Virginia Tech at Belk Bowl media day

Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente answers questions from the media at the Charlotte Convention Center on Dec. 30, 2019 as part of the Belk Bowl pregame festivities.

BLACKSBURG — Yahoo sports reporter Pete Thamel reported Tuesday night that Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente is the leading candidate for the same position at Baylor.

Baylor’s most recent coach Matt Rhule was just hired by the Carolina Panthers.

According to Thamel, Baylor is planning an in-person interview with Fuente sometime in the next 24 hours.

Fuente didn’t respond to The Roanoke Times request for comment. 

According to a source, Fuente spent all day with the coaching staff in Blacksburg reviewing recruiting film. The Hokies just announced a new addition to its staff — JMU assistant Ryan Smith — on Tuesday afternoon.

Tech players return to campus and report for the start of winter semester on Jan. 21.

Fuente reiterated his excitement about the "direction of the program" multiple times in the lead up to the Belk Bowl with the team returning 19 of 22 starters for next season and making a number of staff changes in the wake of Bud Foster's retirement. 

The Oklahoma native was hired on Nov. 29, 2015 to replace former Tech coach Frank Beamer. The Hokies are 33-20 in four seasons under Fuente with four straight bowl appearances (extending the streak of consecutive bowl appearances for the program to 27). The Hokies have finished in the top 25 twice in four seasons and won the ACC Coastal in his first season. 

Fuente signed a contract extension with Virginia Tech in 2017 that added two years to his deal through 2023. He made $3.5 million in 2019 and that goes up to $3.65 million in 2020, $3.75 million in 2021, $3.9 million in 2022 and $4 million in 2023.

His buyout if he opts out of the deal this year (by Dec. 15, 2020) is $1 million. 

Mike Niziolek is the Virginia Tech football beat writer for The Roanoke Times. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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