A Shot Across The Bow

Share on your favorite social network:
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail to someoneGoogle+share on TumblrShare on Reddit
Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech
Justin Fuente flirted with Baylor, but will remain at Virginia Tech. (Ivan Morozov)

The drama is over, and now we know that Justin Fuente isn’t leaving Virginia Tech.  Fortunately it wasn’t a long, drawn out process.  It started at about 7:45 on Tuesday night, and it ended at 8am this Thursday morning when Fuente Tweeted a picture of himself and his staff at a meeting in Blacksburg.

I got a chuckle when I got this text from a friend on Wednesday…

“I probably would go to Baylor.  You can lose control of the program and let your players run around campus like a Dothraki hoard and the NCAA doesn’t bat an eye.  Meanwhile we can’t get a transfer waiver because Blacksburg is a fun run outside the sliding scale of approved distances.”

It’s funny because it’s true.  It’s also sad because it’s true.

With regards to Fuente’s flirtation with Baylor, we hear it was absolutely legit.  And we heard that through Virginia Tech’s end of things, not Fuente’s or his agents.  Whit Babcock was absolutely worried.  One Tech staffer even went so far as to put the chances of Fuente leaving at “90%.” 

This article will be about why Fuente would consider leaving Virginia Tech for Baylor.  I know Baylor isn’t a historically strong program, but a lot has changed in the last decade.  Let me run off some facts for you about Baylor…

1: They’ve gone to a bowl in nine of their last 10 seasons.
2: They’ve had five 10+ win seasons since 2011.  VT has two in the same span.
3: They’ve finished in the top 15 five times since 2011.  VT hasn’t done that once in that span.
4: They’ve had a Heisman Trophy winner (Robert Griffin III).
5: They were making more revenue in 2015 ($106 million) than VT is currently raking in (about $100 million).
6: They built a $266 million football stadium in 2014.
7: They announced plans for a $55 million football operations center back in the spring.  That’s part of a $1.1 billion fundraising campaign for university development.
8: Extremely strong in-state recruiting base.

Baylor has the advantage over Virginia Tech in every one of those areas listed above.  Sure, money isn’t everything, but it plays a huge role these days.

Besides all of those advantages, we heard that Baylor offered Fuente a big raise and more support for staff and recruiting.  For a driven person like Justin Fuente, it’s intriguing.  However, he also likes his current players very much, and likes the staff he has put together.  He didn’t feel good about the timing of a possible move.

We hear that he met with Whit Babcock on Wednesday night and told Babcock everything Baylor offered, and said he was going to sleep on it.  He either didn’t get much sleep, or he woke up really early, because he announced he was staying at Virginia Tech at 8am.

We hear that he isn’t convinced that long-term Virginia Tech (and the ACC in general) can compete with other programs from a resource standpoint, but he doesn’t want to leave his current players.  I also hold a personal suspicion that he would have felt awful to leave the new coaches he just hired only a few weeks after he hired them, and that makes complete sense.  Maybe if this offer had come a year from now, the move would have been easier for him to make.

There was a time I thought he would make the move, and I wasn’t mad at him, especially once I found out that he thinks Baylor has a better chance to be competitive long-term.  A lot of people would have left in that same situation.  It’s hard to turn down a huge raise at a job where you feel like you could have more success.  But he did, thank goodness, because the timing of his departure would have been awful.

All that said, to me, Justin Fuente is only a character in a bigger storyline.  The bigger story to me is why he would seriously consider a move to Baylor, and why he might consider that a better job than Virginia Tech.  I went over that above, from the Baylor perspective.  Now let’s look at from the Virginia Tech perspective.

Facilities, Staff Support and Bells and Whistles

I’ve talked before about a Justin Fuente quote about facilities and staff numbers, but I could never track it down.  Yesterday morning, I finally found it.  Here’s the quote…

“We’re not equipped staff wise or facilities wise to handle a humongous group of people.  It’s just not there.” – Justin Fuente, February 6, 2019, in this interview on Signing Day.

He’s saying that the Hokies don’t have a big enough staff or big enough facilities to handle as many people on visit weekends as other programs.  Even if Tech wanted to hire more staff, they don’t have the office space in Merryman/Jamerson to put that extra staff.  That’s the first thing I’ll talk about…space.

Just look at that picture of the staff meeting room in the Merryman Center, which was built over 20 years ago.

It’s small, barely fits everybody, and it’s very bland.

Meanwhile, click here for an example of what Penn State does on Signing Day.  If Tech wanted to do something like that, I can’t think of a single room in the Merryman Center (I’ve been in there plenty of times over the last 15 years) that could accommodate that, except for the Players’ Lounge, which would require removing all the pool tables and other such amenities.

Unless you’re a recent subscriber, you know that Will and I have been talking about facilities for a couple of years now.  It seems like every week a different school is announcing a new $50+ million football-only facility.  Baylor and their $55 million facility is right in line with what everybody else is doing, with the exception of Virginia Tech.  Even Northwestern is building/has built a $260 million facility/beach resort on the shores of Lake Michigan.

Any new football building that a school builds is designed for the modern needs of a football staff.  The Merryman Center, which houses the football weight room, football meeting rooms and training/medical facilities, was built in 1997/1998.  The Jamerson Center, which holds the offices of the Tech coaching staff and the rest of the athletic department employees, was built way back in 1982 before even I was born!  It was built to service the needs of a 1982 football staff, not a 2020 football staff.

We have media guides back to the 1980s in our office, and here’s how the Tech coaching/support staff was set up in 1982…

1 head coach
1 offensive coordinator (who I assume was also the QB coach)
1 defensive coordinator and DE coach
1 special teams coordinator and LB coach
1 offensive ends coach and recruiting coordinator
2 offensive backfield coaches (Dooley ran it so much that he needed two RB coaches)
1 defensive line coach
1 defensive backfield coach
1 noseguard coach
2 graduate assistants
12 total coaches and support staff, plus supporting secretaries and interns

That’s what the corridor of the football offices in the Jamerson Center was designed to hold.  Meanwhile, here’s what Tech’s staff looked like this past season

1 head coach
1 offensive coordinator and QB coach
1 running back coach
1 special teams coordinator and TE coach
1 wide receivers coach
1 offensive line coach
1 defensive line coach
1 defensive coordinator and LB coach
1 cornerbacks coach
1 safeties coach
1 Adam Lechtenberg
1 Jerry Kill
2 quality control coaches
4 graduate assistants
1 Director of Player Development
1 Director of Player Personnel
1 Assistant Director of Player Personnel
1 Director of Recruiting
1 Director of Creative Media
1 Recruiting Assistant
24 total coaches and support staff, plus supporting secretaries and interns

Virginia Tech football requires twice as many staff members these days as it did when the Jamerson Center was built.  Tech’s graduate assistants work out of an office the size of a large broom closet.  They have no choice…there’s no place to put them.  Some schools have staffs even bigger than Tech’s, and even if Justin Fuente wanted to hire more staff members, he’d have no place to put them.  For what it’s worth, I’m not counting the strength and conditioning coaches, who are down in the Merryman Center.

(Ivan Morozov)

Nearly every football program in the country has more modern football facilities than Virginia Tech.  They are equipped to handle the present-day requirements of a modern football staff.  This is an issue whether or not Justin Fuente is Virginia Tech’s football coach.  Let’s pretend that he did take the Baylor job.  He’d immediately get calls from VT’s prospective candidates, and they’d ask him “so why did you leave Virginia Tech?  Tell me about the job.”  Proven coaches want the best facilities.  They aren’t going to mortgage their future simply because Blacksburg is a nice town with nice people.  Without the proper support, they’d end up getting fired and they wouldn’t be in that nice town with those nice people for very long.

In our opinion, Tech has to do something about their football facilities.  The Hahn-Hurst basketball facility is a better one than Merryman/Jamerson, relative to Tech’s basketball competition.  Same for baseball.  The Student-Athlete Performance center will be great, but in our opinion that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Financial Support

Justin Fuente made $4 million in 2019, and he’s scheduled to make $4.25 million in 2020.  I don’t think he’s particularly concerned about his own salary.  If he just cared about that, he’d be at Baylor right now, or even Arkansas, who dangled a ton of money in front of him when they eventually hired Chad Morris.  Coaches want a good chance to have success.  Buzz Williams actually took a pay cut to come to Tech because in the modern landscape he thought it was a better situation than Marquette.

One thing that might have caught Justin Fuente’s attention were the terms of the hiring of Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano.  Before he’d accept the Rutgers job, Schiano demanded the following things…

1: Unlimited use of private air transportation for recruiting.
2: $4 million salary (cheap for a coach with his pedigree).
3: $7.7 million for his coaching/support staff.
4: Promise of a football operations center and indoor practice facility for a total of $150 million.

Tech doesn’t need an indoor practice facility.  But Rutgers is about to splash the cash in a major way in terms of a football operations center.  Tech’s assistant coaches made about $3.7 million last year.  That doesn’t include support staff, but clearly Tech’s support staff salaries don’t make up the $4 million difference between the two schools. 

Historically Rutgers is a train wreck of a football program, and they are about to blow Virginia Tech away when it comes to infrastructure and support.  Don’t think for a second that Justin Fuente didn’t raise an eyebrow when he saw Schiano’s contract.  Not to mention that he was directly affected by item No. 1 almost as soon as Schiano was hired.

On Signing Day, long-time Virginia Tech commit Tyreem Powell flipped to Rutgers…the very day after Greg Schiano landed in front of his high school in a private helicopter.  I can picture Fuente rolling his eyes at that one.  He’s a blue collar Midwestern guy, so he probably thinks stuff like that is stupid (as do I).  But he also knows that even if he wanted to fly choppers into a recruit’s yard, he doesn’t have the option to do so.

Justin Fuente
Whit Babcock and Tim Sands must find a way to better support the football program. (Ivan Morozov)

Final Thoughts

Justin Fuente’s flirtation with Baylor isn’t the issue here.  Whatever decision Fuente was going to make, the situation would be the same.  Click this link and scroll down through the options to listen to the Bill Roth interview on the Tim Donnelly Show yesterday.  He lays it out pretty clearly.

Bill has worked at Virginia Tech and UCLA.  He currently works for ESPN as well, so he gets to go around the country when he calls games and see other schools’ facilities first-hand.  He’s in a great position to have an informed opinion on the situation.  When he says the Hokies are behind, they’re behind.

I’m actually glad Fuente flirted with Baylor.  Doing so was a win-win for him.  Either he’d take the job and get a huge raise and move closer to home in a fertile recruiting territory, or he would decline it while also firing a shot across the bow of the Virginia Tech administration about what it takes to play big boy football these days. By talking to Baylor, maybe he will force Virginia Tech into making good long-term decisions for the program.  I don’t know how his tenure will work out, but what he did this week could have long-term ramifications.  10-15 years from now, we might be very grateful.

I also hope Fuente’s flirtations also fired a shot across the bow of the fanbase.  A Virginia Tech coach just expressed serious interest in the Baylor job.  That happened for a reason, and it’s not because Fuente is stupid.  It’s because Baylor can be viewed as a better job these days.  The fanbase sitting around and expecting the program to do more with less isn’t going to help things.  Back in 2000, Virginia Tech had the third-highest paid coaching staff in the country, and the newest football facility (Merryman) in the country.  When the Hokies won the ACC in 2004, they weren’t doing more with less.  They were doing more with more!

The fanbase has to ante up if they seriously want to be competitive long-term.  I’m not talking about being competitive with Clemson…I’m talking about being competitive with Baylor!  To make that happen, Virginia Tech needs the proper leadership from the Hokie Club and athletic department to paint a very clear picture of the landscape of college athletics and what it takes to be successful in the modern era.  It’s not 2003 anymore, and I think some fans still believe it is.  It has to be a group effort, starting with the administration, and then the fans have to buy in.  If either of those two things fail, then we’ll be doomed to eternal mediocrity…or worse.

I didn’t write this article to scare anybody.  In fact, writing it makes me feel a lot better.  You can’t improve as a person or as an organization until you first identify your own weaknesses.  Once you do that, you can move forward.  Fuente’s flirtation with Baylor lets us know exactly where Tech’s weaknesses reside.  It’s time for the administration and fanbase to move forward together and fix them.

Share on your favorite social network:
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail to someoneGoogle+share on TumblrShare on Reddit

101 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. I know for a fact JF thinks if we want to compete on the field @ the top level then we need to compete off the field @ the same level. I’m not saying we should but I know what he thinks because I heard him say it.

  2. I wonder how many of the 100+ people above will actually increase their giving level rather than just talking about how important it is. I too believe the title of this article was a slam against Coach as have a number of articles in TSL. Dabo was able to get the alum to “dig deeper” after he was a winner of more and more games and a successful recruiter, not before. A great majority of the alumni were totally against his hire, not for it. He followed a coach who wasn’t liked, not an icon that we cannot get past. I believe with the staff we have, the players in place, and the anticipation of winning seasons ahead, the monies will begin to flow. Whit has a plan in place for new members that was not there in the past. We just need a spark and I believe that spark is winning.

  3. Chris- The term “Firing a shot across the bow” infers an aggressive, antagonistic, and war-like relationship between parties. I am very upset that you choose that frame of reference to describe Coach Fuente’s relationship with VT admin and fans and his purpose in taking the meeting, that all evidence indicates he did not initiate. It gives a very negative connotation about his intent, where in all likelihood, based on his past actions here at VT, he did this purely and solely to provide a better perspective for VT admin and fans about what we have to do to compete in today’s world if big-time college football. He did us all a favor and the headline and tone of this article and recent ones by Andy Bitter are rather denegrating to this man.
    Going back to the Duke game, it seems you take every opportunity to degrade this guy. It feeds a certain portion of your readers I suppose, but the silent majority of us don’t like it.

    1. I didn’t take in any other way than the entire organization (administration & fans) needs to wake up.

      That was a point well-made unless we are fine with 8-4 & 7-5, or worse. I’m not!

    2. The article reads entirely differently to me.

      Like thankful. If you want to read negativity try The Key Play

  4. Great insight; it isn’t the early 2000s and most of the fan base does need to realize that. Fuente has done some smart things: defensive overhaul and the recognition that our defensive line play is way way behind to be successful and making moves to combat that. And 2nd, doing what any human would do: testing the waters of another job to either better themself or learn something in the interim. I think he has done a good job since the aftermath of the night of 9/27.

  5. Between the article and comments, what is there left to say? We need an articulable vision, solid plans to achieve said vision, an overhaul in the “giving” programs, better outreach/information dissemination to all alumni especially former players and better financial information sharing on revenue streams. Great article and discussion! The future is now!

  6. Chris, you are completely on point. Your take on the fan base is absolutely correct as well. I was just as disappointed during the Duke game as everybody else, but Coach Fuente pulled of a tremendous feat of coaching; very similar to some of Coach Beamer’s efforts. The results may not have been exactly the same, but he kept everybody together and did not lose the team. That was awesome.

    Coach Beamer is not coming back. Bringing Shane Beamer back does not “wake up the echoes.” Coach Fuente is an excellent Coach. We should want him to be successful at Tech and stay for as many years as possible.

    I am going to up my Hokie Club donation over the weekend. Chris said it during the Podcast; if we want to be Big Time, we as fans need to get onboard. Let’s do this Hokie Nation!

  7. Maybe, instead of having 24 coaches and support staff, they should just hire 24 football players.
    P.S. Loved that “let your players run around campus like a Dothraki hoard” quote. Now I know what the Dothraki are.

  8. You guys really need to make this article public to everyone. Might inspire some folks to join TSL and Hokie Club.

    1. I agree. I would not make this subscription only. A great article and public needs to have access to read.

  9. Good article. Did you see dabo Swinney bio in Monday nytimes? Basically, coach Swinney is a great sales man who convinced big donors to dig deeper into their pockets. It seems Fuente does not have those skills. Who at VT athletic department does?

  10. I agree with many of my fellow Hokies. But I also think the Athletic Dept needs to look in the mirror. The Hokie Club does need a reset for sure with some new ideas and energy.

    HOWEVER, can somebody explain why we are so tied to Nike? Do we even call or consider UA? Heck, if we can’t cultivate UA with Hokie ties…then our corporate relations dept has no chance.

    By Fuente taking a look elsewhere …it sets the table for good discussions and honest reflections on who we really want to be.

  11. Nice article Chris. Facts don’t care about feelings! Without a doubt, this illustrates the beauty of capitalism and will only foster a more competitive environment. This may be the one lasting effect that Fuente makes on the program.

  12. Good article. Did you happen to read dabo Swinney bio article in nytimes? It came out day of champ game. The sales skills directly from head fb coach made a huge difference in Clemson fundraising. It does not appear that’s in Fuentes wheelhouse. Who at athletic department can do that?

  13. As a 20+ year Golden Hokie alum and season ticket holder from RVA ( with a very modest income mind you), you hit on it… it takes more Hokies giving more. I still have the “Unforgettable Hokies” poster framed in my work office, but my commitment to Hokie Club is unwavering regardless of a season’s result. I hope others both new and old to Hokie Nation develop a renewed since of pride AND open their wallets as proof!

    1. It all matters what is important to you. I don’t give much but I am a season ticket holder with four year old triplets a single income and not exactly a bank breaking income. It works for us because Virginia Tech sports is important to us and it’s what we love to do with our free time. After visiting Auburn this season it’s clear that Tech fans haven’t been as committed. Hoping maybe this is the kick in the pants we need.

  14. GREAT article CC! Since the CJF-to-Baylor “thing” came up I’ve posted a couple times that I didn’t see the Baylor thing as much about CJF leaving as it is about what VT (admin/fanbase,etc.) are going to do – IF ANYTHING – to invest the resources into making VT more competitive with programs we aspire to match or beat in performance, etc. Your article puts a lot of meat on the bone and I will admit I really don’t have a lot of facts/perspective on how far behind, and where, we are in the race we’re in (or not). Maybe it’s been done by our Athletic Dept or others but it would be a eye-opening and hopefully inspirational to the Hokie Nation if there were more facts and DETAILS about what we’d need to do TODAY in the way of fund-raising and spending to match salaries, staffing, facilities, etc. of the top 2-3 programs in the ACC, the top 10-15 Non-ACC programs across D-1. I know directionally that it’s not good, but similar comparison of VT to Baylor is an example of what would be great to see for all those programs – or just ACC if necessary. I also know closing the budget/spending gap isn’t an easy thing to do, but as others have said responding to your article…publishing your article broadly to VT Alumni everywhere and to donors,etc. would be as eye opening for them as it is for your readers. I’m betting the impact from your article will be more people giving more money to the Athletic Dept, but imagine if VT leadership did a Drive for $50 or $100 million or more armed with the facts like you called out here today. I’m saying something I am not 100% sure we should even do because of the evils of too much money being pumped into sports programs around the US and the world, but I will say we’re either going to play the game that the big time programs play, or we’re not. IF we are, it;s time for a plan and the search for the donors/contributors to make it happen. IF we’re NOT going to play the game then we should all own up to the fact that we are/will be a stepping stone to the REAL big time programs and stop complaining that we don’t win, recruit, spend enough. It’s not simple, but it really is simple when you get right down to it.

    1. That is a telling article. I’m an old guy that didn’t attend VT but did send two sons. I got hooked on the school and football in 1999 and joined the Hokie club so I could purchase season tickets. I’ve now been a member for 20 years and have very nice seats and parking. Myself and my wife health is so that we can no longer go to the games. Last year I gave my tickets to many different people. one of my sons and his wife do very well. President sands would probably like to make what one of them makes. They graduated in 2005 but have never been called on. They never joined because the don’t want to have to pony 50 thousand for good seats. One way to get a boost in giving would be a legacy program that could be structured many ways. If they could get just half my points and agree to give as much or more they would join in a heart beat. I’ve had this discussion with them to see if it would entice them. They would put up many times what I’m able to donate. I’m small potatoes because two old timers that graduated in the fifties were huge contributors but when they passed their family’s. were left with the love of the school, program and football but the idea of going from the fifty yard line or nearly so to nose bleeder seats doesn’t appeal to them so they no longer contribute but could and would because they have sons that graduated from VT. I know at least three cases just like that. It would be a way to generate a good lasting source of money in stead of loosing money. I get emails and the likes weekly like everyone and get tired of the Hokie club milking me just because they have my name. I’m sure hundreds are like this every year. Folks a lot smarter than I could figure a was to structure this to benefit the program. We simply need more people giving more money and don’t keep milking the same folks all the time. That and educating folks as to just how bad our facilities are will help. I’m fairly familiar with the program but like others I had no idea how bad things are.

      1. Doesn’t take ponying up $50,000 for good seats in Lane Stadium. In addition your son’s contribution would help the program grow. He should not wait for a call in tis day and age. Give now!

      2. Totally agree. I am a Hokie Rep, self employed and 30 year golden, and have had several meetings with Lu, Terry, Bill and other officials of the Hokie Club about various types of a Legacy program idea like some that you propose. Not interested I was told.

        1. never give up, generous loyal Hokie. soon, they are going to have to use every resource – simultaneously – rather than one or two only of the “same olds.”

          with a wonderful Pamplin College of Business just a hop, skip, and a drill field away, i wonder if they’ve ever talked to and brought in some of their marketing profs, or graduate researchers, or allowed a “think tank” that could show a better, 21st century way forward. what a resource, right under your nose!

  15. Hokie Club needs an infusion of “new blood”. Too many employees who are too comfortable doing the things they’ve always done the way they’ve always done them.

  16. Agree 100% with the sentiment from everyone. I just gave to Football (sport specific) and the Scholarship fund… this has been a strong reminder!

  17. You guys already have Media Credentials. You don’t need to suck up to Whit!
    OK, I kid. Great article and certainly sobering. Many of us that have been around
    a long time remember having a highly paid staff and good facilities. I guess its natural to think that we still do and we’re keeping up. We needed to be reminded that you can’t stand still.
    I’ll dig a little deeper. And if I see Swafford walking down the street I’ll kick his sorry ass.

  18. The fun run may have a cash prize, in which case, would be an NCAA violation and merit ineligibility. Odell Beckham runs the Awards Ceremony

  19. Great article, Chris! In the future, maybe you could look into what Tech is doing to cultivate those potential million dollar donors, be they individual or corporate. If you don’t have a T. Boone Pickens, what’s the breakdown on where the big money comes from? What is the next step up from naming rights? Again, great work!

  20. It’s about taking ownership as fans. Think of it like the Green Bay Packers, a non-profit community-owned franchise.

  21. The annual endowed scholarship donors reception is being held in the Rector Fieldhouse Throws area this year. That is an enormous space. The Beamer Barn is an enormous space. Perhaps we need to think more about HOW we are utilizing all that new space that has been built in recent years. Using it a third of the time is wasteful.

  22. Great article. When Hokie scholarship donations were first implemented, my wife and I paid 10 years in advance to improve our ranking and for other personal reasons. Was considering doing it again this spring before reseating but will now look to make the contribution towards facilities instead

  23. Great article, Chris! Hopefully this wakes up the administration and Hokie Club, their view of VT football and what’s necessary to have a chance to succeed, and our archaic approach to fundraising. Hokie Scholarship Fund is nice but that doesn’t sell, vision and what faciliites/things VT needs to compete, sells! One recommendation in last sentence of article….rather than “fix” use “tackle” it’s more fitting for a football article.

  24. Amen. The ability of so many in our fan base to rationalize why they don’t donate is mind boggling. Yes we need Hokie Club and VT to get their act together for proper fundraising drives, but there are so many here who would not donate no matter what was done.

  25. I am so glad Coach is staying! I believe the program is headed in a positive direction. Great article on our facility needs. Now we need a plan for improvement. Let’s Go Hokies!

  26. Chris, this is up there with Will’s 2003 Make it Real article. In fact, I’m pleading that this be one of those articles are free to the public. Hokies need to see this while their feelings are raw. Like Will mentioned in 2003, it’s time for us to once again show up. Time to make a difference. What can we do? Show your support. Show it now. Show we’re behind the athletic program. Show we’re behind Whit. Show we’re behind this team. This is bigger than Sands, Whit, or Fuente. The program needs lifeblood and that comes from the fanbase.

    1. It goes both ways though. The fans/alum need to step up, but we also have to demand improvements in the Hokie Club and infrastructure, The facts he would look at a place like Baylor as an upgrade is certainly a shot across the bow.

      1. 1000% agree. Here’s the thing, we all want what’s best. But we need a vision with actionable goals. Articulating a clear vision and upgrading the Hokie Club website has to be front and center.

    2. I agree completely! Great article Chris!
      Is it possible to have this article shown to the public who don’t subscribe to TSL? I hope so!

    3. Came into the comments to say the same thing – this article needs to be on the free side. I have several non-subscriber friends I’d send it to immediately.

  27. I am an annual giver, but where is all of this “ACC Money” we were going to be flushed with. I thought joining an all sports conference was going to satisfy a lot of our financial needs.

    1. That’s a really good point. I’m sure wondering where the $45K i spent this year for out of state VT tuition went as well!!

  28. Chris, so happy to see this and turnaround yesterday. I was disappointed to see how many threw coach under the bus so quickly. I just could not imagine from my limited knowledge of him being a stand-up guy, that he would leave.There had to be more.

    I do think a shot to the fan base, not only we need to fund our success. But also give the guy a break. Took over a legendary program, supported the Beamer Culture, 25 every game, even allowed Foster to go on his own terms. The staff he is just hired could have been here years ago. But he stayed the course, and took a beating along the way.

    I feel his only mistake this year was not giving up on Willis earlier. That loyalty almost cost him as well…the bus was circling him then as well.

    Go Hokies!

  29. Baylor’s head coach just got hired by the Carolina Panthers. Baylor was able to hire a head coach with that type of career trajectory even after the Art Briles scandal.

    In support of Fuente and the program, I upped my annual donation today. I’m all in.

    I think it was OXVT that posted how to donate to VT today on Twitter. I would suggest that all of us put these messages out because we may reach an alumnus on social mediathat has never donated before. I personally learned about supporting SERTC through TechSideline so I know it works.

  30. Great article, and I concur, but . . . don’t taint your analysis with a lead off factual discrepancy.

    1: They’ve gone to a bowl in nine of their last 10 seasons.

    How does that compute to . . . better than 10 out of 10?

    “Baylor has the advantage over Virginia Tech in every one of those areas listed above.”

  31. Wow.. earlier today I made a post complaining about a fellow subscriber griping about the conference room. After reading this… I stand corrected. I had no idea other programs – Rutgers, no less – were dropping that sort of money on facilities and support staff. I agree with the notion that competing against Clemson is a stretch, but if VT is a “football first” school, then I think they should be investing more than middle-of-the-pack schools.

    I hope this serves as a wakeup call. I’d be curious if Whit made any sort of commitment to Fuente that facility upgrades are on the horizon.

    1. In Rutgers’ case, the tax payers of NJ are dropping a pile of money into the Rutgers facilities. We don’t have that luxury in Virginia.

      1. I once read somewhere how the NC schools can build an athletic building, including 6 or more classrooms in the building and the NC tax payers pick up the tab for the building. Perhaps this needs to be investigated about how things work in other states and if the state is ponying up a lot of money for facility improvements, then the case needs to be taken to the Va state house.

  32. Painful to read, but so spot on and truthful! VT HAS to improve outreach to alumni and facilities. I haven’t been contacted by the Hokie Club in over 10 years. That needs to change. I hear from Pamplin every year. We need to step up or we will be stepped on and the Fuente’s of the world will be out of our reach. We will be stuck with Rich Rod caliber coaches. NO ONE wants that!

    1. I’ll make you feel better. I’ve never been contacted by the Holier than thou… I mean Hokie Club. Not once. I graduated in 2005. For the past 5 years I should have definitely been on their radar. But, nope. The entire region operates on a give if you want basis…. not a cold call basis. Hire someone from the outside who realizes where the fanbase resides and thinks

  33. Great analysis of the “Fuente Flirt” and what is needed if VT decides to make football a priority. This situation and article dovetail with a lot of posts on the subscriber board about the need for an overall Athletic Administration future vision for its athletic programs and facilities needs for the next 20 years combined with a fundraising goal / program on how to achieve. Something similar to the “Boundless Impact” program currently going on with the University.
    Currently we have the Drive for 25 program, but what is it goal other than get 25,000 donors? And is most of the emphasis been scholarship driven?
    Whit Babcock and Charlie Phlegar need to get together, organize a committee and develop a long range vision program for the Athletic program which includes facilities and a revamping of our current fundraising efforts including the Hokie Club

  34. The Drive for 25 has had limited success. The numbers are up and the dollars are up, slightly. But i feel that the Hokie Club can do more than it has to increase income. I’m not smart enough to know how, but I feel that there are people around that are smart enough.

  35. Very good post with a lot of truth. If we can’t keep up with the Baylor’s of the country, we should just drop down out of P5 football and play little guy football with the Richmonds and JMUs of the world.

  36. Best article for correct perspective in years. Everything in life is about having the correct perspective and moving forward positively from there.

  37. Chris has written a lot of great stuff on this site. But this might be the best article he’s written. He is dead on.

  38. Excellent article. I give about as much as I think my finances can tolerate. Golden Hokie and football season ticket holder (4). I have people talk a big Hokie game, but they don’t even give $100 / year to support athletics. If a lot of folks would give just a little I think it would make a big difference.

  39. Hokie Club must improve across the board. I have two 2018 graduates who have NEVER been contacted about giving. One is a teacher and one is in grad school, so they have no money, but will give to VT if someone would just ask. We miss the opportunity to sign up a few thousand new donors with every graduating class. The $100 donors of today are the $1000 donors in 5 years and the…

    1. That’s crazy and sad at the same time. My son goes to a tiny (600) school and I get emails every month asking for $$.

    2. Why do they have to wait to be contacted to give money? You see how we are understaffed across the board, if they were really interested in supporting VT, they could go to the website or call the Hokie Club, waiting to be called is a lame excuse!

      1. I agree that waiting to be called is a lame excuse. I didn’t go to VT but my wife did and she bleeds orange and maroon. She continues to be very active with the university. We live in NJ so it is a long trip to the burg. She makes it at least 4 times a year for meetings and events. We are members and give. After this we will probably give more. This is the first year since 1991 that she has not been able to make it to a game. Kids in middle and high school did not allow for that. I am the one that follows the Hokies closely when it comes to sports. I have been adopted into the Hokie family and am greatfull for the warm welcome I have always received. Thank You

        That is mostly back story for what is coming. I went to my niece’s graduation from Penn State back in the spring. I was amazed that over half of the student body left as soon as their name was called, I hear that does not happen at Tech, disrespectful. But the entire back cover of the program as well as an insert was dedicated on how to join and donate to their booster association, I forget the name of it. They have the largest alumni base in the country and they start the alumni early on donations. It was also mentioned at least twice during the ceremony.

        People may not need to be called but they do need to be taught.

        1. thank you Mr and Mrs jtspringer1999, for your loyalty, financial support, and posting a “solution idea” that’s so easy to implement <<— VT ADept marketing, please note.

          as i read these articles about the Hokie Club i continue to be amazed at all of the young alumni with which we are not connecting. and all the typical communication, advertising and proven marketing techniques we do not utilize. amazing; just wow.

          if i lived in ‘Burg, i‘d volunteer time to work in our ADept or in HC Offices. it’s going to take some serious “hands on” involvement to just start fixing this.

          Go Hokies!

  40. NAILED IT, NAILED IT, NAILED IT Chris. I have thought this for the past few years. We have a fan base that wants big time results on a relative shoestring budget compared to schools we want to compete on the same level with. Some claim to be “BIG TIME FANS” are not even Hokie Club members and always find some excuse for not joining when asked. They are the first to speak out on the social media outlets with negative comments and do more damage to our program than they know.
    They just need to get off their dead — and invest in the program. Verbum Sap ( Enough Said ).

    1. Great post. I agree , lots of folks with bluster and opinions here and other social media do not step up. They need to.

  41. Well done! We are playing at the level of our anemic alumni giving and outdated facilities. I hope we can move quickly to solve this.

  42. This also raises the question of why since 2003 has the fan base become so lackadaisical in their donations and season tickets? Was it the product being put on the field? Was it the athletic director then let things start going downhill? How much revenue do we now need to raise annually? This whole situation did not happen overnight. Perhaps Whit needs to let the alumni and fans know what we need to do. As you can see, this may have been a blessing in disguise!

  43. The reason Rutgers and Northwestern are building all these new athletics facilities is largely due to the BTN money coming in each year. That was the main reason Maryland left the ACC for the B1G. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany (who’s retiring) had the vision to set up the BTN way before John Swofford even thought about an ACCN. It took a few years, but the BTN money greatly helps in improving athletic facilities and hiring better coaches/staff in that conference. I’m interested to see how much money the first year of the ACCN brings in. I’m hearing that it will be half of what the BTN is bringing in (of course the B1G has a head start on the ACC). I agree the Virginia Tech administration and the alumni/fan base will have to do their part financially too.

  44. CC You are a number guy. Any way to find out about Baylor’s total donations from individual owners vs corporate donations and large endowments? And how does it compare to Virginia Tech?

  45. This article is on par with the Roth podcast in terms of importance. Well written and spot on. A wake up call for an under-performing alumni-donor base and administration that was smart enough to hire Whit but too short sited to keep up with the modern college football landscape. Good work sir!

    1. I would concur. Very informative and eye-opening. The older I get, time seems to pass by so quickly and I tend to lose track of it, relatively speaking.
      When thinking about Merryman/Jamerson, I really had not given much thought to the fact that they were built that long ago. It seems like just a few years ago when you aren’t living there daily and seeing the effects of a growing staff and limited space. I’m not sure the donors are completely aware of how bad the situation has become. Perhaps the Hokie Club and Athletic administration could put something together that opens alums/donors’ eyes to this situation. Looks like Whitt needs to roll out a new campaign, find a Major donor or two to kick this off and get us moving to build something that will take us into the future. The build it in Blacksburg needs to be an ongoing theme for all sports.

  46. It’s not an excuse for not contributing (which I proudly do) but the user interface of the Hokie Club website is horrible and a sense of urgency is needed to get it fixed ASAP.

    1. Agreed on both. There are so many SaaS products available that can be implemented in a matter of days that this is unacceptable. Heck, get a bunch of Square terminals and walk around before Basketball and Football games.

  47. Chris-great article. I think you hit the nailed the situation perfectly. Furthermore, I think it is embarrassing that Virginia Tech, with such a huge alumni and fan base, struggles so mightily to raise its Hokie Club membership. If the fans want this program to succeed, then they need to pony up.

  48. I’m glad he stayed at this point! We need better financial support from our huge base of alumni but that’s probably not going to happen if it hasn’t occurred yet and that’s a shame 🙁

  49. Only thing missing is “the after the fact forgetting” of the scandalous behavior of Art Briles the ex-coach and some in administration in both covering up and ignoring misdeads/crimes against women by various talented ball players that got the head coach and a number of other people fired five years or so ago that was the underpinning and foundation of Baylor’s recent “success.”

    No complaint with your story, it always seems the backstory is forgotten and only the story of “success” remains.

    1. Baylor was ranked #7 in the country and was a win over Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game from playing in the College Football Playoff. Certainly the Art Briles era was disgraceful but in the here and now, Baylor > VT by a significant margin. Ignore that at your own peril.

  50. I hope everyone gets to see this and realize we must all play our part for the betterment of the program!

Comments are closed.