The short answer: I don’t know.
If the outcome last Saturday had been different and I was writing this after another loss to rivals UVA, I would say that the answer is simple in that he needed to go, but that isn’t the case.
This season was extremely disappointing and underwhelming for the Hokies, there is no denying that. They started hot and then lost five out of their last seven, including four in a row. It’s difficult to judge Fuente based on this season though. He and the team had to navigate the pandemic as well as an outbreak in the program at the beginning of the season.
Fuente through the years
Justin Fuente came to Virginia Tech after long-time head coach Frank Beamer retired at the end of the 2015 season. Those aren’t easy shoes to fill and he was always going to be held to a high standard since his first day on the job.
The start of the Fuente tenure was good, going 10-4 in the 2016 season and earning a trip to the ACC Championship. He was also named ACC Coach of the Year. After that season many thought that the Hokies had found their guy in Fuente.
2017 was similar, ending the season with a 9-4 record. The 2018 season is where it began to get rocky. The team finished with a 6-7 record, the first time the program ended with less than seven wins since 1992. It was also in 2018 that the Hokies lost to Old Dominion University, and it was that loss that led many fans to be skeptical about Fuente and his future with the program. Add on the exodus of players that entered the transfer portal after the 2018 season and patience was running thin with the fans.
The next season was better, ending 2019 with an 8-5 record, but one of those losses is unacceptable to Virginia Tech fans. If there’s one thing that Hokies hate, it’s losing to fierce rival UVA. The loss to UVA had a lot of Hokie fans jumping off of the Fuente train and calling for his replacement.
Fast forward now to 2020 where the program has had its worst season since 1992. Virginia Tech has gone to a bowl game for 27 consecutive years, the longest streak in the nation, and that could quite possibly end this year.
Add on to that this year’s embarrassing loss to Liberty, a game that the Hokies probably should’ve won but questionable coaching decisions at the end cost them the game. They were able to defeat UVA, a win that could end up saving his job at least for one more season.
It’s safe to say that the consensus between fans is that the program needs to move on from Justin Fuente and start fresh, but I don’t think they’ll get their wish.
It is worth noting that Fuente’s buyout dropped from $12.5 million to $10 million at midnight last night. To add to the speculation, it was announced today that Virginia Tech Athletic Director, Whit Babcock, would speak to the media on Tuesday to answer questions.