By HANK KURZ Jr.
AP Sports Writer
Virginia Tech and football coach Justin Fuente have mutually agreed to part ways with two games left in his sixth season with the Hokies.
In a statement released Tuesday morning, athletic director Whit Babcock said co-defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator J,C. Price will lead the Hokies through their final two regular season games.
Fuente was 43-31 at Blacksburg, Virginia, school. The Hokies (5-5) travel to Miami on Saturday and close the season at Virginia.
“While it is never easy to make a change, I believe in order for our football program to attain the type of sustained success that is expected at Virginia Tech, the time was right for new leadership of our football program,” Babcock said.
He said the program “is one of the most attractive football jobs in America” and “I’m extremely confident that we’ll be able to identify and hire a new head coach who can build on our rich history and winning tradition.”
Fuente was heralded as creative offensive coach who specialized in developing quarterbacks when he was hired away from Memphis.
He led the Hokies to a 10-4 record and the Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division title in his first season and was named the ACC’s coach of the year. But that proved to be the high point of his tenure.
The program has been hurt by a rash of player transfers, and the Hokies were 6-7 in 2018, their first losing season since 1992, and 5-6 last season when they were among the teams hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The year also marked the end of Virginia Tech’s streak of 27 seasons ending in a bowl game when the team voted not to participate in the postseason.
This season, former Hokies starting quarterback Hendon Hooker is leading a resurgence of the program at Tennessee, while Braxton Burmeister, who replaced Hooker last season, has struggled with inconsistency and injuries.
“We leave Blacksburg with many great memories, but above all else, our family cherishes the many relationships that have been established and that will always endure,” Fuente said in a statement released by the school. “To all of those players, coaches and staff who are still fighting on, know that the Fuente family is always cheering for you.”
Per his contract, Fuente is due $10 million buyout.
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