Time to declare the tip of Justin Fuente period at Virginia Tech

It regarded like an ideal pairing.

Virginia Tech, this system that rose to prominence underneath Frank Beamer and improbably stayed there for 15 years, wanted a successor of excessive character and super creativity. Justin Fuente, who turned Memphis from the worst job in America right into a successful program, was prepared for an influence convention gig however wished to go to a spot that might admire his understated, all-business character fairly than lust for a showman.

All of the proof recommended that Whit Babcock, the Virginia Tech athletics director, hit a house run when his weeks-long pursuit of Fuente was lastly consummated on Nov. 30, 2015. He had even pulled off a secret assembly between Fuente and longtime defensive coordinator Bud Foster that satisfied the 2 of them they may work collectively, offering a hyperlink between the previous and the longer term.

Virginia Tech had slipped a notch in Beamer’s last years, however with the succession plan in place and a confirmed program-builder coming to Blacksburg, the Hokies ought to have ACC titles of their future.

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As an alternative, on Oct. 23, 2021, we are able to just about declare the Fuente period over. It’s not official, after all, till the press launch comes from Virginia Tech and the buyout cash – $10 million if the choice is made earlier than Dec. 16 – is in place. It might take a number of extra weeks, or Virginia Tech might pull the plug quickly. We’ll see.

Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente disputes call with an official call during the second half against Syracuse.

Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente disputes name with an official name in the course of the second half towards Syracuse.

However with the Hokies falling at residence to Syracuse 41-36, the reply is now not a thriller. Not solely did Virginia Tech lose its third consecutive residence sport to fall to 3-4, however the Hokies blew a 36-27 lead with 5:36 remaining towards a crew that had misplaced 10 straight ACC video games.

It occurred in a manner that has develop into all too acquainted for Hokies followers in late-game conditions. After giving up an enormous kickoff return and failing to mount a lot defensive resistance because the Orange reduce the deficit to 36-34, Virginia Tech performed conservatively and punted the ball away with 1:04 left. That was sufficient for Syracuse to go 70 yards, finishing a 45-yard landing move with 19 seconds left handy Virginia Tech a second come-from-ahead loss this month. Just some weeks in the past, Virginia Tech led Notre Dame 29-21 with 3:55 left and one way or the other misplaced in regulation. The Hokies misplaced a 3rd shut one earlier within the yr towards West Virginia after they had first-and-goal on the 3-yard line with an opportunity to win and couldn’t rating on 4 performs.

For Fuente, there’s merely not sufficient goodwill within the financial institution to outlive a season like this. The recruiting has been unimpressive. Participant retention has been an enormous downside. And the outcomes simply aren’t there: 6-7 in 2018, 8-5 in 2019, 5-6 in 2020 and one other .500-type season on deck this yr.

“Soccer is essential right here, we should and can do higher,” Babcock stated after final season when the choice was made to carry Fuente again in 2021. “Failure is just not an choice, that’s crystal clear to me and Justin and everybody right here. That’s the usual and that’s what we signed up for. Now we have a plan and we have now hope for the longer term and we did what we thought was finest.”

To be truthful to Fuente, there’s no option to know whether or not post-Beamer Virginia Tech is provided to win on the elite degree in fashionable faculty soccer. It’s a reasonably distant campus in a tiny mountain city with out an apparent recruiting benefit. Its finest in-state recruiting areas are within the Hampton Roads and Washington, D.C., areas are greater than 4 hours away.

The primary coach to exchange Beamer was at all times going to be a dangerous take a look at case, however what frustrates Virginia Tech followers most is that Fuente was no unintentional rent. He was the man the administration focused early, believed in and stored for a minimum of two years after followers began to get antsy.

Now, it seems the followers have been proper, this system is in worse form and so they did nothing however waste time getting so far. Although change is imminent, that makes Virginia Tech No. 1 on this week’s Distress Index, a weekly measurement of knee-jerk reactions based mostly on what every fan base simply watched.

This text initially appeared on USA TODAY: Justin Fuente period nearing finish at Virginia Tech after loss to Syracuse


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