Miami football versus Virginia Tech two teams battling entering new directions

Nov 17, 2018; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Mandatory Credit: Lee Luther Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 17, 2018; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Mandatory Credit: Lee Luther Jr.-USA TODAY Sports /

The Miami football team will play Virginia Tech in a battle of two programs that are entering new directions after making major changes earlier this week. Miami fired athletic director Blake James on Monday and Virginia Tech let go of head coach Justin Fuente with two games remaining in his sixth season on Tuesday.

Miami has the continuity of head coach Manny Diaz remaining through at least the game this weekend. Diaz and his staff have had to deal with the distraction of the dismissal of James on Monday. The Hurricanes have also had the speculation that Diaz will be fired at the end of the season with James gone.

Both teams enter Saturday’s game 5-5 overall and 3-3 in the ACC. James was fired following Miami losing 31-28 to Florida State on Saturday. Fuente was surprisingly let go following the Hokies’ 48-17 victory over Duke. Both teams enter the game on Saturday trying to overcome adversity.

The Miami football program was 68-44 with James as athletic director since 2013. Virginia Tech was 43-31 in the nearly six seasons under Fuente. The Hokies were 10-4 the first season under Fuente in 2016. Virginia Tech won their only Coastal division title of the Fuente era during that season.

Recruiting and mostly mediocre seasons doomed Fuente. Virginia Tech could only sign the 76th ranked class in 2020. That improved to 44th in 2021 and Virginia Tech is currently ranked 20th for 2022. It was too late for the Fuente. Add in a 10-11 record in the last two seasons and the Hokies decided to make a change.

The problems for Miami are somewhat similar. After signing the 17th ranked class in 2020 and 11th in 2021, Miami has only the 59th ranked class for 2022. While most of that falls on the head coach, several media outlets reported on Thursday that James wasn’t assertive enough asking for what the Miami football team needed.

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Miami will have the advantage of playing at home. The Hurricanes lead the all-time series 23-15, including a 13-7 lead in games in Miami but only 4-3 versus the Hokes at Hard Rock Stadium. Virginia Tech is the fourth most common opponent for Miami behind Florida State, Florida and Pittsburgh.