What a long, strange trip it has been. The season for Hokie football began with a buzz, ended with a buzz, and was filled with a whole lot of forgetfulness. We're going to take a trip in the way-back machine to look at what happened this season, talk about where we are now, and finally, look at what the future holds for the Hokies in 2016 and beyond.
2015 Season: Excitement, Anger, Heartache, and Pride
The season started with some of the most excitement that most of us have ever seen going into a Virginia Tech regular season game, especially to start a season. The undisputed #1 team in the nation, the defending National Champions, were coming to Blacksburg and even though most of us wouldn't say so out loud, there were whispers that the Hokies could pull off the upset. After the first half, those whispers turned into shouts and there was a growing feeling that this team might do the unthinkable and beat OSU for the second season in a row.
Of course, the chances of a heroic season went out the window when in the third quarter, Michael Brewer broke his collarbone and the game and season expectations went out of the window with him. From there, things went downhill quickly. ECU was a mess, Duke and Miami were painful, and we were left wondering not if the Hokies would win the ACC or at least the Coastal, but if VT would even make a bowl for a 23rd consecutive season. There was anger about the way things were going and you could feel the heat growing hotter, especially for those of us who desperately wanted Coach Beamer to go out on his own terms.
Then came the announcement. Our beloved Frank had decided that it was time to call it quits at the end of the season. There was some shock, some anger at the one's who had said that it was time for him to go, but mostly, there was a sadness and realization that he really was retiring. As he has done with most things as coach of the Hokies, Frank Beamer showed his class and gave a press conference that most of us will not be forgetting anytime soon.
The rest of the season has been, as it should be, for Frank. We've changed our Twitter handles, written letters, made signs, and cheered with all our mite when he's been around us. It's been fantastic and again shows what a truly special place Blacksburg really is.
Now: Justin Fuente
This is really quite simple. At 39 years old, Justin Fuente is now one of the youngest head coaches at a major program in college football. He has proven his worth, especially at Memphis, but the thing that has been most impressive is the class and care that he has taken with his programs. No NCAA issues or violations, no scandals, and his players really seem to care for him and appreciate what he does for them. All of those are good signs and show the character of the man who is taking over for our legend.
Add the fact that Bud Foster, Shane Beamer, and many others are staying on the Hokie coaching staff, and there is stability in the changes that are going on which should help smooth some of the rough edges that are natural when a coaching change, even an amicable one, takes place.
The Future: Where Is VT Football Going From Here?
Had you asked me this question a few weeks ago I would not have known the answer, but today things are starting to clear up and show a way forward that all Hokie fans can get excited about.
With the staff that is coming, much of which is already in place, it looks as though the offense will get a bit of facelift. We cannot be sure exactly how Coach Fuente's offense will look with the players who are already here, but the clues will start to come as we see who he recruits in the next few seasons. I'm not sure that the changes will be dramatic at first, especially with the retained coaches in place, but over the next few season, we should start to see a team that pushes the ball quite a bit more and has a variety of plays at the ready that will surprise defenses.
What we all want to see is a winner in Blacksburg. But even more than that, what separates Virginia Tech from the rest is the ability to do it with class and to care about our student athletes.
The idea that "This Is Home" is a serious one and goes to the fact that our community is a family. That being said, welcome Justin Fuente, your wife, and kids to our family. We look forward to seeing you on the sideline and in the grocery stores soon.
Oh what a long, strange trip it has been.