Usually the strange and extraordinary program related things happen after the bowl game. When the team has a winning season, and the football world thinks there only need to be a few tweaks, things just don’t move much.
Any team who was really concerned about winning their bowl game will tend to guard the staff and keep things intact until January. Well no one told Justin Fuente. The Hokies seem to have discovered a loophole in the standard operating procedure. So at the end of the day, December 9, 2019. The defensive coaching staff was tossed into a blender and some pieces lost.
If anyone had told us before the end of the season that this much mayhem would happen this early, no one including Yours Truly would have believed it. It seems that the broom came out and started sweeping and straightening a month early.
So, what changes were made, and does anyone have a clue as to where things will end up on December 26th and the final preparations for the bowl trip to Charlotte?
- Bud retires after the Belk Bowl. We know that, but he’s not leaving he’s just moving upstairs to some sort of managerial role for Whit Babcock. There is something that tells me that he won’t be too far away from the football action. He’ll be needed.
- It looks like the Defensive Coordinator position that was a near cinch lock in for Barry Odom evaporated into a cold winter Memphis sky. There didn’t seem to be any real backup position so the Hokies promoted Justin Hamilton to DC. There will be a whole lot written and even more thoughts left unsaid about the decision, that’s for sure. I’d be willing to bet a lunch that the Odom HC hire at Memphis was accompanied by sailor-like levels of expletives in the Tech AD’s office. Hey! Who knows? The Hamilton promotion might be tonic and turn into another pulse of young and able Bud Foster. That remains to be seen. The players and his teammates all seem to love it.
- There were two coaching losses that came with mixed opinions as well. Brian Mitchell and Zahn Burden were not given contracts for the year. You could call that, fired, yes. But both will land on their feet, somewhere. The Mitchell drop is the most inscrutable move. He was responsible for the resurgence of the defensive backfield, and was responsible for the serious improvement of both Caleb Farley and Jermaine Waller. There hasn’t been a replacement named, yet. The running back coaching responsibilities are being handed to Adam Lechtenberg who was already the Assistant Head Coach/Executive Director, Player Development. This move seems to have underwhelmed the sports world at a lower level than the Hamilton promotion.
- The weirdest and least liked of the coaching terminations was that of defensive line coach Charley Wiles. There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of rhyme or reason to the move other than Charley was the last coaching connection to the Beamer coaching staff. He was good at handling the defensive line, and a solid recruiter at that position. He worked some serious miracles with undersized players for a generation. They hurry to get rid of him before the Belk Bowl doesn’t make much sense. Allowing him to walk out on his own two feet would have been a classier move and the team would have lost nothing for allowing him to coach one more game with his friend Bud. Sometimes school in summertime seems to infect the best of programs.
At least the program said a proper good bye to him.
And other than a couple of pro Hamilton tweets from old teammates the @HokiesFB twitter feed has pretty much ground to a halt.
So what does all this mean?
We don’t even pretend to have all of the answers. We can’t even get some of the rumors flying around of more personnel moves to come. If we get the news we’ll get it to you, but right now, the Hokies are going into the Belk Bowl with a much minimized coaching staff, and probable GA fill-ins for some positions. The following positions need to be filled for the bowl game:
Defensive Line Coach
Immediately afterward, the defense will need an additional
Our supposition is that Jerry Kill will have some player involved active role in the mix, and if the AD’s office keeps promoting from within there are several possibilities to fill Cornerback and Linebacker positions. It’s really all up in the air.
So, your chance to say something. How are you all feeling about these moves and the timing?
This poll is closed
The AD and Coaching staff is lost. You don’t make these kinds of changes before a bowl game.
Good. Pull the band-aid off. The defense was going to be revamped anyway, might as well get it started with Bud still on the sideline.
Not Good. It really looks bad. It’s almost like the Hokie coaching staff doesn’t have a clue as to what it’s doing and can’t make the hires to get to the next level.
Don’t care. Whatever happens, happens and I’m not involved. Figuring out how to get to Charlotte is my biggest goal.
Again, it’s just really odd that this happened to a team with a winning record, before their 2nd tier bowl game on national television. We’ll just have to wait and see what seeps out of the cracks in the information dam that is the Hokie Athletic Department.