I'm curious as to what everyone's thougths are on Fuente. Right now, I'm 50/50 on him. When the Baylor job came up a while ago, I was torn as to whether I wanted to see him stay or leave. I'll explain a few of my thoughts, and start with the minuses.
Recruiting is my biggest minus. Last year's class was our worst in recent memory, and my memory goes back a long time. We've gotten a few good kids the past few years, but not nearly as many as we used to. When I look at their offer lists, it seems like we are competing against lower conference schools for recruits more than we used to – and sometimes losing. It looks as though the state of Virginia, which is our lifeblood, has been abandoned, which really bothers me. The recent article about recruiting Tidewater was very disturbing. We used to have 2 guys heavily recruit that area, and now it's a fraction of a person. We've lost touch with the local coaches there. I can remember Cav talking many times that building and maintaining relationships with those coaches was so important. I realize things have changed since Cav, and a lot of handlers and rec coaches are now involved, but losing touch with high school coaches who can give you an honest evaluation of kids really bothers me. I am acquaintances with a family in NOVA who's son was recently a top recruit in the state. It's a good family, and their kids are great students. This particular son was offered by practically every blue blood school in the country. We didn't offer him. The family was a little pissed we didn't even reach out. Some of their older kids had attended Tech, and they considered themselves Tech fans. Not anymore. It's nice to be able to get some kids from a place like Texas, but it's a risky strategy to put a lot of effort into. As we've seen, it's hard to hold on to kids who aren't from your area, especially when the bigger programs from their area come knocking on their doors. You're going to have better success keeping verbals from kids who grew up with your name being common to them.
The assistant coaching hires have been disappointing. It seems like a revolving door. Since Fuente has arrived, he's had to make 9 hires since that initial staff was set when he first arrived. Coaches do move around in this industry, but building a consistent staff is so important to building a program like ours. Most of those coaches who he replaced did a poor job. I think a head coach's ability to attract and hire a good staff is important. I'm cautious about the hires of Darryl Tapp and Justin Hamilton. Everyone loves it when former players are hired. It's almost like a popularity hire. But just because they played here, doesn't mean they can coach or recruit. Both are very inexperienced and young, with very little history of success doing their jobs at this level. Frank made a similar move by bringing in Shane and Cornell Brown, and those results weren't good. I'm not saying Hamilton and Tapp were bad hires; I'll give them a good amount of time on the job before I form my opinion on them.
Now for the positive. I think Fuente did a great job when he first took over the program. As great as Frank was, he left the program in a questionable state. His last 4 years were not up to his normal standards. A lot of things had fallen off. We were 19-8 those first 2 Fuente years. This included a trip to the ACCCG and a very competitive game against national champs Clemson. The comeback that year against Arkansas was miraculous. Frank's conservative, but consistent, approach could have never done that. He did this with virtually every player left behind from a program that barely finished over .500 the previous 2 years. Fuente deserves a lot of credit for that. I think he's good at coaching up the talent he has.
To me, Fuente seems very direct and honest in his approach and dealings with people. I appreciate that. I sense some frustrations from fans for all the players who have entered and left via the portal. I see that as a plus. A good coach will give honest feedback to all his players. Not everyone can be a star or starter. When some kids hear they won't get a lot of playing time, they chose to leave and go to a place where they can. I think that's good for everyone. It gives the player a new chance and opens up another scholarship for us. Fuente has also managed to purge our team of some unwanted players. And he's let some go even though they were very talented. I won't mention names, but the kid who when to Miami is a prime example. I like a coach who places character above talent. He understands that a small, but bad influence can poison the team, and he doesn't put up with that. Almost everyone we have lost through the portal was a good loss. I think he does a good job of managing his roster in this manner.
I've already rambled enough. What are your thoughts?