HOUSTON, TX – OCTOBER 19: Mike Evans #13 of the Texas A&M Aggies dives over Ryan White #19 of the Auburn Tigers for a touchdown reception on October 19, 2013 at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas. (Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)
Justin Fuente is officially Virginia Tech’s new head coach. A day after reports linked the two parties, the Hokies made the match official by announcing the 39-year-old as their new head coach on Sunday afternoon.
“Justin is a very impressive individual who also happens to be one of the brightest offensive minds in college football,” Virginia Tech AD Whit Babcock said in a statement. “He elevated Memphis to unprecedented heights. His recruiting philosophy is progressive and comprehensive. Coach Fuente has displayed tremendous talent in evaluating players and developing young men as they strive to reach their full potential. Simply put, Coach Fuente exudes all the qualities that Hokies hold near and dear. We are excited to officially welcome Justin Fuente as the leader of the Virginia Tech football program.”
Fuente went 26-23 in four years as Memphis’s head coach, but his success runs far beyond a simple won-loss record. After going 7-17 in his first two seasons, Fuente guided the Tigers to a 19-6 mark in 2014-15, which included a 15-game winning streak, a No. 13 national ranking and a win over rival Ole Miss within that run.
Simply put, it was the absolute peak of modern Memphis football.
And now Fuente is tasked with taking Virginia Tech to new heights. The Hokies dominated the ACC throughout much of the 2000’s, taking conference crowns in 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2010. But as Florida State and Clemson have risen, Virginia Tech has fallen.
After posting 13 top-25 finishes in 14 seasons, the Hokies are set to conclude their fourth straight campaign outside the national rankings, going just 16-16 in ACC play over that span.
The offensive numbers state exactly why Fuente was hired, and what he must do in Blacksburg; Memphis ranks seventh nationally in scoring offense and eighth in passing efficiency, while Virginia Tech sits at 64th and 59th, respectively.
The cupboard is not bare, though. Virginia Tech is in the midst of a 23-year bowl streak, and Fuente has already secured one key commitment — longtime defensive coordinator Bud Foster has agreed to stay on staff.
“I’ve been privileged to work for a legendary coach who always did it the right way,” Foster said. “I enjoyed that chapter and the success we’ve had, however, I am equally excited for the next chapter and working for Justin. Justin and I share a vision for the future of our program. After spending time together, I’m convinced he’s the right person to continue building on the standard we’ve established at Virginia Tech. I’m truly looking forward to working with him and supporting him.”
Clearly, Babcock and the VT brass believe, a Fuente offense and a Foster defense are what the Hokies need to catch Clemson and Florida State.
Now it’s Fuente’s job to make that happen.
The chair in Julie Hermann‘s office hasn’t even cooled yet, but Rutgers has already found her replacement.
The Scarlet Knights have hired Seton Hall emeritus dean of law Patrick Hobbs as its new full-time athletics director. Hobbs served as the Pirates’ interim AD in 2010-11 but has no athletics experience outside of that.
He does, however, have significant experience managing scandal-ridden institutions.
In the same letter announcing the firings of Hermann and head football coach Kyle Flood, Rutgers president Robert Barchi detailed Hobbs’s hiring.
When I made the decision last week that we needed a change in leadership, I set out to find an interim Director of Athletics who could stabilize the Department before launching a national search. On a strong referral, I met with Patrick Hobbs, Dean Emeritus of the Seton Hall University School of Law, who previously led the athletics program at Seton Hall University during a period of major change.
In addition to these assignments, Pat has served on various state legal and ethics boards and commissions and most recently was appointed by Governor Christie to serve as an independent ethics ombudsman to the Office of the Governor.
In my meetings and conversations with Pat, and also with Board Members Greg Brown and Ken Schmidt, it was clear to all of us that Pat had the attributes required for our next Director of Athletics. We offered Pat the permanent job on Friday and we are proud to welcome him as our new Director of Athletics.
Hobbs left his full-time post at Seton Hall in 2014 to serve as the ombudsman to New Jersey governor Chris Christie‘s office in the wake of the George Washington Bridge scandal, where his job was to police the ethics and policies among Christie’s staff members. In addition to that, Hobbs served on the New Jersey Commission of Investigation from 2004-14, chairing the commission the final four years.
Hobbs joined Seton Hall’s law faculty and was named dean of law in 1999.
Hobbs arrives at an athletics department plagued with scandal and dysfunction. He’ll have to replace a football coach fired in part for attempting to violate the church-state relationship between football and academics in an attempt to influence a players’ grade. Hermann, a storm of controversy in her own right, was hired after the school cleaned house when it was discovered men’s basketball coach Mike Rice was abusing players, and his replacement Eddie Jordan came under fire for not owning a college degree.
And, by the way, Rutgers has won just six of 34 football and men’s basketball games in Big Ten play.
Twenty-four hours after the news first broke, Iowa State has announced Matt Campbell as its new head coach.
Campbell, who turns 35 today, went 35-15 in four seasons in the same capacity at Toledo.
“Matt’s coaching and playing achievements are extraordinary, but we were even more impressed by his character, leadership and commitment to his family,” Iowa State AD Jamie Pollard said in a statement. “I could not be more excited to welcome Matt, Erica and their children to the Cyclone Family. We are truly blessed to have one of the industry’s rising stars leading our football program.”
Iowa State represents the first time Campbell will leave the state of Ohio on a permanent basis — save for a brief stint as a player at Pittsburgh. A native of Massillon, Ohio, he played at Division III power Mount Union and deposited coaching stints at Bowling Green, Mount Union and Toledo.
“I couldn’t be more excited to receive the opportunity to coach at Iowa State,” Campbell said. “Two years ago after we played the Cyclones in Ames, I called my wife (Erica) and said you simply would not believe this place. Their fans, the game-day environment and facilities are all incredible. I could see us living in Ames and me coaching the Cyclones some day. My family and I are truly humbled.”
Campbell signed a six-year contract with the Cyclones worth $2 million a year.
A 35-point win on the road in a de facto conference championship game was enough to push Oklahoma past Iowa for the third spot in the latest Associated Press top 25.
Clemson and Alabama retained the top two spots, while a trio of Big Ten teams in Iowa, Michigan State and Ohio State occupied numbers four, five and six. Stanford moved to No. 7 after its last second win over Notre Dame, who tumbled from fourth to ninth. Ohio State jumped from No. 8 to No. 6, while Michigan tumbled to No. 19 after a 42-13 Buckeyes win in Ann Arbor.
Florida State moved into the top 10 after a 27-2 blowout of Florida (who fell from 10th to 18th), while TCU past Baylor after its double overtime slop-fest win on Friday night.
Utah, USC, LSU and Wisconsin moved into the poll, while Washington State, Mississippi State, Toledo and UCLA fell out.
The full rankings:
1. Clemson – 1,511 total points (53 first-place votes)
2. Alabama – 1,469 (8)
3. Oklahoma – 1,367
4. Iowa – 1,345
5. Michigan State – 1,318
6. Ohio State – 1,197
7. Stanford – 1,137
8. North Carolina – 1,085
9. Notre Dame – 1,022
10. Florida State – 951
11. TCU – 927
12. Baylor – 842
13. Northwestern – 711
14. Oklahoma State – 699
15. Oregon – 616
16. Ole Miss – 584
17. Houston – 571
18. Florida – 566
19. Michigan – 518
20. Temple – 269
21. Utah – 244
22. Navy – 206
23. LSU – 199
24. USC – 189
25. Wisconsin – 124