I don't have any data to back this up but I think it could be the portal. I usually do a little preseason reading on college football to pass the summer. The last couple of summers it was hard to read into VT. Pretty much the articles were about who all transferred in and who all transferred out.
They just don’t fit well in the modern CFB landscape IMO.
That being said they need a few years of a calming presence to get back to at least bowl eligible. I just don’t see them having a huge upside in the modern CFB era unless they luck into a generational QB which can happen anywhere.
They are back to what they were for entire history before Beamer. They won a sugar bowl in the 90s that put them on the map then had the magic vick 99 season lost to fsu in natty and rode that success through about 2010 and fell off the map.