Fuente Given Extension, Lechtenberg Hired as Virginia Tech's 10th Assistant, a Co-DC in the 'Burg

Four downs discussion of an active news day for the Hokies.

[Mark Umansky]

Virginia Tech athletics released two announcements on Tuesday within three hours of one another. 1) Adam Lechtenberg was promoted from director of player development to Tech's tenth assistant coach. 2) Justin Fuente received a contract extension and an increase in salary pool for Tech's assistant coaches.

Joe and I decided to discuss the news dump with a back-and-forth over four downs. And we promise not to pass on the last two.

Is Bud Foster's retirement happening sooner than anyone wants to admit?

Joe: Yes.

Foster is 58 years old and has coached at Virginia Tech since 1987. Even if he coaches for another 5 seasons, that sun's still setting sooner than many care to admit. That's because Foster is an institution at Tech, and LPD — life post-defensive 🐐 — is hard scary to imagine. Hokie Nation's safety blanket has covered up a cold offense on plenty of Blacksburg nights. Without Foster, the only thing tucking in fans would've been a bourbon blanket.

GIFs are great segues.

Anyways, this discussion is prompted by the promotion of Galen Scott to assistant head coach/co-defensive coordinator/safeties. It's worth noting Foster remains listed as associate head coach/defensive coordinator & linebackers coach, notably there's a "co-" absent.

Furthermore, from the Virginia Tech release (emphasis my own):

Scott will continue to play an integral role with Foster in implementing all aspects of Tech's defense.

And per the Daily Press, Foster will still call the defense on game day.

Perhaps assistant to the defensive coordinator is more appropriate.

Either way, the title change seemingly serves as either a retention or succession mechanism for Scott. Regarding the former, the Daily Press reported other schools reached out to Scott about a coordinator role; prudent. More on the latter below.

Brian: Here's the single most interesting line item buried in the Fuente news release:

Fuente indicated that Galen Scott has been promoted to assistant head coach/co-defensive coordinator/safeties. Scott will continue to play an integral role with Foster in implementing all aspects of Tech's defense.

CUE THE PANIC! IS BUD GETTING DEMOTED? WHERE DO WE SHOW UP WITH THE TORCHES AND PITCHFORKS?

Nah, friends. I think we all need to come to the conclusion that Bud has had a frank conversation with Fuente about his future, primarily in that it won't last much longer. Foster's right around the age most normal (read: non-football) people start to hang it up. You have to wonder if he looks around, sees a program that's in the middle of a complete overhaul, and just thinks about becoming a full time wakeboarder/beard grower/intense grandpa.

The biggest change the Hokies have seen over the last two years isn't even the coaching overhaul, it's the reestablished tenacity when it comes to recruiting. Everyone has to pull their weight, and you have to wonder if the extra days on the road start to wear on a guy who's coming up on 60 (and maybe had an easier recruiting life at the end of the Beamer era).

If this were a Halfwits and Wagers article, I'd put the over/under on number of seasons Bud has left at 2.5. And I'd probably take the under. Wouldn't it make sense for him to head out at the same time as dudes like Mook, Trevon Hill, and Reggie Floyd, the final few members of his last amazing defense.

So it makes sense for Fuente to give Scott a new title with more responsibilities, more money, and a better position to soak up the last years of the defensive savant he's coaching next to.

Is Galen Scott Bud's de facto successor?

Joe:

It sure feels that way. Fuente's demonstrated multiple times he's going to hire people he trusts, where more often than not said trust was built via a prior working relationship. The pair were roommates, came up in the profession together, and Scott introduced Fuente to his wife. The comfort factor coupled with the fact Scott served as Fuente's defensive coordinator at Memphis makes him the favorite to succeed Foster.

Brian:

Probably, right? From everything we've heard, it seems as if Charley Wiles will go whenever Bud goes. And if we've learned anything from Fuente, it's that he really loves his dudes (think of all the people who came with him from Memphis). I'd also venture a guess that Fuente feels like he owes Scott, considering the man took a demotion to come to Blacksburg.

I can't decide if it's a good thing or not. I'm sure Scott is a good coach, a pretty good recruiter, and an all-around safe hire. But if things go wrong in the year or two post-Bud and fans come looking for blood, won't it be harder to use Scott as a scapegoat? It's not as if his Tigers' defenses set the AAC on fire, and the possibility of a regression is high, regardless of who the next coordinator is. At the very least, it'll be interesting to watch, with the potential for things to get incredibly awkward.

Is the outrage over Adam Lechtenberg as the Hokies' tenth assistant coach warranted?

Joe:

There's an odd dynamic among swaths of the fanbase in which they believe Fuente is an excellent head coach, but second guess every move he makes. With entry-level credentials, Lechtenberg was hired for a role presumed to require a candidate with a bit more experience. It's all too easy for even the most loyal Fuente supporters to balk at the decision. Especially when a foe in the division and on the recruiting trail hit the open market and made the splashy hire. That's North Carolina hiring Tommy Thigpen. Although, arguably the No. 2 program in college football — Clemson — also hired a relative no-name from within the program. In any event, it's Fuente's prerogative to hire as he sees fit. Ultimately, he owns the decision, but not the headlines, and time will tell whether or not it pans out.

It's most interesting that Lechtenberg is not tasked to coach a specific position group. He was hired as assistant head coach/executive director of player development, a role at face value to bolster recruiting.

Via the Virginia Tech release:

Lechtenberg will work directly with Fuente in overseeing the program's recruiting efforts and managing Tech's roster.

In his new role, he will manage all aspects of Tech's roster with Fuente from scholarship allocation to directing the team's walk-on program. His new designation also will permit him to represent Tech on the road as a recruiter and engage directly with high school coaches across the nation.

I have a mental image of Lechtenberg crisscrossing the country in a tan 2000 Mercury Sable with orders not to return to Blacksburg until he's secured blue-chip recruits. However, the projected angst from many that an unproven recruiter is charged to spearhead recruiting is understandable.

Brian:

I've never rolled my eyes harder than I did at the uproar over Lechtenberg's promotion. Here's the deal: do you want someone who will actually work well within the staff, or do you want to overpay someone from a sexy school who you're not actually sure is a good coach.

The Hokies need the money for the assistant coaches' salary pool. They need the money to give Scott a promotion. They need money to keep Ben Hilgart around. Personally, I'd much rather take the extra money from a "bigger hire" and spread it across all of the dudes currently on staff.

Because while it may not make for a splashy headline now, it shows that Virginia Tech and Whit Babcock are willing to pony up to not only keep their head coach, but their assistants as well. It helps with the general perception of the athletic department, and it's a nice thing to point to whenever they have to make a new hire (be it football or basketball).

The athletic department seems obsessed with a few angles of this, but none more so than staying competitive. Take these excerpts from the Virginia Tech beat, articles from David Teel and Andy Bitter, respectively.

Among Fuente's public-school ACC colleagues, only Clemson's Dabo Swinney and Florida State's Willie Taggart will make more. Swinney's average guaranteed compensation is $6.75 million through 2024, Taggart's $5 million through 2023.

Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall is guaranteed $3.55 million in 2018.

Fuente's new deal puts him in the top third of ACC coaches. The seven-year contract is now worth a total of $30.5 million, with $26.7 million of that in base pay and another $3.8 million in available retention bonuses over the life of the contract. He'll earn $5 million in 2024 if he's still at Virginia Tech.

It's not about the numbers, it's about the comparisons. The Hokies don't just want to make sure their coaches are fully compensated for their abilities on and off the field. They want to tell the rest of the country that they can stay competitive in this ever-increasing arms race in collegiate athletics.

Did Justin Fuente earn a salary bump?

Joe:

The market dictated Fuente receive a raise. In a vacuum, Fuente did not "earn" a raise due to Virginia Tech's results on the field last season. The Hokies were absent a marquee win, though some will argue for 7-6 West Virginia because West Virginia, didn't play for an ACC championship, and exhibited some terrible play calling as well as in-game management. The program did not take a drastic step forward nor backward. Neutral performances do not "earn" raises.

But the coaching carousel makes them happen! Fuente's name was batted around in the Sunshine State, and declining to pursue (as he publicly stated) potential opportunities at powerhouses Florida State and Florida get him some combination of loyalty bonus and market raise.

And while money can't buy happiness, it can purchase stability, at least for one recruiting cycle.

That'll help justify the price tag if Tech can capitalize on the continuity.

Brian: This one's tough. What does earn mean? In his two years at Virginia Tech, Fuente has won 19 games, won the Coastal Division once, and has (for the most part) completely revamped the offensive side of the ball.

But if you turn that around, under Fuente the Hokies have few "signature wins" — beating North Carolina in the hurricane game and West Virginia at FedExField are the closest, right? — and Tech suffered a major regression on offense with the departure of Jerod Evans, Isaiah Ford, and Bucky Hodges. He's been very good, but did he do anything in 2017 that screamed "throw this man all the money"?

Still, Fuente's a very-good-to-great coach. And you have to continuously pay those guys to keep them happy. And the longer they're happy, the longer they'll stay at your school.

We know the head Hokie received a few calls in one of the craziest coaching carousels we've had in some time. We also know that he turned all of those ovations down, which is a type of loyalty that definitely deserves rewarding.

So overall I'm pro-extension/raise, but it seems to set a dangerous precedent. Will Babcock have to go to the bank every December? How often can he do that before the situation becomes untenable? Does any of it even matter as long as the Hokies continue their gradual ascent and continue to win nine-plus games a year?

Comments

Question:

1. Is Scott the right man to succeed Foster? I understand his relationship to Fuente, but is Scott a good defensive minded guy at all? His Defense at Memphis and at other places if I recall got shredded quite easily, so why have someone who (presumably) may not be a good defensive-minded guy the title? Maybe Scott isn't cut-out to be a Defensive coordinator?

Is Scott the right man to succeed Foster? I understand his relationship to Fuente, but is Scott a good defensive minded guy at all?

If he is actually receiving DC offers from other schools, he must have some market value.

Twitter me

Probably not for div 1 schools though. And if that's the case then let him go if he wants go go. He'll either learn well at Tech under Foster or learn at FCS / other opportunities. In either case I think making him Co-DC is a bit premature.

He was already a DC for a Div. 1 School. His offers might have been for low level teams likes CCU but they are still FBS teams.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

Then by all means let him go to CCU or back to Memphis or anywhere else. Let him get more experience there. Tech shouldn't be the proving grounds for a DC coordinator who hasn't had a good track record of fielding good defenses.

You do know that Bud had never been a DC prior to coming here. And he was here several years before being made DC.
We were, quite literally, the proving ground for our current DC.

And thanks to Buds excellent career, we are no longer the same program. So we shouldn't
hold ourselves to the standard we did 25 years ago

Yes, we should be able to get a tenured, successful DC based on what we have to offer. However, the current market for top DC's is starting to get a little absurd. Less talented DC's than Foster are going for $1m+ pretty consistently. Mike Elko just got a 1.8m deal from A&M, for example. John Chavis just got hired for 995k by Arkansas with an option to increase to 1.5m in 2019. A&M and LSU have fuck you money to throw HC salaries at their assistants, but even Arkansas is dropping big money on DC's now. I'm not personally too excited about letting Galen Scott (hypothetically) run our defense one day necessarily, but if the market is too absurd to get a top notch DC, getting a Foster understudy at least in the short term wouldn't be the worst decision.

I would say that hiring an elite DC down the line would be an even better example than recruiting of why people need to join the Hokie Club and start donating like the top tier program fans want us to be.

edit: for clarity, I agree with you, just offering some perspective of the current DC environment.

Are you seriously comparing Tech prior to Beamer and Bud to now?

This is the correct question. Not a knock on Scott, but he has not had the proven history.

And while I appreciate that he has gotten offers from other programs simply having a title of Co-DC is either a paper tiger or a coach in waiting situation. Seems unnecessary in either case. If he is really the go to guy then just give him some extra money to keep him on board because he, and everyone, knows. If we are just giving him a title to placate the offers he got then it's a bad decision in my book.

And back to the original question. Is he really the guy to take over after Bud? dunno. Seems like a more venerated DC would be the best choice and likely very interested in the position. They are after all taking over for one of, if not the, best in the business.

It's a Trust in Fuente situation.

And frankly, with the Lichtenstein hire, Scott Co-DC and Farley moves all basically announced yesterday, the Fuente credit has been leveraged hard.

I want them to get Torrain Gray to come back and be the DC when Foster leaves.

Why? He coached his position group well, but there's been little to no drop off since he left. He was an okay recruiter (just don't ask anyone's mom). Personally I'd prefer Wiles to Torrian.

Twitter me

I will never understand how most of the fanbase, doesn't realize that are defensive scheme is what helps create great corners. It's the attacking defense, the masked coverages between Inverted Cover 2 and Cover 2 schemes. Those are fundamental parts of the defense that Foster has used to create great corners, well before Torrian was there.

What's
Important
Now

It is tough to compare Memphis Scott with Hokie Scott... the guy is gaining valuable experience working with the GOAT. We won't know what he can do with that experience until he is working without Bud anymore. Fuente obviously believes he is the guy, so we have to just wait and see (I'm still holding out hope that we will be waiting longer than 2.5 years to find out).

Is Bud Foster's retirement happening sooner than anyone wants to admit?

I better get rid of all these free passes I have while there's still time.

If this were a Halfwits and Wagers article, I'd put the over/under on number of seasons Bud has left at 2.5. And I'd probably take the under.

Sometimes I like to leave off the /s just to mess with people.

an odd dynamic among swaths of the fanbase in which they believe Fuente is an excellent head coach, but second guess every move he makes.

This is a:

Pain is Temporary
Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever
Let's Go Hokies!!

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

monkeys

Year 3 is coming up!

I think we all need to come to the conclusion that Bud has had a frank conversation with Fuente about his future, primarily in that it won't last much longer. Foster's right around the age most normal (read: non-football) people start to hang it up.

Let's Go

HOKIES

Does anybody actually retire at 60 anymore? I know the government considers retirement at 67. With rising costs of college educations, I might be working to 75 for the kids.

I'll find out in ~30 years and let you know. I'm saving like hell right now before my wife and I have kids.

The Orange and Maroon you see, that's fighting on to victory.

Yea having kids later in life really sucks for the retirement savings. I will hopefully only be 62 when my youngest graduates from college(better be VT). I would love to only have to work another 5 years after that but not counting on it.

I am going to be 63 when the youngest goes to College. I started late.

I'm 60 and my youngest (of 7) is going away to college this fall. Plus, I've been through two divorces, one just a few years ago. Talk about sucking away your retirement savings...I'll be working until I'm 80.

But how many people make a Bud Foster salary? I am guessing Bud is well past the whole working because he needs to phase.

Take 100 average Americans today and only 2 of them will be able to retire comfortably. It's smart to think outside the box in terms of traditional jobs and careers to earn a living.

You will see this game, this upset and this sign next on ESPN Sportscenter. Virginia Tech 31 Miami 7

I don't see Bud leaving within 3 years. I think he is all in on winning a NC at VT. I don't think that will happen in the next 3 years, but if Fuente can show that he still has the program on the right trajectory I think Bud rides it out for at least 5 more years. If at that point we're not knocking on the door of a NC, then I can see him bowing out.

It's a good point about the recruiting aspect though. It definitely seems like more is being expected from out staff on the recruiting front than it was at the end of Beamer's run. With that said, I think if our recruiting continues to improve, that will just light the competitive fire for Bud to keep him going and see the Fuente experiment through.

Here's hoping at least.

From your lips to Bud's ears

What's wrong with a cozy bourbon blanket?

How about we get through NSD and finish closing on some defensive prospects we've got outstanding in this class before starting rumors about the possibility of Bud retiring?

For the crowd that loves to cite 'recruits and players read the message boards' anytime someone says something that isn't a glowing review, this is one of those topics that really isn't going to do any favors.

I don't see anything in this against guidelines. Why the downvotes?

Sometimes we live no particular way but our own

Same here, I upvoted.

Because people here get upset when they feel the board is attacked in any way

The dude had like -20 in the first few minutes of posting. I'm not sure how that happened...

#thingsiblamethemvsfor

I did actually see this at -20 and figured I was on my way to some record.

I was wondering how it could happen so quickly. I know "the mod" has -10 downvote powers...but is there someone among us with -20 downvote abilities?

#thingsiblamethemvsfor

i thought it must have been something way out of bounds that had been edited. That is why I asked the question above after up-voting.

Sometimes we live no particular way but our own

That's my bad. I was tinkering with some back-end settings while analyzing down vote patterns and accidentally enabled a point multiplier (my ssh -> vim skills are not what they used to be). There was a minute or two where votes were being multiplied by 20, I reset the upvotes (1s), but didn't reset the downvotes (-1s), but seems like y'all took care of that.

For what it is worth, I up voted. I didn't see it as a personal attack on my brethren.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

This is the "stick to sports" for sports.

The intent wasn't rumormongering (and I don't believe the execution was either), rather merely an opinionated discussion of the news. That's what TKP does (or tries to do), objectively analyze and discuss the Hokies. I don't believe the promotion of Scott implies Bud has a foot out of the door, and I tried to articulate such. However, he's working through the back nine of his career and that's a tough position to debate against otherwise. For context, we decided to address that question because an overwhelming amount of Hokie Nation derived it as a possible takeaway of the day's news.

I do believe the Virginia Tech athletic department made a mistake by not having a quote from Foster in that release. Something as simple as "Coach Scott has impressed me with his knowledge, and I'm looking forward to working with him at Virginia Tech for a long time."

I get what you're trying to do, and it's a discussion point that is fair to have on a message board.

However, given that we're a week out from NSD and (at the time of this) have 3 significant defensive recruiting efforts ongoing - some of which have literally taken years to cultivate - publishing "If I had to bet, Bud has less than 2.5 years left working" is a bit reckless, especially given that the statement was made with little to no inside info on the situation.

Regardless of what it was intended to be, I think you guys know it will only throw gas on a rumor fire. It's totally you're right to publish speculation, as that's what message boards are for, but just be cognizant of the timing and circumstances. You and your staff seem to be quick to point out any time a specific player or person is referenced in any light that could harm them or the program, and I think this is one of those times. Simply adding the context you provided in the 2nd paragraph of your response now, would have been helpful to the situation.

Additionally, I also agree VT athletics could have done a better job rolling out the info a little more thoroughly.

I very much ask TKPers to curtail personal attacks, be it among posters, players, or recruits, but I've never censored anyone's opinion. Brian stated his opinion in an article, and it was rather clear he was doing so.

Based on my experience interviewing recruits, families, and coaches, most have a solid support system consisting of the latter two. They are not dumb. It'd be easy to tell if Foster (or whomever) was going through the motions with their recruitment. That's not the case here. Foster's aggressively gone after DH and JJB which would indicate he's in it for the long haul.

Tech's coaches have built a longterm relationship with the remaining recruits on the board. They are either going to sign or miss on those targets based on their own merit.

Simply adding the context you provided in the 2nd paragraph of your response now, would have been helpful to the situation.

Is there even a "situation"? To my knowledge there's not.

dude what are you talking about?

Joe didn't release the information about Scott becoming Co-DC. Any speculation starts there because that announcement is vague. Any OpEd comments made about that announcement is just a conversation due to its vagueness. VT made it news and left it open to speculation by not being definitive.

Read Fireman's tagline, you want to put out the fire go to the source.

One way that Bud could look at this is that it reduces his "facetime" in half by having a Co-DC. He can now dish off the Tech Talk Live, Post-game interviews, Hokie Club functions, etc. to Scott which might be refreshing for someone that has been doing those for so long.

I like this take.

Sometimes we live no particular way but our own

welp I guess we can put the D.Hall as next DC to rest now.

#Bapn ain't EZ

Wanna win put boobie in! Let boobie spin coach!

Are we just done considering that Bud wants to be HC somewhere before calling it quits? Not that I think he came to Fu and said if FSU had offered I'd take it, but I think if FSU had offered, he'd take it.

Sometimes we live no particular way but our own

The decision to give a significant raise to the recruiting coordinator, who has proven himself to the staff as a good project manager and relationship builder is a solid one. As a program director, it is critical to have people on your team who are competent, trustworthy, motivated, and buy in to your vision. In that sense, the hire is sound.

However, this is college football, not a normal business. Relationships are everything in recruiting, and right now there are large markets within the Hokies recruiting footprint which are being, for lack of a better term, under-recruited given their proximity to large numbers of VT alumni and the P5 talent available. Lechtenberg may be terrific in building those relationships. We don't know. However, there were options out there that have proven themselves in some of those key markets. He hasn't. Hence, until he proves his value with tangible gains in those key markets, I am very tepid about this hire.

I also will be the first to admit that I am wrong and be thrilled if he kills it. But, with the data currently available, this feels like a miss to me.

As for the whole Galen Scott (I have heard nothing but good things) and Bud Foster, I will say this. I am not sure why you do the "co-defensive coordinator" role. Why not take the Billy Hite route, and name Scott "associate head coach" and pay him the coordinator salary. I know the move was to secure Scott, but it is very easy (look at the reactions of our own fan base) as an act that destabilizes Fosters- especially if their are recruits out there who want to play for Bud. It could be a tool used by other schools to negatively recruit. "Yeah, Bud Foster and the Lunch Pail defense are awesome, but Foster is getting phased out." It may not be true. However, we had nearly a decade of talent drop off that at least was impacted by Beamer's impending departure.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

I think Shibest is Alfred the Butler

I am not sure why you do the "co-defensive coordinator" role.

exactly. paper tiger or coach in waiting. both a bad decision. great points here.

Go "associate head coach" like they did with Hite and Shane.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

precisely. 100% agree

Foster is the associate head coach tho

Re Lechtenberg, I think this might work out very well.
Recruiting is very much a sales job, and it's critical to build relationships not with the kids themselves but with the coaches and influencers in the decision loop. I see Lechtenberg as being able to focus on this full time.
As such he can identify the best prospects- and turn them over the rest of the staff to close

Here's the deal: do you want someone who will actually work well within the staff, or do you want to overpay someone from a sexy school who you're not actually sure is a good coach.

C'Mon Marcolini. We don't have to choose between somebody who will work well with the staff and overpaying a "sexy hire". (Why would anybody choose to overpay anybody?). False Choice Fallacy.

Fuente could've made a better hire with more experience and connections to recruiting hotbeds. Instead, they settled for a money-ball option and hired a guy who they hope has upside. I'll agree the outrage was over the top, but they could've done a better job and didn't.

@Fightin_Gobbler

Go Hokies

Go Falcons

I keep coming back to this quote:

"There's an odd dynamic among swaths of the fanbase in which they believe Fuente is an excellent head coach, but second guess every move he makes."

I've said multiple times on this board that Fu was the best hire, and is a great fit for VT. I can't stand the nitpicking around hires/playcalling/recruting/position moves/etc. I trust the guy. I have NEVER been a coach on any professional level, so I can't fathom the decisions that he makes every day.

I think way too much of our fanbase thinks that this coaching thing is easy.

I think way too much of our fanbase thinks that this coaching thing is easy.

Well, I don't know about easy, but on NCAA Football '11, I coached Virginia Tech to an undefeated season capped by a National Championship and won every game by an average of 70 points. I was beating UVA 77-0 and those brie cheese eating weenies somehow got a field goal in garbage time, so I started the game over. Beat them 84-0 the second time around.

"What kind of person would throw away a perfectly good dog?"

I originally had a snide remark about PS3 champions in my post, but decided against it. I see you and I are thinking along the same lines here.

Do you write for buzzfeed?

“I turned down 12 other opportunities. You know what I mean?” - Fuente