John Iezzi Sons of Saturday Interview

The most informative conversation i've listened to on the state of Tech football recruiting and where the program as a whole is at today. John Iezzi is our head of recruiting and he does not hold back on any topic they bring up. I haven't always been a fan of this Pod, but this is a must listen.

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Nice touch with the podcast embed. I will definitely give this a listen.

I'm about a third of the way through it and o boy. Him talking about going to the recruiting convention thinking Tech staff was normal sized and seeing even LOLUVA with over double the sized staff was something. Also the fact a recruiting staff didn't even exist until 2014 and Whit made Beamer put one in.

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Appreciate any other notes from the podcast you could provide.

Chuck Cantor ran the recruiting operation he left for a job at UF the day before spring evaluations. He took with him all his notes and work on recruits and the way he ran the shop was everything went through him so the left over recruiting staff were working in the fly and that had a large impact on 2020 class.

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as an aside, Cantor was hired by UF in April 2018

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

Yes. He said that 1.5-2 years prior to signing day is most important evaluation period and him leaving and how he ran the department really put them behind.

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yeah, i was adding some context for people who are reading here and haven't listened or won't listen

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

Then I added more context to your context that I should have had in first post thanks to your post giving more details.

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hes since been fired from UF and is now at FIU. I had a good convo with him a couple summer back when he was at UF and I was there for a camp my son was attending and then I was surprised to see him at FIU last season when I went down there on a visit with my son. florida fans did not think he did a good job at all.

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florida fans did not think he did a good job at all.

Only in the SEC is a recruiting class made up of a 5 star and 16 4-stars a bad job. ยฏ\_(ใƒ„)_/ยฏ

Looks like Cantor is now at FSU, he is an alum apparently. So you will probably run into him a lot again.

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succession planning is terrible at most every job I have ever worked. Nobody ever wants to plan for the possibility that they won't have their job or that the guy they like might go somewhere else.

You need to have the "what if Bob gets hit by a buss next week" plan in place. Nobody likes doing it, but it is necessary.

For what it is worth, when the Fuente Baylor news came up, Stephen Godfrey on PAPN said something along the lines of, "one thing I am sure of is that Whit absolutely had a list of candidates ready to go, and that is the highest compliment I can give an AD."

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As a side note, I used to use the phrase "what if so-and-so gets hit by a bus" when talking with my team about the need for cross training and being familiar with work on other people's plates. Then one of my employees comes to me after a meeting and says "I know you didn't mean anything by that, but my Dad was hit and killed by a bus". So now I say "what if so-and-so wins the lottery and quits" instead.

Just say no single point failures.

I can't believe one existed within our recruiting structure. Jesus Christ guys.

15

So.... I used to tell patients "there are no guarantees, we could walk out and get killed by a herd of water buffaloes.....

Until, one day.... a veteran told me he lost a troop in Vietnam to an attack by a water buffalo.

True story.

Then just change it to, "...we could walk out and get speared by a pygmy eskimo..."

I think you'll be in good shape with that one.

If you're not sure if my comment warrants a "/s", it probably does.

I almost can't believe they let him do it. He's blasting state of virginia recruiting.

Gobble Till You Wobble

Haven't listened yet, but looking forward to listening. Wouldn't be surprised if this was a coordinated effort to 'educate' the fans by the administration. I definitely think Whit, Fuente & co. are frustrated that VT donors don't 'get it' the way other top 25 fan bases do. Sometimes you need to hear the brutal truth.

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what about top 69 fanbases because that is a more realistic portrayal of our program?

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HAHAHAHA 69!

If you're not sure if my comment warrants a "/s", it probably does.

Some people are really not going to like the section where he talks about fan negativity being an issue with getting kids back on campus.

Gobble Till You Wobble

I've honestly had a huge issue with it and it has run me off twitter. When we lost to uva I didn't give a shit about a few hoos saying dumb stuff they haven't said in 15 years, it was our fans that made me groan.

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They also probably arent going to like the glowing depiction of Fuente as being a great leader and caring.....

putting the heat on Whit...

More Sands/donors than anything, IMO.

perhaps...I think Fu is no longer going to cover for the folks higher up in the admin...Sands and/or Whit.

I think that's what Baylor was all about and whatever transparency is required to bring about public pressure for more internal support, the better. Some of the revelations in the interview are mind boggling to me.

Surprised this hasn't been racked over the coals on Twitter.

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People love to speak on things they don't know crap about.

lol

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

Like a VT recruiting coordinator talking about recruiting? /s

Apparently VT thought there were only 7 good players in the state of Virginia that were worth pursuing in the 2020 class.

They ended up signing 1 (Rudolph), I believe

Didn't think about how Cantor leaving like he did would hurt long term, plus the fact of how he ran the department that's a huge blow.

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Yea he left the whole department in a bad spot without teaching his team how to do all aspects of recruiting but holding onto some of the most vital parts of it.

I find it interesting that his main beef with VT was the lack of resources he had (IIRC), but even if he had 20 people working under him, would he have still done all the evaluations himself and not let anyone else have input?

The bit about toxic fandom directly affecting recruiting is... Interesting

That is interesting, although you've got to think we're no better or worse than many other P5 fanbases

I just sit on my couch and b*tch. - HokieChemE2016

No doubt.

I have a very difficult time believing that, even if this is a problem, that its unique to VT. In fact, if that's what they're trying to sell, I call bullshit on the premise.

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It adds right into the number of staff. If you only have X number of guys trying to make each recurits feel important and they have fans saying "Anything" other teams have double triple or 4 times as many staff to make up that ground Tech doesn't. Add to that poor showing on the W/L column and lack of national name brand m.

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Yeah, I see a lot of negativity and trash from other fan bases on the internet that makes anything from ours pale in comparison. And we can't just stick our heads in the sand and pretend there has been nothing for fans to be upset with over the past two seasons. What do you expect when a lot of fans are very unhappy? We live in a social media age, for better or worse.

I keep going back to the fact that I totally 100% agree that Tech has major catching up to do in regards to support staff and program resources for recruiting. But apparently UVA has a staff double the size of ours, and it's not like they've been lights out recruiting. They do a great job identifying recruits that fit and buy into their program, and like it or not, Bronco has done a respectable job coaching them up. No amount of support staff and resources fix the near implosion we saw in 2018 and again this past season on the field. If we were winning the coastal and constantly losing to Clemson because we just didn't have the horses, it's a convincing argument. But there's plenty to be desired in on the field results that we can control, and I honestly think donors and a lot of the fan base see and recognize that. I totally understand this resources argument and agree, but I feel like it's being used to gloss over a lot of glaring team performance issues that need to be addressed before we get up in arms about competing on a national stage.

Yeah, true, the past two seasons haven't been great, but think about this: a recruit is coming in and looking at a program and the W/L columns don't look great. And the "fans" on twitter are saying "why would you come here, the coach sucks" - why then SHOULD the recruit come to Tech? Fans need to realize that if the W/L column isn't good, they need to be positive to recruits even if they don't feel like it or believe it. Why? Because we want that recruit to actually come to our school. Fans shouldn't be dissuading good recruits from coming even if there are legitimate concerns about the program.

I mean, people are unhappy with the program, so they say things to Tre Turner like "why are you here, the coach sucks?" Even if you really, honestly believe the coach sucks, even if the coach REALLY sucked - so what? We want him to leave? Because that would make the program better.

So yeah, we live in a social media age, but fans tweeting recruits about how bad our program is does zero to help at best and is really counterproductive at worst.

Judging by the way your comment is phrased I'm guessing you didn't listen to the interview. To me it made a lot more sense in context and I don't think he claimed that this is a problem unique to VT.

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

Happens everywhere and if people think VT is bad then walk down FSU Twitter (Taggart years) or UF twitter recently (not happy with recruiting). Take everything with a grain of salt, as usual it's probably somewhere in the middle.

One thing I look back on is that recruit, I forget his name, from after the OSU upset back in 2014. If my memory serves me, he happened to have both schools in his top 5 and committed to OSU right after the game, citing VT's "entitlement" as the reason why. The comment made no sense, considering we were clear underdogs going into the game.

Point being, I'm sure the behavior of VT twitter is toxic (I think twitter is toxic in general), but you have to take the things these recruits say with a grain of salt. Especially considering we don't know the context of these two players who Lezzi said cited "toxic fanbase" as a concern.

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Matthew Burrell.

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Who ended up leaving anOSU for Sam Houston State.

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Iezzi, not Lezzi

You almost have to type it with a lower case 'i' - iezzy - because the upper case 'i' looks just like a lower case 'L' - a ton of people think that posters are just failing to capitalize the first letter of the guy's name.

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What, he's not a lezzy?

If you're not sure if my comment warrants a "/s", it probably does.

He's an Iezzy but not a lezzy.

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That guy wasn't the best example of what they're talking about here. He grew up an anOSU fan and always wanted to go there. IIRC he was just waiting for his anOSU offer to be committable. He was buried on the depth chart there and would have been at VT as well.

That's exactly my point. In that case it was obvious that his real reason for not choosing VT was different from his stated reason. My point is you can't always take what recruits say at face value. I'm extending that to say we shouldn't make too much of "toxic fan base" comments without knowing more detail on what caused the recruit to say that.

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Don't tweet at recruits.

That said, be better. We (fan base) should be the reason they want to come here!

We put the K in Kwality

We were the last power 5 school to get Hudl.

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

There was a story years ago about how Oregon basically paid for LeMichael James and that paying an external recruiting service the something like $25000 was odd compared to VTs budget of under $500 for a book that detailed mid atlantic recruits.

Jesus him naming all the Recruiting programs and services that Tech is now a subscriber to while our peers have had them for years is nuts.

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HUDL max's out at like $3,500 per year for tip top elite level

Jesus Weaver held those purse strings tight.

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I'd wager it was also Frank either not knowing it existed or not thinking we needed it.

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Frank won 4 acc titles in 7 years. Yes, I doubt a cheap highlight reel sight was a the top of his critical success factors.

Hudl was like 4 employees during that stretch.....the game has changed.

(add if applicable) /s

Exactly, why would it be a priority for Beamer? Did he really "miss" something run by a 4 person shop as being so critical to recruiting players? something he had done successfully for 20 years? Overblown point, IMO

Yea those last 4 years of Beamer were just stellar weren't they? That NC in '99 sure did lead to massive uptick in recruiting and long term viability of the program didn't it. Why change anything?
You sound like the old guys at the firehouse who don't understand why we change anything. 200 years of fire service unimpeded by progress.

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I come to this board for my daily reminder that Frank Beamer only coached at VT from 2011-2015. Thank you.

It's like you are mentally incapable of understanding that major college football has changed ALOT and quickly since 2000 and 2010.

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How many effing times do you have to post that VT sucked beamer's last 4 years? Daily? WE GET IT. Beamer sucked, didn't get it done from 2012-2015, terrible, stone ages, didn't set Fuente up perfectly to win 11 games a year. Thanks again for reminding us that an aging Frank Beamer winning 7-8 games is the root of all evil today. appreciate it. The science behind your analysis is flawless. We may recover from those dreadful 4 years sometime in 2036 or so I guess.

Would it be fair to say that a possible issue as to why we were surpassed at the end of Beamer's career was because we were lagging behind and not adapting to a new stage as a P5 program as whole during that time?

(add if applicable) /s

Sure, and it is a discussion point 6 years later, because? how long does it take to recover from 7-8 wins a year?

Because, as stated in this interview we're still markedly behind in recruiting resources and tech. You're the only person that made this solely about Beamer

(add if applicable) /s

LOLOLOL read a few posts up. I didn't even bring Beamer up originially

but you made it about his WL record (????) and not him either being out of the loop or set in his ways ๐Ÿ™„

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

LOLOLOL read a few posts up. I didn't even bring Beamer up originially

solely

(add if applicable) /s

exactly -- it's more of a case of us literally being behind the times and not taking advantage of services that were widely available and relatively inexpensive that literally every single other P5 program had access to.

and fwiw, Iezzi said they got Hudl like a year and a half ago -- that's well into Fuente's tenure. YOu can't place all of it on Frank, but him winning 4 ACC titles in 7 years doesn't have a whole lot to do with the state of recruiting in "the modern era" (2011-present as defined by Iezzi)

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

Agree with all points here. We're still very much behind, we got to a tremendously slow start but at the very least some progress is being made. Probably not enough but that goes far beyond the control of the head coach, Beamer or Fu.

(add if applicable) /s

1 early adoption gives you a leg up and 2 by 2014 they were the fastest growing companies in the space and we still didnt jump on.

(add if applicable) /s

Let's discuss what recruiting innovations the VT staff is currently using? Is Fuente ahead of the curve on "hudl 2.0"? or is being behind cultural and we just have to live with it? Are we innovating right now? I'd be curious to know.

I would say we're still behind the curve and I think that that is addressed in this interview.

(add if applicable) /s

did you even listen to the podcast or are you just picking fights based on your perception of everyone else's perception

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

Yep, question remains. What are we doing now that is actually ahead of our peers? anything?

I think this may be the zenith of the DCWilson-Hokie Fireman debate.

My impression is you want a staff to achieve at the same levels of the top ten programs but acknowledge that VT is behind our peers at everything that goes into making a winning program.

My impression is the Hokie Fireman wants to inspire people to donate to allow the current/future football staff to not be behind our peers at everything that goes into making a winning program.

Both of you are arguing that the current situation is not the goal and more resources (money and/or more qualified staff) is paramount.

Actually my impression is that dcwilson believes it's barely about the money at all but rather if you just churn through enough people, you'll find a savant who can get you championship results for essentially any dollar amount.

Conversely, Fireman believes you need to reach certain funding levels to give someone a marginal chance at achieving championship results.

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dcwilson believes that Penn State was exposed for raping kids in the locker room and now they sign all of the best players in Virginia. dcwilson believes that Mack Brown was on his couch for 6 years and immediately recruits well at UNC. dcwilson believes that Mike Locksley is something like 6-60 as a head coach and brings in 4 and 5 star players. So no dcwilson does not think it's about the money at VT.

But all of those places have way more money. And I'm assuming a much bigger staff than VT. Which is directly about money.

A mere comment on your method of analysis -- Nothing in your comment negates the theory that money is a necessary factor to improve VT recruiting. Now, if you can demonstrated these schools recruited better in economic conditions equal to or worse than VT, then you have made a point.

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Maryland recruits better than VT with a terrible on field track record since current recruits were born with a career .200 head coach. You can spin that any way you want.

I dont want to further this discussion.

But I just want to point out facts so no one is deceived:

Mike Locksleys first 2 classes (so far): 1-5 star, 3-4stars
Fuentes first 2 classes: 6- 4stars
MBrowns first 2 classes (so far): 8 - 4stars

Fuente 2016 - 2019 classes: 20 4stars

Do with this what you will

Please, UNC has ALWAYS gotten recruits regardless of the coach and done absolutely 0 with them. Goddamn John Bunting had "great" recruiting classes!

UNC has and always will out recruit Virginia Tech. But the gap is not wide. The difference between the 15th best class and the 40th best class is marginal.

I'd rather be champions in December & January then champions in February.

The difference between the 15th ranked class and 40th ranked class is not marginal... what the hell?

The 15th ranked class this season was Penn State with 11 four star recruits, a couple of which are thousandths and ten thousandths away from being five stars, and an avg recruit rank of 89.55

The 40th ranked class this season was Cincinnati (highest G5 class) with 3 four stars and avg recruit rank of 85.31

Perfect! What were those two teams records the last two years?

Why would comparing the records of a G5 team and team in the B1G east division (2nd toughest division in the country) be a remotely reasonable comparison?

Because I don't care about recruiting rankings. When you have Tim Brewsters kid working at 24/7 doing rankings and basically seeing sure thing 5 and high 4 stars flame out over and over, I'm all about getting guys you want in your program and what your wins and losses are.

UNC had a QB have their best season ever and got to 7 wins. But hey, congrats I guess on having consistent top 25 recruiting classes.

Except for when Brewster's players went to two playoffs and won a natty for Jimbo Fisher. I'll take that at VT.

Because I don't care about recruiting rankings.

You don't care about them so much that you're spending your time criticizing them on the internet of your own volition.

UNC had a QB have their best season ever and got to 7 wins. But hey, congrats I guess on having consistent top 25 recruiting classes.

The class that Sam Howell came in (2019) was a 30th ranked class. This 2020 class they just signed was 19th, with the second best DL haul in the ACC behind only Clemson. Time will tell if their uptick in recruiting will bring them long term success.

I'm all about getting guys you want in your program and what your wins and losses are.

I agree with the first part. It's important to get the right kind of guys who fit in your program culturally. I think it's even better when you find great culture fits who are also better athletes and can elevate your program to the next step (hopefully someone like Dematrius Davis for us). However, the wins and losses are part in regards to comparison of Cincinnati and Penn State is just not something you can accurately judge strictly on raw W-L (they are close anyway, Penn State is 20-6 over last two years and Cincinnatti is 22-5). There is simply too much of a difference between playing a G5 schedule and Penn State's P5 schedule where they share a division with Michigan and Ohio State. Continuing from there, they actually did both play Ohio State this past season. Cincinnati lost to Ohio State 42-0, and Penn State lost to Ohio State 28-17. Do you think those teams may have had slightly different calibers of athlete on the field against Ohio State?

if you listened and didn't come away with "our recruiting efforts are woefully underfunded and understaffed compared to the rest of P5", i don't know what to tell you.

also, just in general, if you have a market inefficiency you know you can exploit, you generally don't tell your competitors about it.

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

Well, one obvious example is Iezzi saying that they feel VT offers were taken for granted and lost importance/value that they once had, especially within the state of VA. The solution they are going to try moving forward is making all offers to VA kids committable with the idea that a receiving a VT offer is different and truly means something.

You said you listened to the podcast... and yet this was clearly mentioned in the podcast. I find it particularly irritating that your style is to always put the onus on the community to provide examples and defend things to dispute your questions or point of view, yet your posts so rarely offer supporting information in the first place. So let's try it the other way too, what specifically do you think the recruiting staff and coaches should be doing that they aren't? And I'll preemptively mention that "sign better players and stop making excuses" isn't a valid answer.

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Great process we had here. Yep. And since we signed more 4 star WRs in 2 years than we had in a while, everything was fine and recruiting was "improved". Yep.

I haven't always been a fan of this Pod, but this is a must listen.

Aren't you a former player Stiney? Just curious about this since Billy Ray is a former player too, and I was thinking about how he's seeming to leverage his connections from the program to land interviews like these. Add onto that how positive he seems to be with the podcast, and I've just in general been curious how former players are feeling nowadays....

Virginia Tech Class of 2013
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Sailing the Eastern Seas....on a ship filled with sand....

Billy Ray was after me but I do like his input and social media presence around the program. After listening a couple times, I'm not a huge fan of one of the other guys on the pod so i really only check in when they have an interview like this.

I feel pretty solid about the direction of the program. The progress has been slower than i thought it might be, but this interview points out a few reasons as to why that's happened. I personally like Fuente. This interview
confirmed everything i've heard about him from people within the program. He's a no BS guy that puts the needs of people within that program above everything else.

Gobble Till You Wobble

My only negative has been audio quality, lots outside noises and up and down volume of voices.

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Yea, that's been the main issue I've seen with them (need to invest in some good mics and a little soundproofing), besides the 95% positive "there's nothing wrong going on here" attitude and clowning of/on people with valid complaints about what they perceive* is wrong with the program.

*everyone has different views, I'm not 100% negative, nor 95%, but god damn if some things about how the program is run (playcalling, crootin', etc etc etc) don't drive me up the wall.... And yes I donate, so miss me with the "you can't complain if you don't donate bs"

I'm actually more of a fan of TwoDeepVT and Chowder&Grits, they are a little more grounded with their opinions, and have been around a bit longer (audio quality is better as well).

Virginia Tech Class of 2013
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Sailing the Eastern Seas....on a ship filled with sand....

I'm a pretty frequent listener to all 3. I actually like to listen to them all as close as possible as I can because generally the big topics are the same and I love hearing the differences in perspective. I don't think any one is better than the other I think that they all have their pros and cons. The difference in mic noise is one def con for SoS.

(add if applicable) /s

After listening to this, do you feel better about the recruiting process going forward with Cantor leaving and the work Iezzi and the other guys have been putting in?

yeah Wimbush sounded horrible on this episode

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

A noise gate and limiter would do them wonders.

Best podcast on VT football hands down, PLEASE make time to listen to this.

Incredible to see how far we have to go but want you all to know that the people we do have in place are amazing at what they do. As we continue to grow the recruiting department, we are going to see major dividends along with the fresh energized staff. Iezzi is one of the best in the business.

Damn Iezzi really blasting the twitter couch coaches who call out the staff and tag players and recruits.

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Lezzi

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

Nice catch.

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Lizzo?

Hokie Club member since 2017

Get her on staff and we have a top 15 class.

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She's our Director of Fluteball Operations

You're the only ones that I can talk to about this, you guys.

Lol yeah he did

awsome podcast, thanks for posting this. It was eye opening hearing about recruiting and also Fuente. I am headed to the 2020 recruiting event in richmond tonight, Prioleau is speaking. Hoping for a memorable 2020 season.

This interview explains soooo much about why recruiting has been so bad... You have an athletic department (and possibly a P5 coaching staff) that is not only learning how much the game has changed post Beamer, but is also learning how to do recruiting operations management and HR on the fly at a time when VAHS football isn't just thin but getting thinner... no wonder the roster looks like it does....

I agree that it was an insightful interview but I completely disagree with the characterization as a post-Beamer issue. Sounds to me like we were 10+ years behind by the time Beamer retired and that myriad of issues with recruiting operations and whatnot were largely a result of how things had been done for so long.

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

Yea a big take away from this for me is that we are lucky the recruiting hole isnt deeper after the total lack of emphasis on developing a recruiting staff by Beamer and Weaver. It is almost unbelievable that this Iezzi guy is our recruiting director less than 5 years out of college and basically as the result of some lucky bounces and relationships he developed in the program while he was a student. We are outraged at hiring G5 coaches but behind the scenes our support staff is cobbled together by unpaid students and GAs with almost no experience in college football. Sounds like things are headed in the right direction but we were absolutely not setup to succeed in recruiting moving on from Beamer if what was described in this podcast is true.

Edit: I do have to add that I wonder why fixing this operation hasn't been a bigger priority for Whit... he has been around for a while, we should NOT be the last P5 school with access to recruiting tools and we should NOT have half the staff of UVA, or even Bama. Fuente isnt blameless either, it's been his show 4 full years now.

I had to 15 second back-skip to make sure I heard him right when he said class of 2015 lol. He graduated the same year as me. Crazy to think someone my age is the director of recruiting for Virginia Tech, but that isn't to say I think he can't be doing a great job.

Oh yea, I dont mean to pick on Iezzi, if anything he has done an amazing job considering the circumstances... I just feel like VT as an institution, the athletics department and specifically the football program should have been run better through the late 00s and early 10s to prevent us from being so far behind in 2020. That said the people (like Iezzi) who have been working with the least resources in the P5 and maintaining decent results (until 2020) deserve credit for not letting our program completely nose dive into irrelevance.

I agree. Some of the most upsetting parts of that podcast were just realizing how slow we were to adapt to shifting tides of college football.

In 1997 we hired an AD out of Western Michigan, who's only P5 experience was associate AD at school that wasnt very good in the 80s when he was there (despite location to recruits). He then took us in all sports into the Big East where I dont think any sports other than football really adjusted to the competition change (WBB was probably the best because Bonnie was a great coach). We then jumped to the ACC still paying most coaches like we were in the A10. We let numerous coaches leave for better pay, we almost lost our wrestling program due to coaches leaving. We've been behind the P5 curve for our entire existence.

The only aspect I think we've actually done well is facilities. We got Kevin Jones because of our indoor track. Beamer Barn was/is a great facility. Our football field has always been one of the best turfs out there. And our last locker room upgrade was good enough to keep up with the Jones'.

I am never surprised to hear we dont do things like other p5 schools because while we punched above our weight under Weaver and Beamer for so many years we never acted like a P5 department until both retired. Our fans want SEC results with AAC budgets. Lots of our fans dont act like P5 fans because they aren't donating like P5 fans typically do. There hasnt been a massive shift like lots of people think. It's our talented coaches masked not doing what everyone else has always done. Is UGA spend more money per commit in recruiting than one each players scholarship, yes, has that grown like crazy, yes, but they've always spent lots of money on recruiting that's not new.

To the one guys commit about our entitled fan base, we are, we act like a major P5 program yet want it on a g5 budget. Atol tweeting at recruits and donate instead.

we act like a major P5 program yet want it on a g5 budget.

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

Fuente isnt blameless either, it's been his show 4 full years now.

I've beaten this horse already but I guess I'll give it another go...

It's probably worth considering that Fuente revealed he could only afford to hire Jerry Kill last fall because Danielle Bartelstein (Director of Football Operations) left for a position with the College Football Playoff. To put that into perspective, Jerry Kill took a paycut to join the staff and made $175,000/year in Blacksburg. We didn't have a Director of Football Operations and could barely afford a single experienced support staff member.

This interview with Iezzi that gives us more information about financial/staffing deficiencies (and inexperience) on the recruiting staff. Additionally, French has opined in other threads that we resorted to hiring a lower budget, less inexperienced CB coach (Ryan Smith).

If all that doesn't open anyone's eyes to the financial situation, then honestly I don't know what will.

By the way, I think it's worth considering those examples in the context of the Baylor rumors and the acknowledgment that Fuente has been having on-going conversations with Whit about resources for the football program.

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

I do have to add that I wonder why fixing this operation hasn't been a bigger priority for Whit... he has been around for a while, we should NOT be the last P5 school with access to recruiting tools and we should NOT have half the staff of UVA, or even Bama.

Limited resources. Look at all the operational challenges throughout the Athletic Department. Remember that Hokie Club doesn't even have a marketing department. Remember that until Fuente arrived, we didn't even have a Director of Football Operations. Remember that when Fuente first got here, Cantor was our entire recruiting department.

Just look at the size of the athletic department before Whit got here. in 2013 (Weaver's last year) VT Athletics spent $66MM. In 2018, we spent $93.5MM. In 2013, our entire athletic department spent ~$22.5MM on coaches and staff. That number has increased to ~$34MM in 2018. Source

Weaver did a lot of good things for VT, but he did not set us up well for post-2010 college athletics.

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I just meant that the program was forced to deal with a lot of realities post-Beamer that it had previously been unable or unwilling to reckon with.

I agree it was several years behind by that point.

Iezzi said that he considers 2011 to be the 'modern recruiting era.' My guess is that probably corresponds to when we really fell behind.

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What does the roster look like in your head? We've got 4* guys across the skill positions, we've got the best returning offensive line we've had in probably a decade. We've got our best corner duo since Kendall and Facyson, we're returning our linebacking corps where our problem has been that we have three guys we wish could get on the field and only two spots for them.

This was a bad year, and the discussion in the podcast about why this year, specifically, wasn't great recruiting-wise was definitely interesting. It's also clearly an area that needs investment. But the idea that this roster is a mess, or that recruiting has markedly declined over the past decade just doesn't hold water.

Without going in to excruciating detail that will get parsed to the point of missing the forest for all the trees, a roster is what its' record says it is.

I mean, sure, I guess. That ignores any potential, which is what you get from looking down the whole roster. It's a fairly young roster still, so assuming it won't improve seems shaky. There are guys who redshirted last year who wouldn't have the past couple years, especially at WR, that seems like roster improvement. You swap out the starting QB for the first couple games of last year, the record could easily have been a game or two better.

I'm just saying that there is more room for optimism, should you choose to take it, then there has been the past few years. And the roster is more stacked with possible contributors than it has been in a while. All of which I think would go against your "Recruiting has been a dumpster fire" OP.

I agree that we've improved both depth and quality of player at QB and OL. Fuente has also addressed WR depth. However, RB and DL have been pretty mediocre throughout the Fuente era. That said, I'm more concerned about depth across the board. Depth at almost every position on defense (except recently linebacker) has been non-existent in the last 2 seasons.

I understand why this happened - the Devyn Ford miss at RB, the 2017 offseason killed us on defense (Settle, Mook, Gaines, Hill, Alexander), Foster's eventual retirement hurt recruiting, Cantor leaving hurt recruiting, the advent of the transfer portal (praise portal ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿ™Œ), etc - and I'm not interested in assigning blame or bad luck right now, but I think it's fair to say the roster, while improving, has not been in the best shape the last 2 seasons.

Edit: Updated.

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Lost Alexander then as well right?

Interesting note -- moving forward, offers in the state of Virginia will be commitable offers

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

Iezzi also thinks this 2021 class is the best batch of VA talent since he's been there.

I thought that part of the convo was really interesting. I wonder if this will help recruits perceive VT offers as 'more valuable' since they'll be sent out less often.

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state of Virginia

Another problem, our coaches don't even know Virginia isn't a state!!!

I have no idea why my username is VT_Warthog.

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

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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Too bad we're a commonwealth.

I have no idea why my username is VT_Warthog.

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

i would argue that virginia is too a state, but more specifically it is a commonwealth.

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

Not a state. That's quite an interesting take.

Do we subtract stars from the flag for commonwealths since they're not states.

It's not a take but it ain't that deep. Just making a joke.

I have no idea why my username is VT_Warthog.

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

The United States and four Commonwealths of America...

๐Ÿฆƒ ๐Ÿฆƒ ๐Ÿฆƒ

Ahem Zohn cough cough

15

Finally finished. Great interview. I've been curious for some time about the operations and strategy behind recruiting, and this shined some light on those things. Great to see behind the curtain. My big 3 'wow' moments:

  • The fact that we were the last P5 school to buy Hudl is crazy
  • There were some really crazy stories there - a player receiving and accepting an offer, lying about his height/weight, and coaches not knowing until he showed up on campus, players who love Fuente losing interest in VT after seeing our fans (this one has to just kill the staff). I wonder how common these things are in college football.
  • Chuck Cantor's leadership style really fucked us - withholding tribal knowledge like that, whether intentionally or not, isn't great way to lead/build any sort of team.

After hearing this, I'm pretty amazed our worst season was 6-7.

My other big takeaway is that there's still a lot of room for disruption & technology in this industry... the fact that Iezzi sits on calls with Fuente and takes notes is ridiculous given his other responsibilities and time commitment. It's 2020; there's open source text-to-speech software.

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There were some really crazy stories there - a player receiving and accepting an offer, lying about his height/weight, and coaches not knowing until he showed up on campus, players who love Fuente losing interest in VT after seeing our fans (this one has to just kill the staff). I wonder how common these things are in college football.

I think I remember hearing whispers about that player. If this is the case, it would cause a lot of things to line up and fall into place.

Regarding the fans, even if this is all true and we are losing players because of the fans, and assuming this is the only school where this is happening, the walled off relationship between Fuente and the fanbase is not helping this at all. A lot of the angst over this coaching staff comes right from there, where the only things we ever hear about what's going on is the whispers that escape the closed doors, and the vast majority of those whispers are negative.

Things were handled a lot differently under Beamer, but one of the things he got right more times than not was that he made sure that the relationship between the fans/boosters and the team remained on good terms. And this is something that Fuente struggles badly with. Justifiable or not, our PR under this regime stinks, and has caused a lot of the angst that has been allowed to fester.

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

THIS, SO MUCH THIS!!!

Virginia Tech Class of 2013
Mining and Minerals Engineering

Sailing the Eastern Seas....on a ship filled with sand....

Regarding the fans, even if this is all true and we are losing players because of the fans, and assuming this is the only school where this is happening, the walled off relationship between Fuente and the fanbase is not helping this at all.

I'm not ignoring Fuente's PR challenges, but I'm struggling to understand how Fuente's PR issues correspond to fan comments around a recruit?

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Restricted access to the program through closed practices, no Spring Game broadcast, and "Can I get back to doing important things?" demeanor with the press isn't the way a coach who isn't winning championships gains leeway with fans.

It can be the difference between fans being disappointed but optimistic after a loss and being unsatisfied by a decent win.

There will always be some on either side of that equation, of course, but when the tide is obviously running one way or the other, I imagine a recruit would find it hard to ignore.

Click here to destroy wall.

In my opinion the comment about fans was a bad take. If a coach or incoming player can't handle a little bit of negativity from the fans that pay their salaries they should learn some way to deal with it. It sounded like an excuse to me. ALL football programs have some negative fans.

I've got news for you about the incoming player's salaries.

I noticed the wording but, left it for future reference.

You're thinking about this like an adult and not a 17 year old kid. I guarantee you those kids were in the stands at the Duke game and on top of watching Tech get killed, they watched the fan base almost completely dump this team in person and on social media. Yes, logically you would argue that any fan base would be overly negative in that situation, but he's probably not experiencing that negativity with the other schools recruiting him in that moment or he at least definitely didn't see it first hand. We're all thinking about this logically, but thats not how it works.

Also people are just proving his point by posting on twitter about how the fan excuse is a cop out and those kids are soft for not being able to handle negativity, and one of those kids is literally on this team reading those comments.

Gobble Till You Wobble

Maybe try not getting killed at home by Duke? Expecting fans to be sunshine and rainbows after a debacle is a bad plan.

Right but adults absolutely shitting on 18-20 year old kids is also probably not a good plan either.

Like i said locigally you would think that reaction would happen everywhere, but as a recruit, that reaction on top of the loss could definitely be a tipping point. I mean if i was a parent of a recruit and watched some fans openly boo Ryan Willis in that game, I might think twice before i send my kid somewhere where his fans might boo him at a home game. Call me soft, but if he has other options.... i'm just saying.

Gobble Till You Wobble

I guess in my opinion a 17 or 18 year old kid that is about to have everything taken care of for him should not let a handful of comments on Twitter drastically alter a life decision and go to another school that will have the same negativity from a handful of fans out of many thousands. It really just makes me think the kid didn't want to be here to begin with. Lezzi took some negativity from a very small group of people and applied it to Hokies fans as a whole and used it as an excuse. I have lived in Blacksburg for 20 years and have been to most home games since 99' and there have been a handful of shitty people at every one of them. If you can't be intelligent enough to know that that stuff is everywhere then maybe they should move on to some school that has 0 negative fans. Good luck with that.

There's no room for abusive fans in the stadium or on Twitter. That's a separate issue that unfortunately can't be dealt with short of banning them from the stadium.

Here's what fans saw happen to the program over the last year or so leading up to the Duke game that led to negativity from the fanbase:

-Finished with a losing record for the first time in 25 years;
-Didn't have any draft picks for the first time in many years;
-Saw a wave of kids transfer and say disparaging things about the staff on the way out;
-Had an SI article lay bare all the issues with the program, including dudes talking about losing on purpose to avoid playing in a bowl;
-Lost a game to BC where Willis turned it over 4 times;
-Barely won at home against ODU and Furman, and heard Willis talk about how well he would grade out after his Furman performance;
- Got throttled at home to Duke with the 1999 team in the crowd.

We're really saying the problem with the program here is the fans were booing? What exactly was there to be positive about at that point in time? Because I see a whole lot of bigger problems going on. In Mexico City they'd have thrown urine bags on the field.

In Mexico City Morgantown they'd have thrown urine bags on the field.

(add if applicable) /s

No, that's not what he was saying is the problem with the program. He pointed out how it was an issue with 2 kids, one eventually signed and the other never came back on campus. Then of course the natural reaction was to only react to the criticism of negative fans and here we are.

Its almost a 2 hour interview. He spends plenty of time on how the 2018 season and Duke game affected recruiting and how underfunded they are.

Gobble Till You Wobble

to kind of piggy back on this. which I think you hit pretty much on the head. these are 17 year old kids. a lot of them don't know a ton about VT I would say not nearly as much as we on TKP do so where do they get their information? the social media world is their direct line to all things VT for A lot of them. the 6 hour visit they take isn't out weighing the hours and hours these kids spend on social media everyday. if they are getting notifications and tags and mentioned its even worse. we are in a world where social media plays a MAJOR roll in perception of things. yes all fan bases have negative people. but ours of late have been over whelming. I'm NOT a 17 year old kid and I myself found myself feeding into a lot of the negative BS that was on twitter. I went on a huge deleting spree and made a decision not to engage in any back and forth on twitter even though I wanted to defend a lot of the things that were being said. for a good week I let twitter get me in my feelings and bring my own perception of VT football to a new low. this was during the Fuente is going to Baylor explosion. I was at VT 2 days later and I felt like a complete idiot for allowing twitter to effect reality. imagine being a 17 year old kid and having to navigate that while also having other options that are trying to shmoooze you into going to their school. I don't have any other options. I'm not being recruited to any other school VT is my dream school and I felt twitter shake my beliefs in what we are doing. I can only image..... so if you think "fans" tweets don't matter. you are wrong. not one stand alone fans tweet no. but collectively fans have the ability to change the perception of everything going on in the entire program and that is whats been happening. the outsiders don't have a choice but to believe the masses over the 2 or 3 tweets from Fuente and co. its not a good look. I cant say this enough being objective and thinking everything is not ok is fine but if you are a hokie. tweet with the premise of how or what you want to see change to get back to the top not just bashing and hating on the program. its your program too for crying out loud. be a part of the solution not a part of the problem.

twitter @smithey_daniel
head scout BSP scouting specializing in north florida/ southern GA highschool football scouting

If you are talking to me, I don't tweet. Never will tweet at recruits. I think adults tweeting high school kids is just weird unless you are a coach or recruiter. lezzi did however include me as a fan in his excuse that disgruntled fans are a part of the problem. I would also point out kids are mature enough at 17 and 18 hopefully to not believe everything that is said on Twitter. That falls on the parents and their upbringing. Using Twitter comments from a few people to go elsewhere is their prerogative but, I'm not ok with lezzi lumping all fans and using that instance to try to explain our recent woes.

no sir not talking to you. piggybacking on what you were saying in your post and just kind of adding to it.

I don't think it is the problem. but all factors combined play a roll. when you are behind in a ton of other things it could be that one last straw that broke the camels back so to speak.

as fans were allowed to be frustrated and disgruntled my biggest issue with social media right now is A. lots of people speaking with out facts. B. lots of useless chatter. its not dialog. its not constructive. its not bringing anything to the conversation. pushing narratives for who you do or don't like without having enough respect for people who are on the same dang team as you to hear anyone elses opinion or thoughts. its bad for everyone evolved. nothing productive comes from it at all.

twitter @smithey_daniel
head scout BSP scouting specializing in north florida/ southern GA highschool football scouting

I totally agree with that. I'm not condoning what people negatively say to croots on twitter at all. It's ridiculous. I'm saying on the flip side that the croots need to understand that that is noise and doesn't apply to Hokie nation as a whole. Most people would agree we have some of the best fans in the country.

I would also point out kids are mature enough at 17 and 18 hopefully to not believe everything that is said on Twitter

If a recruit sees a lot of negative smoke on twitter and think there is a fire that is a completely understandable and reasonable reaction. There is no immaturity involved in that. Also, they aren't wrong. There's a lot of infighting in the VT fanbase online right now, it's not even like they are getting a misread on it.

That falls on the parents and their upbringing

What are you even implying by this?

I'm not implying anything. I'm directly saying it is up to parents to discuss with their children that some bad seeds on twitter do not equal an entire fan base. I stand by my opinion. It is pretty easy to avoid the noise and go with the school and program that you like without falling victim to twitter trolls. As a fan I am somewhat concerned that we have negative fans that talk shit to kids and also that there are recruits that are all about the school if they can get several thousand Hokie fans to follow them but, drop out when a handful say anything negative.

You don't seem to understand what it means to support recruiting as a supporter/fan of the program.

Recruiting means adapting your message to fit the audience, the audience in this case being highly talented high-school aged football players who are all over social media (particularly twitter). We (as a football program) don't have the luxury of being so picky that we dismiss prospects because they "dont get it" when it comes to Twitter and how every football fan base has toxic fans. We need to show them that VT is different - in a good way - and it's worth their while to pick VT.

You People want to talk about Burrell's comments about an entitled fan base (as being off-base / sour grapes) , but it sure seems like you a bunch of others feel entitled to be negative and toxic about a team they claim to support, then turn around and blame the prospects who would rather not deal with that BS.

And on the subject of other fan bases, there's a signal to noise ratio here. Auburn may have 5x as many toxic "fans" trolling their coaches on twitter, but they also seem to have 10x as many supportive fans posting on twitter, so the negativity gets mitigated more.

"You want to talk about Burrell's comments about an entitled fan base, but it sure seems like you a bunch of others feel entitled to be negative and toxic about a team they claim to support, then turn around and blame the prospects who would rather not deal with that BS."

I stopped reading or taking your reply seriously after this. No where have I been negative or toxic nor "blamed" a prospect for anything. I stated my opinion in a respectful manner.

that was a poorly phrased example, so let me try again.

A lot of VT fans complain about Burrell's comments, and can't understand what he's talking about, and generally dismiss that comment as sour grapes / he was never coming here anyway /etc.

Well your commentary that it's the prospect's responsibility to be immune to negativity on twitter instead of saying toxic fans should tone it down is an example of an entitled fan attitude.

You're literally saying fans are entitled to be toxic and players who can't handle it don't deserve to be at VT.

I did not "literally" say that fans deserve to be toxic. I did however literally say that the guidance and communications with the coaching staff, recruiters, and former players should outweigh any negative comments on twitter by disgruntled fans, which I am not one of.

(congrats on 50k legs btw)

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

I think you're ignoring the power Twitter has to influence people. You point to the maturity of 17 and 18 year olds and upbringing, but just look at the recent Fuente/Baylor incident as evidence. People on here, who I am assuming are all at least 17 and 18, but probably much older, saw a tweet that Fuente was flying to Waco. With his wife. People lost their freaking minds. And it wasn't even true. Seeing/reading something negative can be ignored, but when you hear it thousands of times over, it's harder to ignore. There's a reason businesses are paying people for social media presence - it influences people. We (fans) shouldn't be negatively influencing recruits we hope will come to Tech.

"People lost their freaking minds"

You're doing the same thing though. People? A small percentage of people "lost their minds" I didn't but, you are lumping me into that crowd. So the recruit that backed out because of negative fans had thousands of negative tweets?

I'm lumping me into that crowd even though I thought we needed to hear something official from the school before we made any judgements on Fuente. We as VA Tech fans are a crowd. Just because you specifically didn't do something doesn't mean that there aren't hundreds or thousands of fans that tweet negative things about the program, coaches, and to specific recruits where recruits will see it, and you just saying that recruits should ignore all these negative tweets seems naรฏve.

If a recruit gets a ton of negative tweets from Tech fans, then sees you wearing a Tech shirt, he'd probably think you had a negative view of the Tech football team, because, in his limited experience with Tech fans, that's what he's come to expect. He might not even want to talk to you because he doesn't want you to turn around and say "why would you go to Tech, the coach sucks."

I'd much rather this scenario: tons of Tech fans tweeting, saying recruits will love it there. A recruit sees some random Tech grad wearing a Tech shirt, walks up to the grad and says, "hey, I'm thinking of going to Tech to play football" and the Tech grad replies, "That's awesome! I loved my time there, loved watching the games! I think you'll love it there too and I'll cheer you on when I watch!"

I really do get your point but, you are adding "hundreds or thousands of fans". I haven't seen any evidence to back up that claim. I have however seen thousands of positive tweets from fans towards any recruits that mention VT.

I consider it naive that people think that negativity isn't going to exist and really dwell on that to the point that it causes them to make major life decisions based on those usually false negative comments. It would seem to me the recruit would trust the word of his recruiters, other players, and coaches instead of a hand full of twitter handles.

Here we are though. Twitter followers negative comments are meaning more to them than what the coaches are telling them. I really don't know if that weighs on the coaches, the recruits, or the few shitty fans that make negative comments but, for most of us to be lumped in with that, again, I disagree.

This was a chance to be the welcoming Hokie Nation; the first comment did not need to be about how this kid was not as good of a prospect as we want. Pick and choose the right forum for discourse.

So basically you're saying Fuente Bad PR = Disgruntled Fans = Saying bad things in front of/to recruits? If I'm understanding your stance correctly, I'm going to kindly disagree, and continue to hold the fans responsible. People need to have some level of situational awareness.

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I keep hearing about how the locker room is some utopia from coaches, personnel, and players, but I personally have never seen anything to show that. It's 100% based on trusting the staff, which has been on thin ice since the ODU game last year. Even if the VT fanbase has been too critical, the national media hasn't done us any favors either, and in both cases Fuente and Iezzi have to fight an uphill battle to convince recruits that it's as good as they say it is. If Fuente (and staff) were better at PR, they could hypothetically convince not only recruits but also the general public that things are going great and stop the uphill battle. Everyone needs to chill out because VT football feels like a Mexican standoff right now and it sucks. Fans need to be more positive about 18-22 year olds playing a game, and the coaching staff needs to stop bemoaning the fanbase and use some positive reinforcement for once.

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

IMHO, the reason why we can't get within 5 yards of Kentucky's QB in the last 8 minutes of the game is because we have too many players that get upset by fans criticizing the program. Soft. Yeah, I said it. We won't win 10 games again or play great defense again with that mentality.

The same fans that show up by the thousands in freezing temps to ND or outnumber Duke fans in Durham. A few twitter idiots is killing us though. Blaming VT "fans" for recruiting issues is such weak shit. Look at the big picture FFS.

He mentioned how it somewhat effected the recruiting of 2 kids and only really turned 1 kid away. If you listened to that whole podcast and took away "VT fans are the reason we aren't recruiting well", then i sugguest you go back and listen again because it was a minoot part of his overall breakdown of our recruiting issues.

However us freaking out and taking it personally really only drives home that point even more.

Gobble Till You Wobble

I've listened several times. He did put it out there publicly though. I'm not freaking out at all. His responses were not off the cuff. I hope his plan of calling out the fans for recruiting issues works, I really do.

I hope his plan of calling out the fans for recruiting issues works, I really do.

This isn't some big press piece, so how many people do think this is actually going to reach? From all of your responses it feels like you're trying to put words in his mouth or say he has ulterior motives other than just answering the question honestly while providing his frame of reference as a fan who transitioned to an employee. I went back and listened to it again and I'm just not hearing the same thing you are.

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

So you think this was indeed off the cuff with no oversight? If you're the recruiting director and say something like that and record it, it will be heard and spread around. "all my replies" I'm simply having a discussion and have an opinion just like you do but, we differ in what we here and I'm ok with that.

Do I think he asked for permission to go on this podcast? Yes. Do I think he got most of the questions ahead of time? Most likely. Do I think anyone devoted any time or resources to this beyond that? No.

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

Twitter trolls or not, if VT did not have the fans we do, we would be UCONN in the big east right now. Big Picture please

Most of the information shared in this podcast is shocking. VT recruiting was an absolute amateur hour until very recently. It really explains a lot of our on the field issues over the past decade. I came away very impressed with John Iezzi (especially at the young age of 26/27). It really seems like he is starting to bridge the gap between VT and the rest of the Power 5.

"For those who have passed, for those to come, reach for excellence."

This podcast was awesome. I love the insight he brought, though some was depressing (HUDL, the way Cantor left). However, I actually came away optimistic, i loved the way he talked about Fu and how recruits and players view him.

I always knew twitter was going to take down civilization, but now its taking down VT Football...? That's the final straw. Civilization can crumble to the sea, but do not touch my favorite football team!

Go Hokies!

Thanks for posting this 1. because I was not aware of this podcast. Will be great to add along with TSL and Two Deep in my rotation. 2. For the shear entertainment factor of hearing how much bigger other recruiting departments are, I got a good laugh. 3. It's great to hear John Iezzi's passion for VT. The dude is a likable guy. I bet you he does more by himself than 5 of those UVAh department dweebs.

Hokie Club member since 2017

This was my reaction as well. Fuente should learn something from the reaction this interview will get from fan's. We learned more about the challenges to the program and the individual dedication Iezzi has in one podcast than Fuente has shared in four years of media interaction. Selective sharing can be a tool and a weapon in the recruiting and fan support fight. Well done to SOS and Iezzi (and whoever in the administration who let/made this happen).

It's maddening how VT makes football recruiting harder than it needs to be. It's sad how poor that operation and process is. Don't blame it on money either. Whit knows big boy football. This is the classic shitty scrum master idiots blaming JIRA for their problems. Fix the process, fix the people.

This is the classic shitty scrum master idiots blaming JIRA for their problems.

What?

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

Money isn't holding us back in terms of recruiting, much like a "tool" doesn't typically hold software developers back. Our recruiting process sucks.

And what part of the process is faulty?

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

Don't do it!

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

I have always wished I had the technical chops to put a VT logo on its chest because it's one of my favorite GIFs.

@hokie_rd

Those two aren't even close to exclusive. You need money to professionalize. I think what we all learned was just how mom and pop this situation was. We had folks flying by the seat of their pants, because that's what we could do with the budget available; find people who REALLY wanted to be there, but had to make it up as they went along. And shoutout to those people for doing it. Good for them. But the idea that there isn't a money component to this is silly.

Our recruiting process was outdated and bad, but this podcast helps me believe it's getting better (O&M glasses, I know). We were so far behind we didn't even know how far behind we were. It shouldn't have gotten as bad as it did, but it was always going to tough to build a traditional recruiting process/strategy after leaning on the well-earned reputations of two living legends (Beamer + Bud).

It sounds like things have progressed a ton in the past 1.5ish years. There was a consistent tone of confidence and belief that we're rapidly closing the gap and learning some invaluable nuances to the recruiting process along the way. Like not offering people crazy early seems wise - our offers will be more rare/valuable, we won't have as much non-commitable offer drama, and we'll act like a big dog instead of holding a commitment for 3 years hoping big dogs don't steal it. Also, they seem confident about senior film being way undervalued (Strong and Wright are examples of Iezzi and co. believing and acting on this theory). We have to wait and see if they actually hit on undervalued prospects, but it's encouraging that they have confidence they're finally understanding the system well enough to find diamonds in the rough.

Money has held us back some, but there's a lot more going on. Next year is a "show me results" year, no matter how you slice it. And this podcast gave us nothing but reasons to be optimistic and supportive of the path we're charting.

Process change doesn't just happen overnight; it takes time. It takes time to diagnose the issue, it takes time to find the solution, it takes time to implement that solution.

This isn't a shitty scrum master blaming JIRA. This is an organization who used to have customers pass requirements directly to developers trying to transform into a true agile organization. You could hire the best CPO in the world; they can't make that transition overnight.

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This is an organization who used to have customers pass requirements directly to developers trying to transform into a true agile organization.

Sounds like Whit needs to hire a Tom Smykowski.

If you're not sure if my comment warrants a "/s", it probably does.

Ah, I wouldn't jump to conclusions.

This is going to be great for the ACC.

Well I've got good news for you. It sounds like the recruiting staff is very familiar with bringing on and working with volunteers so feel free to head down to Blacksburg as a full time volunteer and show them how it's done. Iezzi even said that Fuente is always willing to hear out new ideas on how to improve things so I'm sure you'll have the whole operation humming in no time.

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

I am mind blown by dcwilson throwing down these software development life cycle references. Would not have had him pegged for a software guy.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Jet Sweep

If the recruiting staff just used VSTS instead of Jira we'd be set imo.

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

I could see him as a software developer who hates 75% of the scrum masters and product owners he has to deal with.

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This is a good listen.

'95 @UVA, '95 Sugar Bowl, '96 @Miami, '99 flip, '03 v Miami, '05 Bourbon St., '09 Coale, '14 @OSU

Thank you for sharing this! I would have never heard it otherwise, and it's probably the best overview of recent VT recruiting operations/strategy out there. Iezzi spoke articulately and in some ways gave the Fuente presser on recruiting we've always wanted but will never get. A few things that jumped out to me:

  • When asked about what would help recruiting the most (approx. 7mins from the end), he gave a two-part answer that basically amounted to more staff = better results. Part of it was simply having more info collected, but he also pointed out that the more staff members a prospect meets, the greater chance they really click with one. And one trusted relationship can cut through whatever online negativity or general concerns a prospect has. I was also pleased he cited improving diversity as a big goal as they continue to grow. VT can and should be a leader in this area - improving staff diversity will improve on-field results.
  • The Baylor spin was that our program is better off because of it. Unclear what he meant, but I'd guess the subtext is that Fuente gained some leverage with Whit and underscored the need for more resources.
  • Iezzi's breakout players for next year are Barno and Gallo.
  • We're behind the curve in modern recruiting, but we're catching up. He admitted 2020's class was well below our standards, but he believes it'll be the floor. Top 20 classes per 247 composite is the stated goal. He loves VA's 2021 talent and also expects double digit wins next year, so he continued the "elite class" rhetoric Fuente mentioned on signing day.

The Baylor spin was that our program is better off because of it. Unclear what he meant, but I'd guess the subtext is that Fuente gained some leverage with Whit and underscored the need for more resources.

Methinks it is not Fuente who gained leverage with Whit, but Whit who gained leverage with Sands.

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Ooh that would make sense, good point. Layers on layers on layers of leverage. Somewhere in this inception-style leverage web, Iezzi got convinced it was a net positive for the program.

Yeah it's an interesting point because in Whit's conference call he just said Fuente didn't do it for leverage. However that doesn't mean there wasn't any leverage gained. Iezzi made it clear there was leverage gained for at least someone

Hokie Club member since 2017

When Whit said that, I interpreted it as Fu not trying to leverage improvement in his own contract.

When Whit said the things they agreed wasn't new, I interpreted that may have been technically true in that they had been discussed before; but they clearly had not been making the progress Fu had anticipated. And I think that is consistent with the Iezzi's statements.

Asking because I'm genuinely curious, in what ways can/does Sands influence the athletics program?

Other than having Whit be a direct report in terms of an HR structure (if Whit doesn't report to the Board of Visitors or the University Council's Athletics Committee), President Sands *and I cannot stress this enough* has nothing to do with the athletics department.

The number of misguided people on the hellscape that is Twitter who think Sands has a day-to-day influence on improving athletics, donations, the Hokie Club, etc., is staggering.

I'm not sure if you're making a blanket statement about the relationship between AD's and University Presidents (which would be wrong) or if you're talking about Pres. Sands specifically (who's relationship with Whit I can only speculate about), but at a lot of universities, AD's and Presidents work together a lot. From this Forbes article:

I pay the same attention to my athletic director as I do the university's key administrators, including deans. I need to understand their worlds, from their perspectives, including the reputational and economic implications.

my predecessors made a strategic decision in the 1990s to invest in basketball and only years later did we begin to see increased on-the-court performance and thus a great return on investment.

Note that this^ is the Butler University President talking about his predecessor making the decision to invest in basketball.

After spending much of my career in higher education, it has become apparent that academia and athletics are much more closely joined at the hip than ever before... ...Presidents simply can't treat the athletics department as just another university unit, because the consequences of a misstep are far greater where all eyes congregate.

Those quotes are cherry picked, but I think you get the general idea - Presidents and ADs work together, and presidents give ADs a varying level of autonomy depending on their relationship. Again, I have no insider knowledge of Whit/Sands' relationship, but I can think of handful of ways Sands could influence the athletic department:

  • Sands wants Whit to focus on a 'well rounded' athletic department rather than focusing on football
  • Sands is opposed to participating in the arms race of college football (including staffing)
  • The academic side of the university has some sway over how the Alumni Association (fundraising for the university at large) and the Hokie Club interaction. I was recently informed that the Alumni Association always gets 'first dibs' over Hokie Club when it comes to cold calling alumni. Hokie Club isn't allowed to come in until a donor was already hit up by the alumni association. (To be fair, I'm not sure if this is an initiative by Sands or not, but that's the way the Alumni Association and Hokie Club work together today.

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I'll grant you the points made in the Forbes piece and realize that the "nothing" was hyperbolic on my part, but I don't get the feeling that Sands walks around the halls of Burruss thinking too terribly much about the minutiae of the athletics department. At least, I hope he doesn't. The university existed before the sports teams and doesn't require them to continue existing.

My larger point was, based on exchanges I've seen, I honestly think some folks expect and demand Sands himself to steer undetermined amounts of the university budget into the athletics program to adjust for the shortcomings in Hokie Club commitments and donations, and that's simply not what should be pulling his focus on a daily basis nor is it why the university budget exists.

As much as Sands and Whit work or appear shoulder-to-shoulder on things, there's still an entire structure to be followed in terms of athletics being incorporated into the university, so it's not like Whit can just call Tim to get moves made.

I doubt Sands is micro managing, and I don't think any reasonable person believes that Sands chooses to move funds between the university and the athletic department, but I also find it hard to believe that he's not involved in setting strategic direction for the athletic department. If Sands believes that success in the Commonwealth Cup/Director's Cup is more important than success on the football field, then Whit's department goals, and thus financial allocation is going to reflect that.

Additionally, as Prof. Torgerson told us in his class - a university president's #1 job is fundraising. President Sands does have his hand in Fundraising - he can control who gets to which donors first.

I'm not suggesting that Sands cares a ton about athletics, nor am I suggesting even that Sands should change what he's doing, but I do believe that Sands to some degree guides the path of athletics, just like does every other part of our institution.

it's not like Whit can just call Tim to get moves made.

But Whit can drum up support from the fanbase to complain to VT, or chose to donate to Athletics instead of the university at large.

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This is what I assumed. It seems like he could have some influence, but ultimately the athletics department is separate and nobody knows the dynamics of the relationship between Sands and Whit.

I still have 31 minutes left in this and it's the most informative thing I've ever heard.

Wait...our Director of Recruiting is 26 years old....?

27 but probably knows more about modern recruiting than most 50 year olds. He also is 2nd from the top, below Mark Diethorn, who is 35. Young but hungry recruiting staff.

Blacksburg seems to be his dream destination too, which is a plus. He could be Beamer of recruiting.

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

This kid knew more about football as a six-year-old than most of us know now. Seriously.

So listened again. Interesting that he went back and looked at top 10 guys in VA back to 2011 and only found 15 total that panned out that didn't go to Tech or LOLUVA.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

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I'm curious how many of the VT/UVA kids 'panned out.' I wonder if our success rate was actually better.

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I just did a quick look over and I think it's been slightly better but still not great which says a lot about the talent VA has had I think.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

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You'd have to compare that to other states before you could draw any major conclusions. VA might be worse than other states, but that hasn't seemed to scare off other powerhouse teams.

I hope the people who keep saying "we need to recruit VA to be able to win" took note of this and acknowledge getting the best recruits, no matter where they come from, is the important part.

Now I'm curios and I can't do school work because I have carpet people coming to fix and inspect some installation errors and have to wait from 8:30-11, so I might go through the list. Since we are talking college success what should the criteria be to judge success versus not?

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

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Maybe a good starting point, unless you want to get super in-depth, would simply be number of games started?

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

I think you have to vary it by recruit ranking. At minimum, I'd say:

  • 5-star has to make 1st/2nd team all conference
  • 4-star should be a multi-year starter
  • 3-star should be a multi-year contributor

The challenge is, because Bama has more 5-stars, it's going to be tough for the 4-stars or 3-stars to get meaningful play time/experience, so I'd expect some sort of inherent bias in this system. But it's simple enough.

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Fans being critical on Twitter > pulling Capehart's offer at the 11th hour, the Baylor situation

via GIPHY

You didn't listen to it did you?

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

Looks like we have another volunteer recruiting assistant ready to show everyone how it's done. A few more of you guys and we'll have a recruiting staff comparable to UVA's.

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

Perhaps you missed it, but I had asked everyone to tone down the dickishness. A condensing comment ain't helping the discourse here.

Living up to your own standards here.

But seriously of all the "dickish" comments on TKP on a daily basis, why in the world would you pick this one as the place to make your stand... the OP was clearly condescending and certainly not aimed at elevating the discourse, so why pick on the response?

Living up to your own standards here.

I'm not screwing around. Take the crap elsewhere or I will do it myself. Thanks.

Woah did you down vote his account into oblivion?

(add if applicable) /s

Joe, probably

Am I the only person who didn't know that negative plaid that is UVA colors???

Fantastic.

much like our recruiting, you sir, are behind the times and need to TKP harder.

Whatever. It was one bad year.

Seasonal Brew means High ABV for football season and standard the rest of the year.

A condensing comment ain't helping the discourse here.

TBH, it's just going to get the discourse all wet. ;^)

If you're not sure if my comment warrants a "/s", it probably does.

Joe, thanks for the effort to keep the noise to signal ratio on track across the site.

This thread has been one of the most productive in a while, actual discussion with varied points of view instead of rehashing the same glib remarks that do not broaden anyone's perspective of the troubles and successes of the VT Athletic Dept.

(I also understand that this entire dialogue was dependent on a forthright interview by an insider of the football program and these interviews are few and far between)

The "Baylor situation" didn't happen until long after early signing day, had zero impact on recruiting.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

It's a good listen. Lots of information that most fans should hear.
That said, I really don't like the host who stretches out all his words. It's like having Bill Lumberg doing a podcast.

the host who stretches out all his words

not someone I want to listen to

that's exactly why i have trouble listening to them

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

VT's recruiting ranking from 247, 2007-20:

2007: 26th
2008: 18th
2009: 25th
2010: 28th
2011: 35th
2012: 21st
2013: 21st
2014: 28th
2015: 29th
2016: 42nd
2017: 26th
2018: 24th
2019: 26th
2020: 71st

I have no reason to doubt anything Iezzi is saying, but the program had been consistent at recruiting up until last year. The 2011 class led to a staff shakeup; the 2016 class was the result of the coaching change. This year will tell us if it was just a blip or if blaming Cantor and Weaver is whistling past the graveyard. I hope they can deliver on this elite class, though if not I'm sure we will hear that 2022 will be the elite class after all.

text I got last night from one of my recruiting buds at VT. from a group text that includes lezzi, Diethorn and Zach lantz

matt, marshall, drew, and austin Thomas are being paid between 300k and 400k. jimmy sextons group is repping all 4. they reset the market.

I don't know who all these people are and I didn't ask. austin Thomas is the new GM of operations for Baylor. guys for VT in the same roll are making significantly less. and by that I mean hundreds of Ks. If you want good guys or to keep good guys you better get on board with the times. also if you do some research on jimmy sexton hes basically running the college football market as an agent.

if you think we don't need more money. youre wrong. our recruiting staff is vastly undersized and vastly underpaid. not a good combo.

twitter @smithey_daniel
head scout BSP scouting specializing in north florida/ southern GA highschool football scouting

also if you do some research on jimmy sexton hes basically running the college football market as an agent.

The likes of Jimmy Sexton getting involved in this field actually makes me want to do the opposite. Needing more people on support staff is one thing, but if there's going to be an arms race there as well ($300-400K/yr for a single recruiter!?), that makes me just feel like checking out of the whole thing.

This is the issue.

As a booster, I am happy to support the program as a means of providing an education to lots of kids. Often the ability to parlay athletic ability into a college degree is a life changing opportunity because the kid was never going to make a living off their athletic ability. This is what a Hokie Club donation is used for and I am happy to help and I think this is an easier sell to most alumni.

I am happy to have a program where the staff is provided a reasonable quality of life. I know that the number of staff is lacking and I hope ticket sales and the apparel deal with provide the resources to better fund the staff.

I am not interested in financing mini golf, water slides, sleep pods, etc. I believe that increasing revenue for those expenditures will have to come from TV deals, naming rights and mega donors as it will be tough to fund through regular alumni/fan donations.

So much this! Thanks 904! We need funding and we need to pay these diehard Hokies that have been working for us this hard.

Jeremiah 29:11 and Go Hokies!

I wish this was required listening for all VT football fans on Twitter. If, for nothing else, the perspective it provides.

This should be required listening for all of the keyboard kommandos who are guessing why the program is in any particular shape. Two observations; one is that many fans believe Fu dislikes/is not good at communication with people outside of the program (media/fans). If this is indeed true, which I too believe it is, then this podcast with Iezzi is either pure genius or a brilliant happenstance. My point is that Iezzi gave us something from the inside which we have been clamoring for (and rightfully so as fans and donors). This will also give some factual insight to those of us in the Twitterswamp et al who give their "very learned" opinions and don't understand that it can be digital napalm for our recruiting. If this was indeed and attempt by Iezzi, who does have the ear of Fu to get some much-needed truth/info to our fans then we need to pay that guy a full coaches salary. The second observation is that we need to study our competition and present a VT vision to the donors if we want to move forward. My big takeaway as some of you have suggested is that we have been sucking hind tit for 2 decades in the recruiting game and were living on the lunchpail for a loooooong time. Go Hokies!

Jeremiah 29:11 and Go Hokies!

Can someone post a link? I am getting this error on the embed.

open.spotify.com's server IP address could not be found.

Thanks!

This is an insightful listen, but the interviewers did not do a great job with follow-ups to some of the crazy things mentioned

  • We only subscribed to Hudl 1.5 years ago -- establishments with the same leadership for nearly 3 decades are often slow to adopt new practices (that doesn't mean Beamer doesn't share some blame for us falling behind), but why did it take Fuente 2.5 years to fix it?
  • Cantor was the keeper of all info, did not share it, and took it when he left -- how was that allowed to happen? What is Fuente's involvement with the recruiting staff? Do they not report to him?

I would've liked to have heard Iezzi's responses to those questions, which seemed like obvious follow-ups.

"Cantor was the keeper of all info, did not share it, and took it when he left -- how was that allowed to happen? What is Fuente's involvement with the recruiting staff? Do they not report to him?"

Clearly VT only had the budget for just one Trapper Keeper

Cantor was the keeper of all info, did not share it, and took it when he left -- how was that allowed to happen? What is Fuente's involvement with the recruiting staff? Do they not report to him?

I've seen this a lot. There's so much work that everyone is in 'get shit done' mode, they don't have time to think about someone else's responsibilities. Then, all of a sudden, that someone leaves, and things just start blowing up.

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So much troubles me about these revelations, and the shortfall in recruiting resources may be the least of them.

1) If Whit plans to address these issues, why isn't there a big PR push? Why aren't the heads of the program (AD/HC) carrying the messaging? And, if fundraising does spike, what is the plan for allocation?

2) If Whit is being silent, does that mean that regardless of the fundraising, Whit isn't utilizing their big marketing and fundraising push on this coaching staff?

This is completely my opinion, and I may be reading too much into this. But, reading the tea leaves, this is how I see the story playing out:

Fuente sniffed around Baylor as a power play to get more resources. Whit was pissed.

Baylor declined. Whit was faced with firing Fuente (price point $12 million) or keeping him until the buyout goes down.

Still, the bridge is burnt. Whit decides not to sink more resources into football until a new staff is in place.

Fuente realizes that those resources are not being made available, and backdoor messaging starts to reveal how shorthanded they are to put pressure on Whit.

I may be way off. Perhaps I am, and I should sell this script to Hollywood. But, I can't believe that, given what we know about how messaging has been controlled with this administration, that suddenly the director of recruiting is being approved to go out and make the administration look bad. Because that is ultimately what this is- messaging which makes it look like Sands and Babcock are not allocating appropriate resources to football.

Who knows at this point. But, the program desperately needs something to create some positive momentum.

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

Sell it to Hollywood get that money

Cut and divide it all right in two

That allocation question is a great one.

Fireman, does HC have some sort of spending roadmap? It would be a great PR push for the program imo to develop a roadmap of projects and priorities to show the supporters of the program what projects the money donated is being allocated. I would certainly donate more often if I knew they were looking for money to push specific parts of the program. I realize this wouldn't drive everyone but I doubt it hurts your casual donor.

(add if applicable) /s

As an initial donor in the JW years, everything was "donate for the rights to buy better tickets". I was not approached for major gifts for a specific facility.

I agree that some understanding of the finances would be nice. I.E.

  • The Hokie Club is trying to fully endow all athletic scholarships (VT is XX% of the way there; donate here to augment the revenue stream we already have in place);
  • the shoe deal pays salary (donate here to augment the revenue stream we already have in place);
  • We need XX $s to move to the next phase of YY project (donate here to augment the revenue stream we already have in place).

IMO you hit the nail on the head, I had the same thoughts. It was cool to see a sneak peek of the recruiting process, but big picture this feels like Fuente telling the fans to eff off. I may be off base too, but I would love some positive messaging to start coming out of the program.

I'm not sure what messaging that is other than wins. Unfortunately, without wins most people take all news as bad ...

VT leads nation in GPA = Stop studying class and study football
VT does tons of community service = why are you not practices or lifting weights
Fuente's wife is expecting = you could have used that time to phone a recruit!

It sucks because this is college and no pros, but most people wont like moral victories, so wins is the only good messaging that we can get.

I'm not sure there's much evidence to indicate Whit is willing to go "all in" on football period, end, stop. To the contrary, there does seem to be evidence that he cares quite a bit about Director's Cup standings.

TIFWIW.

Edit: I will say this in response to your analysis... If Whit is willing to let the program continue to stagnate because of some wee-willy butt-hurt between him and Fuente, that's some grad-A fuckery. I have a hard time reconciling that take.

It is business. The athletic department could not afford the buyout this year. It drops significantly next year. If you have one big shot to improve fundraising, do you use that push to buoy a coach you don't have faith or trust in? Or, do you take that shot when you get the traditional enthusiasm bump that often comes with a coaching change?

Then, if Fuente wins this year, perhaps it repairs the relationship. Again, this is all conjecture. But, the way that this information is getting out, with the problem and no coordinated solution, feels like it is push back from the football staff. Think about it. Why would Whit Babcock sign off on a member of the staff doing an interview which makes him look bad? The recruiting revelations makes Whit look bad because there hasn't been a rapid response and allocation of resources. Instead, those resources have been directed to other non-revenue programs or do not exist. The majority of the donors do not want football forsaken to prop up other programs, and Whit's primary task when he was hired was to reform the fundraising apparatus. And, after some good initial inertia, that effort has ground to a complete standstill. Why? Why, after half a decade, is VT still at 4/5 recruiting staff instead of 15? You can't just blame Weaver and do nothing if you are serious about competing.

And, my goodness. The PR failures are mounting faster than the national debt.

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

The PR failures are mounting faster than the national debt

This seems to be the main issues around this program . fans want to be a part of the program, but everything associated with fuente and staff is done behind a curtain. What the he'll is really going on? Maybe with some insight, we could have empathy for the issues at hand. But no, we look to the curtain , and wait for oz to tell is what he wants us to hear.

I think Alum pointed it out succinctly when he said that Fuente basically walled off the program from the fans. Not allowing public scrimmage (which I enjoyed going to during the twilight years of Beamer's career) and not televising the spring game.

I don't get what Fuente is afraid of. The Hokies are well-scouted and if French can break down what is Virginia Tech's weakness, there is more than a good chance that the other teams are capable of doing the same, if not more.

I think Joe also correctly pointed out that Fuente seem to be out of touch with the fans, refusing to be the face of the program, and as some have observed via press conferences, Fuente seem disinterested in engaging the reporters.

I am not asking for Fuente to be Nick Saban or Dabo Swinney. If Fuente is an introvert (I am one as well), that's fine, but you have to learn how to put your best foot forward and smile. I shared a story how I saw him at St. Mary's in Blacksburg when his daughter received her first communion, and I kept a respectful distance from Fuente, not wanting to introduce myself since it was a special day for his family. However, observing his body language, he is somebody who likes being in complete control, and that can be a problem for some people.

โ€œWho is this Fuentes person that you speak about?โ€ -McHokie540

If you have one big shot to improve fundraising, do you use that push to buoy a coach you don't have faith or trust in? Or, do you take that shot when you get the traditional enthusiasm bump that often comes with a coaching change?

You make another great point here that I didn't touch on. Building a football program is like rolling a snowball downhill. Momentum is critical for it to grow and pick up speed. We have really struggled in that department the last two years, and even a sincere hope that we are going to finally have another Coastal championship or even NY6-caliber year in 2020 seems at least questionable. Do you roll out the VT version of Clemson going All In on fundraising and the football program for a coach who unfortunately may be a lame duck? Or do you see how this season goes first - if we perform to the staff's expectations, we all come together as a fan base and build for the future. If it's again lousy, you eat the buyout and sell the new car smell along with the new fundraising campaign.

I agree with your take here, French. And not only do I think the admin is apprehensive to go all in on financial resources on this coaching staff, I think the big donors and a large chunk of the fan base feel the same way. If we come out and win big this year, win the coastal, and make the Orange Bowl, maybe that is the push we need to get this fundraising campaign off the ground. But to be honest, I think the only people confident we are going to win like that are the staff. I've said all along that it's convenient how this resources argument suddenly comes into play with selective releases of info such as this that basically dumps the whole mess on the fan base. It in a sense feels like Fu passively sticking it to the fans for the criticism. When Fu and Co nearly lost to an FCS squad this year, struggled to beat ODU, and were spanked by a bowl-less Duke squad, big-picture recruiting resources weren't the cause. I agree with the resources argument and fully support it, but this is suddenly being weaponized to take heat off the staff for on the field results that just aren't cutting it. I'm with you - I think a lot of people just aren't investing in this staff anymore and don't see a miraculous turnaround next season. I hope that I'm completely wrong, but that's just how I see it.

And agree, if fundraising is such a huge concern to Fu, I want to hear it from him and not sidebar convos from Roth and Iezzi. Get the fan base inspired to donate to your program.

Fuente realizes that those resources are not being made available, and backdoor messaging starts to reveal how shorthanded they are to put pressure on Whit.

A large portion of your narrative could be true (I have no idea), but given that nearly everyone seems to agree that Fuente is deficient when it comes to the media, fan engagement, and marketing, I don't think it makes much sense to presume he would somehow be adept at concocting and executing backdoor messaging methods.

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

"This song goes out to every guy who's significant other accused him of a massively complicated plot, which not only didn't you do, but you weren't even mentally capable of thinking it up."- Richard Jeni

Like I said, it is complete conjecture. But, it is so inconsistent with how messaging has been delivered by the braintrust that it suggests something is out of the norm.

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

It wouldn't make sense to reserve a fundraising push for one staff or another. We don't need short term money, we need sustained cash flow. I think you are reading a little too much into it and before you know it your theories will be thrown around as fact on here.

"I am probably too rational to be here"

I will say again- they are theories, nothing more. But, the longer there is silence, the more concerned I grow.

I sure as hell hope I am wrong, and we see a big sustainable influx of capital into the program. And I hope it is followed by a bunch of Coastal titles.

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

My theory is different (and complete speculation, and totally unsubstantiated, I might add).

1) If Whit plans to address these issues, why isn't there a big PR push? Why aren't the heads of the program (AD/HC) carrying the messaging? And, if fundraising does spike, what is the plan for allocation?

Whit has a limited budget, and seemingly endless problems. From what I've gathered from this interview, and from other places as well, VT is at an operational disadvantage in football, in Hokie Club, and in the Athletic Department as a whole. If Whit puts all of his budget towards fixing one area, other areas will fail. Thus, Whit is forced to build slow and steady, spreading his budget wide enough so everything stays afloat, but not giving any area all of the funding it needs to excel.

2) If Whit is being silent, does that mean that regardless of the fundraising, Whit isn't utilizing their big marketing and fundraising push on this coaching staff?

Perhaps Whit is being silent to manage expectations. He doesn't want to talk up some huge initiative that won't pay dividends for years to come just to see it followed by an 8-9 win season that ultimately disappoints the fanbase and makes them question where their money is going.

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I'd like to think that if Whit can find $10m for Fuentes buyout next year, he can get half that to pour into the football program over a 5 year period. Which I believe would be the most beneficial option.

I agree. I know we have a few camps here but honestly I'd much rather find that buyout money and utilize it to fix other things after listening to this.

(add if applicable) /s

I agree. BUT - can always hedge bets. Get the money ready - if Fuente goes 6 wins again, buy him out and get someone else. If he wins 10+ and ACCCG, pour the money into staff. Somewhere in between clouds the situation. Either way, we'll know a lot more at the end of next year what the team and coaches are capable of.

Fair imo the long term success is fixing the foundation and not the top

6 wins with this schedule wouldn't be a problem with the foundation though and I entirely agree with your take there

(add if applicable) /s

I think you're reading too much into Iezzi's intention with this interview, honestly. I don't think he's playing 4d chess here so much as it's just a case of a literal VT football "support staff" member giving a candid interview.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Jet Sweep

The athletic departments PR is poor, however, they have repeatedly indicated PR is not a priority of Whit's or Fuente's. Now the extent to which that runs contrary to fundraising is a matter of opinion. A lot of times with media, less is more. Recent overreactions to the transfer portal misinterpretation highlight that.

With regards to Fuente and Whit's relationship, I think your theory is off base. Iezzi indicated in the podcast that the administration and football program are on the same page moving forward. Baylor may have been a bit of a leverage play, but if more support is needed, it's not from Whit. Additionally, if Whit was truly that mad at Fuente, I don't think he would've taken bullets for him at the press conference the day after the Baylor situation (all while speaking glowingly of him).

"Go Hokies!" - Thomas Jefferson
@HaydenDubya

A lot of people seem to have forgotten how Bud Foster lobbied for an increase in staff support to ease the burden of recruiting.

Who made it happen? Babcock.

โ€œWho is this Fuentes person that you speak about?โ€ -McHokie540

Honestly I don't recall this specific story. Do you have a link?

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

The story goes that during one offeason, Bud Foster went to visit Gary Picknell, then head coach at Missouri, to pick his brains on some tweak to the scheme, and he was impressed by the size of the support staff Missouri had. That convinced him to return to Blacksburg and lobby Babcock to give serious dough to increase the recruiting budget.

Foster explained his rationale that as coaches, they wear many hats, and it became difficult to game plan, coach practice, and then recruit all at once. Foster also explained that VT had the smallest staff in the ACC at the time. IIRC, it was then Babcock brought on Director of Player Personnel, and the program's recruiting improved.

As mentioned in this thread, the sudden departure of Cantor to Florida left a gaping hole that Fuente and staff struggled to close.

I did find a TSL interview with Babcock where he gave credit to Weaver for maintaining the Athletic Department's budget to be in the black, but I think that was also what handcuffed the progress of football.

I also think when the BCS and top tier bowl games became the force it was, VT lost opportunities to really revamp recruiting and increase the size of the staff. From a 2014 Washington Post article, "The football team, which remains the department's biggest revenue producer, has the smallest support staff in the ACC". I distinctly remember reading about Foster's personal lobby effort to increase the size of the support staff to ease the burden of recruiting.

โ€œWho is this Fuentes person that you speak about?โ€ -McHokie540

Maybe I am way off base here. I know we need major improvements in fundraising. But as far as recruiting goes, it seems to me that an extra million a year could go a long way with administrative staff. If I am right about that, it is on Whit to make that happen because while that is no small amount of money, it is absolutely available in one way or another.

"I am probably too rational to be here"

I had heard , though didn't' seem to materialize, that some of the $$ saved b/w Bud and JHam salaries would get re purposed for support staff. Also we have Kill's salary now. Not sure you even need 1M to make a difference.

I doubt Claeys or Teerlinck were cheap hires given their experience so that may have taken up some of the money. Also we hired Kevin Cristello to assume a full time position previously occupied by Danielle Bartelstein, so that accounts for at least some portion of the Jerry Kill money as well. I don't know how the current allocated salaries compare to last season's but I would guess we aren't especially close to a $1M difference.

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

Yes there was a lot of shocking things we heard, but my biggest takeaway is Johh Lezzi... he seems like a homerun hire. He is the kind of person we need in our program. Loved VT since he could remember, went to VT, and wanted to work for VT football program even for pennies.

I can easily say we cannot let him go elsewhere but based on what I heard, he aint going anywhere.

Bleeding burnt orange and chicago maroon

His girlfriend a Tech grad just got hired by ClemsonCough cough

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

Perfect, he can go see how IPTAY is run and then copy it so the Hokie Club has a plan to work with.

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

Johh Lezzi

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

Personally this was very enlightening to what goes on behind the scenes. Loved the bit on the negativity on social media and that's why I stay off of it way too many people with really pessimistic things to say. The truth can be a bitch sometimes but being negative for the sake of being negative for pity votes is just bland.

Directions from Blacksburg to whoville, go north till you smell it then go east until you step in it

I finally managed to get through the whole thing (only got to listen to part of it before). As much as the interview revealed some of the warts in our recruiting process, I feel strangely better about the state of the program, if anything.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Jet Sweep

I feel strangely better about the state of the program

It is reassuring to know that our administration knows what the problems are. The scary part is when you don't know what you don't know.

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My expectations have actually changed after the Roth rant and this interview, and I'm not trying to be an ass. I'm being serious. With second rate facilities and 10 years behind on investing in a highlight reel subscription service, how can you expect to win? Luck? Bud Foster rolling aces in a 14-3 game? It is what it is. My expectation now is a winning record, hopefully win a bowl game. A middling ACC program with proud fans and enter sandman, nothing more. No more hoping for miracles.

The down votes haha. I legged you back up.

The first step in improving is identifying problems. Seems like the program has done that and is working towards solutions. No reason to lower expectations based on this new information. If anything, the fact that people are working hard to improve should inspire hope.

"Go Hokies!" - Thomas Jefferson
@HaydenDubya

So the lesson here is that any time any of us go to an airport for travel, wear your VT gear. Be visible.

Sounds easy, I'll do it.

Still trying to get through the entire podcast, but so far the one thing that doesnt make any sense to me is twitter.

I mean why do people use it, it makes no logical sense to me. I'm a millennial yet it makes me feel old and out of touch and I've worked on cutting edge technology for many years. Telecom, big data analysis/machine learning ,satellites, but I just don't understand the appeal of 140 character arguments. It was once described to me as a way to profit off people harassing celebrities, to which I responded, why would you do that?

I think it originally was an easier way to send out messages like people did with text messaging but with searching and indexing (i.e. hashtags). Now it just seems like it is a way for some people electronically diarrhea out their random stream of consciousness. Social media is good in that it enables you to easily communicate with others however it is bad is that it has given too many people the mistaken impression that their opinions are worth sharing. People have always had these shitty thoughts but now Twitter, Facebook, etc have enabled the worst among us to blast their bile and negativity to the whole world.

I don't understand facebook either. I turned down an interview with them because I dont understand it therefore I can't really help with what they need.

Well that and they're a company that enables the push of misinformation to the masses.

Twitter is what you make of it. Personally I like weird Twitter and some corners of political Twitter. I have gotten to the point where I've considered unfollowing every Virginia Tech related account that isn't run by the athletic department though. I don't need that negativity in my life.

The key is to never participate yourself and just follow stuff you think is cool.

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

I haven't finished listening yet but based on what I've heard so far I think it is clear that there are some significant structural issues with the Virginia Tech football program.

It is unclear to me what steps are being taken to address those issues. It is also curious to me that Iezzi conducted the interview and was so forthcoming, particularly with unsavory information. I get that he's very passionate, and perhaps it's due to his relative youth, but I thought it was inappropriate for him to throw Cantor under the bus. That did not sit well with me.

I'm not ready to jump to conclusions yet but I would like to know who, if anyone, Iezzi consulted before doing the show. It seems like a weird play by VT and I am having a hard time making sense of the decision to air this info out.

Ultimately, it's disheartening to confirm that which many of us already suspected. We are being seriously out classed in recruiting efforts.

There seems to have been hit after hit of bad news or press for VT pretty much for the last year or more. It's really tough to get excited for VT football and it breaks my heart to say that.

We've been at each other's throats for a full season now and our ugliest fans are expressing their disgust in the most public ways. I'm at a loss for what can be done to turn around the general vibes surrounding our program. Fuente MUST win. And win big. I'm not sure anything else will lift the fog.

If a tree falls in Scott Stadium does it make a sound?

While I think we all agree we must win 10+ next year, after listening to the podcast I am in the same boat as NCHokieman as feeling better about the state of the program. Going to school during the start of the demise in teh early 2010's was tough to watch as we got complacent and didn't proactively innovate to continue recruiting well in the modern era of recruiting.

P.S. I don't think his comments about Cantor were uncalled for. Cantor literally had one of the biggest hands in sabotaging our 2020 class and had the leadership style that has left us playing catch up even more than we are already playing from behind the blue bloods.

While we still need more staff, we have some solid people in place that building a better strategy to compete as a top 20-25 recruiting class year in and year out. Combined with the potential for big years the next two years and there is alot to be excited about the program. Players just have to continue to grind and we as fans can have civil discussion on how we can help the coaches/players reach the goal of VT's first football national championship.

A lot of comments here on Cantor. I just finished listening to this and I don't recall hearing his exact words about Cantor, can anyone point me to the time in the podcast when he talked about Cantor?

I believe he just referred to him as Chuck the entire time, not sure if mentioned his last name actually.

I don't think he actually said anything negative about Cantor as a person. Just said that he wore every hat, and didn't teach anyone what he was doing, so when he left, there was a huge skill gap.

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I wonder how many teams have a mole on the recruiting staff of another team- and if that's part of the reason Cantor operated as he did. Although having such a limited staff does reduce the potential of that sort of thing, it is also very strange and in many ways risky to have literal volunteers play a potentially integral role on the future of the program

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

I kind of wondered that with how close hold he was with everything and then leaves with everything. But he went to Florida, came from Georgia and Middle Tennessee. I think the telling thing is Florida let him go within two years of hiring him. It could be that what he did at Tech is just his style and that's why they let him go. Given where he came from, where he went, and how quickly they let him go, I gotta think it wasn't him being a mole, just not great at his job.

On a related note, sounds like probably a good thing he left or we might still be dealing with bad recruiting given the way he did things.

Oh, I was by no means implying that Cantor was a mole but rather that his preference to run everything through himself and keep things close to the vest would limit the effectiveness of a hypothetical mole.

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

Ah, gotcha. I would doubt that as well. From the description of him, it sounds more like the guy was a control freak that wanted to do everything himself. I have known plenty of those types throughout my working life. Some people use that as a resume builder, and considering where he jumped around to, I'd guess that was part of it as well (I've known plenty of resume builders as well).

I've listened to it twice now to make sure I am remembering things correctly. Honestly I think a lot of people are reading their own emotional state into this interview and it's coloring their response to it in a negative way.

my takeaways:

1) There was no shade given to Chuck Cantor. He may have given listeners license to interpret based on his comments but he never once said anything bad about him or the situation they were left in. He just stated matter of factly that they were left with nothing after Cantor left and that was due to his style. I think everyone can sense that there is angst there with Iezzi and staff to Cantor for that but he certainly didn't voice anything like that.

Personally, if an employee did that to me I would not have great feelings for him post event and certainly wouldn't lose sleep over him getting called out for it. It's information that fans should know especially given the negativity towards staff for recruiting lately. That's smart PR.

2) I find it ironic that people have been blasting the staff about not issuing official statements about x or y or whatever and then when a member of staff does go on the record one response has been that surely this was an unlicensed interview and that Fuente is calling out Whit and Sands. That seems comical to me.

For one, this is clearly a "friendly" platform. Iezzi knows these guys well, it seems, and one since HS or grade school days. This is exactly the kind of platform you want to use to get the message you want out to the public. They aren't going to grill him or ask him "media" style questions. It's a layup and it's a guaranteed delivery. PR 101 here.

I also find it hard to believe that this didn't go through Whit and the Athletic Department. I mean what part of this would they not want people to know? There is nothing scandalous against Whit and Sands. All he did was describe the real world challenges that they have been and are facing. A lot of that comes down to funding but he never got close to saying that was an issue with Whit and Sands withholding funds or allocating funds away from football.

and the biggest takeaway that I think hasn't been mentioned yet (apologies if I missed your post if you did):

3) Fuente informed his staff about Baylor. let's pause.... and repeat that again. Fuente informed his staff about Baylor. Let that sink in.

Sure... you could argue that this is just PR messaging... maybe that's true. But it's equally true that he's being truthful, especially given that load of insight he is giving throughout the rest of the interview.

That means all the criticism and ire about how he dare do this while just confirming staff, etc was pure hyperbolic conjecture. Iezzi clearly states several times that Fuente informed staff what was happening and why he was doing it.

If it was a power move to get additional funding for a team he intended to never leave then it was precisely the right time to do it. When you want negotiating leverage timing is one of the most critical influencing factors. Did he really have interest? I don't know. But at least from what Iezzi is saying, who is closer than anyone on this board as far as I know, he was using it as a tactic. That's damn smart... damn smart. And if it leads to a better funded football team then we should all be applauding the man.

bonus takeaway:

Like all the other coaches that have followed or changed their jobs to come work for Fuente it appears Iezzi has the same high regard for Fuente. A man of character. A great leader.

He may be guarded with media but with the state of media these days do you blame the guy? Look at the shit headlines from his press conference the other day concerning Portal transfers. Barber straight up misquoted him and never corrected it. ESPN hacks ran with it without putting it right. All for the sake of a headline.

I do think he has a lot of room to be more engaging with fans. that he himself is not great at delivering the message but I appreciate that he does actually answer questions.

If you feel at all negative about this interview I urge you to listen again.

I dont even think he said they were left with nothing after Cantor left as much as we have a small department and Cantor did the tasks he liked to do so no one knew how to do any of that. There was no looking over a shoulder and learning because we have too much work and not enough people.

I worked at a startup that had insurance policies on all most all the engineers. I knew what I knew and no one else had time to look over me. (not great at 22 you make a lot of mistakes) I was the only one documenting my work too, because most people didnt make the time because it's a struggle to make money.

I think how you come out feeling after listening to this podcast says a lot about how you feel about the future of Tech football. With that said.... 15-0 baby!

Gobble Till You Wobble

I don't remember him mentioning Thomas Guerry leaving at all. What is the timeline for Cantor leaving, and Mark Diethorn being hired, and Guerry leaving? Seems to me Guerry leaving would've had a big impact on the 2020 class, but maybe the timeline is off in my head.

I don't remember him mentioning Guerry leaving either, but that may not have had as big an impact on recruiting. From his GA Tech bio:

At Virginia Tech, he coordinated on campus recruiting, oversaw summer camps and managed day-to-day recruiting operations. Guerry was also instrumental in improving the program's digital media and graphic design presence within recruiting.

Link
Although, after reading this, with what he'd done with the graphic design stuff, I'm wondering if that's related to what Iezzi mentioned in terms of him having to learn Photoshop, because I definitely remember him talking about that.

He mentioned that Cantor had done most of the player evaluations, so leaving with that knowledge in his head seems like it would have hurt recruiting a LOT more than what Guerry was doing. Might be why he talked specifically about Cantor.

he coordinated on campus recruiting, oversaw summer camps and managed day-to-day recruiting operations. Guerry was also instrumental in improving the program's digital media and graphic design presence within recruiting

all rolls that are split up between much of the staff now. I want to say there is atleast 8 folks in the recruiting office as well as 2 interns. theyre doing what they can to go it but its a slow process. some of the guys on the recruiting staff right now are barely making enough money to eat ramen every night. But they are trying to get their foot in the door of the college football world and sometimes that first step you have to take some hits, especially when you consider that VT is a pretty good starter job for someone trying to move up the ladder. Diethorn and Lino L. both came to VT from pitt. I know this has been said before VT is wayyyy behind. were playing catch up forsure. but we aren't sitting still. and Fuente is responsible for a TON of the progress in the recruiting department. it may not be showing on paper yet. for a couple reasons. the major reason is we are still behind damn near everyone else. but we are moving in the right direction.

twitter @smithey_daniel
head scout BSP scouting specializing in north florida/ southern GA highschool football scouting

Cantor left in April 2018, Diethorn was hired in June 2018, and Guerry left July 2019 (he started at VT in July 2014).

I'd need to listen again to make sure I piece it all together correctly, but I believe Iezzi's story about learning photoshop was essentially him moving into a "graphics/media" role as a graduate assistant from 2015-2017. Matt Transue came from Memphis with Fuente in a recruiting/operations role in 2016. Diethorn replaced Cantor and Iezzi backfilled Guerry's role when he left. Transue moved into more of an operations role as we've added more recruiting personnel over time such as Zach Lantz as creative media director in March 2019, Lino Lupinetti as a volunteer assistant in April 2019, Blake Lane and Zaire Turner on the Hokiesports staff page, and the expanding student volunteer staff (as detailed by Iezzi in the story about Diethorn's Tuesday night scouting primers).

I'm guessing the people listed on Hokiesports have more official roles related to recruiting with some sort of funding attached, but honestly it's hard to pinpoint the roles and how things might have evolved over the last 5 years.

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

This was a great podcast, and I am optimistic about our path. The 2020 team must get stronger on the D line,including pass pressure and run plugging . our running backs must run with more authority to help in goal line decisions to run or pass. Hazelton is gone, so we need to be able to slam the ball in the end zone. More power , less finesse football. 9 wins or better, progress is what we need. And maybe recruits will come.....