Comparing what Pry inherited to other recent hires

In the midst of last night's disappointment, there have been a lot of comments (here, on twitter, etc) that say something to the effect of "Shane Beamer and Mel Tucker won in year 1, why can't we?"

I wanted to take a look at some recent hires, and see if coaches (a) actually are turning programs around quickly, and (b) how bare the cupboard is when they arrive. For each coach, I listed:

  • The 247 rank of their first 'partial' class (when a coach is hired in November/December, the previous coach recruited most of the players, and the new coach has to basically convince everyone to stay, hence the term 'partial')
  • The 247 Team Rank for the first season they coached - this includes all talent on the roster; it include recruits/transfers in, and excludes transfers out
  • The 247 rank of the coach's first full class

I'm happy to expand this list of coaches, but these were names that came to mind.

Coach Date Hired First Partial Class 247 Team Talent Score (year 1) First Full class Year 1 Record Year 1 SP+ Ranking
Justin Fuente (Virginia Tech) Nov-2015 42 36 26 10-4 22
Matt Campbell (Iowa State) Nov-2015 55 56 52 3-9 66
Bronco Mendenhall (UVA) Dec-2015 63 42 58 2-10 83
Tom Herman (Texas) Nov-2016 25 13 3 7-6 30
Matt Rhule (Baylor) Dec-2016 40 35 29 1-11 76
PJ Fleck (Minnesota) Jan-2017 38 48 45 5-7 45
Chip Kelly (at UCLA) Nov-2017 19 19 40 3-9 76
Scott Frost (Nebraska) Dec-2017 23 26 17 4-8 49
Mack Brown (UNC) Nov-2018 30 28 14 7-6 30
Greg Schiano (Rutgers, second time) Dec-2019 60 61 39 3-6 101
Sam Pittman Dec-2019 29 29 25 3-7 57
Mel Tucker (Michigan State) Feb-2020 N/A 35 23 2-5 (COVID) 65
Shane Beamer Dec-2020 79 22 24 7-6 84
Brent Pry Dec-2021 36 52 40 (in progress) 0-1 (so far) PRESEASON PREDICTION: 61
Tony Elliott Dec-2021 65 59 64 1-0 PRESEASON PREDICTION: 65

Takeaways:

  • Most coaches don't turn things around in year 1. Everyone talks about Mel Tucker, but the media/the internet largely ignore his first season (I'm sure because it was a weird covid year, but it wasn't good)
  • Lots of talk about Shane - dude had way more talent on his first roster than Pry does. No way to ignore it.
  • The numbers can't account for scheme change (or lack thereof) - switching from zone blocking to man? Switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3? This is going to slow your progress.

The team can definitely play better than they did yesterday. The coaches can definitely coach better than they did yesterday. I don't know if Pry will be a good coach. I do know that this is a big rebuild, and we won't know for sure for a couple seasons.

Anyways, if there's any other coaches, teams, or data points you'd like to see on this table, let me know, and I'll try my best to update.

UPDATES

  • I added some schools/coaches requested in the comments
  • I added a column for year end SP+. For those unaware, SP+ is a tempo and opponent adjusted predictive analytics system. It (intensionally) ignores things like penalties and turnovers (which are statistically random)
DISCLAIMER: Forum topics may not have been written or edited by The Key Play staff.

Comments

This is good context. I think a lot of Hokies expect too much. Everyone who was upset yesterday is an example of this. It hurts to see this team suck. But this was kind of inevitable. We're going to be bad this year. We knew this.

I don't know if Pry is the right guy to get us back to where we want to be. He may be. He may not. We won't know, unfortunately, for a couple years. But I do know that regardless of who the coach was, this was always going to be a rough season. Nick Saban might have won yesterday. Maybe. But even with him at HC, it would be unreasonable to expect a winning record with our roster.

Fuente inherited a nice 1997 BMW 328i and ripped out the engine and seats. He spray painted himself and spent 6 years riding the clutch and grinding gears. Then he slid it into a ditch and fled the scene. Pry is still trying to get it out of the ditch. It's going to take time for him to put in a new engine and transmission and repair the interior. I don't know if he can do it but that's his task. We'll see. All we can do is patiently wait and hope that he knows what he's doing.

Onward and upward

Everyone who was upset yesterday is an example of this. It hurts to see this team suck. But this was kind of inevitable.

I will say - we were in the game yesterday, and should've/could've won. A lot of those penalties were mistakes by the coaches, so I get why fans are upset.

But, as you said, there's a lot of additional surrounding context. Too early to make a judgement call

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I think a lot of Hokies expect too much. Everyone who was upset yesterday is an example of this

With a new coaching staff that seems to know their asses from their elbows, and 27 seniors, I expect them to beat Sun Belt teams.

Not all experience is good experience.

The offense has 2 seniors in the starting 11 (Holston and Silas) and two more in the two-deep (Delulis and Blue). The defense has 4 seniors in the starting 11 (Garbutt, Giffin, Dax, Chamarri), and one more in the two-deep (Murray - who didn't play against ODU). That means that of the 27 seniors, only a third are good enough to crack the two-deep.

I'm not suggesting that the coaches are free of blame for last night's result. Just saying that they don't have much to work with.

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With all due respect, this coaching staff was up against a more talented and more experienced team playing under coaches who weren't in their first game with said team.

VT has a G5 roster. That is not the fault of the current coaches. To expect a g5 roster of players to play better than another g5 roster of players on name recognition alone is foolish.

Onward and upward

ODU having more talent than us is just flat wrong and there isnt anything to support it. I agree about the name recognition part but there is more separating these teams than just name recognition

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

Okay, I exaggerated. Fine. That doesn't warrant a DV. The point I'm trying to make is that our roster is a total mess and it's ridiculous to blame the current coaches for that. If odu was also playing their first game with a new staff installing new schemes I'd understand. But it's not like VT has a P5 roster and just got out maneuvered by a vastly less talented team.

Onward and upward

But it's not like VT has a P5 roster

"Don't downvote me for exaggerating. 'Cause I'm about to double down and do it all over again."

The exaggeration was saying odu was more talented.

Onward and upward

Yeah, this is just not true or accurate. Our roster is not good, but it is without a doubt more talented than ODU. Fans are allowed to be upset that we lost to ODU, even in a rebuilding year that we recognize will be challenging. Our program, or any P5 program for that matter, should never be ok losing to a G5 team, saying you expected to lose to ODU is nonsense.

I didn't think it was outside the realm of possibility. I'm not okay with it but I knew it was possible and I'm not ready to pass judgement on these coaches after one game.

Onward and upward

How dare you have reasonable thought.

These are my thoughts exactly. We all should know our team is greatly depleted and under a rebuild. Anyone who didn't accept that losing was a possibility, especially as only a 6 point favorite, are blinded by what this tech team was 20 years ago.

People down voting this is absurd.

VT Marketing Class of 2009
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Go Hokies!

Fuente inherited a nice 1997 BMW 328i and ripped out the engine and seats. He spray painted himself and spent 6 years riding the clutch and grinding gears. Then he slid it into a ditch and fled the scene. Pry is still trying to get it out of the ditch. It's going to take time for him to put in a new engine and transmission and repair the interior.

To a car guy who also loves car analogies (to the great disdain of my wife) this was a perfect way to sum it up.

To be the man you gotta beat the man!

I know it's a bunch, but could you also please add Bronco Mendenhall/Tony Elliott (UVA), Greg Schiano (Rutgers), Matt Rhule (Baylor), PJ Fleck (Minnesota), and Matt Campbell (Iowa State)?

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

Done!

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Thank you! With VT/UVA on same coach cycle i think it makes sense to have both comparisons.

The others were mostly to contextualize "recruiting bumps" and rebuilds across the sport.

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

Thanks for putting this together. 52nd in pretty bad for VT standards, but not nearly as bad as I would have thought. That's still better than every other G5 team other than Cincy and just 16 spots below what we had in year one of Fuente. For context, ODU is 100th on the same list this year.

I think the rest of the year I just want to see improvement. Less penalties and turnovers, more intensity from the staff, better decision-making by the coaches, etc. If that happens, there's no way this team shouldn't get to 6-6 considering how weak some other ACC teams are expected to be this year.

If that happens, there's no way this team shouldn't get to 6-6 considering how weak some other ACC teams are expected to be this year.

That seems a bit aggressive. Yes, if we can go the rest of the year with minimal penalties and minimal injuries, then maybe we should go 6-6, but that's not realistic IMO.

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My brother in Christ, we are the weak ACC team others are talking about

Pry is a first time head coach. Nuff said. It's going to take him a year or two to figure that out, let alone how to clean up this whole mess.

Preparing myself for 4-8, 6-6 the first two years

We aren't going to win 4 games unfortunately

Well if we only get three please let it be Wofford, Liberty and UVA. Can't process losing to any of them

I'd be curious to see Arkansas on there too, I know they had a pretty bad season until the new coach.

done

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Thanks!

A very funny yt comedian (,Funnymaine) is a Bama guy and does great breakdowns of the games each week. He demoted the razorbacks to bacon bits a couple seasons ago. I think they were up to sausage links at the end of last season.

EDIT: After giving Cincy their first regular season loss since 2019, FunnyMaine has upgraded Arkansas to "Honey Baked Ham".
Maybe now we can get through a season without hearing how disrespected Cincinnati is.

'89 Hokie alum, former staff, former faculty. Living in Jawja - a rescue Dawg married to a Fauxkie. Navigating the curious spaces between the ACC and the SEC since 2009.

This reminds me of Dave Doerens first year at State where Tom O'Brien also employed the "we are gonnna out coach'em" non recruiting recruiting strategy.

Yeah Rhule and Campbell also had poor first seasons, like 2-3 wins

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

That's part of why i asked for them (plus schiano) to be added -- if anyone is expecting 7-8 wins on the strength of a new staff alone they're nuts

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

Actually looks like if your talent level is in 50-60s you're likely to have less than 4 wins first year

Of this (admittedly limited) sample, Fuente is the only first year coach to inherit a roster with worse-than-top-30 talent and finish above .500.

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Which makes me wonder what Chip Kelly was doing at UCLA when he was supposed to be coaching...

No, I *don't* want to go to the SEC. Why do you ask?

We don't love dem Hoos.

Scheme change. Moving from Jim Mora's west coast offense to his spread offense from Oregon requires personnel change

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As an Eagles fan, let me tell ya, what he was doing was supposed to be his coaching

This is my school
This is home

I will die on this hill: Jerod is THE reason VT won 10 games in 2016.

Credit Fuente for bringing him in, I guess. But after that it was a downward spiral.

Onward and upward

Defense was decent that year. But yea, I don't think this is a hot take at all

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He was an enormous part of it because QB is so important, and he was a "total offense" type QB with how important he was in both the pass and run game. However, that team was also full of talent on both sides of the ball, and had depth. We won 9 in 2017 with a much more "replacement level" QB in Josh Jackson because the roster was still very talented in those first two years. We may have even won 10 games again that year if not for that fumble inside the 5 against Okie State. Lots of high-end P5 and NFL players on those two teams.

Worth pointing out that I don't think JJ could have won 10 games in the 2016 ACC. That was one of those rare years where the ACC was actually one of the better conferences. Jerod was definitely very important in that regard.

If anyone is expecting 7-8 wins on the strength of a new staff alone they're nuts

Look at this (arbitrary) sample of 15 P5 coaching hires, it's really striking that there are only 4 coaches who had a first year record above .500, and only one (Fuente) who got more than 7 wins in a season. Really wish I could've discovered/shared this earlier in the offseason, I would've bet the under big time.

It's also really striking how much of an outlier Fuente was in 2016 - My guess is there's 3 factors at play: (1) the previous regime scouted players well, (2) Some continuity by keeping Foster on staff, and (3) landing Jerod Evans.

Hoping to do a larger scale analysis at some point. Maybe include all P5 coaching hires in a 5 year period or something. This is definitely a small sample size, but it's pretty clear that a lot of the internet is completely and conveniently forgetting that Mel Tucker and Sam Pittman had bad year 1's.

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Nice, balanced, data supported evaluation.

Thanks.

To be the man you gotta beat the man!

Bar thanks once again for contributing quality, high effort content to the community! I'm sure we all appreciate it, i know i do for sure

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

I sum it up with this generalization ....This is Pry's team. These aren't Pry's players.

These players are all from the "Fuente Experience, Culture, Way of Life".

My career has mostly been leading business turnarounds. There will be smaller percentage of "worthy" (true P5 level recruits, so not that much) who will "join ship". But will have this season and maybe on more before they are gone. In order for Pry to successfully instill and empower this organization, it starts at the "interview" stage (recruiting) and "setting the tone", delivering his message, driving passion, expounding the standards, etc.

He will need his players to do this. Most of the turnarounds I have done had some semblance of a foundational platform in which to build from. Pry is as close to ground zero as I see it. God Bless him and God Speed.

Sounds silly, but can losing to ODU and being at rock bottom be a selling point to recuits? You can sell players on being the keys to bringing VT back to its former glory. On a slightly separate note, one thing that has always bugged me is that time cop seemed to get a pretty large recruiting bump after arriving at uva. Neither of our coaches have. Why is that?

Well, to be honest, Fuente's first three classes were very good relative to most of VT's classes historically. They were 26th, 24th, and 26th, which included 19 four-stars recruits among the three classes.
Pretty disappointed that Pry hasn't been able to get a signature recruit or two, but I do like the emphasis on winning VA back.

included 19 four-stars recruits among the three classes

Lots of poor evaluations and running people out:

  • Devon Hunter didn't pan out
  • Hooker was run off
  • QP didn't pan out
  • Tre Turner had injury issues
  • Webb had injury issues
  • Nester was run off
  • Hudson was run off
  • Payoute had injury issues
  • JR Walker hasn't panned out
  • Tayvion didn't pan out/was run off
  • Pinchkney didn't pan out/was run off
  • Payoute didn't pan out/was run off

At best, Fuente was batting 1-for-3 on the 4-stars he did get (and the jury is still out on a few of those).

Pretty disappointed that Pry hasn't been able to get a signature recruit or two, but I do like the emphasis on winning VA back.

The fact that in his final 2 full classes, Fuente landed two 4-stars means something is broken. That said, your point is well taken - Looking at our 2023 visits, we've had three 4-stars visit, two of which committed PSU, with one committing to UNC.

It would buy a lot of good will (which is much needed after that ODU game) if we could land a big name.

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I think we have been trying to sell recruits on that for the last 10 years lol. Getting to the NFL, playing in a big time league, and getting $$$ seem to be the deciding factors now.

Time Cop got in good with the 757 7-on-7 leagues (Thoroughbreds particularly) and worked with/gave access to the program to recruits' handlers and coaches in the league. Beamer had always worked through the high school coaches and not this new 7-on-7 stuff. So he snagged several high profile recruits for a while. Now that stuff doesn't seem to be as big down there.

Florida state looking good! If I remember correctly norvell inherited tons of recruits, but only won 3 games year 1, and somewhere near the same year 2.

Yes, this is hopefully a reasonably recent comparison of the road ahead for us. Two roughs seasons learning lessons, with the goal of growth in year three

VB born, class of '14

This is an exceptionally good comparison. I could see Norvell and Pry becoming very successful in the ACC and stealing away some of the recent Klemp$on magic.

VTCC '86 Delta Company, Hokie in Peru, Former Naval Aviator, Former FBISA, Forever married to my VT87 girl. Go VT!

At this point lets say that the Defense is in good shape and lets hope the offense can do enough to get us 7 wins

Hokies, Local Soccer, AFC Ajax, Ravens

The starting 11 are good, but the defense is a few injuries away from being not good.

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