‘I had a feeling it was coming’: Fans react to Fuente’s departure from Hokie nation
BLACKSBURG, Va. (WWBT) - It’s a move that rocked Hokie nation Tuesday morning, Virginia Tech head football coach Justin Fuente is out!
The university’s athletic director, Whit Babcock, said they came to a ‘mutual agreement’ to part ways, with two more regular-season games left.
Many fans took to social media sharing mixed feelings; some giving credit to Fuente, wishing him well, while others said the move was long overdue.
Long-time Virginia Tech fan Kell Bailey was one of the thousands of Hokie fans who woke up shocked by the news.
“I had a feeling it was coming,” said Bailey. “I was thinking the program would give him another year or so.”
Fuente’s time in Blacksburg has now come to an end. In his first season with the Hokies, in 2016, he was named ACC Coach of the Year.
“I thought we got off to a great start with Justin and then it just didn’t go where we wanted it to go,” Babcock said.
In his six seasons, Fuente racked up a 43-31 record. But his last two seasons, including this year, have left the team hovering at or below .500.
“We made this change in leadership most simply because we did not have the level of consistency, nor the full development of a full team identity,” Babcock said.
“We’ll beat North Carolina at the top of the year, and then another game will come up that we’re supposed to win, and we don’t pull through,” Bailey said. “With a program like Tech, you want to see consistency.”
During a Tuesday morning press conference, Babcock said he met with Fuente every Wednesday, and it was during the Nov. 10 discussion where he told the head coach there was no certainty he would be back next year in the position. However, Babcock offered to have Fuente stick it out until the end of the season.
“[I] certainly would have liked that to happen, but I also understand Justin’s point that ‘Hey, if I’m not the guy and you don’t believe in me, then we need to do this,’” he added. “I don’t want to paint Justin in a poor corner, I don’t think he quit on anybody, I think his meeting with the team today was great.”
While alumna Kayleigh Gogal said Fuente did have some strengths, she believes a change was ultimately necessary.
“I think that just learning from mistakes, Virginia Tech will come out strong for the next coach,” Gogal said.
Until then, the team’s defensive line coach, J.C. Price was named interim head coach.
“I have high hopes for these last two games that the Hokies can keep the winning coming,” Gogal said.
Virginia Tech will pay Fuente an $8.75 million buyout.
The former head coach did issue a statement Tuesday saying in part, “To all of those players, coaches, and staff who are still fighting on, know that the Fuente family is always cheering for you.”
A nationwide search for a new head coach is underway.
To read Virginia Tech’s full announcement, click here.
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