For Better or Worse: The Marriage of Justin Fuente and Virginia Tech

The 2020 college football season is drawing to a painful end for Hokie fans. This three game death spiral is one for the books, and it is tough to remember a tougher pill to swallow for Hokies everywhere. Wake Forest started the slide but could be explained away by Fuente loyalists. The fact that Wake Forest barely missed an upset bid in Chapel Hill today certainly bolsters that argument. Then came Liberty and Hugh Freeze. After a debilitating loss at "home", the fan base clearly shifted tack. In five years under Fuente, the base was generally positive. Good and bad. Last year, the Hokies were bowl eligible by scheduling an extra game against Marshall. The bowl streak remained, but to say the luster was off the program is an understatement. Even then, Facebook groups were threatening bans and wedgies for anyone to disagree with Fuente or the direction of the program. The loyalty of the fans was impressive, but there was an undercurrent of fans not happy with the results.

Remember when Tech fans were pissed that Fuente even considered jumping ship to Baylor?

That brings us today. A tough loss "hosting" the U. The vitriol was a bit less on the boards, but the effect remains the same. The Hokies lost another very winnable game. This is the state of the program. In a year that was make or break for the Hokies, the results aren’t there. This was the year where all the growing pains were to be corrected. This is the year that all the youth were now experienced, and would light up scoreboards from here to Coral Gables. The problem is that the Hokies now can’t even carry the torch to Lynchburg. Losing to North Carolina is forgivable. Losing to Wake Forest is digestible. Losing to Miami is possible, but the loss to Liberty is unforgivable. Here we are. COVID has racked the Hokies more than any other team in the A.C.C.. What does that say about the discipline and leadership? Someone mentioned that the lack of emotion on the sideline is the problem. Last time I checked, Bill "The Hoodie" up in New England isn’t up for any emotion questions.

I will tell you like I tell my kids: We can’t afford it. Period.

This is a funky year for all coaches. Do you think Jeremy Pruitt at Tennessee feels good about the season? Do you think that James Franklin at Penn State feels good? My point is this: In a time where Power 5 schools are shuttering non revenue athletics, the idea of multi-million dollar buyouts are ridiculous. After the Baylor scare, the Hokies locked up Fuente. For better or worse, here we are. While the war drums for a beheading are getting louder, the reality is that the CJF era may just be getting started.

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