Back in December, Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente’s name surfaced as Florida State looked to fill their head coaching vacancy after Jimbo Fisher bolted for a pile of cash at Texas A&M.
Fuente declined to even have a conversation with the Seminoles and set a clear tone for the future that he has long-term plans for Virginia Tech. However, that’s not going to stop interested parties with high-profile programs from inquiring if he has continued success in Blacksburg.
And the fact is that every coach says he’s 100 percent committed to the current stop until the right job and the right contract are offered up. Then they’re gone.
Yet, Virginia Tech has Frank Beamer to thank for the fact that Fuente appears as genuine as can be.
Beamer built the Virginia Tech football program from next to nothing after taking over in 1987 and enjoyed 29 incredible years with the Hokies. He turned them into a nationally-relevant bunch and created an insulated position that celebrates sustained success without the often crippling pressure of expectation.
And Fuente is on track to replicate that model for as long as he’d like and possibly even expand upon it, ferrying Virginia Tech from very good program to an elite program and contending for College Football Playoff berths. He’s certainly off to a solid start.
After just 29 wins in Frank Beamer’s final four seasons at Virginia Tech, Fuente has won 19 games in his first two seasons and year three is already shaping up to be his best yet. He’ll return a number of key pieces (12 starters) and welcome in his best recruiting class yet (No. 24 nationally).
He’s got a freshman quarterback (Josh Jackson) returning and is being considered a Top 15 team by USA Today, Sports Illustrated and ESPN. They’ll be considered a favorite in the ACC Coastal and, depending on how the regular season shakes out, could even threaten Clemson for the league title on the whole.
That all comes in Year Three for Fuente. And what’s nice about this gig as opposed to other similarly successful programs is, that he can accomplish all that relatively quietly.
The fanbase born of Beamer’s success understands that they can be just as successful as a program like Florida State without the expectation that every season is a national championship year. And that’s not likely to change for as long as Fuente would like to be in Blacksburg.
On the average, Virginia Tech can be a 9-win team for 20 years or more under Fuente and nobody will get particularly antsy. Obviously they’ll want to see the program contend for conference titles on occasion and possibly even sneak in to the national title conversation and Fuente can and will pursue much more, but he gets to do so without the threat of moving signs on his front lawn.
And it’s hard to explain exactly how appealing that must be in a profession that is so hard on family life. Beamer laid the groundwork and handed over the blueprints for how to have a long and happy career in a place that celebrates longevity.
It’s hard to imagine there are too many jobs out there that would appeal to Fuente more than Virginia Tech for those reasons. So, in a way, because of Beamer, Hokies fans should feel really comfortable with the fact that Fuente should be around for quite some time.
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