To the surprise of few, Virginia Tech parted ways with coach Justin Fuente on Tuesday. Now the scramble begins to find the next replacement for Frank Beamer.
Fuente finished with only 10 wins over his last two seasons. The last time Virginia Tech played this poorly was 1991-92. Fuente was once the fresh, young face coming out of Memphis. Now, he and Virginia Tech must reboot.
The Hokies enter the coaching carousel clearly behind LSU and USC in terms of pecking order for top jobs. They are in a tier with Washington and TCU, which also recently fired coaches for vastly different reasons.
With the Virginia Tech search just starting to heat up, here are some of the top candidates the Hokies may be looking towards.
Gary Patterson, ex-TCU coach: Patterson’s name popped up for this job as he left TCU. He was nowhere near done with coaching when he was shown the door. It’s a fit considering his accomplishments and defensive background. The Hokies could use some defense. Patterson could use a new gig. At 61, he has plenty of song-writin’ and defensive-schemin’ to go.
Shane Beamer, South Carolina coach: Will Beamer go home again? He’d be leaving South Carolina after one year to coach in his father’s shadow. Beamer hasn’t established himself as a head coach yet, but you can bet his name will be circulated. The usual route is to succeed at a lesser program before making the jump up. The Gamecocks are a respectable 5-5 in Beamer’s first season.
Jamey Chadwell, Coastal Carolina coach: We’ve seen what Coastal looks like without Grayson McCall (a second loss last week to Georgia State). What does Coastal look like in the future after going 19-3 the last two seasons? It isn’t a candidate list without Chadwell. He’s going to jump at one of these jobs. Virginia Tech seems like a good fit.
Need more college football in your life? Listen below and subscribe to the Cover 3 podcast where we break down Virginia Tech parting with coach Justin Fuente after six seasons.
Hugh Freeze, Liberty coach: Freeze’s reputation has been through a multi-year car wash. His offense still works. He still produces quarterbacks and offensive numbers. Freeze is desperate to move up. Malik Willis going in the first round of the NFL Draft would be a good calling card.
Billy Napier, Louisiana coach: This has to be the year Napier bounces. There are too many good jobs out there and too many good jobs that can still open. Napier, 42, is simply too good of a coach with a 37-12 record at Louisiana, 19-2 since the start of the 2020 season. If not Virginia Tech, then Arizona State. If not Arizona State, then Washington. If not Washington, then Washington State. Who knows? Maybe LSU (looking for a big name) and Florida (not open yet) are options, too.
Luke Fickell, Cincinnati coach: There is Fickell the coach and Fickell the process. Don’t be surprised if his agent, Jimmy Sexton, uses Fickell’s interest in this job to get more money out of Cincinnati … or USC or LSU. Fickell wins either way, though not necessarily Cincinnati.
Who will be the next head coach of the Hokies, and which SEC defensive coordinator could be a dark-horse candidate for the job? Visit VTScoop for the latest coaching Hot Board, all from VT insider Evan Watkins.