Pete Thamel, who covers college football for Yahoo Sports, put out a tweet about 7:22 p.m. ET that had Virginia Tech fans buzzing. Thamel said that Justin Fuente would not only be interviewing for the head-coaching vacancy at Baylor, but he should also be considered the leading candidate.
News: Baylor is targeting Virginia Tech’s Justin Fuente as next coach and is planning an in person interview in next 24 hours, multiple sources tell @YahooSports. Fuente is considered leading candidate.— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) January 15, 2020
Let’s take a deep breath here. First, this is not a rumor. Fuente will be interviewing at Baylor. Whether or not he gets the job or is considered the leader, is a matter of conjecture. On the same day that Fuente was reported to be a major candidate happened to be the same day the Hokies hired JMU’s Ryan Smith to fill out their 2020 coaching staff.
Coaching Update— Virginia Tech Football (@HokiesFB) January 14, 2020
Coach Fuente completes his on-field staff by naming Ryan Smith as Tech’s new cornerbacks coach.
https://t.co/UekepFNlwR #Hokies | #LPD pic.twitter.com/LNkONE6PvD
Now, I can see many sides of the story here. Why would Fuente want to leave? Well, there is a lot going on in Blacksburg where he is not getting the financial support for the football program that he was perhaps promised. This doesn’t pertain to his salary, but the support staff that does a lot of the recruiting and behind-the-scenes work. Things haven’t gone quite as planned there.
Then, there is the timing issue. Virginia Tech let coaches go and brought new coaches in throughout November and December. Just this past week we have seen the addition of Bill Teerlinck and Smith. There is also former Hokie, Darryl Tapp, who was brought on board in December.
This is the worst time to actually be looking for a head coach. The job openings have opened and closed and the top candidates on the board are likely staying put. And there is the recruiting side of this.
If Fuente chose to take the Baylor job now, it is a bad look for him. He completely revamped the coaching staff and a move to Texas would be surely affect the coaches on this staff. While some, namely overmatched offensive coordinator Brad Cornelson, Vance Vice, James Shibest and likely even Teerlinck, would follow him, a new coach would want to bring in his own guys. That means several of the current coaches would be in limbo, even the ones who just arrived.
Things are fluid right now. So much can change, but this situation is very real. Regardless of what you think of Fuente and his coaching acumen, looking for a new coach this late in the game would be difficult for the Hokies. Baylor is a strong job and one that can far surpass the numbers Virginia Tech can offer. It is just a matter of if they truly view Fuente as the No. 1 candidate, or this is more of a leak from Fuente’s agent to make Whit Babcock nervous.
For now, Fuente remains the head coach of Virginia Tech. If anything changes, we’ll discuss in-depth here.