On Fuente and his Flirtation with Baylor

Thoughts on a whirlwind few days.

[Mark Umansky]

It has been a bumpy couple of days for Virginia Tech football fans. Word came out late Tuesday that head coach Justin Fuente was interviewing for the open position at Baylor. All was supposedly well Thursday morning, when Fuente posted a photo on Twitter of the coaching staff cramped into a conference room. The photo, clearly intended to calm the nerves of anxious Tech fans, did little to smooth over the intense divisions created days earlier.

Since arriving in Blacksburg, Fuente has struggled to connect with a fan base that had long been conditioned to a folksy and more transparent culture under Frank Beamer. Limiting press availability, closing off practices and choosing not to televise the spring game (among others) was a dramatic shift for many fans. Whereas Beamer was endearing in all settings, Fuente is guarded in public and reportedly down-to-earth in private. Fans' inability to truly see or know the "real" Justin Fuente makes it all the more difficult for portions of the fan base to connect with him.

When Buzz Williams interviewed and ultimately took the head coaching position at Texas A&M last spring, Hokies were equal parts sad and compassionate. Sure, there was a bit of saltiness at first, but it was no secret that Buzz dreamt of one day returning to his home state of Texas. And while Hokies everywhere had hoped Buzz was a basketball version of Beamer, the truth was that most fans knew his tenure would always be limited.

Fast forward to this week and Justin Fuente was in a similar situation, interviewing for a position close to his native Oklahoma. Why hasn't Fuente experienced the same empathetic response as Williams? The answer to that question probably depends on whom you ask.

Some would argue it is because he has failed to connect with the fan base, largely due to the aforementioned lack of transparency. Others would argue that results on the field and on the recruiting trail have led fans to sour on Fuente. Regardless, Fuente's flirtations with Baylor have revealed the deep divide within the fan base that had largely concealed itself following the Hokies' post-Duke win streak. While many fans have been quick to move on, others appear tired of Fuente's shtick.

In the aftermath of Fuente's morning twitter post, social media has been filled with hot takes that extend across the spectrum of reactions. Personally, I understand where everyone is coming from and appreciate many fans' willingness to move forward in support of the program. There is plenty to debate when it comes to how Fuente went about his tryst, an argument probably best left to the message boards. I want to move on and support the program — I love the Hokies, I am excited about the prospects of a wildly successful 2020, and I'm intrigued by a potentially transformative 2021 recruiting class.

Whether we like it or not — assuming you don't have a significant chunk of change to contribute to a buyout campaign — Fuente will continue to be the head coach at Virginia Tech. But there's one thing I'm struggling to get past: I can't get over Fuente's actions, on a human level.

Justin Fuente recently convinced multiple coaches (and their families) to leave their jobs and come work with him in Blacksburg. Tech literally announced the hiring of new cornerbacks coach Ryan Smith the day before Fuente met with Baylor. Imagine being Smith, who recently left the FCS runners-up for the next big step in his coaching career, or Bill Teerlinck, who left an AFC Wild Card team for the same position in Blacksburg. Better yet, imagine being their family, already subject to the turbulent lifestyle that is coaching high-level athletics. What would you think? Despite the hashtags, it sure doesn't feel like home to me.

I keep reading analogies to how people interview for jobs all the time, but what they're omitting is how different a college football head coaching position is from their jobs as an assistant to the regional manager of a mid-size paper company. I agree that everyone is entitled to entertain offers to better their career or their financial situation or their work-life balance (I know I have in the past). But to compare most jobs to a college football head coaching job is flawed. Few positions have so many others tied directly to theirs. If that assistant to the regional manager left for another paper company, chances are no one would lose their jobs as a result of their departure. And short of a Jerry Maguire moment, it's unlikely anyone is following them out the door.

By becoming an assistant coach or staff member, one gives up a certain amount of agency. They become tied to the successes and failures of their boss, for better or for worse. When Justin Fuente — and, by association, Brad Cornelsen, Justin Hamilton and Whit Babcock — recruited new staff members during the past month, they surely made a pitch to those individuals to come help build Virginia Tech back into a perennial contender. Those people, in turn, made a commitment to Fuente. Families are reliant on his word and the security that comes with it, however limited it may be. So for Fuente to explore an opportunity that potentially only benefits him and his family is extremely bothersome. I don't think I would work for a guy like that — would you?

I'm under no illusions that Fuente will be a Virginia Tech lifer, regardless of what he says to the media. College football is a business, plain and simple, and the loyalty that universities used to afford coaches is a thing of the past. In that sense, it's not too dissimilar from the current business climate. But that does not excuse the timing of this entire soap opera. I don't expect Fuente — or anyone else, for that matter — to be some virtuous ambassador for the university; I'm simply asking him to show some decency to the people he asks to go to battle with him every week.

Justin Fuente is still the head football coach at Virginia Tech. He will continue to hit the recruiting trail, making pitches to prospects and parents that Blacksburg is the best place for them and that he and his staff are the best group to help them meet or exceed their potential. The VT Football twitter account will continue to tell recruits #ThisIsHome. And we, as fans, are all expected to forget about this whole saga like it never happened. All is well.

Many will say that this is part of the business and coaches do this all the time, omitting the context of this particular situation. I can accept that coaches have a right to explore other opportunities, but that doesn't mean I have to condone what transpired.

Comments

I think my opinion depends on what actually transpired. If the rumors I'm hearing (that he told whit first, the meeting was very near Blacksburg, that this is the first opportunity of many that he actually listened to instead of just declining outright, and he ultimately decided Blacksburg was where he wants to be) then I have zero issues with any of it and I'm ashamed of many of the reactions, mine included. If it was not as stated above, then perhaps I feel differently. I think a lot of the negativity is based on the lack of good will Fuente has earned recently and the fact that his personality is a lot different than Beamers, especially with his handling of media access. I don't think we'd be reacting this way at all if Fuente was more aww shucks, fans had more program access, and we were winning more.

Since we'll probably never know, I'm inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt and see what happens. I'm still gonna be a fan and I'm still gonna write checks while encouraging others to do the same.

But I think regardless of what actually happened, Hokie nation should take a quick glance in the mirror and see if this is truly what we want to be. We all wish for more success but I don't really think our reactions, one way or the other, are going to make it happen. I'd prefer a more measured and positive approach, but I know that's probably a pipe dream.

Well said. Both to you and Pierson in the main article. As fans we're always clambering to get to know the man under the headset. We would like to be able to identify with him and celebrate him. This whole saga has been engaging because Fuente is a bit of a mystery and we're trying to fill in the gaps in our knowledge and give ourselves a reason to be on one side or the other. I have gone back and forth a bit myself. But you are right, we won't really ever know. What we can control though is how we represent VT as a fan-base. The most good we can do is be a positive natured reasonable fanbase. Doesn't mean you have to love the guy, but the vitriol serves essentially no positive purpose.

Whit actually spoke pretty openly about it to reporters earlier today, and pretty much everything you laid out is true.

Fuente told him about it on Tuesday, Baylor flew out the the NRV yesterday to do the interview, Fuente met with Whit afterwards to go through what Baylor offered him and said he'd sleep on it, then called Whit this morning to let him know he was staying.

Whit's quote on how it was handled is pretty open and shut:

Babcock understands some Tech fans might be frustrated over Baylor's very public courtship of Fuente, but the situation did nothing to damage the coach's standing in the eyes of Virginia Tech officials.

"He was straight-up in my book and [I had] no problem whatsoever with it," Babcock said. "In fact, I think it shows even bigger commitment on his part. He's not Frank Beamer and he's not Bud Foster and we don't want him to be, so he's a little more private that most. But when you know the Justin that I know, you know how much of a Hokie he is and how much he fits."

Sure, it might just be a line, but it seems like everything was pretty above board.

No offense, but I think this is an oversimplified and recency biased view of Fuente, Beamer and Buzz Williams - and their relationships with the VT fanbase.

What are you looking for, a 30 for 30 hour long production?

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Well if the whole premise of the article is built around those oversimplified and recency biased views, it might not be such a bad idea.

Frank's folksy approach wasn't particularly lionized by the fanbase in his last 5 years or more as head coach, Fuente's somewhat contrasting style was loved by most of the fan base in his first two years and Buzz detractors increased substantially simply when he left VT (even though it was generally assumed Buzz was a rolling stone leaning to Texas) and did so while apparently holding hands with aTm during much of his last season at VT - and many remain "Brent" detractors.

The common thread? When winning - and winning at VT - all is good. When not winning at VT, all is not so good with a sizable portion of the fanbase.

Frank's folksy approach wasn't particularly lionized by the fanbase in his last 5 years or more as head coach,

why would it be? And what's the relevance of lionizing during his years as head coach?

Fuente's somewhat contrasting style was loved by most of the fan base

This is your opinion, and there is no way to substantiate that his style was loved by most." I do remember many liking the idea of secrecy of the spring practices and game for the "competitive advantage." I don't recall the lack of revelations in his pressers being a thing of praise in his early years, but it has became more and more tiresome as time passed. You are probably right that these "feelings" probably do correlate with wins and losses, but not sure the relevancy here.

Buzz detractors increased substantially simply when he left VT (even though it was generally assumed Buzz was a rolling stone leaning to Texas) and did so while apparently holding hands with aTm during much of his last season at VT - and many remain "Brent" detractors

This is true and is not inconsistent with the original article.

I guess I just don't know what you're looking for. And I don't see relevance in what you're suggesting.

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When we look at the most successful teams over the long haul (that we want VT Football to emulate) there is a pretty dominant theme - consistency and longevity of the staff. This is still true for "most" of the long term successful programs even today in the world of instant gratification. The high mobility in head coaches that gets lots of headlines is less likely the consistent path of success. It's a quick path for a select few to some pretty fast riches, but not a legacy like Beamer's. Alas, the world, by and large, chases the quick buck as a primary MO.

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

When we look at the most successful teams over the long haul (that we want VT Football to emulate) there is a pretty dominant theme - consistency and longevity of the staff.

I'd argue that this is more a symptom than a cause. Let's look at LSU, Clemson, Bama, and OSU:

  • Dabo cleaned house on the offensive side of the ball after 2010 (fired Bill Napier, hired Chad Morris) and then again on the defensive side of the ball in 2011 (fired Kevin Steele, hired Brett Venibles). His current staff has stayed on for so long because (1) they're winning, thus not getting fired, (2) they're paid handsomely (3) they like working their (they like Dabo, thye like Clemson, they can recruit any player in the country, they work with 5-stars, etc). The consistency helps them win, but there wasn't any consistency when they were losing.
  • Saban has so much staff turnover, it isn't even funny. This is the opposite of consistency.
  • LSU is an interesting situation - In 2016, Steve Ensminger (LSU alum) was OC. Then, in 2017, Coach O brought in Matt Canada. In 2018, Matt Canada was fired, and Ensminger was re-promoted to OC. Then, in 2019, Coach O told Ensminger that he wanted to bring in Joe Brady, a then completely unproven football mind, who is less than half Ensminger's age, to restructure the offense, resulting in a national title. The real champ here is Ensminger - there's very few people who are humble enough to take a demotion, then promotion, then have someone with over 25 years less experience tell them what to do.
  • Urban had 11 different coordinators in 5 seasons at Ohio State. Granted, he often had co-coordinators on each side of the ball, but almost no one stayed more than two years.

Twitter me

Can we stop acting like this is a damn reality tv drama....

He talked to Baylor. Here didn't go to Baylor. That's what we know.

Here want an analogy like the head coach leaving and takes his staff into consideration a company buys another company, smart business move on their part. 1,500 people are let go. Happens every day on one scale or another.

He doesn't owe us jack shit. He made Whit aware of it and I'm sure he addressed it in the room with all of his coaches.

(add if applicable) /s

I'll have what heuplek is having.

but that doesn't mean I have to condone what transpired.

This comment, as your close is frustrating.

Feelings are not the story here. It's a notable embarrassment in all of this, but pandering to the reactionaries is an awful look.

The actual story:
Baylor offered Fuente as their top choice. Fuente states he was not interested.

This article:
I don't trust Fuente, and regardless of what transpired, I don't think I'm alone.

Thank you for being a lot more clear in what I was trying to get across. Its frustrating as hell. Don't get me wrong it's a well written peice I just completely disagree with the entire approach of it.

(add if applicable) /s

I've always thought of TKP as an online sports bar, everyone has assholes/opinions. Respectful discourse is the fun part.

Fuente/his tenure might be the most polarizing thing I've ever covered at Virginia Tech (perhaps it's recency bias or I am forgetting someone obvious). But to me that's not a great thing for many reasons.

Which is fair. I'm not saying that this has any effect on my thoughts of TKP. Having different opinions is what makes this site great. I'm just voicing my opinion that I'm a bit tired of people shitting on him for something that seemingly isn't that big of a deal now.

Now him sending Whit to talk to the press instead of trying to clarify the situation himself has probably contributed a lot to why this is still sitting awful with a lot of people.

Who knows. Thank you for attending my TedTalk and please donate to HokieClub.

(add if applicable) /s

I don't think he sent Whit to the press conference. I think Whit took that upon himself. And the story is more credible coming from Whit than a Fuente.

Fuente said he would rather go to work today than speak to the media.

I guess he didn't send whit but he didn't send himself.

(add if applicable) /s

Replacing a legend is almost impossible. There is a contingent of Hokie fans who seem dead set on making it as hard as possible on Fuente. There is a smaller contingent of Hokie fans who seem dead set on defending him at all costs. This piece, to me, falls pretty far on the "let's make it hard on him" side... if I were TKP I would want to be much more in the middle.

I often wonder if the media access thing is an issue to the vast majority of the fan base or mostly on TKP because of how vocal the main contributors have been in complaining about it. I am a huge college football fan and I don't really understand what the complaint is. We don't get enough instagram clips from practice, updated weight lifting numbers, or an open practice or two? Really?? I love football enough that I've played college fantasy for a decade and yet I attended exactly ZERO open practices ever.

People talk as if Beamer laid it all out there for the fans but my memory is completely different. He had his own separate subscription website, Beamerball.com, that posted most of the inside information on player development and status and the spring game wasn't aired until well after many other schools started either. Weaver takes the heat for being draconian with media access for independent coverage by websites but the fact is TKP wouldn't have a press pass for the majority of Frank's tenure. Finally, the entire reason that the Tech Talk Live format changed from a more open fan Q&A to a very controlled format was that Beamer got upset after JasonInArlington pressed him on Stinespring. I understand that fans will always love Beamer but I think many are either ignoring or forgetting many of the issues that existed while he was head coach.

Joffrey, Cersei, Ilyn Payne, the Hound, Jeff Jagodzinski, Paul Johnson, Pat Narduzzi.

I often wonder if the media access thing is an issue to the vast majority of the fan base or mostly on TKP because of how vocal the main contributors have been in complaining about it. I am a huge college football fan and I don't really understand what the complaint is.

I can speak only for myself, but as a fan, I follow college football 365 days a year. Recruiting is of big interest because it helps drum up excitement for me for upcoming season(s). With this staff, it seems like there is an engagement switch that turns on in late July and then shuts down in January. Everything is held so close to the vest, that it makes it challenging to make more emotional connections with staff and overall product - which (at least to me) help drive additional donations and giving.

Open practices help get an outsider's perspective on program progress, what to watch for, and what to be excited about. Coach-speak only goes so far - especially when Fuente is typically the only one standing at the podium, controlling the message. Beyond that, regardless of the 'personality' CJF has with his team behind closed doors, showing very little of that hurts the program, imo. Coach O has turned 'Go Tigers' into a meme. We all know what 'Row The Boat' is. Dabo is 'All In.' These help build excitement and connections to the program, which again create a dynamic more conducive for donations and giving.

Mario Cristobol tweets multiple times a day. He went live on social media outside of the Rose Bowl thanking the fans and pumping up the brand. That creates excitement for fans and prospective players. It helps build a culture.

Coach Smithey said in a recent post regarding recruit engagement, "I think the power of social media these days cannot be understated. when you get a bunch of the country/states top recruits all getting on board with these things the kids take notice. they get interested like hey what is VT doing over there and how can we be a part of the trend. "

Before this stuff with Baylor went down I had looked at Twitter.

  • Fuente had a handful of commitment RTs from his account, and not a single direct tweet since October 25th, 2019 when he's thanking the VT Grounds Crew for resoding the practice field.
  • Lecht hadn't directly tweeted since 11/23/19
  • Cornelsen hadn't tweeted since 9/1/19
  • Shibest hasn't even RT'd anything since 10/6/19, and literally has not made a direct tweet from his account since 7/10/2017

This level of FREE engagement is unacceptable in 2020. Show some personality to the fans who the AD is begging to donate, and to recruits...Get people excited about the program. Building a wall around it like we've got massive trade secrets bursting at the seems is ridiculous.

I don't have twitter and do not do much on social media at all - but this is a very good point. Got to get the brand out there, and this is a free and unregulated (not that the NCAA has the backbone to regulate anything) method of doing so. Take advantage of it!

I agree with almost everything you wrote, except this:

This level of FREE engagement is unacceptable in 2020

It's not free unfortunately, it time Fuente could be doing something else. For someone who is not 'social media literate' (for lack of a better term), building an online identity, whether it's authentic or more of a curated brand, may not come natural.

Twitter me

It's not free unfortunately, it time Fuente could be doing something else.

I'd agree with this if we already didn't have a staff pumping out graphics, videos, and the like, which he could easily be leveraging. Fuente can tweet while he's taking a shit. We're literally talking about taking a couple seconds, not minutes or hours out of his day. There is no excuse for our lack of online presence from the staff. It's very disappointing.

If it 'doesn't come natural,' to him, he needs to outsource it to someone who can. It's 2020 and no longer optional.

EDIT:

Let me also re-add the quote, since 904 is so well regarded here and in-tune with the recruiting game. You can't tell me a few seconds or minutes 'isn't worth it.' This is how coaching and recruiting goes now.

"I think the power of social media these days cannot be understated. when you get a bunch of the country/states top recruits all getting on board with these things the kids take notice. they get interested like hey what is VT doing over there and how can we be a part of the trend. "

He's not too busy to do what should be a real function of the job. If he truly is, he needs to re-prioritize, and may be part of the reason why we regularly see guys on the trail saying "VT doesn't reach out too much"

Awesome, thanks

Dont' get me wrong - I'm not doubting the importance of a social media presence in 2020 - I'm just saying that it might be too far outside of Fuente's comfort zone. I absolutely think he should outsource it - Frankly, I think the whole staff should outsource it, and there should be a united effort to display a unified brand image.

Twitter me

Exactly, get a grad assistant to run them or someone on the media side inside athletics.

Can't spell DBU without Bud

I'm not sure he was saying Fuente personally needs to be engaged on Twitter or other social media (although he did list tweets from accounts). Basically, free is the dollar cost, but from an economics standpoint, twitter is probably one of the better ways to communicate with recruits (direct texts work well, but I think younger people like being recognized publicly). So basically, while there is a time cost, there may also be a much larger cost in recruits that might sign with VT if the coaches, or at LEAST football program, had an active twitter engagement. I agree that it's something that we're probably hurting ourselves on the recruiting trail by not embracing Twitter and understanding the benefits it offers.

And to go off of your point, it doesn't even have to be Fuente himself controlling the account. I would imagine that most coaches at these big schools have a GA or someone else in charge of actually typing these tweets up and sending them

"These people are losing their minds" - Mike Patrick

I don't think it's recency bias. To most of us, he's not our real dad.

And his tenure has been so weird. If we don't win the Coastal in 2016, he's probably not as polarizing because he'd have less support now.

I still have hope for him I guess. I don't know. I just love the Hokies and want to win games. All of this is more fun when we win.

I don't know. Beamer's tenure after 2011 wasn't more polarizing? Bryan Stinespring, Scott Loeffler, Sean Glennon, Logan Thomas, Seth Greenberg, Jim Weaver were all pretty polarizing and the discussions about them were voluminous and passionate.

There was virtually NOTHING polarizing about Fuente in his first two years. It was pollyanna world. "This is what a leader says and does". "This is what having the courage to take chances looks like". "Pass to win, not to score...GENIUS!" "Love the huddle with the players before heading to the locker room before half - that shows it's all about team". Everybody was giddy except the few who thought folks was getting out over their skis. Now those same people who loved him in Y1 & Y2 have the pitchforks out saying he lacks fire, isn't a leader, is indecisive, has lost the team, etc.

That says to me it's not Fuente and his approach, his manner...his style which is polarizing. That's just humans needing to rationalize order out of perceived disorder.

perhaps it's recency bias or I am forgetting someone obvious

Stinespring?

I'm mostly disengaged in the Extremely Online Hokie Message Board Universe these days, but what I have seen doesn't hold a candle to Bryan Stinespring's tenure as OC.

Most Hokies I talked to were pretty aligned on at least demoting Stiney. When it comes to Fuente, you have maybe 10% who love him, 20% who are ready to fire him, and 70% who lay somewhere in between.

Twitter me

both of those stories are true though...

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He doesn't owe us jack shit.

Fine, but do you not think he owes his staff anything? To me that was the crux of Pierson's perspective.

If he owes his staff anything I'm sure he addressed it with them. If that's the crux of this peice then I think its ill founded as we don't know what his staff did or didn't know.

It's also fairly expected that a good portion of them we're going to leave with him if things turned out differently. I can continue to expand on my analogy but I think everyone can peice it together. Did the timing suck for them, sure. That's not his fault though.

(add if applicable) /s

To add to this, I'm sure part of the allure of going to Baylor was increasing his salary pool for coaches, which would directly benefit the staff members that would leave VT to join him. So while it certainly sucks for those left behind, it's not as simple as Fuente skipping town to take care of himself.

No. Just like how if Ryan Smith somehow got offered by Alabama and wanted to go, he could've just left too (assuming here; not sure how his contract was set-up). Point is, this is what CFB is these days. Hundreds of millions of dollars. It's more akin to wall street banking (or some other apt analogy) where you can get dropped or drop yourself and go somewhere else at a moments notice.

That's the part of the OP I have issue with. There is nothing to suggest that his motives weren't all about the staff and the support they need to do their jobs, especially recruiting.

Whit said they've been having ongoing discussions, pre-Baylor. Assuming that is true, I think there is a pretty high probability that those discussions weren't going in favor of sustaining/elevating the football program, hence the Baylor deal.

I have run an organizational unit that was constantly asked to do more with less. When we succeeded and made high level leadership look good and get their bonuses, we were then asked to do even more with even less, and other parts of the organization that weren't pulling their weight were given more resources to prop them up. So when I see a situation emerge where Fu has gained nothing personally except a bunch of heat from the fans, and apparently declined the opportunity for more money and resources from Baylor, the last thing I would write is the OP.

Here's a hot take... this article is a piss poor stance for TKP to take as an official stance.

Based on what Andy Bitter has reported some of the info in this article is false. Not a good look.

Is the author suggesting Fuente should have straight up shut down interest Baylor had? That's a joke right?

Is the author suggesting Fuente shouldn't have filled coaching positions last week in anticipation of an opening coming this week?

Is the author suggesting if Mike Gundy has a heart attack and Ok State comes calling this spring it would be wrong for Fuente to consider a dream job because of the new coaches families?

Is the author ignoring the fact that Fuente (based on reporting from Bitter) apparently did consider the personal costs for those on his staff and got something for the program (not for him) that Whit hadn't previously guaranteed and turned Baylor down without hearing an offer?

This is a garbage take and it would be a shame to have it associated with TKP in an official capacity.

What's non-factual in this article?

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That Fuente hopped a flight. Bitter reported Baylor came here.

The entire assertion that a football coach has a bigger impact on his subordinates than other "normal" jobs. I am an engineer who has lost 2 jobs because of section managers, leaving, and departments shutting down. I also dont make 250k a year like these coaches so my sympathy for them might not be all that intense.

That's my bad. I should have caught that while editing. For a peak behind the curtain, TKP along with several other media outlets were not invited to participate in today's teleconference. Pierson wrote this during his lunch break and I published after work. Had very little visibility into every detail.

Mistakes happen, that really isn't that big a deal, kinda nitpicky. It just really stood out to me because of my general distaste for this whole take. Everything from painting Buzz in a better light than he deserves for how he left (planning for months, gutting our recruiting). Using Buzz as a positive example, when based on all actual reports Fuente handled things lightyears better. The extreme ignorance about how jobs work for most of us. The idea that we are really just upset about the human aspect when we really have no idea how the coaches were approached. All of it seems to be set up to make Fuente look as bad as possible. I appreciate that from a journalistic perspective Fuente is hard to cover and maybe even hard to like, especially compared to Beamer. I too wish he didnt wall off the program so much but this article seems to me to be written looking for the worst and finding it even when, based on reports it isn't there. I appreciate that for journalists it might be hard to be buddy buddy with Fuente but this certainly crosses the opposite line.

I honestly don't have an agenda. This was written from the perspective of someone empathizing with the coaches who changed jobs for someone who may (or may not have) almost moved on from them before they really got started in Blacksburg. I understand that the timing of everything is unpredictable and Fuente can't control when a desirable position becomes available. But sometimes one needs to take a step back - even before formally meeting with the employer - and gauging whether the timing is right for them. From what we're reading tonight, that eventually happened. But I - as a person and not as the sole representative of TKP - have a problem with how it was handled by Fuente. Full stop.

Also, I'm an architect and not a journalist. I, like the rest of us, do this in my free time and haven't tried to be buddy buddy with Fuente. I live 700 miles away. I simply asked myself what it must feel like to be one of those new coaches yesterday and then today. Maybe it's because my wife is a therapist and we talk about feelings a lot. Who knows.

I'll take you at your word that you dont have an agenda. I feel bad for the coaches too, but not to the point of assuming Fuente didnt consider them, or was only looking for his. Especially since none of the official reporting we've seen, from people who are journalists, indicates that he was all that close to accepting a job from Baylor. We also have no idea if any of his staff was in the loop or not. However, if we are into feelings, I feel like it is a safer assumption to think they were much closer to this than any of us were and the discomfort of uncertainty that they felt was of a much shorter duration than ours and likely moderated by conversations with Whit and Fuente. This whole thing seems to have been written assuming the worst of Fuente's empathy for his coworkers (when history shows, if anything he is too loyal to his coaches).

To end, I appreciate your concern, even if it is condescending, for my mental and emotional health. I think if you peruse my comments and compare them to the average from TKP the last few days you'll find that I'm a much more emotionally healthy person than the vast majority of users here. Perhaps that isn't a good measuring stick, but its something.

Edit: that last paragraph was written before the suggestion that I see a therapist was removed from the comment I replied to.

Your last paragraph doesn't make much sense now since he ninja edited his comment

stick it in, stick it in, stick it in!

Wrong place. Delete

If you want level-headed opinions, don't go on a message board or sports forums

I was suggesting you try practicing empathy, not that you go see a therapist. I apologize for any confusion. After re-reading my original post, I saw the potential for confusion and deleted the last sentence. It wasn't an attempt to be slick, simply an attempt to clarify. My apologies.

Personally, we are good. I dont think you are a bad dude. I think you have a really bad take here and for someone trying to tap into how the coaches felt about this, since that is the stated goal, I think you did a really poor job empathizing with Fuente by assuming he didnt at any step of the process take his coaches into consideration. He may have had no intentions of accepting a job without guaranteeing that all his coaches at least got 200k in an analyst role, even if laterals weren't an option. We dont know what he was thinking. This piece gives no credit to Fuente to be able to foster healthy relationships with his coaches.

I've had horrible takes before. I dont think I'm a bad person for it. You have a horrible take here, I dont think it makes you a bad person. Honestly, I would have commented if it was just a topic but the fact that it is tagged to the front is what really made me go all in on it.

Maybe it's because my wife is a therapist and we talk about feelings a lot

/S if it isn't so brutally obvious.

The plane thing was an error and non-factual. I assume he missed that part.

Regarding jobs, I know what you're talking about. I have worked in biotech. When funding is lost, the research team is either dismissed or reassigned. When I left my biotech company for grad school, the whole team I was working with was gone 1 year later. With that said, Fuente just hired these guys days ago. He also is selling "family" and "home" to his coaches and players. Maybe that was also true in your situation, idk, but that was a major point. The timing was piss poor and showed that he didn't consider VT his "home" and his coaching staff "family."

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Both companies were small less than 150 people and employee owned... certainly sold the family feel. One I was at for 45 days, one 3 years. I get it. It sucks but to suggest Fuente didnt consider the human impact is a huge assumption, especially since he didnt leave. To assume the coaches were as out of the loop as TKP was is also a stretch.

even if the coaches were in the know, it's terrible way to break in your new coaches and DC. They'll spend 80 to 100 hours a week in the fall and spend many nights together on the recruiting trail. You need trust, and it needs to be there on day 1. This was one of the coldest greetings you could give a new coach (or a coach in a new position).

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But this also assumes that Fuente, had he accepted the new job, would NOT have taken any and all coaches that just signed on with Tech.

I'm not sure what an "official stance" is. These are Pierson's thoughts on the situation. You don't have to agree with them, and feel free to disagree, but I would encourage you to respectfully disagree.

I figure if it's on the TKP front page it represents TKP officially, if it were a comment in a thread, or even a regular thread with no front page billing, I'd still disagree but not be offended by the lack of journalistic integrity.

I think I've been much more respectful than the majority of your users have been for the last couple days... but I will tone it down.

it's an opinion article.

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Does it indicate that somewhere?

Thoughts on a whirlwind few days.

Read the subtitle.

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I assume these thought represent TKP since they are headlined, edited and paid for. Typically, in journalism, opinion pieces are clearly labeled and state: This is the view of the author and does not represent the official stance of XYZ.

I assumed TKP staff were all paid. See we all look like asses when we make assumptions. The good news for me is mine is just buried in the comment section.

perhaps they should add that disclaimer.

But, tbh, this is a blog and not a news site. So, opinions are always of the individual writing it. And if you frequented TKP for years, it is well established that Pierson is an opinion writer that has often "slept on it."

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If you're smart enough to be worried about journalism ethics you should be smart enough to use context clues to realize that this is one author's opinion and not an official company statement

One TKP staff member (French) writes his take as a topic.

One TKP staff member (Pierson) writes his take and it gets front page billing. No designation as an opinion piece, sure it's written as an opinion but am I to assume it is solely the author's opinion and not representative of the organization if it isn't stated that way? Especially considering the obvious delineation between front page and discussion topic? If someone from VT athletics reads TKP to get a pulse of the fanbase, you think they aren't giving more consideration to the front page... If I were Joe I'd make sure anyone reading could clearly and easily identify this as an opinion.

Maybe do what news sites do - say "Opinion: On Fuente and his Flirtation...". That's how they get away with controversial subjects :D

I'm not really surprised. We've already gotten to the point where some are trying to drive a wedge down the middle of the fanbase and label everyone as a "Fuente Apologist" or "Fuente Hater". No criticism or defense of the staff can go unpunished on these forums anymore. Very reminiscent of how toxic TSL got in the latter years of Beamer, especially in the years prior to Stiney being demoted.

King Alum of the House Hokie, the First of His Name, Khal of the Turkey Legs, The rightful Heir to the Big Board, the Unbanned, Breaker of Trolls and Father of Gritty

To be clear, for me, on the field Fuente has left much to be desired the last 2 years. I wish he was more engaging. I wish drama didnt follow him every offseasons. I wish he had a better relationship with football alumni and high school coaches in Va. I wish he didnt wet the bed recruiting the 2020 class. I wish he didnt have so much loyalty to Corny. He isn't my dream coach.

He also gets way more crap than he deserves. Especially the last two days.

...how toxic TSL has been since... (it hasn't changed much, probably gotten worse)

Your levelheadedness and rational take have absolutely no place on The Key Play!

/S

On a far more serious note, I think there are segment of the fanbase that are struggling to accept this is the new norm where school with deeper pockets are going to inquire into having Fuente take over their program. The days where coaches stay at one institution is long, long gone. Frank Beamer practically became an institution unto himself and Justin Fuente clearly have Fancy Gap sized shoes to fill, I do not envy the pressure he was faced from Day One.

I give him, Bud Foster, and Whit Babcock credit for making the transition from Beamer Era to Fuente Era as smooth as possible. Fuente honored the past by awarding Special Team Player of the Week in practice to wear #25. He allowed Bud Foster to run the defense as he see fit without tampering too much, a temptation I am sure he had to fight to resist. Yes, Fuente was hired since he built a reputation upon his offensive mind approach, and with Corn calling the plays, his first year at helm saw VT set several school records, gave Clemchump the run for the money in his first ACC championship appearance. Last year was the worst I have seen from VT in a long time, not since the year Beamer's team lost to Maryland in their farewell tour of the ACC. The Duke Debacle of 2019 will not be erased from Hokie Fandom memory for a long time, it is up there with losses to JMU and Temple, mind boggling bad. I can only hope that Fuente can get the program trending in the right direction starting now.

Speaking of Fuente's personality, I am reminded of how often Beamer had the "Who Fart Look" on his face, and Fuente comes across as someone who is in control (exception is made for the Duke Debacle where he looked so lost, I never want to see that look again). He exhibits emotions and passion on the sideline like any other coaches will. Nick Saban comes across as a massive asshole but his players respect him. Dabo and his "Aw Chuck" routine might be endearing to certain folks, but other folks find him a phony and relish the opportunity to rip into him when Dabo loses his mind. Sometime I feel that certain people want the cake and eat it too.

The whole thing with the Fuente-to-Baylor drama was filled with hot takes, half-baked opinions, and tons of GIF to express thoughts - myself including. I think it will be a while before things calm down and spring practices are just around the corner, a long corner at that. Sure, the timing of the whole thing was super awkward with the last addition to the staff announced, and Early Signing Day completed with another one in a few days on deck. Again, I think that some of us are going to have to come to term that Fuente may leave the program one day, or he might decide to put roots in Blacksburg.

In the macro sense, I have come to hate what College Football has become. It is, for all practical purpose, a semi-professional league with multi-million dollars coaching staff, world class weigh and nutrition programs, stadiums that is almost on par with NFL stadiums, and the TV money that are tied to various conferences, it has taken away the simple joy of watching the game. It does not matter what school one fanbase pull for, the anxiety to make it into the College Football Playoff is harder to enter, and the bar has never been set higher than the BCS Era. I know that VT's fanbase want to win the Coastal Division yearly, making sure UVA stays in its place as #2 in the state, and at the bottom of the ACC pile, and actually win the ACC. I don't have the answer to how Fuente and his staff can answer the expectation of the fanbase. Money can only go so far because the coaches still have to coach the players. The players still have to go to school, take classes in order to meet the NCAA's eligibility requirements, and there is only so much hour in a single day for the coaching staff and the players.

Short of the Power Five conferences telling the NCAA to go eff themselves and form their own institution wholly separated and operated by themselves with their own by-laws, board of directors, etc, College Football the way it is, is here to stay until something change.

Anyway, those are my thoughts, and thanks for the forum, Joe.

Damn!!! Speaking the damn truth!
Well done fellow C-Burg resident.

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

This post went from reasonable to over reactionary very quickly. How many coaches are guaranteed to be at there school the following year? We (myself included) do not know how to handle coaching transitions. I think the biggest takeaway here is that he declined the offer. And it was a pretty good opportunity, just ask Bill Roth. And he came back knowing that he must perform in the near future or lose much of his value when looking for the next gig. He is betting that he can give us exactly what we are asking for.

"A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it." - K

This is weak. Suggesting he would leave on his own and is selfish and self serving for listening to a job pitch. How do you know who he would or wouldn't have taken to Baylor? Maybe he's had have gotten everyone a 30% raise. Generally coaches get to hire their own staffs.

do you honestly think that JHam thought he would be going with him and get a 30% raise when heard the news? Or the new CB coach? or Tapp? or the other VT guys?

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Do you honestly think Fuente completely neglected to consider the impact on the coaches that work for him and completely shut them out of the process... both are equally as unlikely from my perspective.

completely, no. sufficiently, yes.

I honestly don't know how JHam or the others were feeling yesterday or how they feel today. To me, it still reeks of very poor timing and a major lack of consideration for his "non-buddies" on staff.

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To you. But you have no idea. Or sources. Or any real knowledge. Who can read minds?

If this had been drug out for days, or if it looked like he seriously considered the offer, or if he got himself an extension, raise or bonus, or if there was evidence that it was done behind the backs of Whit or his coaches I'd agree with you. Everything we know is against this. It was over in 36 hours. He got something from Whit for the program, not himself. Whit was in the loop. He pulled his name from consideration before an offer was made. He made Baylor pursue him, he didnt pursue them. These seem to be the most reliable facts we have. If other (credible) information emerges I will reconsider, until then it seems like you have to want to attribute something negative to Fuente in this situation in order to do it.

so the timing of the staff hiring and promotions are irrelevant?

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Should he have left coaching spots vacant incase Baylor or someone else wanted to pursue him? The coaching moves were made in a reasonable timeline based on when the season ended for the various teams the coaches we got previously worked for. Those timelines were not within Fuentes control. The only option you have is to say Fuente should have flat out rejected Baylor from the word go, told them he didnt want them to come, had no interest. Outside of that scenario, which is unreasonable to expect, the credible information we have paints a picture of the situation playing out in the best way possible for everyone involved, his coaches included.

why would he leave spots open? Just because an opportunity exists doesnt mean that it is the right time to take it.

If you marry a significant other with whom you have a few kids and then at your wedding reception you find out that the "one that got away" is now single and moving into your city, do you go on a date with the one the next day?

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I think I've read enough terrible analogies over the past two days to last a lifetime.

stick it in, stick it in, stick it in!

it is an overstatement. but the idea is just because an opportunity exists doesnt mean you should take it. Taking that opportunity could have an effect on other people and potentially a very negative effect. I think it was a mistake for Fuente to take the interview. It had to be a terrible feeling for JHam and others. It almost left Babcock in a terrible bond. My point is it has ramifications and now he has to walk back and mend. He has a whole offseason to do so.

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Is this a standard you would hold yourself to? Not taking an interview for a position that could increase your salary 50% and likely double or triple salary budgets for the coaches you'd employ, plus move you closer to home.

If you'd honestly turn that down then I have no problem with you thinking poorly of Fuente. If you wouldn't turn that down you need to start singing a new tune.

I would like to think I would have that level of empathy, but I'll probably never know.

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Forgive me if it strikes me as hard to believe that you'd have that level of empathy if you dont have the level of empathy required to not assume the worst about a man's intentions when entertaining an opportunity to potentially better his and his families life, and his ability to do so tactfully with respect to his coworkers and subordinates.

I just don't get that stance. Yes we all want JHamm to succeed and yes had Fuente taken the job it would impact him and the rest of the coaches. But, come on, you don't go into coaching without being aware that coaching changes happen and you will inevitably be affected by them. Surely it sucks for them but that's how this business works.

Putting Whit in a bind is even less a concern. This is what he gets paid for.

I agree the effect on Whit is less of a concern. But, it's not just a coaching change. It's the timing. Hiring someone the bolting just seems to me to lack empathy to those you just hired. Idk, I just feel like if you just hire someone, you owe them some time. how much? just depends.

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Nothing about this is comparable to marriage.

You are stating there is some issue with him taking an interview when he just had been hiring. But what the other post is saying, and I said before as well, is that the alternative to what you are saying is that he shouldn't have been hiring because he was interested in taking the interview.

That's just not true. Operations need to keep going and that includes hirings.

The other thing I know you are saying is that he didn't have to make himself available for the interview at all, and the blow back is 100% on him because that was his decision. Which is where we disagree. I don't believe there is any reason at all to be upset that he took an interview.

But what the other post is saying, and I said before as well, is that the alternative to what you are saying is that he shouldn't have been hiring because he was interested in taking the interview.

That's not the only alternative.

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If your contention is he shouldn't have interviewed because he just hired coaches you then only have two options. He should have left spots open to be sure no jobs came open he may be interested in, or he should have refused any interest he received within a certain (undefinable) amount of time of filling the spots.

It is obviously asinine to propose he wouldn't fill the coaching spots. It is also unreasonable to expect someone to turn down an opportunity to hear about what might be a better career move for them because of hiring timelines.

The marriage analogy is horrendous, based on that analogy anyone who considers improving their career outlook is equivalent to a husband willing to cheat on his wedding day.

It is also unreasonable to expect someone to turn down an opportunity to hear about what might be a better career move for them because of hiring timelines.

disagree here. but that's I guess my point.

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I agree with you on this. It's not "unrealistic" to expect a head coach not to entertain an offer elsewhere hours after introducing his last staff member, knowing full well that leaving would seriously gut the team moving forward

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

This is such a weak argument to me.

You're assuming that he hasn't turned down other overtures. We have no idea if he has or not. We only know about this because it leaked. But most times opportunities are routed through agents of which perhaps he has turned down many previously. There is such a lack of contextual historical perspective to get so upset over him taking an interview.

Maybe just maybe this situation was predicated on the fact that he always promised himself that he would entertain an offer if it ever came from X universities, and this happened to be one. He listened and realized "hey you know what. The grass isn't greener and me and my family are where we need to be." and then he declined the interest.

This is as equally assumptive as the scenario you are making but showing his decision making to be proper and wholly commited to VT. But you are only entertaining the negative scenarios.

Without context why are you so bent out of shape about it? It doesn't make sense.

I'm not assuming anything about any other overtures or opportunities? Even so, Whit said this was the first time Fuente discussed interviewing elsewhere with him. I'm not bent out of shape about anything, but the "fuente can't control the timing of this" crowd ignores the fact that he controls his own availability and this is a bad time to make yourself available.

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

I didn't say you were assuming that. I said that you are assuming only a negative scenario and not a positive one and getting upset he made himself available. His availability seems to have you bent well out of shape because you keep bringing it up as something he did incorrectly. And again even if this was the first time Fuente discussed anything with Whit does not mean this is the first time anyone has attempted to contact Fuente. Those are not the same.

Why exactly does he need to not be available? To appease fans who over react without contextual information? There is no reasonable explanation why he should be restricted from meeting anyone. Or I have yet to see anyone make that point other than they themselves "feel" it hurts the brand, hurts fan relationships, hurts coaching relationships etc which are all similarly assumptive.

Clearly as we can see in these discussions it rubs some people emotionally wrong and others not. But where is the logical reason the man should be restricted from interviewing? If you believe Whit saying this is the first time then likewise should believe Whit when he says the administration is fully supportive of him.

Maybe I keep mentioning it because people keep talking about it in multiple threads? I can't believe you're so bent out of shape because a few people around here have the same opinion as me 😉

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

haha... well at least you tried.

I'm good with differing opinions. Just asking what your reasoning is for them. Apparently nada. So agree to disagree. That's cool too

I don't think Fuente should be "restricted" from interviewing, I just think it's incredibly stupid to interview now and that he should know better than to interview now. There is a lot of room between "Baylor's has identified him as a potential candidate of interest" and "Baylor officials are flying to the NRV to having an in-person meeting with CJF". It doesn't get to that point unless CJF allows it get to that point.

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

If we're being fair, there's also room between "Baylor flew to the NRV to meet with Fuente" and the false narrative that many bought into that "Fuente is flying to Waco with his wife for a press conference scheduled for 2:30."

Joffrey, Cersei, Ilyn Payne, the Hound, Jeff Jagodzinski, Paul Johnson, Pat Narduzzi.

You don't want the admin to restrict him you just feel he should restrict himself because of feels. Got it.

Either way you want him restricted from interviews.

I just don't agree with that. It seems petty to need another person to follow subjective belief that he owes any of us to do that. I personally don't need that from anyone. And he'd be stupid not to take the interview if he truly thought it might be something good for him and his family.

So again, agree to disagree

I don't think it's unreasonable or "petty" to expect the head football coach to act in the interest of the football program when he's the one responsible for running the football program.

You keep reducing my position to "feels" and I'm not taking that position. There is a scenario where CJF interviews elsewhere and it is both in his best interest and in the interest of the football program that he's responsible for running. This wasn't it. That's my position.

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

Again, you are assuming that he acted inappropriately when you can just as easily assume he acted appropriately. There is also that scenario. This is why I say feels. As I mentioned above he could have just as easily handled it professionally and respectfully, which Whit, whom you yourself quoted, has said he did.

Who came with him from Memphis? Everyone except Bud and co correct?

what's the relevancy of his 2016 staff? But yes, pretty much the entire defensive staff (except Galen Scott) and Zohn Burden.

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The relevancy is you acting like he was going to leave everyone else high and dry when his previous actions when changing programs is to take his staff with him. And they've all gotten raises in the process

different timing and way different scenario. who did he hire days or even months before leaving Memphis for VT?

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Counterpoint on the "not the same as the Asst to the Regional Manager" quips which I clearly don't agree with you on.

You saying "I don't think I would work for a guy like that — would you?" is frankly immature in the real world. I'm not saying you are immature just this stance is not based on the reality of the industry or of the professional world on the whole.

To be clear, I have never stated it's apples to apples between a college football HC and any other position in another industry. But I maintain that he has the right to at any time take an interview as he wishes because every person in every industry should have that same right. It's more complicated because this position is under the public eye and with the social media sword of Damocles hanging over it, but that still doesn't mean a HC can't interview for a job.

The timing surely was not the best but that is Baylor's issue not Fuente's, but back to the counterpoint.

Every coach in that picture they posted knows the reality of their industry. They know that coaches change. Job locations change. Programs change. That is a reality of the coaching industry every single year. They all know it. Their families know it. Their AD's know it. Largely it's the over-invested nostalgic fans that take these decisions poorly. Because in the industry this is the norm. If you believe otherwise then go no farther than the annual Coaching Carousel thread every year on TKP. Every coach on that list affected other coaches, moved families, etc All the things you say make you not want to work for Fuente. It is the norm.

We all want the next Beamer but that's an atypical situation, not the norm. So asking if we would want to work for him sounds disingenuous to the realities of college football. Plus clearly staff have followed Fuente from other programs and do, in fact, want to work with him.

What you and those that keep harping on the difference between a HC position and a "normal" job is you assigning your own feelings in a situation like this to the coaches around Fuente. If your boss left and it meant half the staff needed to move then yes you, me and almost everyone here would find that odd, frustrating and most likely pissed off. But you're assuming that coaches are like us. It is not the case.

I get it. It rubs people the wrong way. Fuente has an issue connecting with fans and this burned even more proverbially bridges with fans that were on the fence about him. It shouldn't though. It's how this industry works and until VT miraculously finds the next lifer that's going to win consistently and become beloved by fans it's how college football operates across the entire industry.

You saying "I don't think I would work for a guy like that — would you?" is frankly immature in the real world. I'm not saying you are immature just this stance is not based on the reality of the industry or of the professional world on the whole.

This is purely your opinion. You are using your personal approach to how a career decision should be made based on criteria relevant to your temperament and holding it up as the objective standard for any professional. There are people who would pass on a career advancement if they did not feel comfortable with their boss or the organization as a whole. Fuente himself has openly said he had trepidation about coaching in the SEC because of the unrealistic expectations of university admin as well as the fan base.

Every coach in that picture they posted knows the reality of their industry. They know that coaches change. Job locations change. Programs change. That is a reality of the coaching industry every single year. They all know it. Their families know it. Their AD's know it. Largely it's the over-invested nostalgic fans that take these decisions poorly. Because in the industry this is the norm. If you believe otherwise then go no farther than the annual Coaching Carousel thread every year on TKP. Every coach on that list affected other coaches, moved families, etc All the things you say make you not want to work for Fuente. It is the norm.

Pierson is not denying the reality of the business. You are absolutely correct and all of the coaches understand it is a big boy business more than any of us could. Acknowledging the reality of the business doesn't prohibit you from empathizing with the individuals whose families must deal with the fallout. This is also not the same as saying he should have never interviewed in the first place. I agree with you that anyone should be free to interview and take any job they want. This freedom does not absolve you of any adverse consequences that result from taking the interview.

What you and those that keep harping on the difference between a HC position and a "normal" job is you assigning your own feelings in a situation like this to the coaches around Fuente. If your boss left and it meant half the staff needed to move then yes you, me and almost everyone here would find that odd, frustrating and most likely pissed off. But you're assuming that coaches are like us. It is not the case.

Again this argument can be turned right around on you. Did Ryan Smith tell you he wouldn't be pissed that he quit his job for a new job which he was fired from the day after he accepted it? You are making an assumption about coaches albeit the opposite one that you are accusing the author of making, neither of which can be proved.

As a whole I agree with you that we all need to move on because the coaches and players will move on and get back to business. We really don't know if this whole ordeal will matter in the long run and trying to assign it significance in Fuente's legacy is premature at this point. Some fans will get there sooner or later and the ones who want a new coach probably won't.

It's not my opinion. People change jobs every day. Work goes on.

I think you are mistaken on what I am saying. If you go back to my original post on the other thread I specifically stated that while I believe he has the right to take any interview he wants, he does have to live with the consequences of that.

One of those consequences can be that the staff is pissed off or feels they should have one foot out the door because they are unsure if Fuente stays. But the "would you work for him?" point of view is both an incorrect interpretation of the realities of that profession that sees multiple coaches changing their jobs and affecting their position coaches families every single year and makes the assumption that the coaches on staff don't understand the realities of the profession they are in.

Unless I am mistaken I never made an assumption on any of those coaches personal reactions to this. I merely stated that they surely know that this happens and that it will eventually happen to them. No I don't know 100% from each of them that is true but I feel confident that none of them are that naive.

Further to that, Fuente clearly has people that actually do want to work for him. Coaches have followed him and jumped from other programs to be on his staff. So clearly they seem comfortable with his decisions and how he handles these things. Doesn't mean JHamm or Ryan Smith aren't pissed off, which is equally assumptive, but they surely know these things happen in their chosen profession.

So... are we just going to ignore the Dwight Schrute reference and not give Pierson his due credit? That's a bad look for tkp. For shame....

February..'96...the steak: ribeye, the whiskey:Lagavulin 16, the lady next to me: a bit**.....

I'm legitimately shocked at the people going to bat for Fuente here. I don't fault anyone for exploring a job opportunity, but I feel like this was about as poorly timed and orchestrated as you could possibly get. I was honestly ecstatic last night that he might possibly be gone as bad as that sounds. He's the most polarizing VT coach ever. It's just rapidly becoming more apparent that he's not the guy for the job, yet some will defend him to the end even though all the resources and facilities in the world won't help him not get blown out at home by Duke and struggle vs FCS teams. VT football is pissing in the wind as long as he's here.

Even Frank Beamer had bad losses. Lost to Temple..Syracuse...JMU ring any bells? Dwight Vick on Twitter have spoken several times about how losing to Temple was a low point for him.

I also recall reading Cheryl Beamer's take on Frank's first few years and she decided to quit attending game in the stands because she got tired of hearing fans bad mouth her husband.

So that's ok because Frank had some horrible losses? That's like the people saying well Frank turned things around after 6 years, so we have to give Fuente the same time. Just tone deaf.

I am deaf so I do know what it mean to be "tone deaf."

So you just want to ignore that coaches do have bad losses that just can't be glossed over? All right then.

I guess this is what I don't get, why shouldn't Fuente get roughly the same time to get the program back to constant success? It's rare for a program to be turned around quickly. I don't know if there's a magic number of seasons to allow, but there so many different factors that go into a successful team

If you want level-headed opinions, don't go on a message board or sports forums

Finally, a question I can answer! The program was in much better shape when Fuente arrived than when Beamer arrived, so Fuente gets four years where Beamer got six.

"Our job as coaches is to influence young people's lives for the better in terms of fundamental skills, work ethic, and doing the right thing. Every now and again, a player actually has that effect on the coaching staff." Justin Fuente on Sam Rogers

I'm legitimately shocked by people claiming to be shocked at the timing. Do you presume that Fuente initiated Baylor's coaching search and instigated the timing to happen now?

the timing of Baylor is not at issue.

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What other timing is there?

Whatever timeline is necessary to harbor unnecessary ill will toward Fuente.

After reading countless threads on this topic on various sites - I cannot agree with this more. While the timing of this is horrendous- it is in no way Fuente's fault and I seriously don't understand why people are holding this against him (only explanation I can think of is they are just looking for reasons to be mad).

He is not the billionaire owner of an NFL franchise that targeted a college coach whose team played their last game in January. He is not that college coach who decided to leave his school for the NFL (leaving them in a bad spot due to the timing). He is not the AD of that school who targeted Fuente for the opening.

And for those who say he should just straight up say no to the overtures of the Baylor AD and not even listen to what he has to say - this is crazy talk. There could be any number of things that make this job appealing for him, including location and money. For instance, if being closer to his hometown (family/friends) is important, there are only a handful of P5 schools that fit the bill - and these positions do not come up often.

I grew up in the 757 - most of my family and friends live in VA, NC, and SC. My wife is from VA. If I am the head coach of lets just say....Texas Tech and I really like this position, and I just signed a recruiting class and hired a couple of coaches. Now lets say a position at NC State suddenly opens up and the AD wants to talk to me about the position - you can be damn sure I will at least listen to what he has to say - regardless of what month of the off-season it is.

This doesn't make me a bad person. I''m not out to screw over Texas Tech - sometimes there are just things about other positions that are appealing that are bigger than just the job.

all the resources and facilities in the world won't help him not get blown out at home by Duke and struggle vs FCS teams.

I didn't realize Fuente had been head coach at Clemson because he sure as hell hasn't had what you're describing at VT.

Joffrey, Cersei, Ilyn Payne, the Hound, Jeff Jagodzinski, Paul Johnson, Pat Narduzzi.

Pierson this article is spot on. At a time most would agree we need to dramatically increase fund raising , Fuente has alienated a large number of supporters , fans and donors.. He is the third highest paid coach in the conference and has underperformed both on and off the field and has the personality and media presence of a wet noodle. His handling of the team caused a near mutiny by the players and was so bad a former coach had to be hired to assist him. Recruiting has not improved and has regressed . He was hired as a quarterback guru and offensive genius , but on the field results do not support . His stubbornness and allegiance to underperforming staff is baffling. I and a lot of alumni and donors I know were weary of the off-season drama every year , even before his flirtation with Baylor. Whether , he leaves on his own or is fired he will be gone in two years

georgebd

I don't fault anyone for exploring a job opportunity, but I feel like this was about as poorly timed and orchestrated as you could possibly get.

If Fuente had decided on the timing, you would have a point. But Fuente didn't determine the timing of this chain of events: Marty Hurney did. He decided (wisely) not to replace his head coach until the season was over. Then he took his time (wisely) selecting Matt Rhule. Then Baylor (wisely) tried to replace Rhule as quickly as possible.

He's the most polarizing VT coach ever.

Does this really mean, "He's more polarizing than Frank Beamer"?

"Our job as coaches is to influence young people's lives for the better in terms of fundamental skills, work ethic, and doing the right thing. Every now and again, a player actually has that effect on the coaching staff." Justin Fuente on Sam Rogers

This is a reality of life. We have jobs. When we are happy with what we are doing we are 800% committed (LOL) to our jobs. Whether we are selling, building teams, hiring employees, etc. we are doing our jobs with dedication. If a competitor with deeper pockets, better resources and tremendous 2019 growth and success expresses interest in me, I have to do what is best for me and listen. They could offer twice the money and authority - I don't know. The only difference is I take PTO to interview and no one ever knows. Even if I have no intention of leaving what I have built, I have to listen. Fuente has to at least listen and with his position it is going to be made public.

The timing was horrible. Had he taken this job, JHam would have went from a dream promotion to searching help ads. Recruits just signed letters of intent. Smith just jumped from JMU and had no guarantee that any other P5 team would be interested.

Now wait for it....If Fuente took that job (and believe me I was ready to hate him for it), we would have then turned around and snatched a G5 coach in exactly the same manner and held a parade when he arrived.

"A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it." - K

Or a coordinator from a major school, who would have hired a bunch of assistants from various schools, which those various schools would hire assistants from other various schools, and so on. Yes that's the coaching world I can't believe he took that interview!!!!! /s

The other issue I haven't seen addressed head on is the differentiation Whit made in the call - he said there's a difference between an interview and listening to someone's pitch. It doesn't seem like anyone has really addressed that. In an interview, at least what most of us are used to, is where you are really trying to sell your skill set to the prospective employer. We all appear to be framing our reactions through the lens of what we are used to (that notion of an interview, as well as, that we only think about ourselves and our families when entertaining a new job), but I'll almost guarantee football coaches are thinking about a lot more than just themselves in that setting - their friends (coaches on staff) and the players are probably on their mind as well, we just assume they aren't considering it because we don't have to think of that when we interview.

They use that word "interview" when hiring coaches, but what they're really doing is trying to sell the job to the coaches - it's more of listening to a pitch. Baylor went to someplace in or around Blacksburg to make a pitch. Fuente listened to it. He turned it down in relatively short order. That is all we know.

We don't know whether a friend of his was associated with Baylor and asked Fuente to at least listen to the pitch (which would probably be harder to turn down outright). We don't know if it was something like watching the pitch of a time share that you intend to turn down from the beginning. Maybe it doesn't look great, but the absolute best any of us can do is 100% speculate on motives, whether he considered the other coaches (both those who have been on staff for awhile and the brand new hires - taking them ALL with him if he went, or only some), whether he thought about potentially trying to use it for additional benefits to the staff (or even only for his own salary).

Maybe he tried declining the pitch initially but they asked him to (or gave the hard sell on) at least listen to it.

There are so many things we don't know. And even if he was more open, probably still wouldn't know all the details.

Maybe he went in saying that he'd listen, but the only way he'd take it was for $10M a year and really big salaries for his assistant coaches. (something he didn't really think they'd ever say but wanted to at least listen to see if they offered way beyond what he could possibly hope for).

Again, my point is that it was a pitch. He listened to it. Beyond that we have absolutely no idea what his thoughts were. And without knowing what they were, we should stop assuming that they were automatically negative and he only thought about himself.

EDIT: Here's the Whit comments if you haven't heard them. Relatively short listen.

Yea but I dont like him.... so I'll assume the worst, but thanks for trying. /s

I like how we have completely switched to using the word "pitch" to make us feel better about this whole thing. It was an interview. There was mutual interest. Changing interview to pitch doesn't change that.

I don't see how people can say they're okay with Fuente showing interest in other jobs then twisting it around to make it seem like he wasn't. Can't have it both ways.

And this argument also doesn't support the fact that Fuente was using this increase resources to the program. Somehow, Fuente only listened to a pitch, wasn't interested in the job, but still got something new from Whit? No, that cannot be the case because he'd have no leverage.

I have no idea why my username is VT_Warthog.

Arkansas blew a 24-0 lead in the Belk Bowl.

Did you listen to the press conference. Whit is the one that said it was a pitch, not an interview and specifically said Fuente did not leverage anything for which he was grateful. Maybe damage control, but Whit's statement is the most definitive resource we have at this point.

"A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it." - K

My point is it doesn't matter if it was a pitch or an interview. And my point is also if he didn't leverage anything then that nukes the entire concept of listening to a pitch or interviewing or whatever you want to call it to leverage something.

As in, Fuente was sincerely interested in that job. People don't want to swallow that pill.

I have no idea why my username is VT_Warthog.

Arkansas blew a 24-0 lead in the Belk Bowl.

I agree. Fuente clearly had interest. He has turned down other programs without an interview/pitch/meeting and he entertained Baylor. Whit also said he didn't know what Fuente would decide Wednesday night. Clearly there was interest. I just dont see how that is a character flaw that prevents Fuente from considering the implications of his interest on the people around him. The people yesterday saying no interview happened were being ridiculous. The people saying that him interviewing makes him an inconsiderate boss, and someone who you wouldn't want to work for are equally ridiculous.

who gives a shit if he was interested? every coach in america is "interested" by other jobs.

I don't. I agree with you. I just keep seeing a lot of people ween their way into saying he wasn't really interested while still buying into narratives that are not possible if he wasn't interested.

I have no idea why my username is VT_Warthog.

Arkansas blew a 24-0 lead in the Belk Bowl.

Who is denying he was interested. Whit said he has turned down other opportunities without talking to anybody. That proves to me he had interest. But, why is that a bad thing if after hearing them out he chose to stay at VT? Beamer once upon a time had interest in Bama and North Carolina but chose to stick with VT.

I, like you, don't think there is any difference between a pitch and interview either. But, I could see Fuente saying I have a few hours to spare this evening before my staff comes together to hit the recruiting trail after the dead period. If you come to Blacksburg, I will hear you out. But, he picked VT...I can't stress this enough.

"A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it." - K

You clearly did not listen to the Whit comments or read Andy Bitter's tweet. The "fact that he used it as leverage" is not a fact at all - didn't happen. Whit says Fuente didn't use this to try to negotiate for more money for himself and that they (Whit and Fuente) had been negotiating for weeks for more resources for his staff - well before the Baylor thing came up. Seriously, go read the tweets and listen to this before you go claiming what is a fact or not.

You clearly did not understand my post. Reread that before you accuse me of claiming what's not fact. It's not my problem you can't call a spade a spade.

I have no idea why my username is VT_Warthog.

Arkansas blew a 24-0 lead in the Belk Bowl.

And this argument also doesn't support the fact that Fuente was using this increase resources to the program. Somehow, Fuente only listened to a pitch, wasn't interested in the job, but still got something new from Whit? No, that cannot be the case because he'd have no leverage.

You claimed that he used the "pitch" to get something from Whit - and therefore wasn't just a pitch. This is the only thing I'm referring to, and Whit says flat out that Fuente did NOT use it to ask for any more resources. He does say that he was negotiating for more resources for his staff, but the tweets from Andy Bitter said Whit had said that had been going on for weeks. So you claiming he used the "pitch" as leverage and got something new and was a fact is just wrong.

I didn't claim that. I'm pointing out that those who did claim that before the news broke have now been proven wrong. Let me clarify because I suppose it's confusing:

There were people on this website who, up until late yesterday, said all of this was leverage to get more out of Whit and the athletic department and that he wasn't actually interested in the job. That narrative changed on a dime once Whit's comments came out because they contradict each other. Either Fuente interviewed/listened to a pitch because he wanted the job and subsequently decided it wasn't for him, or he interviewed to get more leverage. Based on Whit's comments, it's the former.

I'm sorry that you got that out of my post because it was not the case.

I have no idea why my username is VT_Warthog.

Arkansas blew a 24-0 lead in the Belk Bowl.

We are proving to be an emotionally fragile fan base with abandonment issues.

I was scrolling down to say that some individuals are just completely impossible to satisfy.

Whitt's press conference about calmed any nerves of mine. And to be honest I wasn't that mad at him for it. We are now finding out that Baylor cane to him and he wasn't in Waco about to be announced the new HC without any mention to VT.

I agree with above comments that you always look. If he was one of their top candidates I'm sure they gave the at least listen to our pitch. Plus it lets him know how he's looked at by other schools when it does come time to leverage VT for more money for whatever. Even to at least say "if we want to be competitive on the national level this is what Baylor is offering. We need to find a way to get close to that."

I honestly don't get the hate for Fuente. I'm glad he stayed. And on top of that he declined Baylor's offer. Not he looked and was turned down. Heaven forbid he Actually ever leave one day this place will melt down.

For all the praise that people give Beamer about he would have never done this to VT he was an afternoon from doing it. The only reason we didn't melt down is because Twitter wasn't around for everyone to post their opinions about something they have no insight into. Man I hate twitter.

If you don't want to recruit clowns, don't run a clown show.

"I want to punch people from UVA right in the neck." - Colin Cowherd

Whit: He's not Frank Beamer and he's not Bud Foster and we don't want him to be

To me this was a pointed quote directly to the fan base. He wasn't Frank, isn't Frank, and never will be Frank. So the fan base needs to stop trying to mold him into their own personal version of Frank and move on.
Not saying he should be forgotten, pushed aside, or told to move along by any means, but from a coaching personality standpoint he was one of a kind and it's highly unlikely we will ever experience that type of coaching personality ever again.

Cherish Frank all we want and I'm right there as well, but JF is JF, not Frank.

Having a conversation with you is like a Martian talking to a Fungo.

#JustinTime

Yep. This is kind of changing topics, but it goes with the idea letting go of Beamer. A disagreement I have with fans is the continued push to hire former VT players as coaches. It seems like people want that because it makes them reminisce the late 90's and 2000s success

If you want level-headed opinions, don't go on a message board or sports forums

Not sure if it's about reminiscing. I would guess, and I know I at least consider this, is that former Tech players would more than likely would want to stay here long term. I think we know we were spoiled to some extent by Beamer staying, but we liked having a guy that was successful who stayed. The challenge is that not all former Tech players are going to be great coaches, so finding the ones that are. But if we can find a really great coach that is a former player, would anybody NOT want that?

I don't have that strong of feelings over hiring former players if they are qualified. But many on here seem to feel that a solid nfl career automatically translates into instant rising star coach....

Having a conversation with you is like a Martian talking to a Fungo.

#JustinTime

and we don't want him to be

This.

Beamer was great, and put VT football on the map, but the realities of college football meant that we needed a change after he left.

It does seem as if some of the fan base is in denial over this. We needed the changes Fuente made if we are to be competitive in the future.

LifetimeHokie12 said it best:

To most of us, he's not our real dad.

"Our job as coaches is to influence young people's lives for the better in terms of fundamental skills, work ethic, and doing the right thing. Every now and again, a player actually has that effect on the coaching staff." Justin Fuente on Sam Rogers

Me after hearing this Baylor-Fuente stuff ended:

Let's Go

HOKIES

I do have to say that a certain receptionist left to follow that Regional Manager from a Mid-sized paper company and together they brought that company to the brink!!

Now finish up them taters; I'm gonna go fondle my sweaters.

Also - Whit is paid big-boy money too (though i guess not as much as Fuente? I don't know I don't remember). It's his job to figure out the path when / if Fuente goes somewhere else, just like he did with Mike Young. So, the burden isn't on Fuente to stick around long enough when we have him - he can leave whenever he wants pending contract clauses, and it's Whits job to figure out the next step.

With respect to all the hand wringing about assistants getting jerked around and having to potentially move. Can we take a step back and realize that Jerry Kill voluntarily moved to Blacksburg back in mid September and then, again, voluntarily chose to pick up and move all the way across the country to TCU a scant 3.5 months later? That is far more typical of the college coaching culture than a 29 year stint at one school. In the years where your boss isn't getting canned/moving on to a new school on his own, you're probably being canned yourself or making your own career move. I would be curious to see numbers for P5 assistants average tenure, but I'd bet it averages in the low single digits.

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

Good point - and my understanding is that Kill's health would prevent him from being a coach again somewhere, but he could be setting himself up to be a consultant to head coaches rather than a permanent member of any staff. At least that seems like the role he filled while here. There could be good money in that if he does it for a few months at a time.

I think he'll be at TCU for a while. Patterson is an old friend and I think Kill taking the stint at VT was proof to him and his family more than anything that he could be back in coaching as long as he wasn't directly coaching.

That makes sense too.

There are way too many people here trying to imagine Fuente as Dr. Evil. He's not.

Even our beloved Frank Beamer considered a move to UNC. Down to actually agreeing to go there, before changing his mind. Doesn't mean he hated Virginia Tech. He, like Fuente, ultimately decided to stay. And we're the better for it in both cases.

I get that there are a handful of people who have already decided about Fuente. Often, it seems as if they're rooting for him to fail, to justify their opinion. To me, they seem emotionally invested in this.

For me, the jury is still out. Fuente, even with every wart assigned to him by some superusers here, is at worst in the top 25% of all coaches in the P5. He's an attractive enough coach to be of interest in many top coaching opportunities in the P5. I think it's a lot more likely that he'll either stay or get hired away than to get fired. Mostly because I think we have a good year next year.

I look forward to the next year or two of VT football. I'm optimistic on Fuente's chances of success here. I just wish some of the naysayers could put their disbelief aside and let the experiment continue for another year or two.

As far as Coach Buzz, I don't have any animosity because it seemed like he had a plan to stay long enough to finish what he started with Med Hill's class. He was able to tie a pretty nice ribbon of closure around his stint in Blacksburg. Fuente's actions, to many, looked like a midnight move after skipping rent for the last few months. I'm not saying it was, just talking optics.

Leonard. Duh.

I suppose that could have been a narrative, had he left.

But he didn't leave. He's still here "paying rent". He's still building the program. And I'd argue that it's a LOT harder and takes a lot more time to rebuild a football program. There's a difference in scale and time.

Also: Who is Coach Buzz?

It's just the way things work. We need to come to grips with Tech not being so much a destination as it is part of a journey. We don't have pedigrees across sports like UVA and as much as that might piss-off some of you, what we say grace over is football so our eggs are in one basket.

https://hokiesports.com/watch/?Archive=12873&type=Live

“Careful Man, There's a Beverage Here”

Now finish up them taters; I'm gonna go fondle my sweaters.