Mornings after a Virginia Tech loss in football are never warm, inviting situations, and last night’s defeat at the hands of Wake Forest is no different.
But this Sunday morning does seem different. Sort of a fork in the road when it comes to the potential of head coach Justin Fuente.
No, not the kind of fork that leads to people gathering up torches and pitchforks to ride him out of town on a rail. Or a hollow pledge to stop watching Hokie sports. Or refrain from donating money to Hokie athletics.
We are who we are as Hokies. My blood type will always be part Chicago Maroon and another part Burnt Orange. For good or bad, I’ve been a Hokie since the first day I walked on the campus as a high school senior in 1973, and will remain one until I draw my last breath.
That’s not going to change.
But last night’s game has caused me to admit I might have been too optimistic about Fuente’s ability to lead the program back to the heights Frank Beamer had scaled in Blacksburg. Doesn’t mean he’s a bad coach, either, as no other coach in Virginia Tech’s program got the team in the top 10 as often or in a national championship game.
But Fuente has had an issue with discipline with his teams from his very first season. For years, we’ve made excuses, saying he needs more time to get his own players in the program. Or that he needs to get his own coaches. Or it takes time to learn his system. Seems like there’s always a reason that when things go bad, folks believe just being patient for a few more years will solve everything.
But it’s now year 5. These are his players. These are his coaches. And these results – like last night’s loss to Wake Forest – are ultimately on him. For many years, people would say you win championships with good “D”, and they were referring to defense. Now it means discipline, and it’s something that continues to plague Fuente’s teams.