Justin Fuente has decided to stay at Virginia Tech, one day after meeting with Baylor officials about its head coaching vacancy.
Fuente tweeted “2020 — Let’s go!” with a photo of his staff on Thursday. A Virginia Tech official confirmed Fuente will remain with the Hokies. Fuente had emerged as the top candidate to replace Matt Rhule, who left for the Carolina Panthers, but in the end a few factors may have weighed on his decision.
He had just completed a defensive staff overhaul, filling his last assistant coach spot this past Tuesday with new cornerbacks coach Ryan Smith. After defensive coordinator Bud Foster announced his retirement, Fuente promoted Justin Hamilton to fill his spot. In all, Fuente hired four new defensive coaches and a new football operations director over the last month.
In addition, the Hokies appeared to turn around the direction of the program in the second half of the season behind quarterback Hendon Hooker, who returns to lead the team. Virginia Tech finished 8-5 after appearing to teeter on the brink of missing a bowl game, though a loss to Virginia for the first time since 2003 and then a heartbreaking last-second loss to Kentucky in the Belk Bowl renewed some questions, especially among the fans.
Fuente, 43, is 33-20 in four seasons with the Hokies after replacing Frank Beamer in 2016.
With Fuente out of the mix, Baylor interim coach Joey McGuire, Louisiana’s Billy Napier and LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda remain strong candidates to replace Rhule.