BLACKSBURG, Va. - Sunday, Clemson's Dabo Swinney said Florida State used COVID-19 as an excuse to get out of playing the Tigers. Turns out, Dabo has company when it comes to being a head football coach in the Atlantic Coast Conference and making comments into a microphone this weekend that ruffle feathers.
The other? Virginia Tech head football coach Justin Fuente.
The pressure is mounting on the fifth-year Hokies bench boss.
Saturday, his Virginia Tech lost by 33 points at Pitt - a game in which the Hokies were favored to win by nearly a touchdown. It's Tech's third straight loss, a streak that includes a home upset at the hands of Liberty.
In Saturday's 47-14 loss at Pitt, the Hokies were successful on just three of 14 attempts on third and fourth down. Nationally, Tech ranks 97th out of 127 team in third down conversion percentage - one of the most-important stats in football.
Following the defeat, Fuente - known as an offensive guru - is asked if he'd consider taking-over play-calling duties from offensive coordinator Brad Cornelson.
"No, that's the most ludicrous crap I've ever heard, "Fuente countered. "Next question."
So it's not the play-calling. It is the players themselves?
Also during Saturday's press conference, when being peppered about third and fourth downs, Fuente pointed the finger at a member of Tech's offensive line.
"Versus Miami - it was third and eight and we called the inside zone into cover two, and our right guard got his a** whipped by a three technique," Fuente said bluntly.
If Fuente is, indeed, disappointed in his players - there does not appear to be much hope for reinforcements.
According to 247Sports' rankings of high school football prospects in Virginia for the classes of 2020 and 2021, Virginia Tech does not have a verbal commitment from a player rated higher than 17th in the state.
Losses on the field - coupled with losses on the recruiting trail - have Tech's loyal football fanbase vocally sharing their frustrations with Fuente. He says he's not hearing it.
"I'm not going to let that influence the direction of what we're doing," Fuente said Monday. "I'm sure it's out there," Fuente added of the noise about his program and job status. "I haven't listened to one thing. I don't know anything, but I'm sure it's there - and that's part of coaching at a place that values football and I get that. Nobody is happy with the record. Nobody likes what we're doing, and nobody is more invested in what we're doing than I am, our staff and our players. What we can do is control what we can control."
Virginia Tech, 4-and-5 on the season, is off this weekend before hosting five-time reigning ACC champion Clemson December 5th. The Hokies close their season at home vs. Virginia December 12th.