Fuente Gambles With Hiring of Justin Hamilton as Hokies’ New Defensive Coordinator

Sunday was a busy day for Virginia Tech. Not only did the program accept a bid to play in the Belk Bowl in Charlotte vs. Kentucky, the program made a critical decision to promote Justin Hamilton to the defensive coordinator position for next season.

Hamilton’s promotion to the position was always a possibility. Hamilton is viewed as a fast riser in the industry and though he’s only been on staff for two seasons and a position coach for one, Hamilton seems to have the tools to be a solid coordinator and coach at this level. He’s just 37 years old and has no problem relating to his players.

While Hamilton has the chops to be a fine defensive coordinator, the hire feels underwhelming. With Virginia Tech at a true crossroads for the program’s future, an ideal hire would have been an experienced coordinator who would require little training. It would be someone who has legit recruiting capabilities and someone who could make up for Bud Foster’s absence while Justin Fuente tries to get his offense straightened up.

Instead, Fuente is going into the most important season of his coaching career with an inexperienced defensive coordinator in just his third year of coaching and a beleaguered offensive coordinator on shaky ground.

That said, Hamilton may have been the best option available once Barry Odom was no longer a realistic candidate. Odom figured to be a shoe-in for the position after being fired from Missouri, but Odom has since been thrown into consideration for the head coach opening at Memphis, his former place of employment.

Virginia Tech fans can rightfully be skeptical of Hamilton’s promotion to defensive coordinator, but there are reasons to believe it can work. Hamilton has clearly connected with the roster and in just two years, he’s earned the approval of the outgoing Foster. Foster is still going to serve in an unofficial role within the athletic department and will be around to work with Hamilton. He already understands the Lunch Pail culture and is experienced with the Hokies’ roster and scheme.

There’s no guarantee Hamilton will work. The expectations and the stakes will be high and Hamilton is inheriting control of an experienced roster that is expected to return all but one starter on defense.

Hiring Hamilton as the defensive coordinator is quite the gamble by Fuente. If it works, he’ll be hailed as a genius for promoting an upstart defensive savant. If it doesn’t, Fuente might be on the unemployment line.

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