Justin Fuente Owes You Nothing

The Virginia Tech head coach is just a man who interviewed for a job. But his flirtation with Baylor should make everyone look in the mirror, himself included.

The head coach of the Virginia Tech football team almost departed for greener pastures.

His potential suitor had recently lost the best coach in their program's history, and looked for extended success by hiring a veteran with a proven track record. They offered him the world. Not just money, but security — the new school's fans didn't have the same bloodthirsty expectations as those clad in maroon and orange.

They had better facilities, better resources, a more reliable donor base, and a more winnable conference. And for a coach who had flirted with — but ultimately rejected — other high profile openings, this one seemed to make too much sense.

And for a few days, Hokie Nation waited with bated breath, anxious to see if Frank Beamer would leave Blacksburg to become the new head coach at North Carolina.

This isn't new. And when Justin Fuente held the attention of Tech fans hostage last week, it played out similarly to Beamer's decision in late-2000. Their potential new gigs had more money, more help, and lower expectations. Moreover, from the outside looking in seemed like too good of a deal to pass up. Yet whether it was a sense of duty, commitment, guilt — or in Fuente's case, maybe the lack of an actual offer — they both remained at their posts.

Fuente's timing was no doubt curious. The rumors of his interest in the Baylor job leaked to Yahoo's Pete Thamel just after the overhaul of Tech's defensive staff had been completed. And had he actually left with a Todd Graham-esq stench in his wake, he would have lost some credibility in the coaching world. Would it have been foolish for him to leave? Maybe. But considering who he is and where he's from, it would have been as silly to ignore what the Bears had to offer.

And a listen was reportedly all it was. A man from Oklahoma with extensive experience coaching and recruiting in Texas considered a raise to move closer to home. It's understandable to be tempted by the offer, though it came with some serious tradeoffs. Even with Matt Rhule at the helm, Baylor couldn't pull in the same kind of talent the Tech staff had in 2017, '18, or '19. They're a second-rate team in their own state, not only fighting the big dogs (Texas, Oklahoma, LSU, Alabama) for players, but also all of the other schools in their tier (Texas A&M, Texas Tech, TCU, Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Missouri). It's a tough place to stand out, even with the resources available.

But if Fuente was okay with the trade, he was well within his right to leave. Hell, when Beamer flirted with Carolina the Merryman Center was a state-of-the-art facility built just two years prior. He had just come off a run to the national championship with the most exciting player in program history, and was in the process of compiling a 31-4 record over three seasons.

Things were at their absolute best, and yet the face of the university saw the benefits of leaving. So why are we crucifying Fuente for contemplating a similar decision in a comparatively worse situation? Why do we demand an apology, or at least an explanation, when it's clear that the best we're going to get is one curt tweet?

The answers to those questions, and some of the underlying problems that cause us to ask them in the first place, highlight the number of issues standing between Virginia Tech and legitimate growth.

To many Tech fans, this was unacceptable. The man at the center of hours of online sleuthing, message boarding, flight tracking, and rumor mongering, tried to put this story to bed with one reticent post. And to make matters worse, he hid behind his boss to answer questions from a "select group of media" about the situation.

It wasn't a great look from a man paid four million dollars to be the face of a major college football team. But for those craving transparency, or the fans with white-hot Twitter fingers demanding some sort of groveling press conference, what do you really want to hear? Do you want a Tiger Woods-esq apology for having the gall to talk to another school, or do you want the truth? Because the truth will make you take a long, hard look in the mirror.

Let's play this out. Let's say Fuente prepared a statement on Friday, went out behind a podium and faced the press. Before anyone could ask questions, his honest, truth-serum-induced account of why he met with administrators from Baylor would probably go something like this:

"Well, it would be nice to get paid more money to move closer to home. And, to be honest, this situation wasn't exactly what I signed up for. Our 20-year-old facilities sure as shit don't help things recruiting. I have two bosses who seem more invested in non-revenue sports to help Tech's standing in something called the Directors' Cup than they do in helping this program win. And to top it all off, I have to deal with a fan base who thinks their social media megaphones gives them the right to act like T. Boone Pickens. If you want to see some real change in this program, donate some damn money."

Sometimes honesty hurts. And reading between the lines, that's probably close to the truth. The Fuente-to-Baylor story has shown the Hokies to be a program at a crossroads. And it's about time everyone (Fuente, Whit Babcock, Tim Sands, whoever runs the Hokie Club, every fan complaining online) look at themselves and ask if they're doing their part to make Virginia Tech football as successful as possible. Because today the answer is overwhelmingly no.

Whit Babcock came in with a plan. It became clear the moment he replaced Jim Weaver, and he's acted on it ever since. He's completed major facilities renovations for softball, baseball, and track & field. He spent on new coaches to turn around women's basketball and baseball, and he hired Buzz Williams.

Whit has spent a lot of money on things other than football, many of which were in desperate need of improvement long before he took the job. But for every dollar he spends on Rector Field House, he doesn't spend upgrading football facilities. If he's happy with where the money's going, that's his prerogative, but it highlights a massive gap between his vision of the future of Hokie athletics and most fans'. Whit may be comfortable taking resources from the football program in the name of making all other sports above average, but he's in the minority.

And if Tech's athletic director wants to spread the funding around, maybe there should be more funds. The popular narrative amongst Hokie Nation is if you don't donate, you can't complain, which is inherently ridiculous. Fans are, by definition, fanatical. Saying Tech fans are only allowed to voice their gripes if they're members of the Hokie Club is like telling fans of Star Wars they can only slam Rise of Skywalker if they own Disney stock. A monetary investment does not make anyone's passion more or less important.

But they don't get a pass. According to the Hokie Club, a whopping 5.6 percent of the 245,000 living Virginia Tech alumni donate to the athletic fund. For a group of people who want their team to compete with the likes of Clemson and Penn State (both on the field and on the trail), they need to catch up with those opposing fan bases in terms of support. Like it or not, college football is a big business, and it's a big business which requires oodles of cash to operate. If you don't agree with the way things work in 2020, and are willing to sacrifice the performance of the football team for monetary reasons, that's your prerogative.

But the dichotomy between people's expectations for what Virginia Tech football should achieve, and their willingness to take legitimate steps towards reaching those goals are completely at odds. Hokies like to think of themselves as one of the premier football institutions in the country, but those expectations are based on nothing but outdated bluster.

The glory years Tech fans cling to are now over a decade old. And those great, title-contending seasons were built with the same tried-and-true model we see today — they signed top talent with a highly paid staff, brought them back to some of the newest facilities in the country and got to work. And though Beamer and Bud Foster sold the tough, blue-collar mentality, they didn't just win with guts. They won because there was a serious investment in their program. In the '90s Hokie football was like a truck, pulling themselves out of the mud with a few bowl trips. But in the '00s it was a Mazerati screaming down the highway at full throttle.

The most galling thing is it should be better. University enrollment has steadily risen for two decades, most fans under the age of 50 know nothing but success, and recent Hokies earn over 10 thousand dollars more than the average recent graduate. Young people with no families and extra cash in their pockets seem like the ideal target to form a sizeable donor base. Hell, it's what Clemson's famed IPTAY was founded on.

Yet, the money still isn't there. At least not compared to the competition. If we're talking about both the fans and the athletic director needing to do their part, it's hard not to take a look at the Hokie Club, too. In an age where it's easier to send money than ever, someone needs to take a long hard look at creating creative ways for younger alums to get involved, and smoothing out any technical impediments.

Justin Fuente was not wrong in expecting more from his employer, and was not wrong in allegedly asking for it either. And if he wanted to leverage a good situation to try and improve the one he's already in, good for him. He doesn't owe an explanation to anyone other than his staff and his players. If everyone in the locker room understands and accepts his commitment to them, nothing else matters.

People didn't forgive Beamer's dalliance with Carolina because he had a teary-eyed press conference reaffirming his love for the school. They forgave him because six months later he went out and signed Kevin Jones. No one thought about the time he almost left when his squad consistently found themselves ranked in the top five. It didn't matter. They forgave him because he kept winning.

Fuente has played all of his cards. There's not a single member of his staff who wasn't his hire. He's had an opportunity to recruit his players. He understands what's coming with regards to upgrades and resource allocation. And by litigating the case of Baylor v. Virginia Tech in the court of social media, he painfully unearthed many of the shortcomings holding the Hokies back — and fans' expectations in the face of them.

But now, he's officially out of excuses. He's burned through whatever support he had left, and after his now-infamous two-word tweet there are only two ways to move past this.

He either wins, or takes the next bus out of town.

Comments

Aren't most people over this?

I don't want anything from Fuente but Ws and the caliber players on the trail that will get us enough Ws to win the ACC.

Yes, Brian took the time and effort to write a column between his full-time job and whatever else is going on his life and your first response, presumably before reading is "Aren't most people over this?". Thanks for playing.

I agree with your stand, but maybe a little less harsh in your response? It seemed to me a genuine question rather than a jab at the content.

Eh, the first response was pretty lame considering that the article was definitely the best overall summary, and by far the best written, of the situation.

"How you doin', Randy?"

A lot of time and effort went into a thoughtful and well-written piece about a topic that completely consumed this website for 2+ days and the first comment is basically saying "who cares?" (and coming from someone who got the content for free). It would still be a lame comment if he was in TKPC though. In my opinion, Joe's response is warranted.

Sometimes I wonder why Joe doesn't just hit type in the nuclear codes for this site.

I won't speak for Joe and his team, but I know a lot of the #Content I enjoy around the internet is made by people who do it first and foremost because they enjoy making it. They hope people enjoy their work but at the end of the day they are doing it for them, not anyone else. And some are adamant that the day they stop enjoying what they're doing, regardless of how successful they might be, they'll stop making their stuff.

I have to laugh at comments like this. This is Joe's baby. All of this exists because of the time he has put in. He started this site when nobody was reading it and has helped it grow to what it is today.

He replied to a snide comment with the snide response it deserved. Hell, he could've hit the guy with the -10,000 missile if he wanted to. I'm all for holding the TKP staff accountable for takes and questioning their opinions but to just outright respond to a very well-written and thought out article, not hidden behind a paywall as it could've been, with "Who cares?" is completely rude and disrespectful. Not to mention it was the very first comment on the post, which just tells me the commenter spent very little time reading, and likely no time processing what Brian wrote.

And then someone decides to chastise Joe for how he responded to that comment?

I think we all need to remember that this is not Joe's day job. Nor is it French's, or Brian's, or FifthFuller's (at least I think, but who knows with that guy). They are doing this during their lunch breaks, during their weekends, during their evenings, during times when the rest of us are doing our own hobbies or spending time with our families.

Most of us love this site and would be genuinely sad to see it go. Maybe we all should be a bit more thankful of the content this team is making, most of it for free, and a bit less eager to criticize it all. Because one day, Joe and Co. may just decide it's not worth it and call it a day and we'd all be missing a part of our Hokie world.

Agreed. I liked this column because it provided a perspective from someone on staff who has a more holistic view of the program and what needs to happen. I hadn't seen it anywhere in one place, and the setup in the intro paragraph was top notch. I think most people aren't 'over' this and they won't be over this until the football team either wins the division next year, or doesn't.

"How you doin', Randy?"

This was a great opinion piece that was a nice balance to prior articles on the topic. I enjoyed it. Bravo. The key play is the tits.

"I play real sports, not trying to be the best at exercising..." - KP

Don't mind him, he's from out of town.

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

If that's how he feels that how he feels. Can't make everyone read something they may not be interested in.

Make this plaid!

If you're over it, then don't read it? Always a solid option.

Gobble Till You Wobble

I would like to think so, but you're totally kidding yourself if you think this isn't going to be continually brought up moving forward.

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

It did generate a 1000 comments!

I think there's value in stepping back and reviewing the situation a week later, when the fan base is less emotional (for lack of a better term).

Twitter me

I think emotional is right word, but probably an understatement

Interesting fun fact, since the Beamer to UNC part is brought up...the deal that Weaver and Steger came up with to get Beamer and the assistants (all of whom were reportedly going to follow him to Chapel Hill), made VT coaching staff the 3rd highest paid staff in all of college football. His salary bumped from $750k to $1.25M

The key to retaining Beamer appears to have been the university's willingness to sweeten the deals of his nine assistant coaches, all of whom reportedly were ready to follow Beamer to Chapel Hill. A source close to Beamer said he seriously considered North Carolina's offer in the wake of Virginia Tech's refusal to add $100,000 to the base package for his assistant coaches. Initially, university officials offered to allot $50,000 more for the assistants.

Link

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

So you're telling me 20 years ago the head coach of the Virginia Tech Hokies salary was $750k? That is equivalent to Eliah Drinkwitz of App State today, the 96th highest paid coach.

Incredible.

Something, something, unsustainable growth, something...

Fuente would've gotten a similar deal (maybe top 10 instead of top 3) if he got us to a Natty.

Twitter me

Good piece, and my thoughts exactly.

"War was always here. Before man was, war waited for him. The ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practitioner.”~~Judge Holden

On the contrary. Fuente owns me 5 dollars

Cut and divide it all right in two

He asked to borrow tree fiddy from me...

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

That's 8 fiddy he could have put into the football team but instead he got a footlong from subway SMH😧

Cut and divide it all right in two

The literature that Hokie Club sent out last year illustrated that the donations were growing at a pretty decent clip. We started out behind a lot of our peers but I would consider Drive for 25 at least partially successful so far. I'm not sure if I see a more drastic uptick on the horizon, especially with the general apathy I'm hearing from your typical (non internet forum residing) fan. And for that we may have a chicken and egg situation, though honestly I think we should have done better with what we had last year.

VT Class of '12 (MSE), MVBone, Go Hokies!

I don't think anyone faults him for taking a look at another job. At the end of the day, do what's best for you. However, the difference between the Frank/UNC situation and this is night and day. Beamer was fresh off a national title appearance and the best two years in program history. He was a very hot coaching candidate. If Fuente were really killing it at VT, I think you would see a lot more sympathy from the fans and feeling that we had somehow let him down by not financially contributing more to the program. But let's face it, he isn't meeting expectations for what he was brought here to do. Coming off a horrendous 2018, almost meltdown in 2019, snapping a 15 year win streak against UVA, and a third straight embarrassing bowl loss, I think a lot of people viewed this as really annoying and another ploy for leverage/job security where he already has too much. He already hates engaging the fans, so posting the awkward Let's Go pic and then having his boss address a situation he created seems to only further the narrative that he doesn't understand or care to understand being the face of a P5 program.

So 2020 goes one of two ways. He wins and we move on, or he doesn't and he needs to go. As you said, he's out of excuses now. Perform to the expectations set by bringing you here or it's just time to move on.

You're right in that these two situations have yielded a very different response from the fanbase. And you gave some good reasons why.

Marcolini did a good job of highlighting how the situations are different in another sense: right now, VT doesn't have the same level of facilities and football investment.

But your closing comment also highlights the similarity. What you said of Fuente would have been true of Beamer, "He wins and we move on, or he doesn't and he needs to go." And which situation presented a greater challenge at VT? If what Marcolini has said about facilities and football investment is true, then Fuente has a far more daunting task than Beamer did at the time.

Yes beating the Clemson's of the world with our current resources is daunting. But that's a big picture thing. The coastal is the worst division in the P5. I don't think better resources is going to help us when we are struggling vs FCS teams and getting blown out by Duke at home. That's my entire gripe about the facilities argument everyone keeps bringing up. I get it, we aren't on par with national title level programs right now. But we should be beating the BCs Dukes and UVas of the world. And we are not. That's on the coaches.

I agree whole-heartedly, we should be beating those teams every time. And for the same reason, we should be losing to more well-resourced schools every time.

Agreed. We have to figure out how to win against teams who are less or equally talented on a consistent basis before we can get all up in arms about seriously battling with Clemson in a big picture sense. We routinely fail to capitalize against teams we should be beating. That's the troubling thing for me right now and why facilities, which is a valid point, in my opinion is being weaponized against critics for underperforming.

I concur. And taking only the last two years into consideration then this staff is under performing relative to their resources. Taking all 4 seasons into consideration, and its a little less clear. I had forgotten, but in 2017 we lost to two top 10 teams and then a close (albeit painful) loss to GT. I know it sounds like a broken record, but things really went off the rails in 2018 in a somewhat unpredictable way and the first part of 2019 was essentially a hangover. The coaches aren't without blame, but if we have a good season in 2020 I think there is a strong historical argument to be made that this is a good coaching staff.

and a third straight embarrassing bowl loss

...Huh? If you believe the bowl losses were embarrassing, you must think any loss is embarrassing. We were the underdog against a ranked Oklahoma State in 2017 and lost by 9. Last year we probably shouldn't have made a bowl but scraped by at 6-6 and then put up a fight against a ranked Cincinnati team that came down to the final drive of the game. The end of the Kentucky game left a sour taste in everyone's mouth but that game was right there for the taking as well. Infuriating, sure, but embarrassing? Not in my book.

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

This was touched on in the article. Tech fans have an inflated sense of where we stand in the college football pantheon. In the OP's mind, VT should never lose to a school like Kentucky or Cincinnati because they're beneath us, so anything other than victory is "embarrassing". The problem is they really aren't anymore. It's Fuente's job to get our reality back up where our expectations are, however that's pretty difficult when our expectations aren't grounded in reality.

It was kind of a social media crisis, that was handled poorly by the Athletic Department because they do not practice social listening, which in today's day in age is a big deal.

I don't care, but plenty of people were pissed, and as a department we didn't do anything to calm the pitch forks.

It's much easier to get money out of people if you listen to what they are telling you, and trying to understand them.

What's
Important
Now

This is where I am too. I don't think he needs to apologize for anything, but I think he should have helped put out the fire (justified or not). Fuente can complain about the facilities and budgets, but as Brian said, he needs to look in the mirror as well. He doesn't seem interested in fan interaction while he has the most influence on program perception. He needs to put more time into drumming up and asking for support and I think our fans will meet the needs if they are shown/told. Fuente needs to put his hand out rather than using it to block the view.

Whatever. It was one bad year.

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

This is the reason I started the thread on Fuente needing a media representative. Not sure if people thought I was taunting DCWilson for suggesting it be him, I just think he'd do a good job calling Fuente on certain things as well as calling out fans for their BS, while ultimately getting the fans good info on the program.

I think it would be a really good idea to get someone performing that function - someone that can maybe learn any concerns Fuente has with sharing information, someone he can trust, but also is responsible for getting fans more information about what's going on in the program. Especially someone who understand social media really well.

Fuente has (3?) young daughters. If they are like most kids, they probably light up the Twiter-verse before their parents could adjust the volume on their TVs using the remote. Being family, he could probably get a deal for their services. [ Obviously, a sarcastic comment. What decent parents would want to expose their kids to the vitriol of the sport fan universe? ]

Ut Prosim Ad Dei Gloriam

Anyone who sends a nasty tweet to a child because of sports should be punched in the dick.

I know a lot of people don't like Duke, but I read that at a game, a guy heckled JJ Redick by saying something about raping his (much) younger sister. There are some sick people out there and I would want to protect my kids, especially if they were young daughters.

Nobody other than a select group of people know whether Fuente was ever really serious about Baylor or not. The fact that we are so fragile as a fan-base that this type of speculation rattles us is sad.

Also - doesn't every coach have to win? Yes, fans are fickle and wins can turn the tide of support quickly - but Fuente needs to win because he is a competitor and it's his job - not to win back our fleeting support.

"Dick to Hyman? DICK TO HYMAN!" - Guy in Lane Stadium crowd when Richard Johnson hit Josh Hyman on reverse pass in 2004.

I don't think people are fragile, I just think people are people. All people are different, and react to things differently.

If you want to make more money, you have to listen to them though, and you have to calm the storm when ready, otherwise the people creating the storm can turn it into an even bigger problem that turns more people away.

What's
Important
Now

Fuente didn't leave and people are still saying that the flirtation has major negative ripple effects. How? What are the leading indicators of that?

I'm very high on where the program is headed - that's where my frustration comes from. People want to boo-hoo and act like everything is falling apart and I have no concept of why.

"Dick to Hyman? DICK TO HYMAN!" - Guy in Lane Stadium crowd when Richard Johnson hit Josh Hyman on reverse pass in 2004.

So your opinion is your own and some might be right there with you.

Other people think differently, and they can be upset, it's perfectly reasonable.

What's not ok is just letting things get out of hand and not trying to fan out the flames. Letting things stir and stir just creates more negative sentiment. Some will get over it, but others will not.

What's
Important
Now

I totally get your points - but when fans can get over minor-bumps like this isn't that what builds a cohesive, strong, and lasting fan base? Doesn't a strong fan base also lead to more donors, better attendance (also more money), better recruiting, etc.

People want to get upset or be up-in-arms - it's human nature. I agree that people can react however they want - but that doesn't make it useful.

"Dick to Hyman? DICK TO HYMAN!" - Guy in Lane Stadium crowd when Richard Johnson hit Josh Hyman on reverse pass in 2004.

If you listen to them, you gain valuable insight to what their mindset is. That data is invaluable to understanding the pain points of your customer base. Those pain points can be improved to provide a better product and brand.

Social Media gives you insight into what the fan base is thinking, in real time. It's invaluable as a tool to creating better marketing and donation efforts. I cannot stress that enough.

What's
Important
Now

You are kidding yourself if you dont thimk that the big fanbases of the SEC, ND, USC, etc dont meltdown at the smallest things as well. Everyone, including us, gets over it quickly though. Give any event a month and no one will be talking about it anymore.

I agree with you about other fan bases being equally (if not more) reactive- but many SEC schools, ND, USC, etc. also have the $$$ to overcome fleeting support in different ways. VT isn't afforded that same luxury.

Generally you're right though - time will pass and a new issue will take center stage.

"Dick to Hyman? DICK TO HYMAN!" - Guy in Lane Stadium crowd when Richard Johnson hit Josh Hyman on reverse pass in 2004.

The people that you think were fragile over this (myself included), thought the timing was poor. I'm not going to rehash everything I said last week, but it's hard to sustain the momentum we had going into 2020 when your head coach has one foot out the door. We finally seem to be ready to land some recruits, giving is up and a good season could lead to some big gains, and we have a shit ton of starters returning. Hearing your coach is talking to other schools amidst all this was punch in the dick because it felt like it could all unravel before we got off the ground. We're not some kind of snowflakes who want to live in a fairy tale.

I have no idea why my username is VT_Warthog.

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

Coaches get rumored to be taking new jobs all the time - I'm not sure how or why the timing matters. He didn't take the job - story over.

Also - did we really have momentum going into 2020 or was that perceived? Coming off a blown-win against UK, a loss to UVA, and everyone complaining about a poor 2020 recruiting class doesn't feel like momentum. The same fans that complained after those losses or griped about recruiting are the same ones that blew-up the Baylor thing.

I feel great about where the program is headed over the next 5-years - that's why I hate all of the alarmist BS on here. People get emotional over something we have no control over and is 8-months away. Support them, wait, and see.

"Dick to Hyman? DICK TO HYMAN!" - Guy in Lane Stadium crowd when Richard Johnson hit Josh Hyman on reverse pass in 2004.

I think we do have momentum despite finishing the season on two losses. I'm certainly excited about 2020 and have some increased expectations because of the how 2019 turned out

I totally agree.

I'm just saying the same people saying that Fuente talking to Baylor killed some sort of trajectory are the sames ones who have been saying the sky is falling at every setback. They are just using "he killed our momentum" as a ploy to support a take.

The future is bright and a culture is being rebuilt.

"Dick to Hyman? DICK TO HYMAN!" - Guy in Lane Stadium crowd when Richard Johnson hit Josh Hyman on reverse pass in 2004.

I just explained to you why the timing sucked. It would've sucked even more had he got the job.

Players were on twitter saying they didn't know what was going on, looking for answers. That's not a good look no matter how you want to cut it. Everything seems okay now, but at the time it seemed like it might be tough convincing players to play for a coach who was looking at other jobs.

I have no idea why my username is VT_Warthog.

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

He didn't take the job. That is a good look.

Did our 2021 4-star QB decommit? Did Tre Turner go buck wild on twitter? Did he not ink Daryl Tapp, a former head coach, and an NFL d-line coach to his staff?

Players know that CFB is a business at this point. Thinking that rumors vs. reality would impact their willingness to play for someone who many of them have known for years is patronizing.

"Dick to Hyman? DICK TO HYMAN!" - Guy in Lane Stadium crowd when Richard Johnson hit Josh Hyman on reverse pass in 2004.

I think that's the challenge - some people see the Baylor thing as having one foot out the door rather than it just being an awareness that there are things on the other side of the door. He stayed for less money, and as other people pointed out, much better facilities at a school with lower expectations closer to home. If he didn't leave for that, maybe it's just me, but that seems like it's more the awareness that there's other things out there.

Not sure about the lower expectations part at Baylor. They are really gearing up and have had a taste of big time success in the last 10 years. I think they view themselves as legitimate competitors against Oklahoma and Texas for the Big 12 now. Fuente going there for more resources and routinely losing to TTU or Kansas State wouldn't make a whole lot of people very happy there.

I just threw that in there because it was in the article. I don't know what the expectations are - I know they had a string of 10 win seasons under Art Briles, but that win streak was tainted by the rape scandal. I know Rhule was successful, but don't remember seeing how successful they were before Briles.

They made kansas look good terrible before Briles. They were year in year out one of the worst teams in FBS. Briles showed that you could win at Baylor, his legacy is tainted, but Rhule came in a showed the same thing. I cannot see how expectations wouldnt be high. While the explicit goal of being the Baptist Notre Dame was a dream of a former AD, I wont believe that fans/ donors didnt like winning and want to stop.

"Well, it would be nice to get paid more money to move closer to home. And, to be honest, this situation wasn't exactly what I signed up for. Our 20-year-old facilities sure as shit don't help things recruiting. I have two bosses who seem more invested in non-revenue sports to help Tech's standing in something called the Directors' Cup than they do in helping this program win. And to top it all off, I have to deal with a fan base who thinks their social media megaphones gives them the right to act like T. Boone Pickens. If you want to see some real change in this program, donate some damn money."

Sometimes honesty hurts. And reading between the lines, that's probably close to the truth. The Fuente-to-Baylor story has shown the Hokies to be a program at a crossroads. And it's about time everyone (Fuente, Whit Babcock, Tim Sands, whoever runs the Hokie Club, every fan complaining online) look at themselves and ask if they're doing their part to make Virginia Tech football as successful as possible. Because today the answer is overwhelmingly no.

I can agree that MErryman is old and we are falling behind the big boys in many categories. But we barely beat Furman, got blown out by Duke, lost to UVA, lost to UK, and that was just this year; let's not talk about last year. Those teams do not have more resources or any major recruiting advantage over VT.

So no, Fuente cannot get behind a podium and tell the fans to donate more money and right now, neither can Whit. There are plenty of resources in place to beat the teams I listed above. If they cannot beat those teams now, then why should any fan believe that donating more money will lead to a new age of Coastal domination and ACC Championships. It is BS! I'll donate and support, but if you want more, show me you can win!

And I'm not asking for an apology from Fuente. But the head coach being paid what he is, needs to do better when it comes to fan engagement. Like it or not, it is part of the job. It is not his personality to be charismatic and open and engaging and overly friendly with the press. He isn't going to butter anybody up. But Whit needs to manage his public relations better. Most fans only ever see Fuente in press conferences, and it is the only impression they get of the man. So, it is important!

If you don't want to donate, you're right, Whit and Fuente don't have any demand to make of you. But to say it's not true that schools with a greater amount of financial support tend to win seems mistaken. Money helps the cause - that's the pitch for giving. It will help us reel in a better coach if this one doesn't work out. It will help us upgrade where we need to upgrade. So I can't fault them for asking people to donate - even if we aren't winning at the moment.

Money is definitely necessary to win at the highest levels of college football, but it's not sufficient.

With that said, I think Tech has enough money and resources to beat the ODUs of the world. Take care of business against the comparable and less than programs, and then use that as a catalyst for momentum to try to catch the big ones.

I don't know what a Hokie is, but God is one of them!

I can agree that MErryman is old and we are falling behind the big boys in many categories. But we barely beat Furman, got blown out by Duke, lost to UVA, lost to UK, and that was just this year; let's not talk about last year. Those teams do not have more resources or any major recruiting advantage over VT.

Rather than thinking that 'more resources results in wins over teams with less resources,' I'd rephrase to suggest that "more resources gives you a higher percent change to beat teams with lesser resources." For example, 10 years ago, VT made significantly more investment into football than Duke did, and so we had ~80% chance of beating them. Now, that difference is smaller, so maybe we only have a 55-60% chance of beating them. As a result, we lose more often.

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The point I was making with my post is what Joe replied with above. Fans rallied around what Buzz was building at VT because he had a record of success at Marquette, he brought that to Blacksburg, and he demonstrated at MArquette and at VT that his system and his approach would work. So we made a sizable investment in him and the basketball program. Remember the corners of Cassell weren't filling up that first year. The fan engagement built over time as he was getting results.

Certainly Fuente is no fool. He cannot say, give me more, and then I will win. The next great VT coach is going to have to do more with less, period. Beamer and Bud did that. And then they got Merryman and fans, alumni, etc. invested. If Fuente or some future Head Hokie demonstrates that he can do more with less, then fans and alumni will once again increase their investment in VT football.

VT alumni aren't going to blindly throw money at football the way a lot of alumni bases do. We are only going to increase our investment if we are confident in the returns that will be gained. Losing to ODU and barely beating Furman and getting beat by PErkins and blown out by Duke do not do much to build that confidence. Period.

First of all, it's a lot easier to turn around a basketball team than a football team. I think you have to acknowledge the differences in basketball; a sport where multiple mid-majors have won a national title in the last decade. In any given year, there's more teams contending for national championship in NCAA basketball than there are contending for a P5 conference championship (maybe even division championship) in football.

Secondly, I question whether the fan base did make a 'sizable investment' in the basketball program under buzz - yes, the attendance increased, but did basketball success drive donations? I don't think much.

VT alumni aren't going to blindly throw money at football the way a lot of alumni bases do. We are only going to increase our investment if we are confident in the returns that will be gained.

IMO this is a Hokie Club problem, not a problem with the product. VT fans and donors don't understand and/or refuse to acknowledge the competitive landscape in CFB. It's my personal opinion that Whit needs to have a come-to-jesus moment with the fan base, and alert us that VT is falling behind.

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Addressing the first, yes, basketball and football different. Fuente did not really have to turn anything around in the way that Buzz did. Also, I'm not even talking about making the CFP, I'm just talking about winning the Coastal. It shouldn't take a new massive flood of donations and fan support for VT to go and win the Coastal.

Second, you're right. The athletic department (Whit) made a big investment from the start. I was measuring the fan investment purely on attendance and level of engagement. So that I may have overstated; although ticket sales and attendance does count to some extent.

The Hokie Club problem...I agree 100%. But that problem is not why we lost to ODU, barely beat Furman, got blown out by Duke, lost to UVA. The streak had to end at some point. So, whatever, I hate it, but it was going to happen. Cutcliffe is an amazing coach. But come on, it is still Duke. The Hokie Club problem you mention is part of why we aren't winning ACCCG's and in the national conversation for CFP at the beginning of the season or mid season. But it is not why we are failing to win the Coastal.

Question: do you think that in 2020 we would have fallen so far behind if we had dominated the Coastal and ACC the way we did in the 00's? Chicken or Egg? I good focused coach at VT, with good roster management, proper redshirting, etc., definitely should have been able to win the Coastal more than once between the years of 2012 and 2019. It was not for a lack of resources and donations, IMO.

Question: do you think that in 2020 we would have fallen so far behind if we had dominated the Coastal and ACC the way we did in the 00's? Chicken or Egg? I good focused coach at VT, with good roster management, proper redshirting, etc., definitely should have been able to win the Coastal more than once between the years of 2012 and 2019. It was not for a lack of resources and donations, IMO.

Really interesting question. In hindsight, I don't think it would have been likely/possible for VT to be successful in the 2010's due to changes in the greater college football landscape.

I think at the end of the day, Beamer was successful because he identified and exploited an inefficiency in the market: He (1) unlike everyone else in college football understood that VA had a ton of talent and (2) was really good at identifying talent. This advantage started to erode in 2008, and took about three years before it went away.

I think that the only way VT could've been successful in the 2010's (without a shift in funding/support) is if Beamer found another inefficiency in the market. For example, if he adopted a spread offense early, and completely implemented an Oregon-like offense in 2008/09, I think he could've extended the success of the '00s. But alas, this advantage has also been eliminated; spread offenses are now pretty common, and recruiting services are able to accurately project how a player will perform in that offense.

At the end of the day, whether your competing in business, or competing in football, you need some sort of competitive advantage; something that only you have, for example:

  • access to better training (Nebraska in the 70's/80's)
  • access to better players at a low cost (Miami when they were Da U)
  • information asymmetry, meaning that you know about talented players that no one else knows about (Beamer in the 00's)
  • an innovative system (Chip Kelly in the late 00's)
  • coaching ability/processes that no one else can recreate (Saban and the process in the early 00's), etc.
  • a notable financial advantage, that gives you access to more players and coaching talent than anyone else

None of these advantages, except for the final one, last forever (and even that requires constant giving from fans); either you have to keep innovating (very difficult to do in college football), or you have to grow to a point where you can out spend everyone. Two things that really killed us - Weaver failed to capitalize on a key inflection point (the National Championship appearance and the years that followed), and Swofford failed to get a good TV deal in place before the cable bubble started to burst.

So to answer your question: a team can only overcome a lack of resources for a short period of time. In hindsight, I think this drop off was inevitable. Maybe a great OC hire at the right time could have changed that. Maybe that would have resulted in another inflection point that Whit could have/would have capitalized on. Unless you go back in time and change every unlucky bounce, call, and injury in every VT loss, I don't see how VT could continue to dominate into the 2010's/2020's without greatly increased funding.

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Good post and summary. So why are we intent on putting so much focus on your last bullet point "notable financial advantage" when it is very unlikely that VT could ever be on the same level as many of these schools. We aren't going to ever compete in the arms race that has become college football. We cannot afford to build out the luxurious dorms, work out rooms, training rooms, meeting rooms, practice facilities, etc. and update them every 10-15 years to once again be the best. If we need more money/donations is needed to chase after your first 5 bullet points.

And I agree. It was inevitable. I still think we should be able to employ a coaching staff that can recruit well enough to win the Coastal every couple of years. We will never have the consistency we had with Beamer/Bud and in the 00's. But we should be in the hunt every year, and every few years hit a cycle where we have a legitimately dominant team that has a seriously good shot at making the CFP. I think we should find creative ways to have this level of success without breaking the bank and spending so much money. Like everything else, this bubble is going to pop one day. It just has to. The money being poured into these facilities is insane, and it only brings you an advantage while it is new and while it is the best. It is just an insanely risky investment in my opinion.

We 100% should be competitive every year. and field a truly elite team once every 4. These are my expectations and we already have the resources to do this. People act like we are a 3rd world country compared to some of these other schools and that just ins't the case.

What qualifies as 'competitive' every year, and what is 'truly elite'? Can you explain further?

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8-10 wins

ACC champions

That's my metrics and think that is more than attainable.

I mean, by those standards, Fuente has been 'competitive' three out of four years, and it's possible that he stays at that level every year of his tenure.

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I agree! I think that is an attainable goal for VT Football with the resources we have. I am not naive, a CFP birth and a National Championship are not likely.

EDIT: 8 games is the low point obviously. Winning 8 games every year for the rest time isn't what I mean, but I think that is pretty clear from what I think our goals should be. We can't win the ACC with 8 win seasons.

Please compare overall athletic budgets and staff and coaching budgets and get back to us about being an elite team.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

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Yes Hokie Fireman we surely do.

Maybe our definitions of elite are different then.

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If you don't think we can win an ACC championship with what we have now then what's the point of even trying then.

Semantics dude what does it matter what elite means. I clarified what I meant.

I assumed that 'competitive' was 10-11 wins, and 'elite' was a playoff birth. 8-10 wins each season and an ACC championship every now and then (if Clemson slows down) is quite doable with our current resources.

Edit: That said, I'm not confident about us winning the ACC with our current resource pool/recruiting. You're basically asking for VT to have a far above average year while Clemson and FSU both have down years. Not confident we can catch lightening in a bottle like that.

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What I am saying is we currently have the resources to do this. Sure throwing money at things work's sometimes but I think with what we have in place we can win our division and conference. If you disagree that is fine but I am tired of people acting like because we don't have Alabama money we can never win. We have PLENTY to attract athletes that can compete at a high level.

I'm with you - VT is never going to be top 15 in revenue (and the way conferences other than the ACC are getting money, we might never be top 25). I think we have to focus on spending where we get the most bang-for-the-buck.
Hokie Club has to be innovative when it comes to collecting donations and the staff has to be innovative when it comes to using that money.

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Not just money, but security — the new school's fans didn't have the same bloodthirsty expectations those clad in maroon and orange.

I didn't realize that beating UVA and winning a weak-ass Coastal Division were bloodthirsty expectations. Really brings things into perspective and I, for one, will do my best to be more reasonable in the future. /S

Fans are by no means blameless in the lack of funding, but neither is the Hokie Club. I'm willing to go out on a limb and say that if they did something as simple as unfuck their shitty website there would be a marked uptick in funding. Sure the majority of the onus is on the fanbase, but how many Hokies have to scream that the website is fucked before they unfuck it? Can't ignore the simple, little things like mortar and bitch about the structural integrity of the house. Get on that shit, Whit and HC!

But now, he's officially out of excuses. He's burned through whatever support he had left, and after his now-infamous two-word tweet there are only two ways to move past this.

He either wins, or takes the next bus out of town.

If you play it, they will win.

"How the ass pocket will be used, I do not know. Alls I know is, the ass pocket will be used." -The BoD

to piggyback off your comments on the Hokie Club website; this whole Fuente to Baylor thing prompted me to donate to the football team on the Hokie Club website and i honestly have no idea if im a HC member now or not lol.

why dont we try a copycat thing like Clemson's IPTAY, like IPFAM- i pay $5 a month. i saw someone recently post something like this and in today's world of automatic withdraws and monthly payment installments, this seems like a good way to go about fundraising. But first please fix the webpage...

I got drunk after the Duke game and donated directly to the football program (the Fuente buyout fund) instead of the scholarship fund. It didn't count towards my membership standing. Which is fucked. Any giving should count towards membership status. I had to donate extra money make my silver hokie because of it. That's a hilariously stupid policy.

The Hokie Club is a really poorly planned organization.

That's tax policy and is very much out of their control.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

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Can you elaborate? It would make sense that the school can choose what can count towards membership status and opts not to include everything.

EDIT: Actually interested and want to understand. My interactions with Hokie Club and donation have been rough

No idea why that's just how it was explained at the Spring meeting a few years ago. Then tax policy changed recently too which doesn't allow donations made towards seats to be tax deductible anymore.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

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It should at least throw up an alert up saying it won't count and why, if that's the case. To be honest, it might have said that somewhere and I just wasn't paying attention.

why dont we try a copycat thing like Clemson's IPTAY, like IPFAM

like Clemson's IPTAY, like IPFAM

like IPFAM

FAM

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

Did he simply come back or did we throw some more money at him? I know Les Miles and Jimbo did that quite a bit where they would flirt and get more money out of their current school

Interesting point and some good thoughts as well.

One thing I would say though is I dont think looking at whit as a reason the FB program isnt well enough off is because hes been helping update other athletic facilities as a problem. Football isnt the only sport on campus hell theyre close to getting passed by our basketball team when you look at recent success. The difference between the two programs is the coach at the top. Both Bball coaches as of late have done a hell of a job of not only recruiting elite talent but coaching that talent. Meanwhile on the football side it doesnt feel like the recruiting has been up to par and the results have been mediocre. If you want the fans to really invest in it they need to see something worth their money just like any investor. I would make the argument while there is alot of data suggesting that the alumni are financially really well off that a larger part of average sized donations would come from people who arent alumni but simply just fans that didnt go there. Those donations could make or break fundraising and for those fans if the product on the field was a bit better might show serious results. My thoughts would be if Fuente really wants more money and newer stuff he needs to get the product on the field to be much better to get people fired up and interested again in the way fans were in the 90's and 2000's. Sure its a common chicken before the egg thing but I think the facilities are nice enough and with the right salesman and coach we could be doing much better in a god awful division.

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

Young people with no families and extra cash in their pockets seem like the ideal target to form a sizeable donor base.

Those same young people come out of school owing substantially more in student loans than any generation before it. It's a hard sell for any school these days to say that on top of the 15-20% of take-home pay they lose to debt service, they should send another $X per month to their school essentially as charity. Especially those who have only known mediocre VT football over the last decade.

I agree, the other avenue we are lacking, and it was pointed out in a comment in another post as well, is that Hokie Nation is young in terms of P5 fandoms. Someone I know told me they put GT Athletics in their will. I doubt we have many Hokies dropping a part of their estate to the Athletic Dept, but I don't doubt that our competitors do.

Tech definitely got ahead of it's skis with the move to the ACC and Weaver waiting too long to start assimilating. Whit is making the moves to get us up to the conference standard in all sports, and is making them very quickly. The only mistake may have been underestimating how quickly the football arms race marches forward. Right as Whit was hired in, the Beamer Barn had just been built, so I can't blame Whit if he thought football was taken care of for a little while and he wanted to put the focus on the other facilities. I am also thinking Whit may have expected a certain rate of growth in donations with the Drive for 25 that hasn't materialized. The BaylorBootyCall will either be the impetus for the fans to realize what it means to compete in the top tier or it will be last straw on Fuente era's back.

Whatever. It was one bad year.

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

I think the shape of the curve there was a little different.

One of the conditions of our ACC entry was massive investment in non-rev sports to get them even close to competitive -- Dave Braine and Jim Weaver had worked hard under brutal financial conditions to keep VT's books in line and make the football program a banner of what we could do under even comparable financial conditions to our peer institutions, something we never had in the Metro, A-10, or BEFC/BE. The price of the football success was starving the rest, though, and continuing that program wasn't acceptable to the ACC. We threw money into them right at the start of the ACC run once we had conference money to use (remember, we got a better conference share on Day 1 of our ACC membership in 2004 than we would have had in Year 10 of full BE membership in 2010-11 -- Mike Tranghese's merry men had put us over a barrel). That was just to get us treading water, though.

I think the biggest thing we're looking at now with the non-rev facility flurry is that we lost a few years at the end of Weaver's tenure where we should have been making moves and didn't have the leadership bandwidth to do it because of his medical condition. I don't envy anyone who was in a decision-making role watching that develop, and I sure as heck don't begrudge JW personally wanting to do the job until he couldn't do it anymore, but I don't have to look any further than the snooze button we hit on the MBB program for two years because of indecision on late-term Seth. Early-term JW never would have done that, and I think the results of decisions like that across the board were piled up on Whit's desk on his day 1.

It doesn't even help if you've been good. Even Alabama has trouble getting recent alumni to donate, because fewer of them have attended games as students. It's an overall college football problem with a laundry list of root causes to pick from -- TV is great now, live sports tickets across the board are too expensive for families to develop a live game attendance habit in kids before they come to college and have been for a decade and a half, student body demographic shift away from "we're here for the sports" types, cell phone coverage issues ("if the kids can't Instasnappytokbook they won't come!") -- but it's real, and it's left most schools highly dependent on legacy donors and big whales.

Which VT doesn't have as many of.

In a broad sense you are right and it's brutal- worry about your debt first. Specifically though growing up around the wealth of northern VA a good chunk people I knew said their parents will be paying for their tuition, meal plans, etc. I only contribute because I'm blessed to not have a ton of loans hanging over me.

Hokie Club member since 2017

This was so well written. Nice work Brian

Thanks for your time Brian. I agree with you mostly but I have to fix one thing.

He either wins, or takes the next bus private jet out of town

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

Just out of curiosity.....I agree he was getting more money, support, facilities, etc.

To say lower expectations seems to be a stretch. He would of been going to an 11-3 team who finished 8-1 in conference and coming off a sugar bowl appearance. It wasn't pretty but lets assume the rumors of Rhule leaving were already out there. He would of been going to Texas the land of big donor money sticking their nose in to his office and the business of the program. He can barely handle the Tech beat writers questions let alone the guy who is financially invested allowing you to use their Private Jet for recruiting.

I don't agree everything Brian wrote. Specifically I think there are more stakeholders than he noted.

He doesn't owe an explanation to anyone other than his staff and his players.

Off the top of my head, these are the stakeholders of Virginia Tech football:

  1. Fans (Both alumni and otherwise)
  2. Administration
  3. Recruits and their families
  4. High school coaches
  5. Players and their families
  6. Virginia Tech Staff

Throughout the recruitment process, high school coaches are among the most influential parties on a recruit's decision. Perhaps this situation and lack of resolution left a bad taste in their mouth, which would negatively impact Tech down the road.

The Hokie Club is trying to grow its base. People might be turned off to support a coach that might bolt.

Fuente didn't owe anyone an apology. He would've done what any of us would've in the same situation: listen to an offer to improve his and his family's life. However, he makes a ton of money, and whether or not he wants to admit it, he is the face of Virginia Tech football. Frank understood that, Fuente does not. He needed to show up and answer some hard questions about a hard situation.

Whit remarked during his teleconference, "He's a little more private than most, but when you know the Justin that I know you know how much of a Hokie that he is, and how much he fits."

This is a problem. The fans, the folks Whit is asking for money, need to know this too. That's why I thought it was a missed opportunity for Fuente to talk to the fans (and really all stakeholders) through the media and connect. It was a very relatable situation, and he could've humanized himself a bit.

And frankly Whit was complicit for permitting Fuente to no-show. And again, I am coming at this from the perspective of, a missed opportunity to rally the fanbase and sprint toward September. All Fuente had to do was read a prepared / crafted statement, answer a couple of questions, and put it to bed. Not simply go coach football, but he's not just the dang head coach. Instead, it's almost a guarantee to come up at the next media opportunity.

Anyways Brian, I thought you did a great job noting this was a time for everyone, not only Fuente, to reflect.

So, what you're saying is...Brian's OP...is NOT the official TKP position? /S

If you play it, they will win.

"How the ass pocket will be used, I do not know. Alls I know is, the ass pocket will be used." -The BoD

Great Read Joe and I agree with pretty much everything you said. The problem with Fu was he came behind probably one of the nicest head coaches that you will ever meet in any sport. Just very down to earth and at the end of the day, we knew Franks limitations and accepted it (for the most part). Beamer belonged to us, he helped build VT into a national brand so you mess with Frank, you mess with us. I know that seems kinda "hokey" (see what i did there) but thats how a lot of the older fans feel.

In this day and age of the James Franklins and a Dabo Swinney, you can't be "just a head coach" you have to have somewhat of a personality when it comes to engaging with the fans through the media (press conferences)

The Hokie Club is trying to grow its base. People might be turned off to support a coach that might bolt.

After what just happened with Fu, Whit needs to send a message to support the overall football program. Hokie Football will be here after Fu is gone so it's important to get the message out to them to support the overall program. While Beamer/Foster was Hokie Football and Hokie Football was Beamer/Foster, we live in a different age now and you won't see a run in college football like Beamer had, unless theres a football counterpart to Mike Young out there somewhere. When Fu came back, this was my reaction.

At this point, there is no connection to Fu, youre just a football coach. Go get it done.

I am coming at this from the perspective of, a missed opportunity to rally the fanbase and sprint toward September. All Fuente had to do was read a prepared / crafted statement, answer a couple of questions, and put it to bed. Not simply go coach football, but he's not just the dang head coach. Instead, it's almost a guarantee to come up at the next media opportunity.

This was a great opportunity to introduce the new coaches he just hired. Let the fan base meet them if they don't know who they are. It didn't have to take that long, 5-10 minutes and piece for introductions and then a couple questions. I don't understand how this isn't a thought process to get fan engagement and for this to feel home.

Family usually introduce who they bringing home with them, at least in my house they do.

Look back on the posts a few months ago... we were justifying Whit paying a $12-15M buyout to fire our coach! We ended up one scoring play from playing for an ACC championship.

I feel like we are acting like the dude who cheats on his girlfriend and then gets pissed when she has coffee with another guy! Am I the only one who sees a double standard over the last 6 months?

However you feel about our current coach, this is a bigger deal with a longer time horizon.

If a vision for the future of the football program (and the associated building programs) are not built and articulated and FUNDED we will be reduced to a interim destination for mid-level coaches!

The cold hard truth: The Beamer era has ended. We need new goals and new vision to attract recruits, fans and $$$. What do we want folks? We certainly can't have our cake and eat it too!

But can we have our cake and eat our pie and drink our milkshakes?

This.

We went from demanding that Fuente fire his OC and debating on this site whether we should chip in to pay his buyout to get rid of him to being mad because he listened to what Baylor had to say.

We are Jack's crazy-ass girlfriend.

I think most are mad not that he listened to what Baylor had to say, but that they didn't offer and he didn't take it, thus freeing us from the horrendous buyout.

I also think that a lot of people believe that Fuente had interest in Baylor, but when it became apparent that he wasn't going to get the job, he withdrew and spun this whole think to be about resources, making VT look bad in the process.

How do we know they didn't offer? I thought that was speculation based on some people's opinion that Fuente isn't a good coach.

That's just it. Some people are very unhappy about the rumors they heard.

There were some basic facts, and lots of rumors and opinion articles designed to paint Fuente in the worst light, with no basis whatsoever from what I could tell.

And a lot of people are jumping to the conclusion that he simply turned an offer down because he wanted to wake up the VT admin and fan base to the facilities issues. And we don't have anything to verify that, because he didn't elect to speak to the media. You would think if the facilities issue is that important to you that you're willing to prove your point like this, you would use it as a rallying cry to galvanize the fan base.

Who is jumping to that conclusion?

I'm not sure anyone can assume motivations, one way or the other.

Who did Fuente throw under the bus?

Fuente complaining about how the athletic administration is allocating resources should absolutely not happen publicly. Just because fans want him to explain himself doesn't mean it's the right thing to do.

You're ignoring the timing of everything, which is a key reason we needed/wanted Fuente to stay. VT in mid-December was in a much better position to make a hire than VT in mid-January.

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The reason we needed him to stay was that he needs to finish the process he already started.

And if the public tears were all about the timing, they could have been dried within hours of him deciding to stay, instead of becoming another rationale for disliking him.

All I'm saying is that some people already made up their minds about Fuente, and now they see every event through that lens. They whine about it nonstop. That's not helpful.

In my opinion, it's an unjustified and unrealistic lens. VT has managed with less money than other programs mostly due to continuity and patience, while Beamer figured out some end-arounds. He was able to elevate the program via special teams and field position. We're not going to be able to repeat that with the patience of Tennessee or Nebraska. We need to give Fuente the time he needs to get us back on track, and short-changing the process will only hurt us. It will cost money, and frankly, we're not likely to get lucky with a proven, top 5 coach.

In other words, Simmah Down.

This guy gets it.

Great article. It is situations and articles like this that help put the landscape of college football into perspective for us Hokie fans. I'll share a story with the board about the first time I realized how far removed we were from big time college football.

Years ago, I dropped by a friends house who is an Auburn alum. I was trying to get him to go to the bar and hang out - but unfortunately he could not. The reason he was unable to do so was he spent this month's "Fun" money on a donation to Auburn athletics so they could buy out Gene Chizik's contract and get a new coach (2 years after the national championship). I was blown away that he, a 20something, blew several hundred dollars on a donation so they can payout a multimillionaire who almost lost to Utah State. This is how big time college football fans think and more importantly act.

This is the reason that some teams are so fanatical - they are quite literally invested in the success of the program demand a return on their investment. They are invested in the success of Auburn football and they demand whoever is in place (coach / AD) do their job or they will find someone who will. It's a business.

We have been so spoiled in our thinking and insulated from the real world of college football by the grace of Frank Beamer and Bud Foster.

It's time for us as a fanbase to look ourselves in the mirror and decide who we want to be - big time players or the little guy.

Ok, I will donate money right now toward Fu's buyout. Who is in? The problem at VT is I don't think the administration is that serious about being competitive at the highest level. It's why we tolerate poor results way longer than we should and make reactive instead of proactive decisions. If VT donors ponied up for a buyout, they would probably give him an extension after an 8-4 season. That's the reality of VT football.

You should donate regardless

Already do and have been for a while.

I was enjoying this and with you, until the end. If "Do more with less" is the default requirement for success that is the stated stance of VT football, good luck attracting another successful coach if he leaves. You laid out tons of reasons and challenges, then seemingly said ignore all that and just win regardless. Unfortunately that's not how it works. And for a program that's strapped for resources no buyout is forthcoming. I have every reason to think 2020 will be a good team but beyond that, there needs to be some $$$ and JF can't do everything.

Great article, Brian. I would like to interject that I continue to donate, and I believe our assistants are probably under paid . Our coach, on the other hand, is making a fair salary, and now he needs to earn it. If he can have a good year, and we don't struggle against division 2 teams, then we can have the discussion about adding more facilities. But show me what you are doing to make the money, Fuente, and then we can talk. Otherwise, it may be a great time to cut our losses and reset.

But you're going to need the facilities regardless of who is coach. Where's the logic there?

This is a good article, and well-thought-out position.

It's the off-season, so it's a good time for reflection and to get some perspective.

The one thing I'd question is whether the fan base is as bothered as we make it out to be. Most of the fan base, including many of the donors, probably don't even know Fuente met with Baylor. Amazingly, it's January and people are concerned with things other than college football.

We should concentrate on what we can do to make our team better, and for fans, it's donating $$$ to the program and buying VT jerseys and hats. It's staying connected to the community and the program. It's supporting the staff we've managed to attract to our program.

Complaining about the coach/staff/administration/school isn't really the best way to be a fan. It just makes you unhappy about the things you can't control. It's not the critic who counts.

Great read and perspective, many of us give our opinions while wearing orange and maroon glasses...but objectively Fuente would be doing himself and his family a disservice if he didn't research the option.

Baylor had resources and money to give him that VT couldn't and he still stayed in the 'Burg, even after exploring the idea of going. As much as parts of the fan base wanted to pile on him just for interviewing and thinking about it, it says a lot to me that he decided to stay in spite of everything being said...even by renowned VT players like Vick clamoring for Shane to take over. Personally if Fuente had said "fuck it" and left for greener pastures, I wouldn't have blamed him considering that many people would and should do the same thing if they were in his position from a career perspective.

However, after everything that has transpired with VT Football the last 24 months or so, it's time for Fuente to deliver. We are a fan base very much in need of some substantial success and hopefully 2020 is the year we finally get that.

Thanks for the write up

Hokies, Local Soccer, AFC Ajax, Ravens

Since Fuente took VT to a national championship last year and the team still dresses in 1968 lockers, and our assistants are paid in the bottom 3rd, the comparison to Beamer is right on. Good job.

At least you're consistent

*Well thought out and written post defending it's points with past precedent.

dcwilson40 :

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Totally agree on the donation website. I poked around for a few minutes but got confused. What fund is the best for me to donate to?

The Hokie Scholarship Fund

Great write up. I said last week that after letting this thing cool off we would be able to summarize the entire 24 hour meltdown in one sentence:

Fuente listened to a pitch from Baylor (or interviewed with Baylor if you prefer) and chose to bet on himself at VT instead.

Is that really so bad? What I am hearing is that Fuente did irreparable harm to the program in a critical time of program development. The solution from that crowd is to discard Fuente and start over during that same critical time of program development? That doesn't make sense to me.

It is over and done. Last week will either mark the beginning of the end of the Fuente era if we hit a wall on progress or it will be a blip on the VT football history much like Beamer's flirtation was. I am ready to start looking forward to 2020 with optimism and will not be premeditating the exact number of wins it will take for Fuente to keep his job. I prefer to hope that he bet on himself for a reason, and we have great days ahead of us.

"You don't stare into a rearview mirror"

Fuente listened to a pitch from Baylor (or interviewed with Baylor if you prefer) and chose to bet on himself at VT instead.

I think there's a couple things you're not considering:

  • It doesn't appear that Fuente 'chose to bet on himself and VT' - It felt that way with FSU, where it was leaked and immediately shot down. This time, it feels like he tried to make a move, and wasn't successful. The fact that it was to a school that has historically been perceived as 'lesser than' VT makes it look like he's not confident in VT.
  • The fact that he did RIGHT after ESD definitely has the potential to ruffle the feathers of high school coaches, many of whom he just started building/improving relationships with. This will be used to recruit against us, and it will cost us a couple of kids.

Twitter me

I don't doubt that schools will try to use it against us in recruiting. It is Justin's job to spin it back to the positive. There are a lot of coaches out there that could be out the door with the right offer. Many schools will have a different coach by the time 2021 recruits graduate.

"You don't stare into a rearview mirror"

It is Justin's job to spin it back to the positive.

I'm Fuente supporter, but come on, even I can admit that PR/spin is not Justin's forte.

Twitter me

Extremely well written and well said. A man owes his family and himself first, and should always look to better their situation.

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:
“I served in the United States Navy"

KCCO

For the most part, opinions regarding motive are just speculation filling the vacuum.

It seems like every time I go on TKP, it is just yet another post of someone trying to guilt trip everyone into donating. Its pretty tiring. I can look myself in the mirror just fine. I root for the Hokies with as much passion as any single one of you. Some people seem to have the idea you aren't a TRUE Hokie fan unless you donate. So from one person who doesn't want to hear it.....and this doesnt apply to everyone...for those of you bitching about fans not donating....layoff. Donate more yourself if that's what you want. You dont know everyones situation. And go ahead and think I'm a jerk....but I'm actually not. I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling this way. I'm here to support VT in whatever way I see fit.

VHokie

That is completely true. You are allowed to do whatever you want with your own money. However, people not donating has a ripple effect that will change the way the program performs. You have to be ok with that reality if you don't donate.

It's a lot like voting. You can vote however you like or not at all, but you can't really complain that your preference didn't get elected if you didn't vote.

Get Angry, Bud!

And I owe him nothing as well. It's only a game.

Brian, while I don't disagree with you that it's unfair to say that only HC donors can "truly" criticize the athletic department and the coaches, I do think there's a level of "put up or shut up" that gets under the skin of some donors when non-donors start calling for blood. If people don't like the way things are going and want the team to compete with the blue bloods of the world, dig out your frickin wallets and throw some money at the VTAF.

All that said, the Hokie Club website is a catastrophe. Why is it that in 2020, the HC is unable to tell me both my Priority Points and Priority Ranking when queried? I have to wait all year long until one day before seat assignments when they finally push the mysterious "calculate" button to pop out everyone's ranking? The HC is pretty damned efficient at charging my CC when I make a donation or purchase season tickets, how is it not possible for them to write a script/code/whatever that calculates cumulative giving and priority points and ranks it against my fellow HC members whenever that information is requested?

There's a lot of good ideas out there on how to raise some serious cash using small donations, but why not reward people for those small donations? Why not send out a text message asking for donations, and if you donate more than $10, you're entered into a drawing for a pair of football tickets in sections 7/13 for the next game, $25+ a pair of tickets for section 9/11, $50+ a pair of club tickets? Based on the last 4 years and 25 home games I've been too there are plenty of frickin seats available! Keep a pair of seats in "The Paint" in Cassell and do the same thing during basketball season. If the HC sends out 10 requests for money in the course of the year and you respond to all 10 and donate a minimum of $10 each time, you get entered into a chance to win a pair of season tickets in Sect. 9 or 11, no extra donation required. It's just like the lottery, but for something people love.

As a member of the millennial generation (even though this is not just an issue with my generation), there are plenty of other activities that I partake in that vie for the money that actually makes it into my bank account every other week. If there was some sort of incentive that would make us pause and convince us to donate MORE besides the argument of "in order to compete with the big boys we need more money", I guarantee there would be more donations from the younger crowd.

Didn't mean to rant, been driving for 5 hours and this has been rattling around in my brain since I read the article right before I left.

As a longtime Golden level Hokie, I get the most pissed when people on Twitter and this site tell me that "VT doesn't need fans like you" if I criticize the team for getting their ass whipped by Duke at home... umm nope, VT actually does need fans like me, and many more of them. Bottom line. It helps VT much more if you donate, vs. if you defend Justin Fuente to the death and paint rosy pictures after uva beats us for the first time in 15 years.

You catch unwarranted heat around here for sure, but you have to realize expecting the UVA streak to continue after already going 15 straight is preposterous right?

"You don't stare into a rearview mirror"

VT wins 15 in a row, then finally loses one to loluva in a year they make it to the ACC Champ game, but yet Baylor from 10 years ago reflects the current status of their program...just sayin.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

Baylor was 1-11 3 years ago. VT has more wins than Baylor the last 10 years. Is there a point you are trying to make? Baylor was good last year? Awesome.

2019 was certainly winnable.. we couldn't close late in the road against their best team in years. Entitled? No but easily could have won

All that was needed in the last two games was a stop against a running QB. Don't let them get a TD. And it didn't happen either time.

You know, you can have actions that help the program (your cash donations) and simultaneously have actions that cast the program poorly (rude, trolly behavior on social media). It's not mutually exclusive.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Jet Sweep

A couple other people have shared similar sentiments, but it's not the idea that Fuente owes us anything that is driving people's frustration. It's just that Fuente and the administration are shooting themselves in the foot by not issuing some sort of statement from the head man. It's yet another example that Fuente doesn't understand how important fan engagement is. He wants all this additional money, but guess what dude, you get that by excitement fans and making them feel like they're actually making a difference when donating. I can guarantee you that 80%+ of the fan base has no idea how far behind we are other programs when it comes to levels of donations, and that falls squarely on the AD for not expressing that. One simple email from Fu stating that he was here to stay and that every fan's contributions to the program is extremely important TK our future success would have taken about 90 seconds to write. Personally, these are the kinds of things that I don't think Fu will understand, and that's what irks me.

I really get that. While I personally don't think the situation was that big of a deal, it's clear that a lot of people did. Fan engagement seems like it's kind of an obvious thing, especially in the biggest revenue sport at Tech.

I guess what surprises me is, okay, maybe Fuente doesn't get that because he's a reserved guy, but I'm surprised Whit doesn't get it. I know Whit made a statement to some media people, but I'm surprised Whit didn't have Fuente write something, or have someone on staff work with Fuente to write something.

Fan engagement and satisfaction seems like it would be a direct barometer on willingness to donate money, and from that perspective, I'd think monitoring fan reactions and stands on issues would be something Whit should very much care about.

Exactly. The fact that it appears to be falling on deaf ears for multiple people in the admin and the football program is what is most troublesome. There are tons of people on Twitter and message boards clamoring for something, anything from Fuente, but we haven't seen anything yet

This is a fantastic article Brian. Great job. I was talking to a friend of mine, who was a high school football coach for his career and he posed an interesting perspective. One that I had not thought of but now is seems like a possibility. What if, it was Baylor that turned down Fuente's offer. I know they have a lot of money but you must remember negotiations are a two way street because they got back on that plane and hired a new coach shortly there after.

I doubt it. Baylor went to Blacksburg - you don't do that if most of the interest is on Fuente's side, you make him go to Texas.