Banner Society Article on VT Disappearing

Some interesting outsiders perspective on VT football:

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To an outsider: They're just not Virginia Tech anymore. The defense is gone. Beamer Ball is gone. The idea that a bunch of Newport News kids hiding over yonder in the mountains would lure a Miami or Clemson to Blacksburg on a Thursday night and by the time "Enter Sandman" finished you were convinced as a fan or rival or random viewer that something insane was about to happen... all long gone.

If it's this obvious to those of us outside Blacksburg that things are so off-brand, it must be hell "in the building." Babcock's second chance to provide Virginia Tech with an identity after its creator-architect weighs heavier than just a standard P5 job opening.

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Comments

Assuming normal capacity is allowed next season, how many are actually willing to commit to a day's travel and expenditures to go watch a game at Lane? I would not, unless substantial changes are made.

I was spoiled as an undergrad & fan, in hindsight.

VT '10--My avatar will flip, when things are right at VT again.

Rick Monday... You Made a Great Play...

Romanes Eunt Domus

I've never understood the 'I'm only going to a game if we win' attitude. I go to games to spend time with friends and family, and visit one of my favorite places in the world. It's great if we win, but I've been to plenty of losses (unfortunately) where I've had a great weekend.

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But those losses were different. We spent hours on the road and hundreds of dollars on a long weekend with friends and family because we either expected to win or at the very least thought we had a shot. And even if the odds were stacked against us, we at least felt some connection to the program and coaching staff. We were all pulling in the same direction.

At this point it's hard to imagine spending 6+ hours on the road to go watch a head coach who has nothing but disdain for us in a half empty stadium where we're likely to lose embarrassingly to a bad opponent. I can spend time with friends and family without all the headache.

The body language on the sidelines, is telling. Win or lose, Hokie Players looked like they were dialed into the game. Not these days.

If the Team doesn't look like they want to be there, then why should we?

VT '10--My avatar will flip, when things are right at VT again.

Rick Monday... You Made a Great Play...

Romanes Eunt Domus

This is the same for me. For the first time since 2004 my dad and I will have not attended a game at Lane Stadium. It's one of my favorite weekends, if not my favorite weekend, every year.

On the other hand, I do understand a different perspective where a lackluster product on the field and/or disillusionment with the coaching staff and direction of the program forces some longer commuting season ticket holders to become more selective about which games they attend.

1986.
This season sucked for a variety of reasons.

Are you serious? That is further evidence of lowering the standard at VA Tech. We should not expect to win anymore, but just enjoy the ancillaries of friends, family and joyful cheer of another embarrassing loss after uncomfortably traveling 4-5 hours and spending over $1k for crappy hotels and food. No thanks, FU!

I love Va Tech football since enrolling in '99 but consistently half hearted efforts sandbagged by crappy coaching and Enter Sandman in a 2/3rds full Lane is not what Virginia Tech football is about or worth the time, money, and emotion.

That is further evidence of lowering the standard at VA Tech. We should not expect to win anymore

That is NOT at all what I said. I'm saying that I still go to games and have a great time even if we lose. That does NOT mean I'm okay with state of the program.

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We all recognize you can both be right, right?

@hokie_rd

I am a hokie club member but haven't had season tickets since leaving Blacksburg. The family extra curricular activities in the fall make it almost impossible to commit the time needed. That said, I have loved every game I have been able to make it to in that time. There is nothing like the atmosphere of a live football game. For years, the hokie fanbase has been known as one of the most loyal. Now that we aren't perennial top 25 though, I think many people, most of which live 3+ hours from campus, are realizing that the television isn't a bad alternative. It saddens me. I remember waiting in long lines for student tickets because the stadium would be over capacity. We have mocked UVA fans for decades, all while we slowly are becoming just as apathetic. I am sad because I thought Hokies were just different. But I understand it as well.

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

I want to at least feel like we could win or play our best football.

Recruit Prosim

I'm also a Maryland fan so I know the other side of the aisle as far as CFB success goes. I know what it's like to have a bad football team and I know what it's like to lose. It's really not that bad - what's going on here this season and 2018 feels worse. Because taking a bad team and competing and punching up can be fun as hell even if you go 4-8 (see UMD vs. Texas). Taking a talented team and just being mediocre is the worst. There's no future. You can't tell croots "we're doing our best but need talent like you to improve" because talent is already being wasted. You're stuck in purgatory and end up looking like Pitt or UVA under London.

If I spend 20 bucks on a movie and it sucks I get up and leave.

It is sad what FU has done to this program.

"Hey Bud, you wont have to hold the opponent to 17 points anymore."

I'll give you a perspective from a fan with really no ties (friends or family or myself are alums) I'm a blue collar person was very average in school went right into the work force after high school and didnt go to college (didnt have the grades and couldn't afford it) I grew up watching Virginia Tech football and loved every second of it. My mom my brothers and I were all huge Tech fans starting in the late 90s to this very day. My brothers started losing interest in the late 2000s (during the stretch of 10 wins a season) to the point where it was really only me and my mom. I have only been to 11 games (10 in Lane) I work in a grocery store and weekends off are literally unheard of and financially going to a Tech game is a really big deal and a huge event for me. In 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014 my moms boss who's parents were alums and season ticket holders would give us to 2 to 3 tickets for one game a season and we would do the commute from Richmond 4 hours to Blacksburg and then 4 hours home, there was no tailgating no campus roaming just straight to the game and back home and not by choice we just didnt know anyone and didn't know our way around Blacksburg. I lost my mom in March of 2015 but I still went to the NC State Friday game that year with a friend ( who doesn't follow College football) he went because I lost my mom and her and I were really the only 2 going to games those last couple years together. In 2016 I went to 3 games UNC, Miami, and GT. I literally went by myself to the UNC and Miami games now dont get me wrong I had a blast but was by myself and had no one to share it with just a lonely 4 hour drive both ways to see my favorite WIN. The same friend that went to the NS State 2015 game went with me to the 2016 GT game and just complained the whole time about me dragging him on the trip to watch the Hokies choke and I knew then I was never bringing him again. In 2017 I began a relationship with a wonderful woman who's not a college fan but supports Tech because I love them we went to the Pitt game on 2017 long story short shes handicap with a bad leg and a bad knee and we cant afford to park right outside the Stadium and the walk she had to make to and from the 2017 game to the car put her in bed for almost a week. So why would I put myself and her in that position financially and physically to see a team that's on a downward trend with a lame duck coach so yea for me what's the point of going to a game if the teams not winning.

H_O_K_I_E_S-HOKIES!

Proud Member Of The Key Play Community Since January 2012.

Well, if interested in going, next year you can remove the financial aspect of it and have
my seats. There are a few stairs to navigate down for your significant other, but the elevator handles most of it. Shoot me a note if you want them, Gmail, Robert.G.Dowling@

Can't help with the 4 hour drive though πŸ˜‚

@hokie_rd

Assuming things are mostly back to normal by next season, I will be flying my happy ass across the country for a multi-week vacation that will include multiple stops in Blacksburg. I don't care who the football coach is at that point or what our prospects are for the season, it's my annual pilgrimage to visit with friends and family and I'll be damned if I miss it two years in a row.

My wife and I will be there and I'm assuming her sister and my FIL will come as well. Will we donate as much money as we did this year for the better seats? Maybe, but time will tell. We enjoy going to games because we enjoy watching Hokie football and while it is upsetting, Orange & Maroon still flow through our veins and we'll support the boys regardless of who the coach is.

That said, it's a helluva lot easier for us to fly the 1:15 from Norfolk to Blacksburg, park at the FBO, walk to whatever tailgate, and then fly home vs. driving 4 hours and then 5-6 hours home depending on traffic. Those who have to travel longer distances and fork out the money for hotels may not be as eager to make the trip.

Not sure if Fuente knew about our culture. Beamer came into a situation where our program was on decline and I believe there were suspensions. Fuente came into a situation where we needed to continue onto what we had already built and try to get into the national title picture.

Hokies, Local Soccer, AFC Ajax, Ravens

The Strides VT made during the Beamer Years, are why my extended family of Keydets (including my Father) and Wahoos grew to respect VT Academically and Athletically.

VT '10--My avatar will flip, when things are right at VT again.

Rick Monday... You Made a Great Play...

Romanes Eunt Domus

The situation Beamer entered wasn't really a team in decline. The team had just come off seven winning seasons in a row - and just won its first ever bowl game. The previous coach (Dooley) had issues with recruiting violations, and was let go - at the time he was the winningest coach in Virginia Tech history.

And the guy had removed the gobble from the stadium, hated the turkey mascot, so he gave us foghorn leghorn instead, and didn't do much to help other sports.

Well he's not wrong, shit our own fanbase feels this way

I can imagine no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction:
β€œI served in the United States Navy"

KCCO

Which is why a lot of us, are making our voices heard through our wallets.

VT '10--My avatar will flip, when things are right at VT again.

Rick Monday... You Made a Great Play...

Romanes Eunt Domus

Great read, love Godfrey's work. At least there is confidence in our AD:

Whit Babcock is very much unlike a modern athletic director, despite often being referred to as a model for many other aspiring ADs. What gets lost in the difference between Virginia Tech's AD and his peers is a genuine honesty and a quiet, steady hand. Babcock's as genuine a persona as you could ask for in Power 5 athletic administration.

He does this by doing crazy things like making you believe he's listening to you when he speaks. Amazing, huh? But it stands out in a profession now beset with buzzword buzzard fundraisers – part Morgan Stanley, part Silicon Valley, part embattled Congressman β€” basically every character archetype that audiences cheer to be murdered in a horror movie.

Godfrey once said, "the highest complement I can give to an AD is that he has a list of names in his desk and is prepared." He was talking about Whit.

@hokie_rd

A lot of praise for Whit in this piece:

Whit Babcock is very much unlike a modern athletic director, despite often being referred to as a model for many other aspiring ADs. What gets lost in the difference between Virginia Tech's AD and his peers is a genuine honesty and a quiet, steady hand. Babcock's as genuine a persona as you could ask for in Power 5 athletic administration.

He does this by doing crazy things like making you believe he's listening to you when he speaks. Amazing, huh?

My point here is that Babcock is ill fit to respond to the Justin Fuente situation with the kind of public theatrics we've grown to expect (and that, full transparency, we in the media encourage the hell out of).

Andy Staples had a fantastic article in the Athletic talking about coaching extensions. The premise of the article is that if a coach should not be given a raise for doing what's expected of him. He should only get an extension when he surpasses expectations. He compares hiring a coach to hiring a plumber in this regard.

Anyways, he praised Whit for giving Fuente an extension in 2017 when the market was hot and Fuente looked great. He also praised Whit for NOT giving Fuente an extension after the Baylor fiasco, saying that most ADs are dumb and would have done so. I think we're in good hands with Whit. I'm confident he'll do the right thing come December 16th.

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I'm glad you brought up the Athletic article from Staples. I was hesitant to do so since its behind a paywall, but I think it offered a great dose of perspective.

"The Big Ten is always using excuses to cancel games with us. First Wisconsin. Then Wisconsin. After that, Wisconsin. The subsequent cancellation with Wisconsin comes to mind too. Now Penn State. What's next? Wisconsin?" -HorseOnATreadmill

in Whit we trust.......not that we have a choice

Whit is already talking to candidates. Fickell is the only one I know of for sure.

My guess is Fuente has already been told of his departure. He has to play nice for 3 weeks, or be fired with cause, and lose buyout money.

TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

man if we could actually land someone like Fickell that would be huge, but all signs point to him staying in the midwest? I'm glad Whit is at least having talks with an in demand coach, hoping he can pull a football version of Buzz

We pulled Whit from the same school. I'm sure he can relate and explain why Blacksburg and his AD is the place to be.

Why do you have to go and get my hopes up?

What cause though? Losing isn't cause. He might have been told but he is going to get his 10 million.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

I am not trying to be combative, but our recruiting classed are struggling badly. What in the heck is going to incentivize players from Ohio to come to BB?

@hokie_rd

I think the Portal has given new hope to many teams around the country, and is probably why all big recruits will choose the upper echelon schools first, test the waters, then jump without playing time.

Gobble Gobble!

He has to play nice for 3 weeks, or be fired with cause, and lose buyout money.

What could possibly happen in the next 3 weeks for him to be fired with cause?

Hokies United l Ut Prosim

Another post game interview...

@hokie_rd

think we're in good hands with Whit. I'm confident he'll do the right thing come December 16th

counter point: tommy tuberville

This is not a counterpoint.

Whit got a former BCS winning, Bear Bryant Coach of the Year to Cincinnati..... to phucking Cincinnati.

Whit hit a Grand Slam on that one. Tuberville was already checked out however and according to sauces I know personally was barely involved in team meetings.

The only caution I have ever seen on Whit is his budget handling on infrastructure.

Tuberville was already checked out however and according to sauces I know personally was barely involved in team meetings.

I mean, while the resume is a Grand Slam, if Tuberville was already checked out...isn't that something Whit should have figured out prior to hiring him?

Hokies United l Ut Prosim

The last time I saw VT win while I was at the game was 2009 or 2010....soooooo yeah, I dont go to a lot of games anymore since I live more than 2000 miles from Blacksburg....and it's not like I stopped going to games.....

I guess I should consider myself fortunate. Since moving out west 3 years ago where I'm now almost 3,000 miles away, I have flown home twice on extended trips and attended 5 games, the final 3 in 2018 and URI and UNC last year, so I've seen 2 overtime thrillers and two wins over inferior opponents with only the Miami loss in 2018.

Guess I really need to plan my 2021 trip carefully....

This is the person I want to talk to most...

@hokie_rd

Who?

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Sorry Steven Godfrey.

@hokie_rd

Tru

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Interesting article. A change in brand and culture is inevitable when a new coach comes in. My view is Fuente knew this and he seemed to tread lightly the first 2-3 years. However, all semblance of the past is now gone and it is Fuente's ship to steer.

What is Fuente's brand? That is not an easy answer!

No coach goes out there creating brand equity like you see in consumer products (eg, Clorox, Kleenex etc). The brand is closely linked to their personality and behavior and is a RESULT of who they are. The brand just happens, it is not planned.

That being said, what is the Fuente brand? It is not well defined. But some of my views:

β€” Quiet hard work and dedication. No bombast.
β€” Team first individuals second
β€” Circle the wagons: close communications on the inside limited communications on the outside.
β€” Rewarding effort and not punishing failure.
β€” A focus on process and people rather than results.

This approach has many attributes. It's got honesty and integrity at the forefront. And I think everyone agrees there is integrity in the program. But one area lacking is emotional connections between players coaches and fans. And if you don't deliver, this brand has a sense of sterility and banality to it that makes people flick the switch to off.

Just my thoughts.

"-Rewarding effort and not punishing failure."

I guess you could say that this only applies to transfer QBs from Kansas and punt returners, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that there are probably some past and current RBs that disagree that this is Fuente's brand (ex. automatic, extended benching for a fumble, King being benched not for fumbling but for not doing the right thing with the ball after the whistle, telling Holston not to reach out the football after a hell of an effort play to get a TD). Hell, ask Wyatt Teller if agreed after his multiple benchings for playing through the whistle.

But you are right that if the conscious effort isn't made to establish your brand as a coach, it gets established for you. If I had to guess what Fuente's brand is I would say it is:

-Play not to lose.
-Do not go off-script, no matter what.
-A safe, expected 3 yard gain is better than taking a chance at an explosive play.
-Wasting entire possessions in the first half is a good strategy if it sets up an 8 yard play in the second half.
-Recruits should want to come here, we shouldn't have to convince them.
-I will be loyal to "my guys".
-The culture is damn good! (WFT fans should get that reference)
-Why can't everyone just leave me alone and let me coach?

That may seem unfair, but that is the impression I get from afar. I still believe that Fuente is a good dude that genuinely cares about his staff and players, he just isn't equipped to coach at this level. That is not a flaw, there are just very few people who can successfully do the job.

"Sooner or later, if man is ever to be worthy of his destiny, we must fill our heart with tolerance."
-Stan Lee

"Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing."
-Ron Swanson

"11-0, bro"
-Hunter Carpenter (probably)

Play not to lose

I think this is the biggest Fuente flaw. He isn't exactly conservative. We have seen him go for it on 4th down, hit on fakes, and go for home runs in interesting situations. However, he seems to fear the big negative play so much, he allows himself to be convinced that modest positive plays are better. For example: against Pitt, we needed some wrinkles to loosen up the run game. We call a reverse and fumble the exchange. The play was great. But it was like Fuente got on the Mic and said...enough with the cute shit, we haven't practiced it enough, stick to the bread and butter.

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

if you listen to split zone duo podcast, on the 23rd november episode godfrey indicated something along the lines that keeping foster as dc was a horrible decision and was bad at the time.

i would be interested to hear his thoughts on this fleshed out more because i can see some logic to it

We are working it. Hopeful this will be answered in full.

@hokie_rd

The only logic I have heard is that Bud's departure came at a critical point in the Fuente tenure. And it did. But it wasn't like anybody knew Bud's heart was gonna flake out on him. The Bud and Fuente marriage didn't work out like people thought. But, I can't imagine ever making that decision differently without the benefit of hindsight.

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

Makes sense, fingers crossed we will hear it from a guy well tied into CFB and the program.

@hokie_rd

I'll be looking forward (a little extra) to that episode of the pod then. I hope you guys are able to get some answers, or better yet, get Godrey on the pod. That would be awesome.

I was 50/50 on keeping Bud around. On one hand, it was nice to have a known commodity around that we knew could get it done. The familiarity was also nice and he's been a staple of Hokie football forever.

However, I also thought it would be best to just cut ties with the old guard and that keeping them might hamstring real progress.

That said, I was excited to see Bud stick around.

It's sort of like building an all star team right? You look at the names and you think "of course this is going to work out great." At the time I thought it was a perfect fit but now looking back I sort of question the logic behind bringing in a new coach and basically only letting him bring in an offensive staff.

Been wondering the same thing. Godfrey has been echoing that since last year, maybe even since 2018. My guess is there must of been some philosophical differences between the two with regards to defensive sheme and/or recruiting. Wondering if Bud wasn't hamstrung in terms of scholarships and recruiting budget.

When Godfrey said that the reasoning that came to mind immediately was simply the obvious culture/infighting potential when you keep someone on as respected and part of the old guard as Foster, and if that prevents the HC from ever taking full control of the team. I think we saw some of that, but I don't think it had anything to do with the failure. Especially considering the offense was only better than the defense in one season (2018) per SP+.

Like I said in a comment on one of the excellent articles by Joe/Brian, I wish we had just given Bud a shot at HC. Worst case scenario we are in the same place as we are now, but retain the allure of not having an outsider come in and fail. It would still have the "fresh blood" allure we had coming off such a long Beamer tenure. 3-5 years and then we let the full rebuild happen and Bud is eligible for the CFB Hall of Fame.

Bud didn't like the CEO aspect of coaching, the hand shaking, baby kissing, etc, even said so after the Military Bowl where Shane ran the team for the day.

TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

Really not worth debating a hypothetical, and I acknowledged in my longer post the possibility that his skillset would have never fit as a HC, but I still wish we would have gotten to see that, for Bud's sake, instead of what we got the last five years.

If we fell off like this with Bud at the helm you could convince people it was just an extension of program's inevitable (and natural) decline at the tail end of the Beamer regime. You could still pitch a new exciting coach on the prospect of revitalizing a program that LOVES football as the first outsider in the post-Beamer era and starting something new. Now that we are 5 years into one of those exciting young coaches on a downward trend that sales pitch becomes more difficult.

edit: to counter myself, it does put us in that 2nd coach after the legend so we're now fulfilling the old adage that "you don't wanna be the guy who replaces a legend, you wanna be the guy who replaces the guy who replaced the legend." So that is potentially working in our favor. Though in either the Bud or Fuente scenario you could argue that role is being fulfilled.

This line is the most damning to me:

That no one is excited or intimidated by Metallica playing in Southwest Virginia is a crime against the culture of this sport.

It also showcases the apathy of the fanbase.

Maybe we should have chosen better music? I mean it's not Fuente's fault we play Metallic. /s