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An FCS program is facing a big decision with coach in midst of turnaround

Football success at VMI has been tough to come by the past few decades. Heading into this season, the Keydets had a 1-21 record over the last two seasons, and hadn't won a SoCon game in that two year span.

Saturday, facing a Chattanooga squad they'd lost to the last five times in a row, VMI was able to fend off a Mocs comeback and escape with a 31-24 victory. That helped to put the bow on a 5-7 season where head coach Scott Wachenheim and his staff had built some serious momentum and seem to have the program trending in the right direction.

One of the best ways to tell things are tipping in favor for VMI is how opponents view the job being done by the VMI staff, as Chattanooga head coach Rusty Wright shared his thoughts on the job being done at VMI following their loss Saturday.

This quote, via The Chattanooga Times Free Press.

"I tell you, the best job anyone's done of getting the most out of a team in this league, it's these guys. Those kids understand what they are trying to do and how they want to do it."

Two of VMI's seven losses came against FBS programs Marshall and Army, games that are vital because of the monetary guarantee that accompany them for the football and recruiting budget, but always tough for an FCS program in the midst of a rebuild. As for their wins, one of their five this season came against rival The Citadel (their first dating back to 2002), and another two of them came in overtime games. Five wins markes the first time the program has won that many games since 2003.

Head coach Scott Wachenheim's signed a five-year deal after taking the VMI job back in 2015. Do the math and you'll realize that win over Chattanooga was Wachenheim's final game under his current contract.

So where do things stand? According to, athletic director Dave Diles stated before yesterday's contest that "he is looking forward to Wachenheim's continued leadership."

That certainly sounds like more time for Wachenheim, but - as of now - no announcement has come on a contract extension.

Wachenheim went 2-9 and 3-8 his first two seasons before the bumps in the road at 0-11 and 1-10 in years three and four, respectively. After last season, Wachenheim lost seven coaches to other opportunities, and the new hires he brought in certainly made their mark, helping with a four-win improvement in year one.

Prior to landing his first head coaching job at VMI, Wachenheim was on the Virginia staff for five seasons, first as the tight ends coach before taking over the offensive line from 2011-14.

While things are certainly trending in the right direction for a program that hasn't had a winning season dating back to the early 80's, it's often tough to tell how these types of contract situations shake out until an announcement is made.

Stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.