Monday huddle: 5 early candidates to replace Justin Fuente as Virginia Tech’s head coach

Hokies are looking for a new leader after the school and Fuente part ways.

FILE - Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente walks off the field after losing to Boston College during an NCAA college football game, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in Boston. 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, 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. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File) (Michael Dwyer, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Huddle up! Here’s a look back at this weekend on the gridiron, with three key takeaways from the state’s football scene.

Virginia Tech begins another coaching search.

With Virginia Tech parting ways with head coach Justin Fuente last week, speculation already has started as to who his replacement will be. It’s early and this is just speculation, but here are five candidates already being talked about. There will be plenty of competition, given there are openings at LSU, USC, Washington and Florida.

  • Gary Patterson. The former TCU head coach worked wonders in building that program up for more than 20 years before he and the school parted ways in October.
  • Billy Napier. The current head coach at Louisiana is only 42, has won 20 games over the past two years. ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit mentioned him as a possibility for the Virginia Tech job over the weekend.
  • Shane Beamer. The son of the man who built Virginia Tech into a national power, Frank Beamer might be enticed to come back to Blacksburg. The only problem is that he would be leaving South Carolina after just one year and might not want to bolt that early in a tenure.
  • Hugh Freeze. He has a checkered past with Ole Miss, but has been winning at Liberty and knows the state’s recruiting footprint better than most.
  • Jamey Chadwell. He has built Coastal Carolina into a nationally ranked and relevant team the past two years.

Armstrong returns, but Virginia can’t handle Pitt.

Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong, the nation’s leading passer, returned from a rib injury just in time for the team’s most important game of the year at Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Armstrong was brilliant again, throwing for 487 yards and three touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough as Virginia saw its hopes of making the ACC Championship game go up in smoke in a 48-38 loss.

All that’s left now for the Cavaliers is to earn bragging rights and a shot at a better bowl game by beating rival Virginia Tech at home on Saturday.

James Madison earns a No. 3 seed for FCS playoffs.

For the eight straight year and 18th time overall in school history, James Madison is in the field of 24 for the upcoming FCS playoffs.

The Dukes (10-1) earned the No. 3 seed and have a bye for this weekend’s opening round.

James Madison will host the winner of Saturday’s Florida A&M and Southeastern Louisiana game in the second round.

About the Author:

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.