."