After a Crushing Loss to Liberty, Justin Fuente's Reached His 'What Now?' Moment at Virginia Tech

A crushing loss to Liberty leaves Fuente wondering what comes next.

[Mark Umansky]

After a bizarre, last-second, downright unbelievable loss to Liberty, Justin Fuente believes he's arrived at his "What now?" moment.

In his press conference Monday, Fuente described it as the moment that arrives for anyone who's endured a tragedy or some other trauma once they've gone through the traditional "scream at the moon" phase of things. You ask yourself, "what are you going to do now?" Fuente said.

That's a question that feels relevant for Fuente and his Hokies for the rest of this highly unusual season, but it's about more than just 2020. As calls for Fuente's job grow louder than perhaps they've ever been in his tenure in Blacksburg, fans will be watching the head Hokie's response to this latest disheartening loss with an eye toward the future as well.

"You have to ask yourself, 'what kind of person are you?'" Fuente said. "When things go bad, are you the type that crawls under a rock and hides? Or are you the type that stands up and says, 'Let's go fix this.'"

Fuente is very much hoping to be the latter rather than the former. He concedes that the Hokies are a "very inconsistent football team" right now, but he hopes not to let such a backbreaking loss change the way he approaches preparing for Miami. With the game decided in such a chaotic, surprising fashion, Fuente suspects fans could just as easily be elated about a thrilling win over a ranked team instead of despondent.

"The result shouldn't change the teaching," Fuente said. "If we block the field goal and run it back for a touchdown, then, sure, people feel better, but there's still a lot to be corrected...I don't like that the game fell the way it did, but it's up to us to continue to strive for improvement and that's exactly what we're doing."

All of that being said, Fuente will allow that this loss hurt more than most. He said he made a point of apologizing to the team after the game, and admitted that he's had some trouble moving past the game even after it was over.

"I went home after the game and looked at the app on my phone to see how much sunlight we had left," Fuente said. "So I went outside and grabbed the girls and said, 'There's no complaining,' we threw the football around and the wiffle ball around while the sun was out, and that made me feel better for 42 minutes...but when you lie down to go to sleep at night and it's still racing through your mind, there's no one to turn to there."

About that timeout

Part of the reason Fuente is taking this loss so hard (and winning so much vitriol from fans in the process) is because it can be attributed to directly to a single one of his decisions: that fateful timeout just before Liberty attempted a 59-yard field goal.

Without that timeout, CB Jermaine Waller wins the game for Virginia Tech with his runback of a blocked field goal. With it, Malik Willis gets the chance to convert a fourth down and set up a game-winning 51-yard kick.

What makes it especially frustrating for Fuente is that he hoped to avoid anything like that from ever happening, simply by calling the timeout well before the ball was snapped.

"I don't regret taking a timeout there," Fuente said. "The biggest thing that chaps my hide is I believe in taking a timeout there and I believe in taking it before they snap the ball...There's nothing wrong with that in that situation as all, but what I go into every game saying is 'I'm not the guy who takes a timeout as the ball gets snapped,' but that happened."

Fuente said he'd try to do so well in advance, but the referee didn't hear him until he "jumped in front of him, screamed bloody murder, something like that." By then, it was too late.

"It's not his fault, it's my fault," Fuente said. "What bothers me the most is I have a set way to handle all of this, which is to take the timeout earlier so I can get everything adjusted. And that's not what happened."

Waller made it all the way down the field after the block, only to discover that the score didn't count. And that made things "pandemonium" on the next play immediately afterward, Fuente said.

He said the Hokies had offensive players still on the field, as some were part of the field goal block unit. Plus, Waller himself suddenly needed to get back on defense even though he "can't hardly breathe" after running 60 yards, Fuente added.

"It was just a perfect storm of a really difficult situation there," Fuente said. "Still, our guys handled it really well...We've practiced eight seconds to go in the game with a tied ball game and the ball on the 45. We've never practiced it before with a blocked field goal called back for a timeout."

Teaching tackling

The Hokies had all sorts of problems against Liberty, but one of them was more basic than most: tackling.

Allowing 274 yards on the ground, including 128 yards to Willis all on his own, hints at many issues for the defense to address, but there is something especially frustrating about seeing defenders struggle to bring players to the ground.

"When we did fit up the run and get it to the unblocked hat, we just didn't tackle very well," Fuente said. "We just need to be in a little bit better position...The more space there is, the more difficult it is to get a skill position player down."

But fixing such an elemental part of the defense can be a challenge as the season runs down. As Fuente noted, it doesn't make much sense to run too many full contact tackling drills now that players are banged up with injuries (and many defenders missed the chance to do so during this Covid-altered fall camp).

"I can't go out there and go tackle anybody tomorrow," Fuente said. "It's just not what you do in the middle of the season. But we're doing our best to teach it."

The Hokies better be able to make adjustments quickly, considering that Miami comes to town Saturday. QB D'Eriq King has proven to be one of the most dynamic players in the country thus far, amassing more than 400 rushing yards alone, and he will surely present similar matchup problems as Willis did.

"This guy is explosive and can really throw the football," Fuente said. "To say it's a daunting task is an understatement."

Comments

Good writeup.

Let's hope the Hokies have a better showing next week.

Frustrating as I've ever seen.....have the fortunate circumstances to be at a beer festival when we played ODU a few games ago.

But I'll be cheering for them on Saturday as Miami comes to town.

If you don't want to recruit clowns, don't run a clown show.

"I want to punch people from UVA right in the neck." - Colin Cowherd

I really like Fuente. He seems like a great guy, great husband and father, and a really good small town man. I wish him nothing but the absolute best. I feel for him having to carry the weight of a loss like this, and as someone who leads a decent sized organization I can understand the sometimes crushing weight of defeat/failure.

With all that being said, he couldn't be more wrong about this:

With the game decided in such a chaotic, surprising fashion, Fuente suspects fans could just as easily be elated about a thrilling win over a ranked team instead of despondent.

I think the Liberty fiasco is a symptom not a problem. Certainly the fanbase would have been happy with a win there at the end. But the fact that it came down to that lets us know that another WTF game was in the cards for VT again this season. Most fans are waking up to the harsh reality of who we now are as a program - a mid tier ACC Coastal Division team. Ouch.

Fuente has not recruited particularly well. The couple of good classes he's had have not panned out in quite the way they should have (maybe his fault, maybe not). Outside of the 2016 team, his teams are bullied around the field with regularity, no matter who VT plays. And more often than not, there's a key part of the team that seems woefully unprepared to take the field on any given Saturday.

The only time I felt really good about the program in the last 3 years was, as I look back, when Jerry Kill was part of the program. I have no idea what he brought, how he brought it, and what it meant for everyone. But those few weeks the VT football team looked like the team might be growing into something special. Not now. Not after Wake... Not after Liberty...

I know we are all dealing with COVID and that has really put some stress on this program. But honestly, we looked a whole lot better when we were dealing with COVID than we have since. I don't know what the answers are because I'm not a big time donor. But I do not think Fuente is the guy. I'll support him because he a great representative of the institution and a fine man. But I'm certainly looking forward to our next Head Whistle in Blacksburg.

Is coronavirus over yet?

There's also no reason to schedule Liberty.... no gain for wins, all embarrassment for losses. I don't care that Liberty was ranked. VT should not be losing to Liberty.

Bleeding burnt orange and chicago maroon

I would love to see what the economic impact is for scheduling the Liberty games.

Having a prominent football team is critical for their "brand" for a lack of a better word. They want to become the evangelical Notre Dame. I would suspect they're paying us a pretty penny to schedule those games because we really don't have a reason to play them outside of having a "road" game that's very accessible to Blacksburg.

We paid them $350k for this I believe.

I have no idea why my username is VT_Warthog.

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

Yes, we paid for that ass whipping.

Yikes.

With the game decided in such a chaotic, surprising fashion, Fuente suspects fans could just as easily be elated about a thrilling win over a ranked team instead of despondent.

Wrong. Liberty will always be Liberty to me until they win a power 5 conference or meaningful bowl game.

I don't care that Liberty was ranked. VT should not be losing to Liberty.

Bingo. Rankings mean jack this year IMO.

Warning- Filter lost.

"Look at this... This is just spectacular.... These people are losing their minds"

Liberty will always be Liberty to me until they win a power 5 conference or meaningful bowl game.

Liberty could win the Sugar Bowl and I still wouldn't give them any respect. In my eyes, this is tied with the worst loss in program history with JMU.

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

I have to assume that you stopped reading right there, because your line about the Liberty fiasco being a symptom and not a problem is similar to what Fuente added afterwards. The very next paragraph starts with this:

"The result shouldn't change the teaching," Fuente said. "If we block the field goal and run it back for a touchdown, then, sure, people feel better, but there's still a lot to be corrected."

He's not saying the blocked kick would have made everything better. What he's saying is, the tone around the program would be very different if it had. We'd be saying "whew, really dodged a bullet there, let's get better so it doesn't come that close again", and instead we're calling for his head.

I agree that Whit should seriously consider moving on from Fuente after this season because it is becoming fairly obvious that he is not getting the job done, but that quote that you pointed out is not part of the reason why.

He's not saying the blocked kick would have made everything better. What he's saying is, the tone around the program would be very different if it had. We'd be saying "whew, really dodged a bullet there, let's get better so it doesn't come that close again", and instead we're calling for his head.

Disagree. If you go back and look at the game thread (which I don't recommend), you'll see that we were calling for his head when it was 14-3. Trailing 14-3 against Liberty is inexcusable. Just like trailing 14-3 at halftime vs Furman last year was inexcusable. But that's who we are now, and it's undeniable that's who we will always be with Fuente running this program.

I read the whole thing.

Maybe the tone within the program might have been better (although his sentiment is that the morale is good), but I read this as him thinking the broader fanbase would have been excited - to which I disagree.

Is coronavirus over yet?

Your points have been particularly astute in the last few days.

O/U 400 yards of offense for King this Saturday?

are you trying to see how many Overs you can get before someone points out how oddly low that amount is?

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

He's only gone over 400 once this year and that was this weekend against NCST

In the first half?

This is the game the defense will play lights out.

We will all be watching wondering how it is possible for such to happen!

It's just how Hokie football is right now.

"Take care of the little things and the big things will come."

Is that just on the ground?

Honestly, count me as one of those people who hit their last straw last week. Fuente's "what now" is he's a lame duck coach. It's more a matter of when than if at this point.

Today I am getting my frustration out, but any day now may be the last day you see me here for a while. Which is sad for so many reasons. I feel bad for players like Hooker who are balling it out only for their efforts to be wasted.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Jet Sweep

I feel bad for players like Hooker who are balling it out only for their efforts to be wasted.

For real. Without Hooker absolutely throwing down this past week, we lose that game by 20+. And I feel terrible for KMFH. He has one season at Tech and this is how it goes. He's such an elite talent. I feel awful for him that he came up with that hammy this week. I really hope he gets well enough not only to help us maybe win a another game or two, but to help his draft case.

Warning- Filter lost.

"Look at this... This is just spectacular.... These people are losing their minds"

At this point I'm just pretty much numb to it. I spent the last 9 years consistently getting my hopes up only to be let down by many heartbreaking and embarrassing loses. I think I've known for a while now that we are essentially an average coastal division team at this point and it seems a lot of others are starting to realize that too. It's sad and disappointing after all of the success we had before said 9 years, but it's the truth.

Same here. We're back to being a borderline bowl team. The same as we were 30 years ago when I was in Blacksburgh. A few years ago I'd be moody the rest of Saturday. Two days ago it was more "oh well". I mean, when you've lost to JMU and ODU and barely beat Rhode Island and other weak schools in the past decade then the outcome isn't so surprising.

What will be really frustrating is when he pulls the upset this weekend and whit gives him another ridiculous extension because 2020

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

KCCO

He's going to have to do more than upset Miami to get an extension, but that would certainly make this season more bearable.

Not really, Whit is not exactly known for his savvy decision making

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

KCCO

Not sure I agree with you there. He's made some excellent hires.

He has made some good hires but he hasn't given our football program to tools & money to really compete. Look at the Fuente- Baylor deal. I believe Fuente used it as a way to get Whit's attention on what we need to truly compete (some facility work has begun but the big outage is the staff, specifically recruiting and the budget for that.) We're at the bottom of the ACC.
I'd move on from Whit before Coach Fu, spend the buy out money we're supposedly trying to get for Fu and instead spend it on a real offensive and defensive coordinators who know what it takes to be really competitive.
I like JHam but he wasn't ready for this. He's better suited as a defensive back coach right now.

HokieKirb

I think you're on to something.

I'd keep Whit, but it seems to me we focus our finances on football and basketball.

Sorry, other sports.

If we can come up with $10 million, give it to Fuente for assistant coaches and recruiting.

That is the answer...about 5 years too late. I hope we do not expect the next guy to do better on the same budget. But, Fuente is now a lame duck and I don't see anyway to recruit to that. We are in a bad spot.

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

Unless he makes some changes and starts winning these kinds of games.

I think he can get past this if he fixes the defense and snags an unexpected win. I know it's a tall order.

If he replaces Cornelson and beefs up recruiting efforts with positive results he buys himself a little bit more leeway. But if we can't get recruits with him and this staff as it is now we won't improve from our current reality.

I seriously doubt he's going to replace Cornelson and if he had the ability to beef up recruiting efforts I think he would have done that by now. Therefore, I think it's highly unlikely that he digs out of this hole. He's a lame duck. And that loss to liberty was the last straw for lots of fans. Even if he wins next week against Miami I don't see a path to success without major changes.

It's always darkest before the dawn ~ Thomas Fuller

So, 7 games into the season, the new defensive staff needs to go? That is short leash. Their first recruits haven't even hardly learned the playbook. Seems to follow the 'what have you done for me in the last 10 minutes mentality of the world today.

Go Hokies!!

I said fix the defense, not fire JHam. JHam isn't getting fired after a half a season.

I'm actually arguing AGAINST throwing out all the current staff. Give Fuente $5 of the $10 million some are proposing to pay in order to get rid of him. I'm sure the current coaches can figure out how to use some more staff.

We're at the point where throwing more money at Fuente isn't going to help the situation.

I have no idea why my username is VT_Warthog.

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

Give Fuente $5 of the $10 million some are proposing to pay in order to get rid of him

What are you actually saying here? That VT should write a blank check to Fuente for 5mil???

Because just throwing money at problems is a proven strategy to fix them, right?

Or is it because Fuente has built such a clear vision and identity with this Program and earned so much trust that he deserves it...?

I'm going to break it down for you here.

Fuente can't Recruit because he has the personality of a piece of drywall. Things went okay early because he was a hot commodity when VT hired him and had an exciting offense and reasonable expectations that he was building something here.

Now that it's obvious that he's not building anything, we are left with.....drywall.

Throwing $5mil at the problem is literally akin to setting it on fire. Its the exact opposite of a logical idea.

Thank you for bringing some logic to the table here. If we had paid Odom with far less than the 10 million buyout we would be 6-1 possibly 7-0. Many people seem to think this current program is unsalvageable to which I say they clearly don't understand college football.

If we had paid Odom with far less than the 10 million buyout we would be 6-1 possibly 7-0.

lolwut. We didn't do that and that is a wild stretch of speculation. Would we have a top 10 recruiting class to?

(add if applicable) /s

Yeah bro winning two one possession games because of a better scheme is just as far fetched as that. Sure dude.

you may not be privvy to this since you're not a TKPC member but French's review pretty clearly lays it out that the scheme wasn't the issue. The scheme was putting players in the perfect positions to make plays and they just flat out didn't make those plays. The scheme isn't the issue. Recruiting is the issue. Odom might be a better recruiter than Jham (we don't know that, though) but I think it's highly unlikely that our players would be performing significantly better in a different scheme. It's not about the Xs and Os it's about the Jimmys and Joes. Right now, we just don't have them.

It's always darkest before the dawn ~ Thomas Fuller

What has shifted TKPs opinion on Whit? Obviously, the Fuente hire is not working out, but most of his other hires have been great. Is there something else with him that is rubbing people the wrong way?

Rock, Flag, and Eagle!

I still think Whit is a great AD. For the most part, he has made great hires and overall revenue has increased (perhaps not necessarily a direct result of his actions) under him. I do think he could improve fundraising (I have never been individually approached since I graduated and think if they simply asked, we would see a noticeable improvement).

I think what you're seeing is that a lot of people on this board care mostly about football and since that hire hasn't been working out lately, they think Whit did a poor job.

I have seen a diversification of marketing attempts over the last couple years. They may not be reaching everyone individually, and it might not be cost effective to do so, but they are definitely improving a bit on that front.

Interesting. I don't know if VT as a university shares contact info with the AD, but I've always felt that the AD had all the information they needed to send a direct donation request to me. They could at least email me (I do get Hokiesports emails).

Personally, I am much more inclined to donate if they flat out ask me directly. That way, I'm more confident that whatever miniscule amount I give makes a difference since I can be more sure that others are targeted and also donate.

Others here have said it before, VT may not have any big time donors, but we probably do have a lot of people willing to donate $100-$1000.

Fresh reminder of the buyout

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

I've kept my mouth closed since the loss for a reason. But come on, we are lucky to have Whit. Wow.

You can scream fire Fuente all you want, and I get that, but this is embarrassing.

"What are you going to do, stab me? - Quote from Man Stabbed

I have never met or interacted with Whit but I have rich, alumni, former athlete friends who literally had checks in hand at a bowl game and he could not give them the time of day so their money when went elsewhere. I have heard other rumors of his smug attitude and seen what he does with the football team which is literally the most important college sport by a country mile. Yeah I was excited when I heard he might be moving to ACC commish, a fresh start would be nice.

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

KCCO

That's hard to believe for me. Bowl games are also extremely busy for the athletic department with all of the sponsorship and conference events.

Whit is in Lot 1 at least every game making rounds through tailgates. He has been with Kevin Jones a lot. He's come through Richmond to personally give people gifts/plaques for multi year pledges that are not insignificant but also not of the size that would provide a cornerstone for a large project. He's very approachable at the baseball games I've seen him at as well.

I've had the same experience with him. I'm pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of donors and he made me feel like I was donor #1.

Side note. Whit isn't a mind reader and is likely pretty dang busy at a bowl game. If someone wants to donate to the school they support why do they need someone to ass kiss them at a bowl game? Cut a check and the benefits will follow.

I think his money is better spent on that boat.

Being out on the Chesapeake > watching us embarrass ourselves on the Gridiron.

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

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

Romanes Eunt Domus

Whit has done a lot for the athletic program. Hiring Buzz, CMY, Wrestling, baseball, etc. Getting the Corellian Clinic as a sponsor, getting new facilities built, expanding Hokie Club, etc.

The Beamer/Fuente transition was handled gracefully, and the Fuente hire was the right hire based on the information available in 2015, and the extension was the right move based on the information available in 2017. I don't think anyone would have predicted the roller coaster we've been on since then.

Twitter me

I'm neutral at best on Whit. He did a fantastic job navigating pushing Frank out the door and transitioning to Fu. Whit gets too much credit for Buzz and CMY. Buzz's contract was up at Marquette and he was looking to move on. Buzz likes rebuilds and appears to have a pretty long term plan for his career. I think he came to us as much as we got him to come here. Buzz also ran the roost while he was here and basically did what he wanted (burned through his budgets and demanded more money). From all accounts we backed our way into CMY. He was not at the top of the list and after striking out multiple times we landed what I think will be the best hire since Bud.

This may not be popular with many people but I dont care about baseball. Keep the main thing the main thing. I'd rather have spent every dime we added to baseball on football.

Whit has failed at modernizing the Hokie club and bringing our giving into the 21st century. The website still sucks. Its confusing and cumbersome. He has not helped create a culture of giving from the alumni. As I've said before, the VT fan base expects a T Boone Pickens to come out of nowhere and shoulder the load. We've got to grow the small to medium donor base. ADs have much less control over coaching changes. Fundraising is Whit's main job and he gets a C- at best from me.

In 2014 (the fiscal year prior to Whit's hiring), VT Athletics brought in $73M, $16.33M from donations, and $1.84M in corporate sponsorships/advertising/licensing. In the 2018 fiscal year, those numbers were at $98.49M, $22.31M, and $2.2M, respectively. Source.

I recognize that these numbers aren't exponential growth, but as you say, we are a small to medium donor base.

Now, playing my own devil's advocate... Whit has grown the athletic dept 35% in 4 years. The ACC median in that time is up 42% (Starting at $74M in 2014, at $105.5M in 2018:

After seeing the chart above, I am definitely starting to change my opinion. I believe a C- is harsh, but I think a B- is far from unreasonable.

Twitter me

With the game decided in such a chaotic, surprising fashion, Fuente suspects fans could just as easily be elated about a thrilling win over a ranked team instead of despondent.

This guy just doesn't get it. The fact that he would've been pleased after squeezing out a last second win against Liberty perfectly illustrates his lack of expectations for his football program. I don't care if Liberty was ranked or not, he was brought in to elevate the Virginia Tech football program and he has done exactly the opposite. We're now expected to be "elated" when we miraculously block a kick to beat Liberty.

Wake up Coach. We shouldn't have even had our starters on the field in the 4th quarter against Liberty. I don't care about your idiotic timeout - it's irrelevant. I care that our football team has gotten so soft that you were even in a position to blow the Liberty game with a timeout.

He didn't say he would be pleased if he squeezed out a last second win. Obviously it would be better but there are still things that need to be worked on. Which he said.

I do agree that we shouldn't be in a place where this game is even competitive. I don't think he's happy about it either. I agree that we should be in a way better place and should have won by the spread even if they still put up some points.

But I dont' think that Fu is ok with where we are as a program either.

If you don't want to recruit clowns, don't run a clown show.

"I want to punch people from UVA right in the neck." - Colin Cowherd

#MakeTheMove

"Vick, dashing back . . . here he comes again . . . Electrifying . . . and have you ever seen anything like this?"

Stop saying this. In the end the team will be worse off if he is fired. Financially as well as the on field product will be subject to blowback. Are there better candidates. Maybe. But who other than Hugh Freeze is really going to seriously consider the idea to come to tech atm. There's just so much that's in the way of said Move. I do believe he can do better I also believe WE can do better but this climate is not going to be kind to techs hiring search. Sucks.

Regardless of what we think about Fu, Corn, JHamm, Whit, Sands or any of the other VT staff, the players are still 18-23(?) year olds putting on the VT uniform and still going out to represent this University. There's got to be nothing more deflating for them than seeing all of this play out on social media. At the end of the day, I'm still going to cheer my head off for these kids because they are Hokies. Hope you will too.

#SupportThePlayersToo

Yeah I just feel bad for the players. But the coaches get paid. I'm upset they're not delivering. If this were year 1, 2, or 3 I'd give them a chance. But we're still inconsistent and losing games we shouldn't in year 5. Recruiting is trending in the wrong direction which gives me very little confidence that things will improve. Get these coaches outta here.

It's always darkest before the dawn ~ Thomas Fuller

All I know is, last year after our embarrassing loss to Duke, we came out the next week with so much juice against Miami the next week. I just watched the condensed game, and after every big play, the entire team just got so hyped and offense / defense were playing complimentary football.

Against Liberty, we just looked disjointed and even lost on almost lost on most every play.

If we brought that same energy and juice we did in the 2019 Miami game, for every game, I really think we could've been a 9-10 win team with the talent we've got. It's a shame that in Year 5 of the Fuente era, there are STILL about 6 or 7 games every year where we just don't look like the guys are even enjoying playing football or having any fun. At the end of the day, that makes a huge difference in a football game.

If that decision happened in the corporate world, and it was your decision that cost your company profit and it's respect amongst peers of industry. What the fuck would happen to you??

foresthokie
US Navy Vet

If Fuente didn't have a contract with a buyout, I highly doubt he would have remained our head coach after the Duke debacle last year.

Unfortunately, we gave him a prohibitive buyout that pretty much guarantees him torpedoing our program into the absolute gutter until we can afford it, which is decreasingly likely given the pandemic. At the same time, maybe he grows a conscious and negotiates down his buyout so he can leave, because the longer he is here, the worse his resume is going to look. If we really are stuck with him for another couple years, he's going to absolutely torch whatever credibility he has left, and possibly drag everyone on staff down with him. It'll be telling if we see a bunch of assistants bail this offseason ahead of the storm.

King Alum of the House Hokie, the First of His Name, Khal of the Turkey Legs, The rightful Heir to the Big Board, the Unbanned, Breaker of Trolls and Father of Gritty

I hate how everyone keeps saying it just takes more money to recruit. Frank and his staff did well with a lot less. Now we build a beautiful practice facility, update the weight facility, add a new score board for hype and add coaches left and right, and still the result is getting worse. Recruiting and coaching is about leadership, credibility and trust when you sit in a family's living room.

It also takes talent to spot talent. How many 2 and 3 star recruits became studs at Tech under Frank and Bud? That was because they could motivate and get the most out of their players. Their players would run through the wall for them. I just do not see the leadership with this staff. More importantly I do not see it in the AD either. I would guess that is why they are bringing alum back into the staff to bring some magic, but it starts at the top. It starts with the coach.

I don't know what is going on in the locker room, and I hope for the players sake, it can change. They deserve the best because they wear the maroon and orange.

#GoHokies

Frank and staff lucked into an under-recruited region in the 757 and exploited a coaching inefficiency by revolutionizing special teams. They did what they had to do and were good at it. Let's not pretend that college football is anything like the game it was during Frank's heyday. Recruiting now and recruiting then are as different as cake and nails.

Get Angry, Bud!

Frank also has the third highest paid coaching staff in the late-90s.

We put the K in Kwality

This loss was weird for me. I wasn't mad at all. As the game wore on, I knew in my mind we were going to find a way to lose, as bad as that sounds. I literally sat emotionless after Liberty kicked the winning field goal, shrugged and then changed the channel. I've moved beyond being upset at the on-field product and have arrived at apathy I think. I don't plan on watching the Miami game this weekend. I honestly haven't even watched GameDay or any other games the last several weeks except VT. I just have slowly been caring less and less for a sport I used to obsess about and live for on fall Saturdays. VT football brings me nothing enjoyable or positive anymore. We have slowly become a shell of the program we once were, and we are rapidly approaching bottoming our as far as fan interest and brand.

I'm just going to get up this Saturday and get outside and find other things to do. I can't dedicate any more of my time to this product and staff in which I have lost all confidence. I'll check the score and chat here because this is a great community. But I've officially checked out at this point on actively and obsessively following our football program. Too many other things to do in life than spend time on something that gives you none of the enjoyment it once did.

Yep. Fall Saturdays = deer, turkey, and bear hunting. Fall Saturdays =/ football. I've never been happier regarding what I chose to focus on.

I've been spending my days in the woods as well or just not stressing about football. I enjoy the time outside by myself and also am drinking less since I don't park my butt in front of the tv for 4+ hours every Saturday. Now if only I could get a buck to actually walk by my tree when I'm out there.....

Logged in just to agree with this. This loss felt inevitable as the game went on. I have other plans for next week too, first time in 12 years on game day. I love the university and appreciate all the work that the players and coaches put into the program. I just lost the passion for it after the mind-boggling, gut-wrenching losses mounted and who we once were slipped further into the rear view mirror. I wanted my 15 and 12 year old boys to love VT football and have lots of great memories. Took them to Duke last year and they haven't seen VT football the same way since, as the years of less than great formed the narrative that they know and nothing I can say about the glory days can overcome the present reality. Of course my heart wants to see Fuente turn this thing around but my mind just can't fathom a way that it happens. Momentum, it is a funny thing indeed.

This! I used to watch a lot of CFB outside of just us, but it's no longer interesting to me to see other teams and try to figure out how they might stack up against us if we were to play them in a bowl, or how they might affect our ranking. This same feeling has turned me off of College Game Day, which I used to love to turn on while making breakfast or brunch...literally haven't watched it yet this year.

I will not be watching the game this weekend and instead might go check out Pinnacles National Park.

Hope the Hokies win and I'll check the score later in the day, but I am prepared to see a 21+ point Miami victory...for the players' and Hokie nation's sake, I hope I'm wrong.

A lot of us are there too. Actually I've been there for a couple years.

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

I've been there a few years now. I used to set my Saturday around VT football and now I just catch whatever part of the game that I can, if at all. I am no busier than I was a few years ago, I just care less.

Give it awhile and Liberty fans will be screaming to take us off their schedule.

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

You serious, Clark? Until proven otherwise this season is a flash in the pan for Liberty. Period. And it's not even a very bright flash.

You might as well have told Clemson in 2016 that pretty soon we'd be screaming to take them off our schedule. Or that 2014 VT should lament the drag that that year's anOSU was to their SOS.

They have played a sum total of zero wins over quality teams this year. They have two squeakers over us and FIU (0-3, btw). Outside of us, their opponents are 5-29. Three of them are unwinfeated.

Their remaining opponents are WCU (0-0), NCSU (4-3). UMass (0-2), and Coastal Carolina (undefeated, but with an only slightly better resume than Liberty). They could go undefeated and I would still only give them a modicum of respect. More likely, they drop at least one against NCSU and Coastal Carolina and my opinion doesn't change an iota.

They did what lesser teams have to do to have an outside chance of beating better teams: drain the hell out of the clock, get lucky, and take advantage of weaknesses (our entire defense). Even with all that, they were one unlucky icing the kicker call from still taking the L.

i get that people are upset. I am struggling through the 5 stages myself. We should have won that game hands down. We should be laughing about how even with the refs jobbing us out of a scoop and score we still beat them by middling double digits. The fact that we didn't does not make Liberty a regional powerhouse who's strength of schedule is pulled down by playing Little Sisters of the Poor, Blacksburg Parish.

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

Things are happening, it's not going to happen mid season because there's no benefit from it. The buyout isn't as bad as it seems to be and can be brought down if agreed upon. Right now VT would need to come up with 780k every quarter or about 3.1M every year until 2024. If Fuente gets hired to another program then that number will drop based on what he makes elsewhere.

I would hate to be in Whit's shoes right now. Everything is saying you can't fire a HC but on the other hand you risk losing even more donors, fans become more apathetic and that can snowball into a bigger loss than 3M per year. The Year end review last year wasn't pretty and things don't seem to be moving in the right direction this year. I don't know what he can sell another year+ on unless he closes recruiting out with a bang.

When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don't be afraid of the dark
At the end of the storm
There's a golden sky

The fact that it's paid annually over 4/5 years is a great point that is oft-overlooked. A few million a year is much more manageable. Fuente will almost certainly get picked up as OC at a big school or HC at a G5 and take at least a million off of that. The finances aren't nearly as bad as they seem.

More likely that he gets picked up at a bargain price and VT gets stuck making up the difference. Remember when Loefler came from Auburn?

Doesn't matter if it's cake or pie as long as it's chocolate.

Is there a situation where we do the same? Hire a fallen-from-grace former HC at a bargain price to offset the Fuente payments... say someone like James Franklin who must be on a pretty warm seat right now. Even if that is a OC/DC hire?

Living here in East Tennessee, I watched Butch Jones go work for Saban as a $25K a year analyst while UT showered him with buyout money.
The vision of Fuente working as a $25k a year analyst for Mack at UNC while we pay him 2.5 Million (less $25k) a year could start appearing in my nightmares.

The LewDew, Professional Golf Bum

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Interesting that things may be happening. I've been thinking all along that the buyout isn't quite as bad as people seem to be making it out to be. 1. These things can be negotiated down, and would likely be in the interest of both parties. 2. It's not a lump sum payment as you said, it's paid out in quarterly installments over the remaining term of the contract. 3. Is there any offset language in the contract if Fu gets another coaching job? There usually always is. Whit IMO can not afford not to make a move at season's end, barring us winning out and having a monster finish on the recruiting front, which both seem completely impossible.

He definitely earns another year, if we close out winning the rest and then the bowl game. But I am tired of losing to Syracuse, ODU, ECU, Liberty (who at least has a winning season), and Duke when they all have BAD seasons.

Haha - so just beat Clemson and he gets to stay? If he beats Clemson I'd agree he should stay... but I think we all know how that will go...

Not just Clemson, but all the rest of the games.

In reality I think he and his new coaching staff get another year, because Covid... And it really isn't fair on the defense when we are using a new scheme etc, with no spring practice and very limited fall practice. That said, the on field defense needs to start improving for the rest of the season. Cause hey, they are practicing now!

I believe GA Tech took advantage of this clause by hiring Al Groh as DC after we was fired in Charlottesville. Al took the absolute minimum salary given his former school was paying him a few million a year. I recall an announcer mentioned AG was the highest paid coach on uva's staff when he was coaching against them.

This all could have been avoided if we had just joined the SEC. /s sort of! Coaches and players want to coach and play in that league. The TV money would have immediately and directly boosted our financial issues. The SEC East after UGa and UF is worse than our current division, and that's saying a lot. I for one would have loved making trips to many of those southern college towns. I'm still supporting Fuente because I love VT football and I believe he's a good coach. Yes recruiting isn't great and our defense is struggling severely. Things could be worse, we could have team full of 4/5 stars and be 0-3 like Pedo St. Still 4 games left, stop bitching and support our squad!

There's no glory in practice and lifting but without practice and lifting, there will be no glory!

"He concedes that the Hokies are a "very inconsistent football team" right now,"

Right now? Being an inconsistent team has pretty much been the defining characteristic of Fuente's teams during his entire time here. Instead of #Hard.Smart.Tough this teams identity is more like #BoxOfChocolates.

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

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

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

I agree with this 1000%

It's always darkest before the dawn ~ Thomas Fuller

could just as easily be elated about a thrilling win over a ranked team instead of despondent.

Yes, if this was a real ranked team and not the FCS team with rebrand and a shiny coach. Yes if this was a 2 TD win in which the defense looked like a dry paper bag.

The fans would have still likely been pissed to win by a blocked field goal as time expired against a team they should have outclassed.

Whatever. It was one bad year.

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

defense looked like a dry paper bag.

I read that and thought he means a wet paper bag right? And then I was like... oh....

had some time play in MS paint:

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