In my time lurking about the interwebs I have seen some stuff. My wife calls it the "Hokie malaise". After about 2 hours peering into my desktop I sort of shut down. I start waxing nostalgic about former players. I talk about the good ole' days when everyone wore Starter jackets and Virginia Tech was good for 10 wins. I miss crappy Lion's Club hot dogs and renting chair backs from the ROTC guys. In the Pre-SM (before social media) days, any news on my beloved Hokies was considered a gift from God. With the advent of Facebook, twitter, Instagram, and others that I'm woefully behind on, we know everything. Me and you. We know everything. We know that the latest recruit from Tidewater likes nachos. We know that VT Equipment is prepping some absolutely crazy stuff for next year. We know what Justin Fuente makes per season. Hell, we know what the entire staff makes per year. Put yourself in that position. Guys like me get geeked up over a high school kid that has been reported to wear a Hokie shirt to school on Wednesday. Nobody ever DM'd me to ask if my wardrobe choice was on purpose. If you would ask my daughter, most of my fashion sense happens on accident. If you ask me how much I make, my typical answer is, "Not enough". My best impression of Fuente, thus far, has been one of respect. He is handling his business in a crazy environment. Full disclosure: I have not been permitted to interview Coach Fuente. My staff and I are doing the same things most fans are: We are seeing all personal appearances, and other sources interview him, and reacting to what Coach says.
"Wins don't fix mistakes, but will sure as hell hide 'em"
Walking into Blacksburg must have been scary as hell. There was, and is, a culture in Blacksburg that is good and bad. The communal aspect is great. The win total not so much. The folks in B'Burg are welcoming, the facilities top notch. The leadership is immaculate. The pieces are in place, but then the old internet rears it's ugly head. For every person who loved the hire, there were five more that hated it. It's the business. People love hating things or being negative. I can tell you honestly, I have like 3 guys I truly respect in this business, one of them being a national guy. ALL OF THEM told me Fuente was a home run. More importantly, I understand something very clearly. The same guys that were digging Beamer's grave online still have their shovels. Our site, some would argue, helped make this transition take place. Let's get real for a moment. Beamer retiring was not about social media pressures. Beamer retiring was not because of an ill-timed tweet. The folks that make these decisions are way smarter than I would ever claim to be. If we use that same logic, it stands to reason that Fuente is the right guy.
The recruiting class has come under fire. Most of the ire I see is from folks who need some help understanding how the process truly works. Without delving into the whole machinery, let me make simple illustration. There is a manager who manages bag boys at Kroger. The manager has applications on his desk. The manager decides to leave Kroger. Kroger hires a new bag boy manager. He walks into the vacant office, picks up the apps and starts deciphering the plan. Did I fail to mention that all these bag boys have *'s? Timmy is a 4* bagger from the 757, but he's a Harris-Teeter lean. Jacob is an ace cart man, but needs to work on brown bags. Also, we need you to find a guy who handle the produce section as well as bag. Andy lives in Florida, but if we offer him he might want to bag his groceries here. He has upside, but can he qualify academically? There's the rub. Not as easy as it appears. We can either work with the existing apps, or start interviewing. They are calling for snow next week, so "chop, chop." It can be overwhelming. Add to that the fact you just relocated your entire family and days get extremely short.
When it's this early, any information is good information. From what I've seen from Fuente, I like the message. My initial response (wearing the media hat) he seems like all this is a necessary evil. He mentioned in the Signing Day Live broadcast he needs to see the team "play". He didn't seem over the top. He didn't preach his ever longing allegiance to the Prices Fork Business Association. He just wants to work. He needs to see our guys with his own eyeballs. He wants to coach and stop talking to guys like me. In a dream world, Bud Foster would walk down the hall, hand Justin the #LPD and say, "Let's get this done." Part of me thinks that's exactly what Fuente wants to do. If he is a true grinder,we will find out soon enough. Grinding wins a hell of a lot of football games.
OVERALL GRADE A-