Miami and Virginia Tech Pick Up the Pieces – Against Each Other
It’s interesting that the Virginia Tech Hokies and Miami Hurricanes might both be in a bowl game. Yet one coach has been fired already and the other is almost certainly on the way out. BetOnline patrons are going to have the opportunity to pick a winner in this ACC matchup. Game time is 7:30 PM ET at Hard Rock Stadium.
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Virginia Tech and Miami are both 5-5 (and 4-6 against the spread). The winner of this game will be bowl-eligible.
The fiasco at Virginia Tech
The Virginia Tech athletic department pulled the plug on Justin Fuente this past week. Fuente had built the program at Memphis into what was at the very least a Group of 5 power. But he brought no magic to Blacksburg.
It wasn’t something that happened all of a sudden, as athletic director Whit Babcock had been considering the firing for a while. The atmosphere at the athletic center had begun to deteriorate a little. And Whitlock’s focus shifted to negotiating to save money on a buyout (which turned out to be $8.75 million).
There were a lot of problems with Fuente. One was that he succeeded a legend – Frank Beamer. Another was that he snubbed some of Beamer’s former players. He caught criticism for not recruiting well in Richmond. He interviewed for the coaching job at Baylor while under contract with VT. And of course, he didn’t win enough.
The defense wasn’t the same after long-time coordinator Bud Foster retired. The offense suffered from a revolving door of quarterbacks.
Fuente could have coached the last two games of the season. But he didn’t want to if he wasn’t coming back next year. The players weren’t happy about the timing of the announcement.
So the whole thing was a mess.
Yet the Miami situation might be set to become worse.
Miami Hurricanes vs. Virginia Tech Hokies Odds
At BetOnline, Miami is the team laying points at home:
|Virginia Tech||+7½ ( -120 )||56 ( -110 )||+245|
|Miami||-7½ ( EV )||56 ( -110 )||-290|
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The fiasco at Miami
It is fair to say that, like Virginia Tech, the Miami Hurricanes have been a disappointment. Of course, there was a real downer when D’Eriq King, who seems to have been in college forever, went down with an injury. And you’ve got to wonder where this team would be if Tyler Van Dyke hadn’t emerged as a viable quarterback in replacing him.
The freshman has thrown for over 300 in four straight games, and he has 19 touchdowns for the season. He led the ‘Canes to wins over nationally-ranked NC State and Pittsburgh. But Miami lost last week’s blood battle with intrastate rival Florida State. And that’s a cardinal sin.
But it’s not Van Dyke’s sin. That is being attached to head coach Manny Diaz, who made a questionable defensive call when FSU had a fourth down and 14 in the red zone in the waning moments. He rushed only three, and Jordan Travis picked up the first down, leading to Florida State’s win.
Diaz has long been rumored to be on the way out. And you could almost conclude that is now going to happen. You see, the athletic director who hand-picked him, Blake James, was fired at the same time Fuente was. That’s a bad sign. James had come under criticism for hiring Diaz without doing a thorough search, and aside from that, Diaz (son of Miami’s former mayor) had already signed to be the head coach at Temple, after being D-coordinator at Miami. They literally stole him back.
Why are we telling you all this?
Yes, you might be wondering about all that. Well, if you’re a player, it’s probably better when you have already seen the axe fall than to be unsure about what the future holds. So Virginia Tech, which has an interim coach, might be in a better place there.
Miami does look like the better team, we admit. Van Dyke is a better quarterback than VT’s Braxton Burmeister. And the Hurricanes have beaten better opponents.
But Miami has not been a good “fundamental” team under Diaz. They hurt themselves in a number of ways. Also they don’t run the ball well (3.3 ypc). They don’t defend the pass well (118th in the nation).They have not held any opponent scoreless on any red zone trip. And they are among the bottom ten teams in the country in both turnovers and penalties.
They’ve also failed to cover all five times at home against FBS opposition. So we’re comfortable taking the points.
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