Justin Fuente out after 6 seasons as Virginia Tech head coach

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
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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.

Fuente was 43-31 at Blacksburg, Virginia, school. The Hokies (5-5) travel to Miami and close the season at Virginia.

“While it is never easy to make a change, I believe in order for our football program to attain the type of sustained success that is expected at Virginia Tech, the time was right for new leadership of our football program,” Babcock said.

He said the program “is one of the most attractive football jobs in America” and “I’m extremely confident that we’ll be able to identify and hire a new head coach who can build on our rich history and winning tradition.”

Fuente was heralded as creative offensive coach who specialized in developing quarterbacks when he was hired away from Memphis.

He led the Hokies to a 10-4 record and the Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division title in his first season and was named the ACC’s coach of the year. But that proved to be the high point of his tenure.

The program has been hurt by a rash of player transfers, and the Hokies were 6-7 in 2018, their first losing season since 1992, and 5-6 last season when they were among the teams hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The year also marked the end of Virginia Tech’s streak of 27 seasons ending in a bowl game when the team voted not to participate in the postseason.

This season, former Hokies starting quarterback Hendon Hooker is leading a resurgence of the program at Tennessee, while Braxton Burmeister, who replaced Hooker last season, has struggled with inconsistency and injuries.

“We leave Blacksburg with many great memories, but above all else, our family cherishes the many relationships that have been established and that will always endure,” Fuente said in a statement released by the school. “To all of those players, coaches and staff who are still fighting on, know that the Fuente family is always cheering for you.”

Per his contract, Fuente is due $10 million buyout.

Clemson gives raises, contract extensions to staff

Ken Ruinard/USA TODAY NETWORK
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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson’s board of trustees approved raises for special teams coordinator and cornerbacks coach Mike Reed and defensive tackles coach Nick Eason.

Reed and Eason also received one-year extensions keeping them tied to the Tigers through Jan. 31, 2026.

Reed, who’s been with the Tigers since 2013, had his yearly salary increased $50,000 to $800,000. Eason, the former Clemson standout defensive lineman, joined the staff this past season. He also had his compensation upped by $50,000 to $800,000.

Seven other assistants were given one-year extensions by the trustees’ compensation committee, but without a raise in salary.

Co-defensive coordinators Wes Goodwin and Mickey Conn had their contracts extended through Jan. 31, 2026.

Defensive ends coach Lemanski Hall, tight ends coach Kyle Richardson, offensive line coach Thomas Austin, running backs coach C.J. Spiller and wide receivers coach Tyler Grisham all got one-year extensions through Jan. 31, 2025.

New offensive coordinator Garrett Riley last month received a three-year contract at $1.75 million per season.

Clemson will pay its 10 on-field assistants $7.475 million this season, an increase of $925,000 from the total for 2022.

The Tigers went 11-3 last season, winning the Atlantic Coast Conference title for the seventh time in the past eight seasons.

South Carolina’s Beamer suspends three freshmen from program

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Corey Perrine/USA TODAY NETWORK
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COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina coach Shane Beamer said freshmen Monteque Rhames II, Anthony Rose and Cameron Upshaw were suspended from the football program.

There was no reason given for the suspensions in the school’s statement Friday. Online records showed Rhames, 18, was booked last night and was being held at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center on charges of carrying weapons on school property and obstructing justice.

“Our student-athletes know what is expected of them,” Beamer said. “They know that both the university and the football program will hold them accountable for their actions and decisions.”

None of the three have played for the Gamecocks.

Rose is a 6-foot-1, 190-pound defensive back from Miami who enrolled in January 2022 and redshirted this season. Rhames and Upshaw were part of South Carolina’s latest recruiting class and enrolled last month.

Rhames is a 6-5, 235-pound defensive lineman from Sumter and Upshaw is a 6-2, 193-pound safety from Perry, Florida.